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To See Is To Assume: Whose Love Is Celebrated in the Song of Songs?1

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image of Biblical Interpretation

Three characteristic features of the Song of Songs are its (a) disjointed or absent plot, (b) gynocentrism and (c) lack of theocentrism. Recognition of these features facilitates a reassessment of the book's allegorical readings, be they ancient or modern, Jewish or Christian, religious or ostensibly secular. The principal readings discussed are Rabin's reconsideration of the Song's intrinsic allegorical properties with reference to Tamil love poetry; M. Cohen's on the Song and Jewish mystical literature (the Shiur Qomah and Hekhalot Rabbati); Murphy's position of reading mutually reflected human love and divine love in the Song; Pope's identification of the Song's assumed, single female protagonist as a black goddess; and Fox's rejection of allegory because of his definitions of metaphor, metaphoric distance and meaning. In conclusion, some reflections on the (ancillary) development of the Jewish allegorical tradition and its links with the Song's cannonization are offered.

Affiliations: 1: Utrecht University


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