A Companion to the Song of Songs in the History of Spirituality


As one of the most frequently commentated on biblical books during antiquity and the middle ages, the Song of Songs has played a central role in the history of Christian spirituality. At a time of heightened interest in the Song of Songs among biblical scholars, historians, and students of spirituality, this Companion to the Song of Songs in the History of Spirituality provides a state-of-the art overview of its history, challenges some conventional wisdom, and presents innovative studies of some lesser-known aspects of the Song’s reception. The essays in this volume—including a chapter on Jewish interpretation—present the diverse forms of spirituality inspired by the Song since the beginning of the Christian era.

Contributors: Ann W. Astell, Mark S. Burrows, Emily Cain, Catherine Cavadini, Rabia Gregory, Arthur Holder, Jason Kalman, Suzanne LaVere, Hannah Matis, Bernard McGinn, Timothy H. Robinson, and Karl Shuve.

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Timothy H. Robinson, Ph.D. (Graduate Theological Union) is Alberta and Harold Lunger Associate Professor of Spiritual Resources and Disciplines at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. His publications include articles on Puritan reception of the Song and the book Edward Taylor’s Sacramental Meditations on the Song of Songs (2011).
List of Figures
Notes on Contributors

  Timothy H. Robinson

1 Mystical Wounds
Eastern Patristic Authors on the Song of Songs
  Emily R. Cain

2 “A Garden Enclosed, a Fountain Sealed”
The Song of Songs and Ritual Purity in Early Latin Christianity
  Karl Shuve

3 The Song of Songs in the Early Middle Ages
From Gregory the Great to the Gregorian Reform
  Hannah W. Matis

4 The Cistercian Song
Reception of Bernard of Clairvaux’s Exegesis in Later Cistercian Interpretations of the Song of Songs
  Catherine Rose Cavadini

5 The Song of Songs as a Call to Action
Scholastic Interpretation in the High Middle Ages
  Suzanne LaVere

6 The Song of Songs in Aelred of Rievaulx’s Liturgical Preaching
  Ann W. Astell

7 The Beautiful Men of the Song of Songs?
Replacing and Erasing the Female Beloved in Ancient and Medieval Jewish Interpretation
  Jason Kalman

8 Women Interpreting the Song of Songs: 1150–1700
  Bernard McGinn

9 Abandonment and Abundance in John of the Cross’s Spiritual Canticle
The Poet as the Writer of New Scripture
  Mark S. Burrows

10 Visual Exegesis of the Song of Songs in European Art
  Rabia Gregory

11 The Banquet of Love
The Song of Songs in Reformed Sacramental Piety: 1586–1729
  Timothy H. Robinson

Christian Reception of the Song of Songs since 1800
  Arthur Holder


All interested in the history of biblical interpretation, the reception history of the Song of Songs, and the history of Christian spirituality. Keywords: Solomon, Song of Solomon, reception history, spirituality, biblical interpretation, mysticism, Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Bede, Cistercians, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Puritans, Jewish biblical interpretation, Hebrew Bible.
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