The song of songs in Origen's hermeneutical theology

see the original item page
in the repository's web site and access all digital files if the item*

2009 (EN)
Το άσμα ασμάτων κατά την ερμηνευτική θεολογία του Ωριγένους
The song of songs in Origen's hermeneutical theology

Γκορτσίλας, Πασχάλης Αθανασίου

Στη μελέτη αυτή προσπαθήσαμε να ερμηνεύσουμε θεολογικά δύο έργα που συνιστούν, μέρος της εξηγητικής προσπάθειας του Ωριγένη, το Υπόμνημα και τις Ομιλίες στο Ασμα Ασμάτων. Τα έργα αυτά γράφτηκαν λίγα χρόνια πριν το θάνατο του Ωριγένη, και ως εκ τούτου αντιπροσωπεύουν την ώριμη σκέψη του.
The present study deals with the theological interpretation of two works that constitute a large part of Origen’s exegetical endeavors, the Commentary and Homilies on the Song of Songs. These works were written not long before Origen’s death, and therefore represent the most mature part of his life and writings. The impetus to undertake this study has come from the remarkable resurgence of interest in the study of patristic interpretation, a resurgence that challenges directly the prevalence of the historical-critical method. Before the examination of the abovementioned works a contextualization of the two basic elements of this study, was attempted, namely, the biblical text itself and the history of patristic interpretation. Thus, the introduction deals with issues of biblical interpretation in the early Church, the evaluation of patristic hermeneutics in modern Orthodox theology and an examination of patristic exegesis in the context of contrast and complementation with the historical-critical method. Particular attention is given to the strict kerygmatic character of biblical exegesis in the early church. The kerygmatic-liturgical dimension is usually an overlooked fact, due to the prevalent tendency of many scholars to consider the Commentary and the Homilies mainly as early precursors of western medieval mysticism. The second part of the introduction focuses on one of the few contributions of modern orthodox theology to biblical studies, i.e. the emergence of a certain awareness that there is a certain need to re-evaluate patristic exegesis in the light of new developments and not according to old polarizing schemes, such as “Antiochene” versus “Alexandrian” school of exegesis, allegory versus history, etc. Despite the generalizing character of most of the works we studied, they are particularly useful in providing the general hermeneutical tendencies during the patristic era, thus enabling other researchers to deal with the particular elements of different authors. The introduction ends with a brief reference to alternative methods of biblical interpretation, which have challenged the prevalent status of the historical-critical method. The weakest point of this method is its lack of hermeneutical perspective, an element that formed the background and backbone of patristic interpretation, on the basis of the aim of the text. On the other hand, the need for a historical-critical study of the patristic texts themselves is also stressed, a necessary process for every study that claims scholarly status. The first chapter is primarily concerned with recent literature on the Song of Songs. The main issues presented here are the place of the Song in the Jewish and Christian Canon respectively, dating and authorship, language and literary genre and extra-biblical parallels. Besides the extra-biblical parallels, the other elements provide us with useful information concerning the interpretation of the text. It is emphasized that the location of extra-biblical material, as useful as it is, presupposes a certain hermeneutical stance towards the Song. The second chapter carries the story down, to the interpretation of the Song from Hippolytus of Rome to Bede, with a parallel mention of the general hermeneutical tendencies that prevailed during the patristic and medieval period. This is followed by an examination of modern studies and commentaries on the Song and especially their treatment and evaluation of pre-modern interpretations. The second part of this chapter begins with an analysis of Michel Foucault’s myth of repression, a particularly useful hermeneutical tool for our study. I have tried to demonstrate that modern studies on the Song continuously reproduce the myth, in a monotonous and dismal tone, on the basis of their interpretation of the text. The myth has another function as well: it is particularly used as a device that faults all the preceding interpretative tradition for repressing the so-called authentic meaning of the text. The third and last chapter is a detailed study of Origen’s Commentary and Homilies on the Song. It starts with a concise reference to recent studies on Origen’s thought, which seek to reevaluate the work of the great Alexandrian, based on a complete reading of the surviving corpus and not by focusing almost exclusively on the Peri Archon and on Against Celsus. The historical details of the two works, such as audience, context, literary character, etc. is the subject of the next division, while the first part of this chapter concludes with a study of what I call the “axiomatic principles” of Origen’s exegesis, discussed in the extensive prologue to the Commentary. The last division of this chapter is an examination of Origen’s hermeneutical strategy, as detailed in the Commentary and the Homilies, with a parallel reproof of views that prevail in regards to the nature of these works. Finally, thorough attention is paid to the scheme of the soul’s progress to perfection, which, I argue, is the hermeneutical key for all patristic and medieval interpretations of the Song.

Postgraduate Thesis / Μεταπτυχιακή Εργασία

Song of songs
Πατερική ερμηνευτική
Michel Foucault
Μισέλ Φουκώ
Patristic hermeneutics
Ασμα ασμάτων

Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης (EL)
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (EN)



Αριστοτέλειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θεσσαλονίκης, Θεολογική Σχολή, Τμήμα Ποιμαντικής και Κοινωνικής Θεολογίας

This record is part of 'IKEE', the Institutional Repository of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki's Library and Information Centre found at Unless otherwise stated above, the record metadata were created by and belong to Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Library, Greece and are made available to the public under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license ( Unless otherwise stated in the record, the content and copyright of files and fulltext documents belong to their respective authors. Out-of-copyright content that was digitized, converted, processed, modified, etc by AUTh Library, is made available to the public under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license ( You are kindly requested to make a reference to AUTh Library and the URL of the record containing the resource whenever you make use of this material.

*Institutions are responsible for keeping their URLs functional (digital file, item page in repository site)