Enfleshing the Reign of God: Embodiment and Praxis in the Thought of Edward Schillebeeckx and Judith Butler

Adam J Beyt, Fordham University


This dissertation argues for a potential solution to problem of violence and theological anthropology by using the logic of the Incarnation and Christian eschatology as a model for articulating categories of the human within Roman Catholic theology. Using the personalist thought of Karol Wojtyła/ Pope John Paul II as an example, Roman Catholic theological anthropology is presented as a dual-edged sword, one capable of defending marginalized communities through a robust solidaristic praxis but also capable of producing an unrelenting metaphysics of gender resulting in different types of violence. In drawing on the work of Edward Schillebeeckx and Judith Butler, this project explores two impulses within Catholic theology as a solution: the body as a signifier and the body in relation to the eschaton. The trajectory of Schillebeeckx’s account of the body follows a logic analogous to the Incarnation in describing our embeddedness in a network of relationality within creation mediated through human meaning making. Similarly, Butler’s work, deep in conversation with continental philosophy and contemporary political movements, explores how bodies materialize within human signification. In his mystical-political theology, Schillebeeckx argues that Christian discipleship ought to address the threatened humanum, his term for the eschatological flourishing announced by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. For Schillebeeckx, salvation, and subsequently grace, is a fragmentary instantiation of the Reign of God on earth. He therefore foregrounds the eschatological fulfillment of creation as the aim of Christian political praxis. Eschatological hope becomes the hermeneutical norm for Schillebeeckx’s mystical-political praxis, suggesting a self-critiquing and perpetually renewed account of solidaristic praxis for theological anthropology. Butler’s politics of nonviolence foregrounds worldbuilding based on a radical egalitarian imaginary. Focusing on a convergence of thought, this dissertation builds upon Schillebeeckx’s political theology and Butler’s work on nonviolence to describe Christian discipleship as a renewed commitment to mitigating violence done to human bodies.

Subject Area

Theology|Philosophy of religion|Philosophy|Ethics

Recommended Citation

Beyt, Adam J, "Enfleshing the Reign of God: Embodiment and Praxis in the Thought of Edward Schillebeeckx and Judith Butler" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28418113.