Friday, 24 May 2019

Pablo Irizar: Feeling with Christ: The Social Structure of Affective Rhetoric in Augustine’s Enarrationes in Psalmos

Augustine scholar Rowan Williams has convincingly illustrated how Augustine weaves prayer and reflection on the Psalms into a personal identity narrative in the Confessions. However, Williams neglects the crucial role of the Psalms in forming social identity. To address this lack, this paper charts the process whereby Augustine 'feels' the Psalms to narrate and, through the evocation of emotion, constitute social identity in the often-neglected Expositions of the Psalms. Social identity is defined narrowly in terms of C. Taylor’s notion of ‘social imaginary’ in order to bridge the gap between theological discourse and experiential background of the speaker-hearer dialectic inherent to homiletic practice. What, then, is the structure of the social imaginary in theExpositions of the Psalms? To address the question, the paper sketches how the divine image topos (Gen 1.26), which is central to early Christian anthropology, is weaved into theExpositions of the Psalms. It is argued that the structure of social imaginary as a triad of God’s image (humanity-Christ-Church), consisting of the unified voice of humanity and of the Church, directed to God the Father in and through the agony of Christ. All feel as one through Christ. To conclude, the triad of God’s image is identified with the totus Christus as the backbone of an 'emotive' social imaginary in Augustine’s Expositions of the Psalms.

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