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Poetics of the Flesh


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. Both Flesh and Not 1

Part I: Regarding Christian Bodies 15

1. Becoming Flesh: The Gospel of John 19

2. Abandoning Flesh: The Letters of Paul 29

3. Embracing Flesh: Tertullian 43

Part II: The Philosophers' (Christian) Flesh 55

4. Incarnate Philosophy 59

5. The Ends of Flesh 87

Part III: A Labyrinth of Incarnations 111

6. Inescapable Bodies 117

7. Carnal Relations 133

Conclusion 153

Notes 159

Bibliography 193

Index 203

About the Author

Mayra Rivera is Associate Professor of Theology and Latina/o Studies at Harvard University and the author of The Touch of Transcendence: A Postcolonial Theology of God.


"Rivera's book is a poetic love song of our incarnate life. It's a song I'll gladly sing." -- Jacob J. Erickson * Christian Century *
"...Rivera's text makes significant and noteworthy advancement, not only in theological anthropology, critical theory, and materiality, but also in an apophatic theology grounded in the immanent indeterminacy of multiplicity and relational, worldly ontology.... [A]n enjoyable 'must read' for many theologians, philosophers, and advanced graduate students." -- Brad Bannon * Reading Religion *
"Situating the body in its spiritual, organic and social spheres of corporeal existence, the book thus argues toward a poetics of the flesh based on the relational materiality of the body and the world that makes a welcome move beyond the prevailing discourse around essentialist boundaries." -- Jajati K. Pradhan and Seema Singh * Journal of Postcolonial Writing *
"Rivera has contributed another "must-read." Its elegance is evident on the page itself, for the argument flows easily in the seemingly effortless interweaving of three complex terrains: biblical theology, a phenomenology of the flesh and its postmodern legacies, and the politics of ethnic, racial, and sexual identity that beckons our attention at the so-called end of metaphysics. No one can engage this subtle, labyrinthine, and mellifluous text without being made more aware of the possibilities of a new relational matrix for interpreting the world and disentangling its many injustices." -- Peter Casarella * Modern Theology *
"Rivera identifies flesh as the root of many long-standing critiques of the body in theology and philosophy, and she sets out to unlock Christian imagination from conflations of flesh with sin, feminine and colonized bodies, and evil. The fruit of her labor is a beautiful invitation to reimagine and dwell in the rich complexity of enfleshed life within this world." -- Jodi L. A. Belcher * Anglican Theological Review *
"[Poetics of the Flesh] represents an important milestone in theology and philosophy for the contemporary reader." -- Hector M. Varela Rios * Perspectivas *
"This is an amazing, stunning, and rich work of philosophical erudition, intellectual suppleness, existential and intellectual passion." -- M. Shawn Copeland * Syndicate *
"[A] wonderful book that is not only thoughtful in content but also delightful in form." -- Tat-siong Benny Liew * Syndicate *

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