Song? Songs? Whose Song?: Reflections of a Radical Reader

Carole R. Fontaine

in Scrolls of Love

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225712
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237067 | DOI:
Song? Songs? Whose Song?: Reflections of a Radical Reader

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Along with other texts of wisdom literature, the Song of Songs is largely neglected in Protestant churches, especially conservative ones, in favor of primary focus on the Hebrew prophets. The prophetic teachings on economics and rich-poor relations seem to be steadily ignored by most churches—they certainly do not seem to have had much effect on Christian praxis. Still, since the prophets are understood to refer unambiguously to the coming of Jesus as the Christ, they feed the theological streams of Christian triumph over Judaism, deep wells of hate that in turn provide the ubiquitous groundwaters of anti-Judaism and its practical cousin, anti-Semitism. Put another way, the prophets, with their relentless characterization of sin in the pornographic terms of erring wife stripped naked before her lovers, are seen to be legitimate, while the Song, which takes a rather different approach to the same marital metaphor, is most decidedly not.

Keywords: wisdom literature; Protestant churches; Hebrew prophets; Christian praxis; Judaism; Song of Songs; metaphor

Chapter.  5294 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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