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My Perfect OneTypology and Early Rabbinic Interpretation of Song of Songs$
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Jonathan Kaplan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199359332

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199359332.001.0001

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Allegory, Mashal, or Figuration?

Allegory, Mashal, or Figuration?

Song of Songs in Early Rabbinic Interpretation

(p.15) 1 Allegory, Mashal, or Figuration?
My Perfect One

Jonathan Kaplan

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 examines how the interpretation of Song of Songs in the tannaitic midrashim should be characterized—as an allegory, as a mashal(rabbinic parable), or as something entirely different. To frame this exploration, it first examines the various approaches to early rabbinic interpretation of Song of Songs, typified by the work of Daniel Boyarin and David Stern, before offering its own proposal. It contends that figural interpretation, akin to the form of typological interpretation practiced in early Christianity, provides a better description of tannaitic interpretation of Song of Songs. Using a typological mode of interpretation, the first rabbinic interpreters read Song of Songs as an idealized figuration of God’s loving relationship with Israel, which they located in the framework of Israel’s national narrative.

Keywords:   Daniel Boyarin, David Stern, Song of Songs, midrash, allegory, mashal, typology, rabbinic, early Christianity

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