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Title: The body of God in word, world and sacrament : a comparative study of A.J. Appasamy and his reading of Rāmānuja
Author: Dunn, Brian Philip
ISNI:       0000 0004 5349 7321
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis is a comparative study that focuses on the writings of an Oxford-trained Indian Christian theologian, priest and Bishop named A.J. Appasamy (1891-1975), and his theological interaction with the texts and tradition of the Srivaiṣṇava reformer Rāmānuja (1017-1137). For my doctrinal focus I have chosen to explore Appasamy’s four-fold Johannine application of the ‘Body of God’ analogy - the ‘Universe’, ‘Incarnation’, ‘Eucharist’ and ‘Church’ being his four divine embodiments. Post-Independence, Appasamy faced criticisms from expatriate theologians who described his theological project as ‘bold heresies’, a ‘synthesis of Christianity and Vedanta’ that has ‘shifted the axis’ from Christianity to ‘Hindu religion’. By following the leads in Appasamy writings back to his devotional tradition, I argue that such charges are, in fact, baseless and that his application of the analogy is rooted, rather, in the sacramental theology of his own Anglican tradition. To do so I demonstrate how his views on divine embodiment closely reflect the theological developments that took place in the first half of the last century between the time of Charles Gore and William Temple. Methodologically, I am arguing for the need to understand theological discourse as being semiotically and traditionally situated, embedded in mythic narrative and embodied in ritual practice. In doing so, however, I further argue that just as Appasamy’s detractors have failed to read him in the context of his devotional tradition, so, too, has Appasamy done with Rāmānuja. By reading Rāmānuja more as a Vedāntic philosophical theologian than as a sectarian practitioner, he has abstracted the Ācārya from his tradition - a tradition that is undoubtedly temple-based. On this basis I challenge Appasamy’s use of Rāmānuja’s terms and propose what I believe to be a better reading of John’s Gospel for future comparative interaction with the Srivaiṣṇava tradition.
Supervisor: Edwards, Mark; Flood, Gavin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Religions of the Indian subcontinent. ; Christianity and Christian spirituality ; Biblical studies