Prudentius Morning Hymn Analysis

Improved Essays
In his “Morning Hymn,” Prudentius contrasts God’s blessing with human sin, extolling the redeeming quality of God’s light. He offers a particular characterization of sin, predicating it on perversion of thought, rather than action. As a solution for humanity’s inherent perversion, Prudentius offers the story of Jacob: to him, Jacob was purified through genital injury caused by a harsh God, allowing him to birth the kingdom of Israel. As such, Prudentius’s image of God is grounded in the wrathful lord of the Old Testament. He uses the story of Jacob to praise God as a vengeful overseer who can purify Man’s perversion solely through harsh judgment. In contrasting the light of God’s blessing with the darkness of sin, Prudentius focuses on perversion …show more content…
Prudentius views sexual perversion as a critical and inherent sin of humanity, so it follows that only unnatural injury to the sexual organ can cure the innate problem. With this path to salvation, Prudentius shifts from characterizing God as a benevolent watcher to a harsh deity who demands physical sacrifice in exchange for holy grace. In locating the injury on the genitals, Prudentius displays a God who is willing to use underhanded tactics of “unequal combat” (75) in order to garner sacrifice from humanity.
This characterization is linked to the wrathful God of the Old Testament. The conflict between Jacob and the Angel (Genesis 32) is almost immediately followed by the story of Shechem (Genesis 34), another tale of genital injury. After Shechem rapes Jacob’s daughter, Jacob hatches an elaborate plan to exact revenge. He offers Shechem his daughter for marriage, but requires “that every male of you be circumcised” (KJV Genesis 34:15). Shechem agrees, but three days later Jacob’s sons sack the town and slay the defenseless, sore male inhabitants. Shechem pays for his perversion, as God destroys his people through
…show more content…
He calls God “The Watcher” (105), who “looks down on us” (106). With this characterization, he invokes a condescending God, judgmental of humanity’s sin. Prudentius continues, “He is the Witness, He the Judge…this Arbiter no man deceives” (109-11). This final clause completes Prudentius’s interpretation of his lord, holding God as a fair observer, rather than a benevolent force. While Prudentius begins the poem with a positive juxtaposition of God’s light with the darkness of sin, his final characterization of God is neutral: God is an “Arbiter.”
The Old Testament stories of Shechem and Jacob support Prudentius’s view of God as a neutral arbiter. God rewards pious Jacob and punishes wicked Shechem. In both incidents, God inflicts genital injury as a prelude to judgment, strengthening Prudentius’s argument that perversion is the chief sin and salvation can only be achieved through physical sacrifice. By invoking these stories, Prudentius uses the conflict between man’s perversion and God’s exacting judgment to praise God as a punitive yet fair arbiter who rewards good and punishes

Related Documents

  • Superior Essays

    Benefits Of Justification

    • 1620 Words
    • 7 Pages

    Introduction In Exodus 34, when YHWH reveals His name to Moses, He stresses that while He is “merciful and gracious,” He also, “Will by no means clear the guilty” (Ex. 34: 6-7, ESV). The mercy of God and the justice of God are both vital to God’s essence. If God loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Ps. 45:7), how, can God justify wicked humans?…

    • 1620 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Why punish an innocent person for him to realize God’s love? This point here makes me think and argue that Job’s fate is unfair and unjustifiable, as he is suffering and people who are committing sin are getting away with it. The act God is showing by agreeing with Satan contradicts the saying:” God is Good”. They say the creation of man with free will allows man to do anything, with no limits. So evil is present in the world because of man, and it is man himself that is the reason for foul behavior.…

    • 1451 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    According to the Oxford [Old] English Dictionary, obedience is “the action or fact of yielding to some actuating force or agency.”2 This word applies to Gabriel’s relationship with God. He seems as the agent of God in insulting Satan for his disobedience to God. Gabriel continues to reveal his view of Satan’s actions by saying, “And thou, sly hypocrite” (4.457), not in an attempt to provide him with new knowledge, but to shame him for the unfaithful actions he has taken from Gabriel’s perspective. We see this when he…

    • 1581 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Authority In Paradise Lost

    • 1423 Words
    • 6 Pages

    As the John Milton epic Paradise Lost illustrates, the fallen angel sees God as a bully and a tyrant, seeing no key advantage in his overwhelming power. In his ensuing contemplations and planning with his associates, he brings to light various traits that could inevitably shape Satan into how he could function as a ruler. He carries this with him as he addresses the fall of man to sin, stressing his desire to promote sin and death in the world over the supposed goodness of God he perceives as imperfect. Should Satan ever succeed in his ploy to gain control of the realm of Heaven, his way of enforcing his reign would prove to be starkly different from that of God’s, establishing the darkness of sin and death as a foothold in the…

    • 1423 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    We live in a fallen world that is under judgment. The remarkable thing is not that there is suffering but that there is pleasure. Once one understands what Jesus is saying, the issue is no longer one of explaining why God allows suffering but why He shows mercy and grace. Jeremiah adds, “Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” (Lam. 3:39) Hence, any pain and suffering less than the flames of eternal fire in hell must be seen as a merciful reprieve from God.…

    • 988 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The Redeemer Symbolism

    • 1754 Words
    • 8 Pages

    O’Collins’ book Christology, O’Collins points out that divine love must be understood in the biblical stories of salvation. O’Collins provides multiple excerpts from the Bible but one passage from the letter to the Romans is the most compelling. It reads, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). In order to prove God has divine love for us, we must look to what evidence there is to support that God loves us. Paul, in his letter, explains that despite humans being sinners, and the introduction of sin into mankind from free will, God still sent his only son to earth to die for us, opening the gates of heaven.…

    • 1754 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In the first line, the speaker introduces this hypothetical situation with the word “If,” describing a “vengeful god” who calls out to him (1). The conditional mode of “would call” (1) signals that the speaker’s situation is an imagined thought experiment, rather than real life. The word “vengeful” (1) suggests that the god is taking revenge on the speaker for a wrongdoing, but no such wrongdoing is specified in the sonnet, making the god’s revenge sound unjustified. In the second line, the vengeful god laughs from the…

    • 1307 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Essay On The Devil

    • 1824 Words
    • 8 Pages

    The Bible as a teaching tool, tells that by worshiping anything but God directly is idolatry. In Exodus 32, when the Israelites worship God through the golden calf, God is so upset that he nearly kills them all for their sin. This is the devil’s plan, to pit his will against God’s will. Since Satan cannot create anything, he realizes that human beings have free will, and he can manufacture items away from God and create his own evil. Because his evil is a big part of the earth, his application of his own pride is the perfect numeric value of 666.…

    • 1824 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    This can be interpreted as the thirteenth angel or thirteenth demon. However, Judas ends up betraying Jesus; if Judas is an angel than this betrayal is because Jesus must be betrayed by man and suffer for the purpose of carrying out His divine necessity. Moreover, this is the most important theme found in the New Testament because it is a major theme for Christianity. Christianity is built on the idea of the messiah being rejected by man so that he can die for man’s sin. The theme of divine necessity is the paradox, suffering brings happiness.…

    • 1391 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    He aims to test Adam and Eve’s strength by allowing Satan to inflict his deception on them. Adam and Eve both fail the test and that saddens God, but it also shows that the couple were not loyal to him. Biblical writers support this idea by saying, “genuine love cannot exist unless freely given through free choice to accept God’s love or to reject it,” (McDowell) and thus God allows evil to exist and enter Edan. Milton finally allows readers to understand his purpose for writing Paradise Lost, and his passion for it. Milton had written Paradise Lost to justify the ways of God to men, and did so poorly.…

    • 873 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays