Original Research

The crown of virginity, paradise regained: A study of Jerome’s ascetic exegesis in a selection of his works

Johanna C. Lamprecht
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 1 | a5319 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i1.5319 | © 2019 Johanna C. Lamprecht | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 November 2018 | Published: 28 October 2019

About the author(s)

Johanna C. Lamprecht, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


This article explores, in the first place, Jerome’s creation of pro-virginal propaganda in a selection of his treatises and letters, through the employment of scriptural justification by means of ascetic exegesis and rhetorical strategies. The study focuses, in particular, on his Epistulae 22 and 130, both addressed to virgins, and his treatise Adversus Iovinianum. Jerome interpreted and deployed carefully selected biblical texts and employed classical rhetorical conventions to construct his ascetic ideal mainly based on sexual renunciation. The article argues that by extolling the virginal body through metaphorical figurations and careful textualisation, this ‘apostle of virginity’ aimed to create, in the first instance, for ascetically minded virgins, a means of achieving perfection and union with God, and receiving the awards of heaven. The analysis of the selected works and of Jerome’s ascetic exegesis, however, also reveals some significant markers, indicating his own carefully disguised quest for personal redemption and regaining paradise.


Virginity; Asceticism; Jerome; Crown of Virginity; Paradise; Redemption


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