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Altogether Lovely: A Thematic and Intertextual Reading of the Song of Songs

Author: 
Havilah Dharamraj (Author)
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Description

The frank eroticism of the Song of Songs has long seemed out of place in the Hebrew Bible. As a result, both Jewish and Christian interpreters have struggled to read it as an allegory of the relationship between God (as husband) and Israel or the church (as bride). Havilah Dharamraj approaches the Song with a clear vision of the genderization of power relationships in the ancient Near East and through an intertextual method centered not on production but on the reception of texts. She sets the Song’s lyrical portrayal of passion and intimacy alongside other canonical portrayals of love spurned, lust, rejection, and sexual violence from Hosea, Ezekiel, and Isaiah. The result is a richly nuanced exposition of the possibilities of intimacy and remorse in interhuman and divine-human relationship. The intertextual juxtaposition of contrasting texts produces a third text, an intracanonical conversation in which patriarchal control and violence are answered in a tender and generous mutuality.

ISBN: 
9781506423203
Price: 
$39.00
ISBN: 
9781506421728
Price: 
$39.00
Release date: 
June 1, 2018
Pages: 
272
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Contents

1. Introduction
Part 1: Love in Separation
2. The Streets and Squares: Song of Songs 2:8-3:5 and 5:2-6:3
3. The Wilderness: Hosea 2
Part 2: In Praise of the Beloved
4. The Golden One: Song of Songs 5:9-6:3
5. The Foundling: Ezekiel 16:1-22
Part 3: Gardens
6. The Orchard of Pomegranates: Song of Songs 4:8-5:1
7. The Vineyard: Isaiah 5:1-7
Part 4: Love-and-Its-Jealousy
8. The Unquenchable Love: Song of Songs 8:1-12
9. The Insatiable Lust: Ezekiel 23
10. Conclusion
Bibliography

Endorsements

Come along for this dramatic and insightful journey into the emotions of the divine and human actors.

"Using ancient and modern sources, Havilah Dharamraj guides us into bold readings that set the love, commitment, beauty, and grace of the Song of Songs in dialogue with some of the most difficult texts in the prophetic literature. Come along for this dramatic and insightful journey into the emotions of the divine and human actors. Gain from it new understanding of texts of gender terror through the powerful lens of the Song. This is an essential contribution to the study of the Song as part of the Bible."

Richard Hess | Denver Seminary

We see afresh how the Old Testament can illuminate the meaning of love, both human and divine, for today. 

"Havilah Dharamraj’s intertextual reading of the Song of Songs together with prophetic literature offers memorable insight into the biblical text, to the contours of which she displays high sensitivity. She is alert to the symbolic conventions both of the ancient Near East and of contemporary India. As a result, we see afresh how the Old Testament can illuminate the meaning of love, both human and divine, for today."

Walter Moberly | Durham University

An insightful and rewarding contribution to both biblical literary studies and biblical theology. 

"With sure-footed exegesis and sensitive literary appreciation, Dharamraj engages in a close intertextual reading of the Song alongside comparable texts from Hosea, Isaiah, and Ezekiel. Her intention is to show how, though the one portrays the ideal joy of perfect love and the others the misery and potential savagery of betrayed love, their literary, thematic and theological mirroring produces a rich composite effect that is spiritually fruitful in the canonical portrayal of the relationship between God and God’s people. Her appreciation of biblical poetics is matched by the lively clarity of her own writing, which manages to reflect her texts, from the playful and allusive intimacies of the Song to the visceral pornographic coarseness of Ezekiel. With her mastery of comparable ANE texts, as well as early Jewish and Christian interpretation of these biblical texts, she connects her material to its original cultural context, and explores its potential through the eyes of early interpreters. And her own South Asian identity and context brings further illuminating cultural perspectives. Dharamraj has provided an insightful and rewarding contribution to both biblical literary studies and biblical theology."

Christopher J. H. Wright | Langham Partnership International

A delightful read for every Hebrew scholar.

"Altogether Lovely is a beautifully woven piece on the intertextuality between the Song of Songs and relevant prophetic literature. Dharamraj has shown how the Song of Songs can be read with prophetic texts as they interact with each other under the themes of love in separation, the praise of the beloved, the garden, and love-and-its-jealousy. The book is a delightful read for every Hebrew scholar."

Paul Swarup | The Cathedral Church of the Redemption

Truly, this monograph, like the lovers in the Song, is altogether lovely.

"The passionate poetry of Song of Solomon showed what love should and can be. Havilah Dharamraj, by her exceptional exegesis and exquisite writing, further enflames that poetry. Her readers experience vicariously, almost in an extended frisson, true and false love. And by contrasting iconic themes in Song with those same themes in the prophets, she gives a richness and depth to both that well surpasses what is possible within the boundaries of either. Truly, this monograph, like the lovers in the Song, is altogether lovely."

Bruce Waltke | emeritus, Knox Theological Seminary

A vibrantly fresh interpretation.

"Modern critical interpreters, allergic to ‘allegorical’ interpretations, have often tended to make heavy weather of their preferred ‘historical-critical’ readings of the Song of Songs as an erotic love song first and last – thereby severing its interpretation from the entire history of Jewish as well as Christian reading of the Song as Scripture. Havilah Dharamraj, one of India’s most accomplished Old Testament scholars, here develops a captivating intertextual approach that allows the Song to be heard alongside its Scriptural co-texts about marriage in the prophets. The result is a vibrantly fresh interpretation that brings to life the full color of the Song’s register of desire and affection as reflecting ‘the many-splendored love of the divine husband’. Highly recommended!"

Markus Bockmuehl | University of Oxford