The body of the artist, in the body of Christ: toward a theology of the embodied arts

Dennis Bray*

*Corresponding author for this work

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One insight at the heart of embodiment research is that the particular, material human body is the nexus of two loci: as an integration of sensory apparatuses, the body is the receptive locus of the world; at the same time, the body is the locus of responsive engagement with the world. Working from the framework of embodiment, this essay is a theological exploration of the arts, with particular attention given to the artist. The first half details two controlling ideas about the nature of embodiment and the arts: (i) the arts are necessarily embodied, and (ii) the Christian artist is in Christ’s body. Here I examine how the artwork and the artist are necessarily embodied—the body is the horizon on which the arts are possible. With these two controlling ideas in hand, the second half of the essay considers three implications: (i) the artist works in and for the church; (ii) the arts are a gift of the Holy Spirit; and (iii) the arts are a place where the church experiences the Spirit’s working. These implications yield, among other insights, the finding that Christ’s body is horizon on which the Christian arts are possible.
Original languageEnglish
Article number345
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2024


  • Theology of the arts
  • Theology of embodiment
  • Spiritual gift or art
  • Embodied artist
  • Christ's body


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