Lyrical Theology: The Song of Songs and the Advantage of Poetry

Tod Linafelt

in Toward a Theology of Eros

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780823226351
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236718 | DOI:

Series: Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquia

Lyrical Theology: The Song of Songs and the Advantage of               Poetry

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This chapter argues that the Song of Songs is best understood as lyric poetry and not as dramatic or narrative poetry, even though it does not entirely fit the category of lyric as it is traditionally defined and, moreover, contains both dramatic and narrative elements. Given that the last twenty or thirty years have seen so much attention paid to the literary category of narrative in relation to theology, it seems natural to wonder about the possibilities of lyrical theology. Lyrical theology emphasizes metaphor, wordplay, sound play, and rhythm, a theology that speaks in the first and second person, and a theology built on passion and feeling rather than on philosophical or other discursive categories. The Song opens up a modality of eros, and thus perhaps also of theology, that exceeds even the complexities of narrative through an irruption of lyricism that evades linear temporality by performing a rhythmic sensuality that seduces our participation and thereby promises transformation at the most intimate level of embodied passions.

Keywords: Song of Songs; lyric poetry; lyrical theology; lyricism; eros; passion; feeling; metaphor

Chapter.  5814 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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