Mike Aquilina

The Species of Origen’s

Thursday February 15th 2007, 3:03 am

One of the finest studies recently to cross my desk is J. Christopher King’s Origen on the Song of Songs As the Spirit of Scripture: The Bridegroom’s Perfect Marriage-Song. It’s a demanding and technical academic study, but also quite beautiful — simultaneously a work of theology, history, and interpretation. The subject is the third-century Egyptian exegete Origen and, in particular, his reading of the Song of Solomon. The author, an American Episcopal priest, defines his task this way: “For Origen, the reading of Scripture is itself an exercise in spiritual transformation.” In reading the Song, “the narrated love in the text coincides perfectly with reader’s love for the text, both finding their fulfillment and unity in the transforming love of Christ, present in his very person as both Word and Bridegroom.” The Song mediates the presence of Christ “in and through the intelligible structures of the text itself.” The pricetag will likely restrict this book to the shelves of scholarly libraries, which is a pity; but it can do a lot of good there!