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Author: Andrew Crislip

Abstract

While the expectation that passions (or cognitive and emotional capacities) have an afterlife is widespread across cultures, posthumous bodily continuity is more difficult to explain, as seen in the vigorous early Christian debates about the interrelatedness of passions and embodiment in the resurrection. Monastic literature in Egypt offers a rich field for tracing the history of such debates about body and soul through late antiquity. Heir to a society and embedded in a landscape where belief in the posthumous preservation of the body had unusual prominence, Egyptian monasticism witnesses to a diversity of belief, as theologians and ascetics continued to struggle with the challenge of reconciling soul and body in immortality and the resurrection. Focusing on primarily Coptic sources from the early fourth through the seventh centuries, this chapter follows the reflections of ascetic guides and preachers on the interrelation of body and soul as they address resurrection and bodily transformation in letters, polemics, and sermons. While the unity of body and soul remained a controversial topic among late antique Coptic writers, this chapter argues that such writers share an important perspective on embodiment and bodily cognition and experience as fundamental to arguing for the reality of the doctrine of resurrection, including the resurrected body of Christ in the Eucharist, the heavenly existence of saints, and the general resurrection of the Eschaton.

In: The Unity of Body and Soul in Patristic and Byzantine Thought