Possible Psychoanalytic Meanings of the Foreskin in the Hebrew Bible

  • Pieter van der Zwan Research Fellow University of South Africa
Keywords: foreskin, prepuce, circumcision, idealisation, shame, nakedness, purity, patriarchy, psychoanalytic meaning, body-part,


Amongst the approximately 250 body parts which are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, the foreskin is mentioned infrequently, even when it is closely linked to circumcision, an essential religious, national, and identity marker. While the foreskin must therefore be highly cathected, this background position may be indicative of either unconscious or constantly assumed meaning(s) which it has in its literary contexts. A psychoanalytic exploration of its possible significance can widen the hermeneutic horizon by investigating what has remained unsaid. This can range from idealisation to shame and can at least serve as a heuristic stimulant.

Author Biography

Pieter van der Zwan, Research Fellow University of South Africa

Research Fellow


Biblical and Ancient Studies