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Flesh Made Word

Medieval Women Mystics, Writing, and the Incarnation

Emily Holmes

Publication Year: 2013

For most of Christian history, the incarnation designated Christ as God made man. The obvious connection between God and the male body too often excluded women and the female body. In Flesh Made Word, Emily A. Holmes displays how medieval women writers expanded traditional theology through the incarnational practice of writing. Holmes draws inspiration for feminist theology from the writings of these medieval women mystics as well as French feminist philosophers of écriture féminine. The female body is then prioritized in feminist Christology, rather than circumvented. Flesh Made Word is a fresh, inclusive theology of the incarnation.

Published by: Baylor University Press


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pp. 1-1

Half Title Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraphs

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xviii

In the 1987 film Le Moine et la Sorcière1 the Dominican friar Étienne de Bourbon enters a village in southern France in search of heretics. There he meets a woman who attracts his attention. A midwife, herbalist, and healer, she cares for the bodies of the villagers. Intrigued, and not a little suspicious, he seeks her out for conversation. ...

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pp. xix-xxii

Writing about writing reveals the degree to which writing is not one’s own, but utterly dependent on the inspiration, ideas, and labor of others. Nothing in this book would be possible without the multitude that has preceded me, surrounded me, and sustained me over this long and eventful journey. ...

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pp. 1-26

The incarnation is the beating heart of the Christian message: God with us in a human body, Word made flesh in history, the good news proclaimed in Christ. As a theological doctrine, the incarnation has traditionally referred to Jesus Christ as the uniquely incarnate Word of God, one person in two natures, divine and human, ...

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1. Attending to Word and Flesh

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pp. 27-46

The wisdom recovered and developed by diverse feminist theologians makes it possible to interpret the incarnation inclusively, as extending beyond the historical body of Jesus. Christ is incarnate in a multiplicity of bodies, wherever the hungry are fed, justice is pursued, and love is shared. ...

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2. Hadewijch of Brabant and the Mother of Love

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pp. 47-86

Hadewijch was a woman in love with love. The love of love permeates her writings across a variety of genres, both poetry and prose.1 Love (Minne in Hadewijch’s native Dutch language) is both subject and object, noun and verb, lover and beloved, and the love that unites the two. ...

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3. Angela of Foligno Writing the Body of Christ

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pp. 87-126

In Angela of Foligno’s final instruction to her disciples,1 she describes the vision she has received of the preparation for her death. Her soul was washed in the blood of Christ and clothed in colorful royal garments. Her divine spouse favorably compared her to a bride in preparation for her wedding. ...

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4. Writing Annihilation with Marguerite Porete

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pp. 127-168

Near the end of Marguerite Porete’s Mirror of Simple Souls,1 the character Soul begins to sing. This song of love was found by the Soul; she calls it love’s song, both in praise of and given by love.2 The Soul fears that others may misunderstand her song because they are blinded by reason, but reason is surpassed by perfect love. ...

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5. Transcendence Incarnate

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pp. 169-196

Hadewijch of Antwerp, Angela of Foligno, and Marguerite Porete each write theology with keen awareness of the limitations of their own language in the face of God’s transcendence. Because their mystical writings fall in the rich tradition of apophatic or negative theology, it is worth concluding by examining the effect this way of speaking might have on our understanding of the incarnation. ...


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pp. 197-214


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pp. 215-224

E-ISBN-13: 9781602587557
E-ISBN-10: 1602587558
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602587533
Print-ISBN-10: 1602587531

Page Count: 246
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 862780175
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Flesh Made Word

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Incarnation -- History of doctrines -- Middle Ages, 600-1500
  • Mysticism -- History -- Middle Ages, 600-1500.
  • Hadewijch, active 13th century -- Authorship.
  • Angela, of Foligno, 1248?-1309 -- Authorship.
  • Porete, Marguerite, approximately 1250-1310 -- Authorship.
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