The Role of Touch in Comprehending Love: Jesus's Foot Washing in John 13
Talbot School of Theology
When Jesus humbly washes his disciples’ feet (John 13), he engages his friends up close using the sense of touch. This article explores how his touch conveys a quality of love that no other physical sense can capture. Sensory Anthropology reveals how touch is often overlooked and undervalued but is quite potent. We confronted these dynamics most recently when the pandemic reversed our cultural rules around touch: almost overnight, touch became dangerous and distance a kindness. This rule-reversal proves analogous for our exploration of the foot washing. By employing Affect Theory, this study draws on these pandemic experiences alongside two tactile exchanges in the Fourth Gospel (John 9, 12) to examine how Jesus’s touch in the foot washing overturns the “rules” to convey a unique quality of love.
foot washing, touch, tactile, Sensory Anthropology, Affect Theory
Journal of Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies
Hanger, Jeannine, "The Role of Touch in Comprehending Love: Jesus's Foot Washing in John 13" (2022). Faculty Articles & Research. 764.