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The Song of Songs as a Hebrew “counterweight” to Hellenistic drama


Hopf, Matthias Rüdiger (2017). The Song of Songs as a Hebrew “counterweight” to Hellenistic drama. Journal of Ancient Judaism, 8(2):208-221.

Abstract

In recent exegesis, the Song of Songs has commonly been held not to be dramatic at all. This view stands in line with the notion that there is no drama in the Hebrew Bible. However, the concept of “drama” in literary and performance studies has evolved considerably in the past decades. As a consequence, the key question must be asked again: How can we identify a text as dramatic or oriented towards performance? To answer this, a threefold criteriology taken from contemporary literary studies is presented: Lexis, Opsis and Plot. These useful and rather universal criteria lead to a differentiated look at the “performance potential” of the book – and to the conclusion that the Song basically matches this criteriology. Furthermore, various clues are given that the book was indeed performed, at least from the Hellenistic period onward, to which the final redaction should be dated. As the collection of the biblical Writings needs to be understood against the background of a struggle with the predominant Alexandrian culture, the Song might represent a piece of Jewish dramatic or performance literature, or in other words, a Hebrew “counterweight” to Hellenistic drama in the Jewish literary canon of the Writings.

Abstract

In recent exegesis, the Song of Songs has commonly been held not to be dramatic at all. This view stands in line with the notion that there is no drama in the Hebrew Bible. However, the concept of “drama” in literary and performance studies has evolved considerably in the past decades. As a consequence, the key question must be asked again: How can we identify a text as dramatic or oriented towards performance? To answer this, a threefold criteriology taken from contemporary literary studies is presented: Lexis, Opsis and Plot. These useful and rather universal criteria lead to a differentiated look at the “performance potential” of the book – and to the conclusion that the Song basically matches this criteriology. Furthermore, various clues are given that the book was indeed performed, at least from the Hellenistic period onward, to which the final redaction should be dated. As the collection of the biblical Writings needs to be understood against the background of a struggle with the predominant Alexandrian culture, the Song might represent a piece of Jewish dramatic or performance literature, or in other words, a Hebrew “counterweight” to Hellenistic drama in the Jewish literary canon of the Writings.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:01 Faculty of Theology > Institute of Theology
Dewey Decimal Classification:230 Christianity & Christian theology
Language:English
Date:16 August 2017
Deposited On:12 Dec 2018 15:22
Last Modified:13 Dec 2018 01:00
Publisher:Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht
ISSN:1869-3296
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.13109/jaju.2017.8.2.208
Related URLs:https://www.recherche-portal.ch/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=ebi01_prod010850873&context=L&vid=ZAD&search_scope=default_scope&tab=default_tab&lang=de_DE (Library Catalogue)

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