Bukolisches Idyll in Bethlehem

Zur kulturellen Hybridität von Hieronymus Epistula 46


  • Barbara Feichtinger Universität Konstanz, Latinistik




Jerome, pilgrimage, intertextuality, cultural hybridity, Bethlehem


Epistula 46 is an invitation, written under the name of Paula and Eustochium, for Marcella to go to Bethlehem, by all means with the aim to stimulate positive interest in the Holy Land for a wider public and to inspire the urge to travel and sojourn. The narrative defines pilgrimage not only through biblical references but also familiarizes it through references to ancient pagan practices and pagan literature and makes it compatible with the lifestyle of Rome’s urban elites. While biblical references predominantly propagate Palestine’s spiritual appeal as a site of centuries-long salvation events, references to the classics – often combined with the expression or the stimulation of emotions – put the region’s social and intellectual appeal to the fore. The use of pagan literature, in which the traditions of educational travel of a cosmopolitan elite, the social utopia of aristocratic recessus, and not least the pleasure of otium aestheticised through literature are prefigurated, shapes Palestine in particular fashion as a place of longing. Especially the appeal of Bethlehem thus only forms through the combination of spiritual-intellectual visio and emotionally attractive social utopia, through conjunction of spelunca Christi and bucolic idyll.