The Practice of the Body of Christ: Human Agency in Pauline Theology after MacIntyre

By Colin D. Miller

A new reading of Paul’s theology through the lens of Alasdair MacIntyre’s modern exposition of Aristotelian virtue ethics.

ISBN: 9780227174609


The Practice of the Body of Christ begins a conversation between “apocalyptic” interpretations of the Apostle Paul and “virtue ethics” interpretations. It argues that the human actor’s place in Pauline theology has long been captive to theological concerns foreign to Paul and that we can discern in Paul a classical account of human action, an account that Alasdair MacIntyre’s work helps to recover. Such an account of agency helps ground an apocalyptic reading of Paul by recovering the centrality of the church and its day-to-day Christic practices, specifically, but not exclusively, the Eucharist. Miller first offers a critique of some contemporary accounts of agency in Paul in the light of MacIntyre’s work. Three exegetical chapters then establish a “MacIntyrian” re-reading of central parts of the Letter to the Romans. Finally, a concluding chapter offers theological syntheses and prospects for future research.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 226

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Father Colin D. Miller (PhD, Duke University) is Associate Rector for Urban Ministry at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a member of Peter Maurin Catholic Worker House in Durham, North Carolina.


Foreword by Stanley Hauerwas

1. MacIntyrian Challenges to the Modern Study of Paul
2. A Gifted Obedience: Rereading Romans 5:12-21
3. Practicing Participation: The Virtues of Romans 6-8
4. Romans 12-15 as the Practice of the Body of Christ
5. Some Synthetic and Prospective Conclusions



Endorsements and Reviews

Miller understands well the apocalyptic reading of Paul, but addresses here certain crucial questions that are, as yet, insufficiently developed by this interpretative trajectory. He analyses human agency in relation to the all-important divine act in Christ, and connects this intersection in a non-individualistic way with an account of the church and its practices. A highly significant and deeply intelligent set of proposals for the interpretation of Paul results.
Douglas A. Campbell, Associate Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School

With detailed exegesis, Miller provides an insightful articulation of Paul’s theology, especially ecclesiology and the function of baptism and the Eucharist. Miller convincingly demonstrates the body of Christ is what we do, being baptised, enlivened by the Spirit, and sustained by participation in the Eucharist.
The Right Reverend William O. Gregg, Assistant Bishop, The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina

… this is a book that rightly presses for more ethical and ecclesiological engagement in apocalyptic readings of Paul. … the book contributes in important ways to contemporary Pauline hermeneutics.
Alexandra R. Brown, in Theology, Vol 118, No 5

Those familiar with MacIntyre will appreciate the well-developed section on his reading of Augustine, not to mention the mature deconstruction of the modern moral tradition. … For my own part, I find him persuasive.
Michael Lakey, in Modern Believing, Vol 57.2