Thursday, November 13, 2008

Theology Paper, Stage One

For theology, we are required to study and provide a structural analysis on a book of the Old Testament. Stage One, due Friday the 14th, is an overview of the major sections of the book and your defense for breaking the book up into those sections.

Jesse Broussard

Solomon’s Song of Songs

Unmarried Courtship

Wedding and Consummation

Married Courtship

J. A. Broussard
Nicea Term Theology; Stage 1 of Paper

The central “Wedding and Consummation” division that I have made is set off by the occurrence of the wedding (declared in 3:11 and instigating a narrative taking the entirety of the fourth chapter and culminating in the consummation of 5:1). The biggest problem with this division is that several very suggestive references in the first section imply that the wedding has already taken place, a full three chapters before the section in which I posit it. For example: 1:4: “The king has brought me into his chambers;” 1:14: “Our bed is green” (another translation gives the more explicit ‘verdant’), and 1:13: “A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, that lies all night between my breasts.”

However, the book is stylistically written and the (presumed) wedding narrative is quite centrally placed. Also, the first time that a clear declaration of consummation takes place is in 5:1, following rapid, numerous repetitions of “my sister, my spouse” (4:8,9,10,11,12), which is the first (and, debatably, the only) time that a marital appellation is attached, and the only time that “my sister, my spouse” is used in the book (the last time being in 5:1, the declaration of the consummation). This shows beyond doubt that marriage was at least very much on the mind of the lover, and the fact that his calling the beloved his wife occurs between her mentioning his marriage and his mentioning its consummation, and that this is the only time in the book that anything marriage-like is mentioned is more than merely suggestive of a wedding.

There are seven repetitions of “Daughters of Jerusalem,” all of which curiously lie outside of this very lengthy section: it is actually the longest space within the book that omits this phrase, the narratives immediately on either side contain it. There are also three repetitions of “I charge you…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases,” all of which are outside of this. Finally, several of the suggestive texts are not all that clear, and, due to the responsorial and somewhat dazedly disjointed nature of this book, it generally does no violence to import an equally varied chronology, though the divisions of it would admittedly require careful study.

The first and third divisions are far easier to defend. They mirror each other with very explicit parallelism, being a pre-wedding courtship and a post-wedding courtship. The sections use many of the same phrases; I have already mentioned the seven repetitions of “Daughters of Jerusalem,” and “I charge you…do not stir up nor awaken love until it pleases,” but also “His left hand is under my head and his right hand embraces me,” and, “Be like a gazelle or a young stag on the mountains of spices,” as well as the references to an apple tree, feeding flocks, grapes and vines, wine, constant repetitions of myrrh and spices (often spikenard), and two very curious narratives involving the beloved estranged from her lover, arising from bed, seeking the Lover, and encountering watchmen, and these are by no means all of them. Were repetitions or allusions to previously mentioned texts cut out, the only section to be relatively unchanged would be the wedding narrative, while the first and third sections would be cut in half.

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