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Title: The Song of Songs and virginity : the study of a paradox in early Christian literature
Author: Henry, N.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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Abstract:
The dissertation is a study of the Christian quest for doctrinal and moral purity during the fifty years preceding the fall of Rome (410 AD). As the barbarians were approaching the frontiers of the empire, Roman citizens had to come to terms with the prospect that Rome might no longer be the 'Eternal City'. Success and wealth became meaningless. Many started to turn away from the material world. They put all their hopes into the Church which they wanted to be pure and untouchable. The dissertation shows that the rise of Christian asceticism and monasticism in the fourth century should be associated with the rigorist conception of the Church which developed at the same time. Moral preachers and rigorist theologians used the Song of Songs to redraw the boundaries of Christian society and the social order of the Church. Their interpretation of the poem betrays their will to strengthen the Church in face of political insecurity and to impose on Christian women a return to a more traditional and secluded lifestyle. My research is based on original Greek and Latin texts of the fourth and fifth century, mainly the works of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, St. Gregory of Elvira, and Ambrose of Milan. I make use of unedited manuscripts which I have discovered in the Vatican library and the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris. As well as contributing to the general history of the Early Church, my dissertation reveals important new information on the consecration of virgins in the fourth century and the liturgy which accompanied the ceremony. This new information includes evidence that the ceremony. This new information includes evidence that the ceremony of consecration of virgins appeared at the time of Ambrose and that it was deeply inspired by the Song of Songs. Chapter 6 contains a new and original reconstitution of this ceremony.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.603966  DOI: Not available
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