Article Title

The Song of Songs as a Drama in the Commentators from Origen to the Twelfth Century


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

To the already vast amount of scholarship on the Song of Songs, M. H. Pope has recently added a splendid new study which will doubtless stand as the definitive work on the subject for the present generation.1 Pope's 743-page tome- on a text that covers three pages in some bibles-is a model of contemporary scriptural research, from its sophisticated and sometimes witty prose to its meticulous bibliographies. Among the legion of "vexed" questions about the Song which Pope confronts (pp.34-55) is that of its genre:

From early times the Song was regarded as dramatic. Origen, in the third century, considered it a nuptial poem in dramatic form. Two of the Greek translations, Codex Sinaiticus of the fourth century, and Codex Alexandrinus of the fifth century, supplied marginal notes to the text indicating the speakers and the persons addressed.[2] The Ethiopic translation divided the book into five parts, perhaps on the assumption that it is a drama in five acts.[3] After the Protestant Reformation, the dramatic hypothesis gained ground. John Milton, in his treatise The Reason of Church Government urg'd against Prelatry, endorsed Origen's view: "The Scripture also affords us a Divine pastoral Drama in the Song of Solomon consisting of two persons, and a double Chorus, as Origen rightly judges."[4] The dramatic theory was elaborated with great imagination and ingenuity in the nineteenth century...

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.