Jewish Studies Lecture
Date: March 23, 2017
Time: 7:30 pm
Location: Scandinavian Cultural Center
Speaker: Rabbi Laura Lieber
Open and Free to the Public
“The Garden of Earthly Delights: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue”
While most modern scholars read the biblical Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon) as a collection of secular love poems, in antiquity, both the rabbis and the Church Fathers understood it to be an encoded account of God’s love for God’s chosen people. In this talk, we’ll consider how the Song of Songs was taught and understood in the synagogues of the Galilee in the 4th-6th centuries CE—not just as “Scripture” but as prayer—and we will see how the Song’s exuberant earthiness enriched and enlivened bold theological thinking not just among the scholarly elites but at the popular level.
Rabbi Laura Lieber is Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, where she directs the Duke Center for Jewish Studies as well as the Duke-UNC Center for Late Ancient Studies. A native of Fayetteville, Arkansas, she received her BA in English Literature from the University of Arkansas, her rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and her PhD in the History of Judaism from the University of Chicago. Her most recent book is A Vocabulary of Desire: The Song of Songs in the Early Synagogue.