Embodiment—having, being in, or being associated with a body¬––is a topic of great cultural significance in the West today. Theological reflection and a defense of human embodiment has likewise gained traction in contemporary Evangelical theology. An affirmation that particular traits of human embodiment––such as gender/sex and ethnicity/race––remain important to our current embodied existence reflects a standard view in Evangelical theological anthropology.
However, a challenge posed to an Evangelical articulation of human embodiment comes by scholars who seek to integrate “apocalyptic theology” into contemporary theology. In this paper, I explore the relationship between theology done in the “apocalyptic idiom” and human embodiment. I ask whether the apocalyptic idiom is a cause of concern for Evangelicals who maintain the critical importance of human embodiment.
I argue that while scholars working in the apocalyptic idiom sometimes allege a commitment to human corporeality, the apocalyptic framework ultimately undermines human embodiment due to the antithesis created in their articulation of the nature/grace relationship.
My argument is structured by an interdisciplinary approach that brings exegesis and theological formulation together––a feature of the apocalyptic idiom itself¬. I begin by briefly defining apocalyptic¬¬ and extract anthropological themes based upon their cosmological, epistemological, and soteriological commitments. Next, I engage in a two-pronged analysis starting with an exegetical critique of J. Louis Martyn’s view of Gal. 3:28. I then broaden my critique by mapping the discussion of apocalyptic anthropology onto a theological debate concerning the relationship between nature and grace. By introducing a Reformed articulation of nature/grace relationship, I provide not only a contrast with the nature/grace relationship as expressed in the apocalyptic idiom, but also a positive alternative that grounds an affirmation of human embodiment.