More Classics Revisited

More Classics Revisited

More Classics Revisited

More Classics Revisited

Synopsis

Rexroth, More Classics Revisited. the second volume of Rexroth's Classics essays.

Excerpt

To judge from contemporary literature, the easiest books of the Bible for modern man, in his completely secular society, to appreciate are Job and The Song of Songs. the reason is obvious. They are not what he thinks of as religious. Least of all do they fit into the common notion of the "Judaeo-Christian tradition." From the Talmudists or the unknown authors of the Kabbalah to Orthodox rabbis or Hasidic zaddiks drunk with holiness, from the Fathers of the Church to the mystics of the Middle Ages, these two books, of all in the Old Testament, have been held central to the meaning of religion. So today's extraordinary reversal of judgment shows only that most men in our predatory thing-bound society have no idea of what religion is.

There are almost as many interpretations of The Song of Songs as there are interpreters. Orthodox Christianity has interpreted it as a dramatic hymn celebrating the love of Christ for his Church, the mystics as the love of Christ for the human soul. the compilers of the Propers, the variable parts of the Mass, and the prayer hours of the Breviary have mined it for antiphons and versicles on feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Only recently has it come to be used for this purpose in underground nuptial masses. Jewish interpreters have often taken it simply literally as a marriage ode for the marriage of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Otherwise the Jewish interpretations differ little from the Christian--which they have usually preceded. the Kabbalists and the Hasidim parallel the more extreme mystics of the cultus of adoration of Mary. To them The Song of Songs is a collection of hymns showing forth the love of Jehovah for the Shekinah, his personalized Power and Glory, a concept not unlike the shaktis of Shiva, Vishnu, and Buddha--Pravati, Lakshmi, and Tara. This places The Song of Songs in the same class as the Krishnalila, the songs of Krishna's . . .

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