Good Body: Reasonable, Worshiping Animals through the Frame of the Philosophy of Alasdair Macintyre and the Lens of the Theology of John Howard Yoder

Publication Date



Western philosophy and theology have had a tendency to downplay the body in favor of the intellect or the soul. This dissertation seeks to open up avenues for philosophy, theology, and ethics to integrate the contemporary concern for the body with the Christian tradition. Alasdair MacIntyre admits his failure to have provided a necessary substitution for Aristotle's metaphysical biology in his otherwise heroic recovery of the Aristotelian Thomist tradition and replaces it with a contemporary biological account in Depedent Rational Animals. I explain how MacIntyre's solution fits into his overall moral-philosophical project through a lengthy biographical account of how MacIntyre arrived at his mature position, what I call a non-reductive-physicalist moral philosphy. I also argue, however, that the theology of John Howard Yoder provides the kind of detailed example of the community that embodies MacIntyre's philosophical meta-level description. Yoder himself wrote The Politics of Jesus in order to address a theological anomaly: Jesus does not seem to be relevant to Christian ethics. I place the overall thrust of his work into the tradition-constituted and tradition-constitutive rationality that MacIntyre identifies, demonstrating the congruity in their projects and thereby validating MacIntyre's theoretical framework by showing how Yoder's theological work and thick communal description fit MacIntyre's framework. Yoder's work gives practical specificity as well as additional theological theory to MacIntyre's work in return. The philosophical, theological, and ethical gifts these two thinkers offer one another include an expansion of the virtues, theological notions of mutual dependence, an apocalyptic that goes with the grain (rather than either a predictable teleology or a violently invasive eschatology), revolutionary reasoning, reflections on the powers and politics, and ten theses on the body. Finally, I present Jesus as the Good Body, in three aspects: the gendered Jew born of the Virgin Mary, the broken bread from heaven, and the assemblage of resurrection life. Drawing attention to the important work of J. Kameron Carter and Willie James Jennings on race and the Christian imagination, my project sheds light on the Western neglect and misunderstanding of the body, and identifies a more faithful attention to the body viewed, following Yoder, doxologically.

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Theology (PhD in Theology)

First Advisor

Murphy, Nancey

Document Type





Human body, Christianity, Alasdair C. MacIntyre, John Howard Yoder, Reason


Missions and World Christianity


Public Access: If you attend a college or university, you may be granted access for free through your school library subscription to ProQuest Theses & Dissertations. Copies may be available for purchase via ProQuest Dissertations Publishing https://dissexpress.proquest.com/search.html

Upload File


Embargo Period