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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Body as Landscape, Love as Intoxication: Conceptual Metaphors in the Song of Songs
Gault, Brian P.

Atlanta: SBL Press, 2019 pp. xxii + 291. $45.00

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Description: Israel's most sublime Song contains some of the most exquisite yet enigmatic poetry in the Hebrew Bible. One of the chief difficulties in interpreting the Song's lyrics is the unusual imagery used to depict the lovers' bodies. Why is the maiden's hair compared to a flock of goats (4:1), the man's cheeks likened to garden beds of spice (5:13) and the eyes of both lovers described as doves (4:1; 5:12)? While scholars speculate on the significance of these images, a systematic inquiry into the Song's body metaphors is curiously absent. Incorporating biblical and comparative data, this study seeks to uncover the meaning of these metaphors and explore their origins. Instead of attributing similarities with other Near Eastern literature to dependency, this study views the Song's body metaphors as part of a tradition shared between cultures, at times common to the genre of love lyrics. As a result, the Song's body imagery sheds light on the perception of beauty in Israel and its relationship to surrounding cultures.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Writings, Song of Songs, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches

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Review by Laura Quick
Published 9/24/2020
Citation: Laura Quick, review of Brian P. Gault, Body as Landscape, Love as Intoxication: Conceptual Metaphors in the Song of Songs, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2020).


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