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The Dirty Physician: Necessary Dishonor and Fleshly Solidarity in Tertullian's Writings

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image of Vigiliae Christianae

This article examines Tertullian's multifaceted notion of physician and his views of illness and redemptive healing, particularly his arresting re-appropriation of dirt and dishonor as the basis for restoration against Marcion's alleged conception of a pure and spiritual salvation. Tertullian inverts the dominant value paradigm by rendering the shameful and dishonorable circumstances of the flesh as the necessary signifiers of truth and redemption. His creative reconfiguration of healing through filth and shame redraws early Christian discourse on embodiment and corrects facile typologies about purity and impurity, body and soul, incarnation and salvation, and individual and society.

Affiliations: 1: Loyola Marymount University, University Hall, 1 LMU Drive, Suite 3700, Los Angeles, CA 90045-2659, USA


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