Poetics of the Flesh
Abandoning Flesh: The Letters of Paul
The letters of Paul are an influential source for the distinction between “body” and “flesh” as well as the association between flesh and sin. The decisive question in 1 Corinthians concerns the resurrected body: what kind of body is resurrected? Paul’s explanation rests on a distinction between earthy bodies and spiritual bodies, which entails a distinction between “flesh” and “body.” In the Letter to the Romans, the relationship between sin, law, and flesh becomes crucial, for the law is described as “spiritual” while flesh is the site of sin. This association is often interpreted as attributing sin to sensibility and the passions—an association that still haunts Western imaginaries of “flesh.” The body of Christ is another central figure in Paul’s letters, and the chapter next traces the Pauline presentation of the collectivity as a single spiritual body.