The Kiss in Christian and Jewish Midrash

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8 Responses to The Kiss in Christian and Jewish Midrash

  1. Joseph says:

    This is really interesting stuff, helps us to think about Judaism and Christianity in a different way.

  2. Carl says:

    “All the prophets are empty to me.” I can guarantee that he didn’t get THAT from Song of Songs Rabbah.

    Actually, the earliest substantial commentary Song of Songs Rabbah is Origin’s. It is much more likely that Origin is the source of Bernard’s thoughts OR that they both drank from the font of Christian mysticism. Unlike Song of Songs Rabbah, which speaks of God kissing the Israel, the Jewish people as a community, Christian mysticism focuses on Jesus and the individual.

    • Joseph says:

      It is much more likely that Origin is the source of Bernard

      • Carl says:

        Ah, the difficulties of “comment” communication.

        Are you saying that there’s not a clear divide between sourcing Bernard’s thoughts to Origin or to Christian mysticism generally? If so, you’re right, of course.

        Or,are you saying that there’s not such a clear divide between Shir Hashirim Rabbah and Christian mysticism?

      • Joseph says:

        Sorry for lack of clarity!

        Second one.

        I think early Christian mysticism and Jewish mysticism have some overlap.

  3. judeoxian says:

    As far as I know, Bernard did not know any Hebrew. The Hebraist circle in the early to medieval church was quite small. (The Protestant reformation changed that).

    If Carl is right in thinking Bernard got his ideas from Origin, then we’re on to something. Origin did know (some) Hebrew, and lived near the Jewish community of Caesarea for many years. Maybe Origin picked up on some oral midrash from the Galilee.

    • Carl says:

      Origin and Yohanan (the foremost sage of his day and one of the main darshanim of Song of Songs Rabbah), lived about fifty miles apart a number of years. (Origin was older and died earlier.) As a result of comparing their writings (or sayings), several scholars have argued that they knew and conversed with, possibly even debated, each other. Their ideas seem to have been formed, at least in part, in that relationship.

      Origin’s interpretation of Song of Songs is thoroughly supersessionist. God and Israel are replaced by Jesus and the Christian soul. This is more than “structural” supersessionism (see Soulen’s, “God of Israel and Christian Theology.” That is, it doesn’t simply lose sight of Israel. Origin and his community lived check by jowl with Jewish neighbors. Origin is likely to have had dealings with the foremost sage of the day. And Origin makes negative comments about the Jews in that same commentary. IMO, it is probable that his supersessionism was very conscious and intentional.

      That said, some later Jewish interpreters, probably influenced to some degree by Christian mysticism, came up with a sort of anti-supersessionism by interpreting the Song of Songs as the love relationship between God and the individual Jew.

  4. irwinkeller says:

    Lovely commentary. Another piece that jumps out at me is that Moses, the intermediary requested by the people, is specifically referred to as “arel sfatayim” – generally interpreted as some sort of speech impediment. But literally “circumcised of lips.” Not tongue-tied, but lip-tied. In contrast, under that beautiful Midrash, to God, whose ability to kiss (metaphorically) is unbounded.

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