Saturday, 11 April 2015

Metha Hokke: Scent as a metaphor for the bonding of Christ and the virgin in Ambrose's De Virginitate

In De Virginibus 2.6.39, Ambrose declared that he intended that book to exhale the scent of virginity. The range of the olfactory metaphors pervading his virginity treatises, however, is more extensive. Pivotal in this communication wil be the signficance of odor in the increasingly closer relationship between the virgin and Christ in her search for him as described in De Virginitate.
Of major interest is the interpretation of the imagery from the Song of Songs preparing the contact between the virginal bride and the bridegroom, Christ. This contact amounts to the virgin's faith in, but also her appropriation of the smell of, Christ's death and resurrection. This relationship is placed in the broader context of Christ's incarnation, described in terms of the Song of Songs as the dispersion of the scent of the unguentum exinanitum (cf. Philippians 2.6-7 (incarnation); Isaiah 49.6; John 12.3 (dispersion)).
The influence of Hippolytus of Rome's commentary on the Song of Songs (Smith, Yancy Warren Hippolytus' Commentary on the Song of Songs.. (2009) pp 240-375) and Origen's commentary (as translated by Rufinus) and homilies (translated by Jerome) on the Song of Songs will be taken into account.

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