Bodies, theology and Dante’s Divine Comedy

Engaging Dante and Aïda Muluneh


  • Rozelle Robson Bosch university of pretoria



Placing the words Comedy and Africa in the same sentence, is like laying claim to two expansive and complex entities which do not immediately bear relation to another and yet, there is ample opportunity for engagement. The article begins by showing how a young South African’s reading of the Divine Comedy through the lens of her own preoccupation with the body and its theo-performative demeanour can bring fresh perspectives to the fore. A primary instance of the intersection between the body, God and theological performance is the Ethiopian artist Aïda Muluneh’s interpretation of Inferno, canto xx. Muluneh’s performative expression transforms the scope and meaning of tears in the Comedy by bringing to bear her own particularity. Here, tears become central in unveiling the truth that the Comedy speaks. The article explores the significant role that gestures have in giving form to the Divine Comedy. As the logic of relationality, love forms the spine of this article while drawing together the themes of creation and incarnation. The article ends by suggesting that if one has a proper understanding of the relationship between humans and the created order, one might find a theology from below latent in the Comedy.






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