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Translator’s Introduction

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Chapter Summary

Song has attracted as much attention from poets, translators, and artists as it has from scholars and clergy. This chapter begins with the world of the poems to modern readers, and particularly makes the aesthetics of these poems clear through the veil of translation. The author approaches these poems as "daughters" of the biblical Song of Songs, works that bear a familial resemblance to their source as well as to each other, while each remains a work of art. The poems are all from the classical period of piyyut, the fifth through seventh centuries, and they reflect the state of Jewish life in land of Israel under Byzantine Christian rule. The analyses of poems attempt to capture the respective advantages of both hearing and reading the poems. Unlike the Hebrew poems that follow, the Aramaic piyyut does not transform the Song into history or theology or law.

Keywords: Aramaic piyyut; Byzantine Christian rule; Hebrew poems; translators



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