Bodies of Communication


‘Bodies of Communication’ is a research unit fostering conversations on the body as a location of religious expression. As the study of religion moves away from religious doctrines and institutions towards an increasing interest in the lived experience of religion, the human body takes up a more central place. In biblical and related literature, the body is inevitably involved in the discussion of a range of issues; for some the connection is obvious, such as food and sexuality, birth and death, whilst for others the body forms either the background or the method of communication. 

While bodies are often policed in religious settings, this can also occur within a textual environment; bodies also offer a site for resistance and deviance, a means of opposing traditional norms. The abstract body, the idealized body and the concrete body, that exists and lives in time and space, can all be understood to express religious narratives and structures. 

This unit aims to increase understanding of the body as a significant site in the period of ancient Judaism and early Christianity, as well as in a variety of interpretations and resonances. It especially encourages engagement with issues that are relevant for contemporary culture and society.


Body, Representation, Boundaries, Order, Challenge


Dominika Kurek-Chomycz

Liverpool Hope University

Emma Swai
Liverpool Hope University

Sarah Whitear
Catholic University of Leuven (KUL)

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Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

For the EABS 2023 conference in Syracuse, the Bodies of Communication research unit will focus on Corporeality and Metaphor. We intend to explore texts which use specific corporealities to represent concepts or to construct identities. ‘A metaphor’s origins are typically ignored in subsequent acts of repetition’ (Billig and Macmillan, 2005) and a metaphor within a biblical text can be interpreted according to the understandings of the context in which it is read, not necessarily using the same source domain from when the text was written.  

How can corporeality create meaning?  Bodies of Communication invites papers which explore how corporeality is used figuratively to convey ideas, values or emotions. This can include examining metaphors and allegories, focusing on the interaction between source domain and target domain and considering the implications of different interpretations.  For example, papers may consider: 

  • How do corporeal metaphors use or express physical evaluation or judgements? 

  • How does gender function within corporeal metaphors?

  • How do representations of the body construct oppositions or oppositionality?

  • How does corporeal language facilitate the construction of social boundaries?

  • How clear are the distinctions between literal and figurative depictions of corporeality? 

  • How are corporeal allegories, or other forms of figurative expression, used within the cultic sphere? 

We would particularly welcome papers which consider the use of aspects of the body in figurative and symbolic language which constructs identity, where ‘The language of “the other” encompasses a comparative mode of identity construction’ (Byers, 2021).

For all our sessions, we welcome papers related to the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Jewish /Rabbinic literature, Early Christianity.