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Repurposing the Body: Sacramentality and the Poetics of Discipleship

Daniel Wade McClain

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In this article I argue that the Christian body, or the body of the disciple, is a site of extraordinary sacramental power, as demonstrated in two different genres: early Christian martyrdom accounts and early Anglican poetry. Specifically, I attend to the martyrdom of Polycarp and George Herbert’s “Love (3)” in order to manifest how martyrdom and poetry both preserve and transform witnesses. My argument is occasioned by what some call the loss of sacramental presence, especially in the poetry of our early Anglican bards. In contrast to this secularized and desacramentalized interpretation, I propose that sacramental presence pervades these works in much the same way that it pervades the early martyrdom accounts. The sacramental, in persecution and poetry, is formative and ineluctably bodily; neither Herbert nor Polycarp overlooked this.

 
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