Abstract

Though Nancy Eiesland’s The Disabled God first introduced the identification of Jesus as disabled in 1994, sustained reflection on the person and work of Christ as disabled remains a mostly untapped wellspring for theological reflection in disability theology. Sitting with Christ’s disabled performativity, I identify Christ as disabled in both person and work, noting that recognizing disability in Christ’s person influences understandings of Christ’s work and vice versa. Establishing my use of the cultural model of disability, which I expand for use in constructive theology with Judith Butler’s notion of performativity, I examine resonances of the Disabled Christ in disability biblical studies, Augustine’s The City of God, and Julian of Norwich’s Showings. Next, I address assumptions that Jesus’ is only identified as disabled insofar as Christ takes on human nature in the Incarnation by proposing that kenosis is disabling. Reading Julian’s Parable of the Servant with narrative prosthesis and the feminist kenosis debate, I argue for kenosis as the emptying of hegemonic normalcy through the empowering performance of divine love in the shape of disability. Finally, I explore the Disabled Christ’s work of atonement by laying out Girard’s analysis of mimetic theory and scapegoating, offering critiques and possibilities for Girard’s work in a constructive disability theology. Following a discussion of Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo and Julian of Norwich’s atonement theology, I conclude by constructing an atonement theology in which Christ atones humanity to God through the disabled performance of Home, a Home found within the body of the Disabled Christ.

Degree Date

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Graduate Program in Religious Studies

Advisor

D. Stephen Long

Second Advisor

Jaime Clark-Soles

Third Advisor

Natalia Marandiuc

Fourth Advisor

Thomas E. Reynolds

Fifth Advisor

Jeremy Schipper

Subject Area

Religion, Theology/Religious Education

Number of Pages

413

Format

.pdf

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Wednesday, May 06, 2026

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