By Athalya Brenner
This quantity is the 1st in a sequence which supplies a basic source for feminist biblical scholarship, containing a accomplished choice of essays, either reprinted and in particular written for the sequence, through prime feminist students.
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Extra info for A Feminist Companion to the Song of Songs
Euripides, I A. 3. Ant. 15. 1 The Rabbis endeavour to justify this inhuman treatment of women from the law of Moses. 'Women', say they, 'are disqualified by the law from giving testimony: for it is said, "At the mouth of two witnesses", where the word "witnesses" is of the masculine, and not feminine gender'. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that the Jew, among his thanksgivings, should say to the Almighty every morning, 'Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, that thou hast not created me a woman'.
Not so in ancient Egyptian poetry. Both content and form of the Egyptian love lyrics testify that women were active as authors; and according to Schott, the series of The Seven Stanzas',2 the biggest and most complete composition we have, was created by 'the Great Entertainer of the Heart', that is, a poetess by that name. A. Erman3 remarks that the famous Egyptian story about Wen Amon mentions that in the court of the King of Byblos (on the Lebanese shore) there was an Egyptian singer. This reference, according to him, explains how Egyptian love lyrics reached countries around Egypt.
A pity, since the subject begs for feminist readings, for females are either objectified in the wasfs of the SoS (chs. 4, 7), or are the speakers who objectify the male figure referred to (as in ch. 5). The genre thus affords an opportunity for discussing matters of form, author's intent, reader's involvement, points of view, imagery, gender differentials, authorship, and so forth. M. Falk translated the SoS into modern poetic English. Her discussion of this particular literary genre is therefore linked to the task of translation on the one hand, as well as to the recognition of sexist interpretation on the other hand.
A Feminist Companion to the Song of Songs by Athalya Brenner