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Broken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary, and the Body in Trauma Theology

Karen O’Donnell
SCM Press, 2018, 224 pp., hbk/pbk

Broken Bodies: The Eucharist, Mary, and the Body in Trauma Theology

This work, the published version of O’Donnell’s PhD thesis, locates itself within the emerging field of trauma theology. The concept of trauma is employed as a hermeneutical lens through which predominant Christian narratives such as priesthood, the Eucharist, and sacraments are interrogated. In keeping with other trauma theologies the body is the a central focus, reiterating theologically that most Christian doctrines are fundamentally concerned with the body and therefore should take the body seriously. O’Donnell’s point of departure from other trauma theologies is her interest in somatic memory. Whilst others trauma theologies tend to either take the body seriously, or conversely, take memory seriously, O’Donnell utilizes somatic memory, to recall forgotten narratives within Christian theological history that have the potential to help create new and liberating narratives for the practice of Christianity today. An example of this somatic memory is found in the celebration of the Eucharist. For too long the focus here has been solely on Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, occluding other narratives referencing Jesus’ incarnation and the role of Mary in this central Christian mystery. O’Donnell’s major and consistently well-argued contribution, reached via somatic memory, is that the Annunciation-Incarnation event lies at the heart of the Christian narrative.

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