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Toward a Theology of ErosTransfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline$
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Virginia Burrus and Catherine Keller

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226351

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226351.001.0001

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The Shulammite's Song: Divine Eros, Ascending and Descending

The Shulammite's Song: Divine Eros, Ascending and Descending

(p.306) The Shulammite's Song: Divine Eros, Ascending and Descending
Toward a Theology of Eros

Richard Kearney

Fordham University Press

The Song of Songs offers no single, stable perspective from which to view the amorous scenes unveiled on its pages. Most readers of the Song from antiquity to the present have, however, been inclined to identify with the female figure traditionally known as the Shulammite. But who is the Shulammite, and who, for that matter, is her beloved? The sustained ambiguities of identity and fluid reversals of erotic roles have made this text fertile ground for conceiving and reconceiving the mysteries of desire, in particular, the mysteries of divine desire—despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that God is never explicitly named in this biblical book. This chapter explores and supplements premodern interpretations of the Song, uncovering at the intersection of Jewish and Christian exegetical traditions an eschatologically charged eroticism that subverts the Nygrenesque binary of agape and eros, descending and ascending desire, while also inviting engagement with a wide range of contemporary philosophical, psychoanalytic, and literary expressions of sublime desire.

Keywords:   Song of Songs, Shulammite, eros, desire, agape, eroticism, God

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