Early Jewish and Christian Figures of Ethiopia

Roy Kay

in The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037325
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813041582 | DOI:
Early Jewish and Christian Figures of Ethiopia

Show Summary Details


The emergence of the figurations of Ethiopia, derived from Psalm 68:31, begin with rabbinic and patristic writings. The readings of Psalm 68:31 in these sources initiate numerous figures of Ethiopia that will reverberate in first white and then black Protestant letters in America. This chapter is broken into two main sections. The first presents figural reading and history in patristic literature through an explanation of Auerbach's essay, “Figura.” Second, rabbinic and patristic readings of Psalm 68:31 are mapped and analyzed. While the rabbis read Psalm 68:31 as a sign of Ethiopia's conversion to Judaism, the church fathers have a grander understanding of the verse. Ethiopia is a synecdoche for all Gentile nations, and physical blackness cloaks the sin of Gentile idolatry. The conversion of Ethiopia prefigures the salvation of all Gentile peoples who come to Christ and hence hasten the Parousia.

Keywords: Auerbach; blackness; church fathers; figural reading; figure of Ethiopia; Parousia; Patristic; prefigure; Psalm 68:31; synecdoche

Chapter.  5804 words. 

Subjects: Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.