Kisses of His Mouth: The Song of Songs in Medieval Judaism and Christianity

Course Title: Kisses of His Mouth: The Song of Songs in Medieval Judaism and Christianity

Code: HEBRG149

Credits: 20 (for MARS students)

We shall focus on closely reading, critically analyzing, discussing, and comparing selections (in translation) from medieval Jewish and Christian interpretations of the biblical book Song of Songs. This will familiarize students with the predominant concepts, mind-sets, quests, ideals, and goals that characterize medieval thought; and it will develop students' sympathetic yet critical understanding of the comparative study of religious phenomena, including common elements as well as irreducibly unique elements. After considering Patristic and early Rabbinic interpretation of the Song, we shall focus on the variety of medieval Rabbinic Jewish and Western Christian interpretations, contextualized by the Jewish and Christian shared heritage, their points of fundamental difference, their friendly, cordial, and hostile relations, mutual influences, and cultural parallels. Through the lens of formal commentaries and related literature, disputation literature, liturgical texts and their performance at sacred times, and religious art, we shall see how the Bible was interpreted and lived. We shall stress both close reading and critical analysis of primary texts, as well as the living historical phenomena underlying the texts.

In addition to class meetings:

*Special manuscript session at the British Library;

*Seminars featuring student presentations.

Assessment: Essay (50%), weekly assignments (40%), response paper to BL visit (10%)

Tutor: Dr Israel M. Sandman

Time: Second term, Mondays 2.00 - 4.00 p.m.

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