Sunday, 10 February 2019

Anna Tzvetkova-Glaser: The Allegorical Interpretation of the Song of Songs in Origen and John of the Cross

Origen is among the first Christian exegetes who dedicated themselves to a commentary on the Song of Songs. Two homilies and a commentary reached us. Unlike the Jewish and other early Christian exegesis, he did not only interpret the biblical book as an allegory of the relationship between God and his people / church, but also as the relationship between God and the human soul. This new allegory had an essential impact on the next generations of Christian interpreters. Some medieval exegetes like Bernard of Clairvaux and William of Saint-Thierry were influenced by Origen’s interpretation of the Song of Songs. St. John of the Cross, working in the 16th century Spain, has not composed any exegetical works on biblical books, but he wrote poetries and commented on them. In this way appeared „The Spiritual Canticle“, „The Dark Night of the Soul“,„Ascent of Mount Carmel“and „Living Flame of Love“, recognised as master peaces of the Spanish literature. Two of these poetries are following the epithalamian model. Despite the difference of genre both his poems and commentaries were affected by Origen’s interpretation of the Song of Songs. In my presentation I will give examples to illustrate this influence.

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