A Very Particular Body

Assessing the Doctrine of Incarnation for Affirming the Sacramentality of Female Embodiment
  • Hannah Bacon


It is no secret that the Christian tradition has been renowned for its somewhat ambivalent attitude toward embodiment and the female body in particular. Many reformist feminist theologians have responded to this difficult pattern by highlighting those motifs within the Christian tradition that seemingly subvert patriarchal and phallo-centric readings of female embodiment. Of particular interest within this chapter is the way in which the notion of Incarnation has been adopted as a means of affirming the female body as good. The principle of the Word becoming flesh, it has been argued, especially by those developing feminist sacramental theologies, confirms the sac-ramentality of the body. However, such a focus on Incarnation is not without its problems. Most obviously, such an emphasis seems to affirm the sacramentality of the male body at the expense of the female body on the grounds that the divine becomes manifest in one particular person; namely, the man Jesus. In light of these kind of concerns, there has understandably been, and continues to be, a tendency within much contemporary feminist scholarship to avoid a classically “orthodox” reading of Incarnation. Feminists such as Sallie McFague and Rosemary Radford Ruether, for example, have developed less particularized and more cosmic Christologies, which do not tie Christ or Incarnation to the particular body of the historical Jesus.


Female Body Male Body Male Phallus Material Thing Sexed Subject 
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© Gillian Howie and J’annine Jobling 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah Bacon

There are no affiliations available

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