Original Research - Special Collection: Septuagint

Reflecting on archaeology and the understanding of Song of Songs

Eben H. Scheffler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 1 | a6934 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i1.6934 | © 2022 Eben H. Scheffler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 June 2021 | Published: 16 March 2022

About the author(s)

Eben H. Scheffler, Department of Biblical and Ancient Studies, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The question of archaeology corroborating any ‘historical information’ is excluded from the outset by the poetic genre of Song of Songs. This contribution therefore focusses on archaeology’s more modest purpose as far as its relationship with texts is concerned, namely whether it can facilitate the understanding of the text by investigating the material culture that features in Song of Songs. Archaeology is therefore understood in terms of its more extended definition, including artefacts, (cultural) objects functioning as metaphors, and historical geography. Attention amongst others will be paid to cities mentioned (Heshbon, Jerusalem, Tirzah), the (not founded) David’s Tower, Pharaoh’s palanquin, fauna and flora, as well as pottery.

Contribution: Although archaeology cannot inform everything in the text, the continuous archaeological endeavour has the hermeneutical function to transpose the reader into the ancient life (love) world (pun intended), preventing him or her of anachronistic projection of the present-day readers own world into the text, but also appreciating the (possible) common human condition which the present-day reader shares with the world of the text.


Keywords

archaeology; historical geography; Song of Songs; biblical interpretation; iconography; ancient sexuality; present-day sexuality

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Crossref Citations

1. Reflecting on archaeology and the understanding of Song of Songs
Eben H. Scheffler
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies  vol: 78  issue: 1  year: 2022  
doi: 10.4102/hts.v78i1.6934