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Liturgical Press

This Is My Body

Eucharistic Theology and Anthropology in the Writings of Gertrude the Great of Helfta

Ella Johnson

This Is My Body
This Is My Body

ISBN: 9780879072803, CS280P

Details: 272 pgs, 5 1/2 x 1/2 x 8 1/2
Publication Date: 03/30/2020
Cistercian Publications
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This book examines how the writings of the thirteenth-century nun Gertrude the Great of Helfta articulate an innovative relationship between a person's eucharistic devotion and her body. It attends to her references to the biblical, monastic, and theological traditions, including attitudes and ideas about the spiritual and corporeal senses, in order to illuminate the affirmative role Gertrude assigns to the body in making spiritual progress. Ultimately the book demonstrates that Gertrude leaves behind the dualistic aspect of the Christian intellectual and devotional tradition while exploiting its affirmative concepts of bodily forms of knowing divine union.

Ella Johnson, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Theology Department at St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, where she teaches courses on systematic theology, ecclesiology, social justice, and medieval women mystics. Johnson's research focuses on women's theology and piety in medieval Christian history, especially that of the thirteenth-century Helfta writers. She has published several book chapters and articles on Gertrude the Great of Helfta in peer-reviewed journals such as Viator, Magistra, and Medieval Mystical Theology.


"Scholars of Gertrude and medieval women’s studies will welcome the fine scholarship of this work, which presents Gertrude as a mystical theologian, who honors the bodily senses as much as spiritual ones as ways of knowing God."
Mary Forman, OSB, American Benedictine Review

"Ella Johnson's passionate study explores the depth of the writings associated with Gertrude of Helfta, looking into both their sources in scholasticism and their effects for meditative readings. It discusses questions of theology, gendered authorship, and the medieval sensorium in new and inspiring ways."
Racha Kirakosian, Associate Professor of German and the Study of Religion, Harvard University

"Whether scholar or novice, if you are interested in Gertrude the Great of Helfta, time devoted to Dr. Ella Johnson's impressive and timely volume will prove enlightening."
Cistercian Studies Quarterly

"This Is My Body is an innovative and thought-provoking book. Johnson's careful reading of the texts supports her argument that Gertrude is a model for theologians who seek to move beyond dichotomies based in differences."