In this work, Karl Shuve provides a new account of how the Song of Songs became one of the most popular biblical texts in medieval Western Christianity, through a close and detailed study of its interpretation by late antique Latin theologians. Through a comprehensive analysis of these citations and allusions, Shuve argues that contrary to the expectations of many modern scholars, the Song of Songs was not a problematic text for early Christian theologians, but was a resource that they mined as they debated the nature of the church and of the virtuous life. The first part of the volume considers the use of the Song in the churches of Roman Africa and Spain, where bishops and theologians focused on images of enclosure and purity invoked in the poem. In the second part, the focus is late fourth-century Italy, where a new ascetic interpretation, concerned particularly with women’s piety, began to emerge.
The book is published by Oxford University Press (tinyurl.com/gwbbfrt )