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Ok, I'm dithering to avoid sending a piece of writing, SO how about a mini-thread on medieval cannibal babies?

Medieval Christian theologians were OBSESSED with the cannibal baby question: if our bodies are resurrected in the Last Judgment, what happens if we were eaten?
They thought God would just extract the you-matter from the cannibal's body, and the cannibal would be resurrected using whatever other matter their body was made of. God keeps track of the tiny bits that are you and puts them back together, even if you are eaten or burned up
But medieval theologians had the bigger problem: cannibal babies. What if 2 cannibals eat you & they have a baby, made entirely out of substance from consumed flesh? How will God resurrect the baby & you if you are made of the SAME MATTER? Will the baby's substance turn into you?
Earlier theologians tended to fudge this question by saying that God is all-powerful and will just make some extra matter if need be. Calm down, He Works in Mysterious Ways, you'll get a body, just CHILL OUT.
St Augustine didn't REALLY think we are made out of what we eat and ANYWAY if you eat a little bit of someone else (bc you're hungry or wevs, I mean, WHO HASN'T), that flesh EVAPORATES INTO AIR and floats around until the resurrection. We're surrounded by flesh vapor. It's cool!
For Augustine, the human that you ate bc you were hungry ("an extremity not unknown" in these times; WHOMST AMONG US has not had to eat someone) is like a loan and you have to give their flesh back. But God will give you other flesh, so no skin off anyone's back! Chill out.
This was largely the party line until the late Middle Ages. Thomas Aquinas thought a LOT about the cannibal baby issue and whether a baby made entirely of cannibalized flesh would just get divided up into its former bodies in the Last Judgment.
So Tom's view was that--if the cannibal had EVER eaten anything else or if their parents had--then God just used that matter. But the baby born to people on a cannibalism-only diet presented Tom with the same problems as it presented everyone.
If you are a strict cannibal, Thomas argued, but your parents weren't, then God would just restore the matter that came from your parents, specifically your father's semen, and then supplement it with some extra new matter.
But if you're a strict cannibal and your parents were, then Thomas Aquinas thought that God just fudged it. The part of you made from your father's semen, EVEN IF THE SEMEN WAS ORIGINALLY SOMEONE YOUR DAD ATE, would be restored as your body.
So, if you are eaten by a cannibal who then has sex with another cannibal & part of your eaten body turns into the semen that makes a cannibal baby, SORRY. You dont get that little bit of yourself back. It belongs to the baby now. God will replace that matter w/new matter.
Christians were very anxious about all of these scenarios. The anxiety went hand-in-hand with racist projection of cannibalism onto non-Christians, especially Jews and Muslims, who were accused of ritual cannibalism. Ironic, given ritual cannibalism in Catholicism (Eucharist).
Geraldine Heng's wonderful book *Empire of Magic* looks at these racist anxieties, as well as at the actual historical cannnibalism that European Crusaders did in the Levant and at romances like the ME Richard Coer de Lyon, in which King Richard eats Muslims as a joke.
Cannibalism was also associated with sodomites. In fact, Thomas Aquinas calls sodomy a bestial vice that he associates with cannibalism. This may be bc sodomy was often associated with non-Christians. Aquinas thought sodomy meant male-male sexual acts/bestiality/cannibalism
Anyway, I need to actually do work, so thank you for joining me for this journey from invisible flesh vapors to cannibal semen to the possibility that Thomas Aquinas thought cannibals were a little light in the loafers. Remember, God fixes cannibalism (even by rabbits).
Aww this got popular. To answer a popular question: yes, they also asked about babies who were cannibals, or at least Aquinas did. This is a quote from Caroline Walker Bynum's Fragmentation and Redemption, p. 242. Her book Resurrection of the Body also discusses this.
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