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Transfer of exegetical knowledge between Origen's Commentary on the Song of Songs and the rabbinical Midrash Shir HaShirim Rabba

Subproject by Almut Bockisch

Within the biblical canon, the Book of Songs of Songs seems to be in need of explanation, due to the plastic language of its love songs. Nevertheless, both in the emerging Judaism as well as in the emerging Christianity, the text was always part of the Bible (e.g. Origen, Cant. prol. 4:3-4 and mYad 3:5). First indications of comments and annotations on the Song of Songs in Judaism can be found in tSan 12:10 and bSan 101a. A first complete commentary with clear references to pagan-ancient commentary techniques, however, is only presented in the 6th century CE by the rabbinical midrash Shir HaShirim Rabba. The most authoritative Christian commentary on the Song of Songs in antiquity is significantly older; it was written by Origen (CPG I, 1431; cf. the homilies CPG 1432 and the presumed fragment 1434), who developed the typological interpretation of Hippolytus of Rome (Hippolytus, Cant. 25:6 [CSCO 263. 264; CPG I, 1871 with a Greek paraphrase]) and intensified it in christological terms (Origenes, Cant. comm. I 1:5).

As a result, reciprocal movements of knowledge are visible, which can be newly described and contextualized with the methods of the Collaborative Research Center. The various momenta of exegetical knowledge that led to the writing and/or compilation of the Song of Songs interpretations are to be analyzed in a commentary-centered analysis as well as in a motive-oriented investigation within their specific contexts and at the same time in their exegetical transfer in the corpus of the Song of Songs commentaries as a negotiation of the biblical text. In this way, this analysis should provide information about the manifold discussion impulses and constellations of exchange between Jewish and Christian groups in antiquity.