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The Sacred Body
Asceticism in Religion, Literature, Art, and Culture

By David Jasper

The Sacred Body
Hardback, 260 pages $39.95
Published: 1st August 2009
ISBN: 9781602581418
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Religious Studies, All Theology, Contemporary Theology

Continuing the work began in The Sacred Desert, David Jasper here turns his attention to the body, seeking a profound understanding of what it means to be in the flesh. A deeply autobiographical journey through disparate written texts (in literature, philosophy, theology and religion), art, and cinema, The Sacred Body rigorously and artfully pursues the body of the Christian tradition of “the Word made flesh”—a body torn and crucified, resurrected, and divinized, embracing both deep suffering and profound joy. Engaging ascetic traditions that began among fourth-century desert monastics, as well as George Herbert, Simone Weil, Meister Eckhart, James Joyce and others, David Jasper once again provides a bold, learned, and original theological exploration.




  1. Introduction: A Sunlit Landscape amid the Night of Non-Being
  2. The Soul as  Sacred Space
  3. The Body, Sacred and Profane
  4. The Word and the Body
  5. Asceticism as a Way of Love with a Modern Excursus
  6. Asceticism Imposed and Recovered: Velasquez, Martha and the Eyes of Faith
  7. The Eucharistic Body in Literature and Modern Experience: George Herbert and Simone Weil
  8. Holiness and the Resurrection Body: Meister Eckhart and James Joyce
  9. Romanticism and the Recovery of the Sacred in Language
  10. Towards Conclusions: Theological Possibilities



"David Jasper is a mighty theologian, and this short book... represents a serious, dense, and powerful contribution to contemporary theology--strong medicine indeed.... It is certainly a book that demands a second reading, and perhaps many more."

—Church Times (5 Feb 2010)

"... heartily recommended for readers interested in intellectual and spiritual exploration."

—Eugene Webb, University of Washington, Christianity and Literature (62:1)

"One of our most challenging and imaginative thinkers here goes well beyond his previous important work and gives us an incredibly comprehensive analysis.  Jasper understands the sacred desert critically, philosophically, and theologically at once, even while embodying that desert in a genuinely mystical meditation. In The Sacred Body desert becomes cosmos itself, as we are consumed in its unfolding, and are summoned to become what we behold."

—Thomas J. J. Altizer, Author of Godhead and the Nothing, and Living the Death of God

"[Jasper's] ability to draw the expected and unexpected partner into a conversation on the ascetic body is no mere clever or playful attempt to 'convince,' rather he invites the reader into the conversation to become part of the pursuit of a possibility for theology today."

Paul M. Collins, University of Chidester, The Journal of Theological Studies (October 2010, 61:2)

"As an author, Jasper is not ashamed to bare his own life before the reader's eyes. His method is refreshingly frank in its idiosyncrasy: personal anecdotes are common, the personal pronoun is abundant, and the book as a whole has an artful, syncopated quality."

—Christian Scholar's Review (2010, 39:3)

"A beautiful, even inspired, book that weaves through art, literature, Scripture, and philosophy."

—David E. Klemm, Professor of Modern Religious Thought, The University of Iowa

“This deeply serious meditation contains fresh, often dazzling, interpretations of classical literature and painting. Quintessential Jasper—his best book yet.”

—George Newlands, Professor of Divinity, University of Glasgow

David Jasper is Professor of Literature and Theology at the University of Glasgow and is Distinguished Overseas Professor of Comparative Literature in the School of Liberal Arts at the Renmin University of China.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 260 pages
 9in x 6in

  REL013000, REL067000
 Baylor University Press

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