Fall 2021

The Body in Ancient Christianity

Listed in: Religion, as RELI-275

Moodle site: Course


Rebecca Stephens Falcasantos (Section 01)


The body provides our first contact with the world and each other. It is also a tool of social formation and site of competition: meanings and ideologies are mapped onto the body through narrative, image, and practice. How does the experience of living, moving and breathing in a body affect the experience of worship, practices of Christian formation, and engagement with theological debates? How did ancient Christians understand this, and how do we?

This course explores these themes in the context of ancient Christianity (late first century through the sixth century). In our readings we will consider early Christian discussions about the connection between the body/flesh and the soul/spirit, as well as issues of embodiment (for example, dietary habits, education, ritual practices, and funerary care). We will also explore how the body featured within the politics of boundary formation, particularly in regard to distinguishing Christians from “Others,” to defining doctrinal orthodoxy, and to establishing hierarchies within Christian communities. These investigations require a close reading of our authors, but always with a view toward the world that informs the text and which the author of the text aims to shape. Consequently, our primary readings will be supplemented by secondary literature that provides historical grounding and theoretical perspectives.

Fall semester. Professor Falcasantos.


Attention to Issues of Gender and Sexuality, Attention to Research, Attention to Writing, Transnational or World Cultures Taught in English


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021