Jonathan Kaplan, My Perfect One: Typology and Early Rabbinic Interpretation of the Song of Songs. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. ISBN: 978-0199359332. Pp. 245. $74.00 cloth/ebook.Excerpt:
Laura Suzanne Lieber
Most of the most readily accessible and familiar early Jewish interpretations of the Song of Songs—notably Song of Songs Rabbah (the major midrash explicating the Song) and the Targum (Aramaic version) of the Song—significantly postdate the Tannaitic material studied by Kaplan. Songs Rabbah is often dated to around the fifth century CE (although it surely contains earlier material) while the Targum is likely from the seventh century CE. In their received form, these works offer verse-by-verse commentaries on the Song, as do a number of late antique liturgical poems composed for use during Passover. The Tannaitic readings of the Song explored by Kaplan are, by contrast, episodic and occasional, and they cluster in the midrashic sources around specifically evocative sources from the Torah, such as the Song at the Sea (Exod 15). Kaplan’s analysis culls and organizes these deployments of the Song along thematic lines.
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