While it is neither possible nor necessary to define, once and for all, what the body essentially is, it is possible to analyze how it is construed in the sociocultural reality of religions. Understanding the body is relevant to the sociology of religion because it is one of various means by which religions deal with their central problem: to make sensually present that which is utterly nonpresent. This entry presents selected approaches to the body, describes its relevance to the study of religion, and concludes with a methodological note.

The body, first of all, is the biological organism of humans. It is a complex assembly of bones, muscles, nerves, and numerous organs. As such, it is the object of medical and biological studies. In sociology, ...

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