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Title: The Song of Songs and Christology in the early Church, with special reference to the period 381-451
Author: Elliott, M. W.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis shows how the two central characters of the Song of Songs, the male Bridegroom and the female Bride, were understood by Christian writers the few decades either side of AD400. It argues that Christology, as the relationship of God to Humankind in the Incarnation, was not simply a background issue in their presentation of these two figures. It is as if the two usually accepted models for interpreting the Song, namely those of "Word-Soul" and "Christ-Church", blend for a while during this period, before going their separate ways. An introduction explains how the Song was understood in early Christianity (with some reference to Judaism and Gnosticism), the state of Christology and biblical hermeneutics by this period and some account of how the two combined. Details required to situate the relevant works of these writers are given in the first chapter. It appears that the Song of Songs was not a contributor to Christological doctrine, but that its interpretation offered a window into the Christological understanding of the Church, revealing some things more clearly than purely doctrinal writings did. Even in the writer who seems most interested in relating the Song to Christology (Apponius) the Song as a whole is understood as an account of, or pattern for, Christian spirituality. Yet the verses, or more accurately the images to be examined, are those which say something specifically about the personae of the Groom and Bride. The Groom is clearly the Word of God, but rarely is he, the wooer of the Christian soul, described as purely that. That which is predicated of him is frequently with reference to his incarnate state or form. There are some for whom this is less the case (eg Ambrose). After looking at the images which speak of the Groom in his essence, his presence, his relationships, his actions, his power, his scope, it would appear that, at the heart of all such depictions, the Word is presented as none other than the Incarnate One.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available