A journal of academic theology

Elyse J. Raby

Eighty Years after Mystici Corporis Christi: Rereading Mystical Body Theology in the Early Twentieth Century

Contemporary interpreters of the mystical body movement in the early twentieth century often refer to works therein as mystical body “ecclesiologies” and tend to identify distinctions among them according to the author’s language or nationality. In this article, I argue that the differences among mystical body theologies in that era are better understood according to theological locus—of “mystical body” as either an ecclesiological or a christological-soteriological concept. This framework best explains the paradoxical evaluations of the mystical body movement more broadly, and the encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi in particular, as simultaneously too vague and too juridical.

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