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Old Testament Essays

On-line version ISSN 2312-3621
Print version ISSN 1010-9919

Old testam. essays vol.24 n.3 Pretoria  2011


The sex life of a Psalm: Augustine and textual sexuality in Enarrationes in Psalmos 127 [128]



Chris L. de Wet

University of South Africa





In the tradition of Roland Barthes and Jean-François Lyotard, this study explores the notion of textual sexuality, specifically in Augustine's sermon on Ps 127 [128]. The libidinality of the ancient near-eastern context of the psalm is discussed, with special emphasis on the virile male body and the fertile female body. There-after, Augustine's prosopological exegesis of the psalm is discussed. He presents the text as an involucram, which is in itself a sexually nuanced term. The involucram must be voyeuristically undressed, penetrated and impregnated through meditation, which eventually leads to the mystical birth of "true" and "spiritual" meaning. In Augustine's reading, Christ is now indicative of the beautiful and virile male, with the church as both fertile wife and progeny. The paper provides a glimpse into the "sex life" of a psalm by highlighting literary and textual libidinality, and presents it as a creative reading strategy for a post-modern society shaped by various sexualities.



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Chris de Wet
Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies
P.O. Box 392, University of South Africa, Unisa, 0003