ISBN : 9780199373062
Beauty, bodily knowledge, and desire have emerged in late modern Christian theology as candidates to reorient and reinvigorate reflection. In this book, Kathryn Reklis offers a case study of how those three elements converge in the work of Jonathan Edwards to escape the false dichotomies of early modernity. She studies Edwardss work in the context of the eighteenth-century colonial and European revivals known as the Great Awakening and the series of theological debates over the unruly bodies of revivalists. Seized by the new birth, these people convulsed, wept, shouted, fainted, leapt, and even levitated. For pro-revivalist Jonathan Edwards, these bodily manifestations were signs of a divine and supernatural light infused in the soulfor his opponents, clear proof of irrationality and dangerous enthusiasm. Bodily ecstasy was at the heart of a theological system marked by consummation in Gods overwhelming sovereignty, which Edwards described as being swallowed up in God. Reklis describes the theological meaning of the bodys ecstasy as kinesthetic imagination, a term which extends beyond the Great Awakening to trace the way bodily ecstasy continues to be coded as the expression of a primitive, hysterical, holistic, or natural self almost always in contrast to a modern, rational, fragmented, or artificial self. Edwards, she shows, is an excellent interlocutor for the exploration of kinesthetic imagination and theology, especially as it relates to contemporary questions about the role of beauty, body, and desire in theological knowledge. He wrote explicitly about the role of the body in theology, the centrality of affect in spiritual experience, and anchored all of this in a theological system grounded in beauty as his governing concept of divine reality. This book offers an innovative reading of one of the most widely known American theologians and offers this reading as provocation for debates within contemporary conversations.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Theology and the Kinesthetic Imagination
1. Location, Location, Location
2. Creating the Repertoire
3. Scenarios of Universality