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Document Details :

Title: Eros, Friendship and Love
Subtitle: The Future of Bridal Mysticism
Author(s): EGAN, Keith J.
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 16    Date: 2006   
Pages: 131-150
DOI: 10.2143/SIS.16.0.2017795

Abstract :
Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est is a reminder that, despite scholars like Anders Nygren, eros and love are integrally and necessarily related to each other in the Christian tradition. This essay explores the role of erotic language and symbols as it has been carried in the text and Nachleben of the Song of Songs. In recent years the viability of the Song of Songs tradition in Christian spirituality and mysticism has been questioned by scholars like Fergus Kerr, O.P. and Denys Turner. In addition, there has been a neglect of the Song by Christians in the pew. The author of this essay challenges this negative judgment on the viability of erotic character of the Song. He asks: where, besides in such erotic language and symbols, can be found a language to communicate effectively the experience of God? The Song of Songs has been mined as a mystical resource by such important writers as Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. The dismissal of this tradition would be a dismal loss for Christians who surely need to be in touch with the power, intensity and beauty of the classical commentaries on this erotic text from the Hebrew scriptures. The author also suggests that the friendship model for caritas proposed by Thomas Aquinas ought not to be an exclusive theological model but should operate in creative tension with the eroticism of the Song of Songs and its tradition.

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