In Good Company

The Body and Divinization in Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ and Daoist Xiao Yingsou

Series:

In Good Company answers a question that has confounded Christian theologians: What is the nature of the body that will enjoy resurrection at the end of time? In this exciting work of comparative theology, Bede Benjamin Bidlack derives a theory of the body from the French Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, by putting him in dialogue with the Song Dynasty Daoist Xiao Yingsou. In addition to its contribution to comparative theology, In Good Company offers the first translation of the preface of Xiao’s commentary on the Duren jing in a Western language, as well as a careful explication of the provocative mountain diagram therein. Bidlack presents an original contribution for both scholars of Christian theology and Chinese religion.

“An excellent example of comparative theology, Bede Bidlack’s In Good Company demonstrates how certain lacunae in one tradition may be addressed by drawing on resources from another religion. Having identified a neglect of the body in the work of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and in much of the Christian tradition of divinization, Bidlack discusses the work of Daoist scholar Xiao Yingsou as a possible source of inspiration and theological imagination.”
– Catherine Cornille,
Newton College Alumnae Chair,
Professor of Comparative Theology,
Boston College

In Good Company takes comparative theology to a new level: it not only places Daoism front and center, but also opens Christian spirituality to a wider dimension. Concerned with the two core themes of the body and personal divinization (or resurrection), the book centers on the work of two influential thinkers in their traditions: Teilhard de Chardin and Xiao Yingsou. Although 800 years apart, their visions of the body as the
means to ultimate fulfillment, in close relation to divinity and the cosmos as a whole, powerfully enhance each other, as do their understanding of the intricate process of personal divinization. The book is challenging in its outlook, unsettling in its destabilization of terms, and brilliant in its interweaving of the two traditions. A must for anyone concerned with the new global environment of religious pluralism and the ongoing process of
interreligious dialogue.”

– Livia Kohn, Professor
Emerita of Religion & East Asian Studies,
Boston University
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Biographical Note

Bede Benjamin Bidlack, Ph.D. (2011), Boston College, is Assistant Professor of Theology at Saint Anselm College. He has published in the areas of systematic theology, Christian-Daoist comparative theology, and Daoist studies. This is his first monograph.

Review Quote

" In Good Company makes a constructive contribution to the theology of the (cosmic) body, beginning with the insights of the famed scientist-theologian-mystic Teilhard de Chardin, SJ (1881–1955) and ending, led by a sense of intellectual appropriateness and necessity, in the world of medieval Daoist thought."
Francis X. Clooney, Harvard Divinity School, Oct. 2015

"Au lecteur occidental, s’il est prêt au dépaysement total, cette traversée ouvre des aperçus neufs sur différentes dimensions de la corporéité (individuelle, communautaire, cosmique…) et propose des outils bienvenus pour reprendre de manière nuancée la question de la résurrection et de la divinisation."
J. Scheuer s.j., Nouvelle revue théologique Vol. 138, No. 3, (2016)

“This book definitely contributes to Teilhard scholarship. The connections [Bidlack] makes between the Daoist body and the Teilhardian body are brilliantly mined giving a depth and richness to Teilhard’s Cosmic Christ. This work encourages further activity in comparative theology and illustrates the power of constructive interfaith dialogue to broaden our theological categories.”
Kathleen Duffy, Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia Theological Studies 78(1), 257-258

Table of contents


LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

INTRODUCTION
Teilhard de Chardin
The Mountain Diagram in the Inner Meaning of the Scripture of Salvation
Structure of the Work

CHAPTER ONE: TRYING TO HOLD TOGETHER: BODY/SOUL DUALISM IN CHRISTIAN ANTHROPOLOGY

NEW TESTAMENT THEOLOGIES
Paul
The Body in the Gospel of John
PATRISTIC PERIOD
Irenaeus of Lyons
Augustine
MEDIEVAL PERIOD: THOMAS AQUINAS
Enter Aristotelian Metaphysics
The Soul as Actuality
The Body’s Effect on the Soul
MODERN FRANCE
Henri Bergson
Maurice Blondel
CONCLUSION

CHAPTER TWO: THE BODY AND DIVINIZATION IN TEILHARD

PART I: THE APPEARANCE OF THE HUMAN
The Stuff of the Universe
Life Arises
Thought Makes the Human
Christ and Creation
Conclusions about the Body

PART II: DIVINIZATION IN THE DIVINE MILIEU
Divinization of Activities
Divinization of Passivities
Conclusion: The Divine Milieu

PART III: DIVINIZATION IS CENTRATION
Centration: Microcosmic
Centration: Macrocosmic
The Body Beyond Matter

CHAPTER THREE: DAOIST BODY AND DIVINIZATION

PART I: STANDARD BODY MODELS
The Mystical Body
The Microcosmic Body
The Bureaucratic Body
The Divine Residence Body

PART II: ALCHEMY
Historical Background
The Alchemical Body
The Road to Immortality: The Alchemical Process

CONCLUSION

CHAPTER FOUR: THE BODY AND DIVINIZATION OF XIAO YINGSOU

PART I: THE TEXT OF THE PREFACE

Xiao Yingsou
Numinous Treasure Daoism
Scripture of Salvation
Xiao’s Use of Alchemy in the Preface

PART II: MOUNTAINS IN CHINESE RELIGION AND ART

PART III: THE MOUNTAIN DIAGRAM
Comprehensive Features: The Title
Other Comprehensive Features
The Lower Region
The Middle Region
The Upper Region

CONCLUSION

CHAPTER FIVE: GIVING TEILHARD HIS BODY

PART I: THE BODY
Body as Cosmos
Body as Community
Body from the Inside of Things
Body Conclusion: Jesus’ Resurrection Body

PART II: DIVINIZATION
Divinization as Centration
The Use of Mind
Haloing
Divinization Conclusion

CONCLUSION

APPENDIX ONE: TRANSLATION OF THE INNER MEANING OF THE SCRIPTURE OF SALVATION
APPENDIX TWO: ANALYSIS OF THE MOUNTAIN DIAGRAM
Other Elements
GLOSSARY OF CHINESE TERMS
BIBLIOGRAPHY

Readership

Anyone interested in Christian theology, Teilhard de Chardin, Daoist studies, body studies, and spirituality.