Prophetism of the Body: Towards a More Adequate Anthropology of John Paul II's Theology of the Body Through a Feminist Hermeneutic

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Theology


Department of Religious Studies


Advisor: Jana Bennett


Placing the theological anthropology set forth in the foundational addresses of John Paul II's Theology of the Body alongside feminist theological perspectives, this dissertation proposes a more adequate anthropology, proper to the human person as female and male. My objectives include engaging feminist criticism and related theological frameworks, such as feminist, Trinitarian, and embodiment theologies in order to advance a theological anthropology that assimilates a fuller human perspective.Based on a critical essentialist method, this dissertation accepts difference between sexes as an anthropological criterion by which to assess integrated female and male relationships to one another and to God, but does so in a way that defines terms, refines conclusions, and proposes lacunas in the discourse. The significance of this dissertation is twofold. First, it distinguishes the early discourses of the Theology of the Body as foundational to the entirety of John Paul II's audiences in contrast to a pervasive disregard for close attention to early texts in favor of later discourses on sexual ethics. Second, it advances both unique perspectives of the Theology of the Body and feminism towards a more adequate anthropology that thrives in mutuality and reciprocity, in which neither female nor male is diminished. Third, this dissertation contributes to a conversation about the bodily-person, including embodied difference, in which difference is encountered as a necessary principle for unity, particularly in the acts of self-gift and relationship.My conclusions incorporate John Paul II's claim that the body reveals the person with a feminist concern that marginalized persons, especially women, are created as imago Dei in the same measure as every other person. By considering topics of language and meaning, theology and embodiment, anthropology and feminism, and relationships and complementarity, this dissertation concludes that the Theology of the Body discourses offer a rich perspective through which a necessary and more adequate theological anthropology can be achieved.


Theology, Womens Studies, Catholic, theological anthropology, theology of woman, John Paul II, Theology of the Body, prophetism of the body, adequate anthropology, embodiment, Catholic feminism, imago Dei, human person

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