Poetics of the Flesh
Regarding Christian Bodies
This chapter treats the poetics of flesh in the Gospel of John, highlighting the movement of central images: flesh, bread, spirit, and water. The gospel articulates the incarnation in terms of “flesh” rather than body. Salvation is envisioned through flesh. The chapter traces the gospel’s characterization of flesh, which emphasizes its transformations as it is distributed and shared. Flesh, in this gospel, is elemental. But this elemental vitality is intertwined with death. “Flesh” evokes the way in which life and death are embedded in material processes that act on human bodies. The final section of the chapter attends to the gospel’s descriptions of water, which it associates with spirit at crucial moments. Spirit and flesh flow into each other, as the gospel conveys the intertwining of the material and the spiritual.