In the early sixth-century eastern Roman empire, anti-Chalcedonian leaders Severus of Antioch and Julian of Halicarnassus debated the nature of Jesus's body: Was it corruptible prior to its resurrection from the dead? Viewing the controversy in light of late antiquity’s multiple images of the ‘body of Christ,’ Yonatan Moss reveals the underlying political, ritual, and cultural stakes and the long-lasting effects of this fateful theological debate. Incorruptible Bodies combines sophisticated historical methods with philological rigor and theological precision, bringing to light an important chapter in the history of Christianity.
Yonatan Moss is a scholar at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he teaches in the Department of Comparative Religion.
“Incorruptible Bodies reveals the unappreciated significance of an episode in the sixth-century history of the Christian church and the work and legacy of Severus of Antioch, the leading anti-Chalcedonian theologian and churchman. Moss explores the bitterly debated question of the corruptibility of Christ’s body during his earthly life in its many surprising facets, uncovering in the anti-Chalcedonian community a deep-rooted tension between the perfect ideal and the less-than-perfect reality, between idealism and pragmatism, and between exclusivism and inclusivism in imagining the one true church of Christ.”—Lucas Van Rompay, Professor of Eastern Christianity, Duke University
“Yonatan Moss’s groundbreaking study focuses on the writings of Severus of Antioch, the greatest theological thinker of the sixth century, and his disputes with Julian of Halicarnassus on the corruptibility of the body of Christ. Although some scholars marginalize their debates as so much hair-splitting, Moss shows convincingly that what is at stake is an argument about being intact, whether in relation to the physical body of Christ or to his social body as the one church. Incorruptible Bodies is a clearly written and deeply learned work that will be a milestone in sixth-century studies.”—Iain R. Torrance, President Emeritus of Princeton Theological Seminary
“Drawing on a wide range of often difficult sources, Moss forces us to rethink how we understand the aftermath of the Council of Chalcedon. According to the traditional narrative, Severus of Antioch was a founding leader of the nascent anti-Chalcedonian Church. Moss, however, provocatively—and convincingly—argues that Severus was in point of fact opposed to separating from the Church of the Empire. This rich book exemplifies how to read against the received historical narrative.”—Aaron Michael Butts, Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of America