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The Mystery of Anointing: Hippolytus' Commentary on the Song of Songs in Social and Critical Contexts


Texts, Translations, and Comprehensive Study


The first English translation and study of St. Hippolytus' fascinating, early third-century commentary 'On the Song of Songs'. Important for the history of biblical interpretation, rival identities of early Christians, liturgy, and mystagogy in the pre-Constantinian church.
Publisher: Gorgias Press LLC
Availability: In stock
SKU (ISBN): 978-1-4632-0218-7
  • *
Publication Status: In Print

Publication Date: Aug 20,2015
Interior Color: Black
Trim Size: 6 x 9
Page Count: 652
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1-4632-0218-7
$170.00
$102.00

On the Song of Songs by Hippolytus is the earliest surviving Christian interpretation of the Song of Solomon covering the first three chapters to 3:7. Hippolytus wrote the commentary as a mystagogy, an oral instruction in the mysteries of the faith for newly baptized Christians during the Passover season. Side-by-side translations and in-depth studies of the social, liturgical, and theological context of the commentary uncover new evidence and fresh perspectives on debates about Hippolytus.

This work presents the first ever English translation of the Georgian, Greek, Paleo-Slavonic, Armenian and Syriac texts as well as many patristic quotations. It demonstrates how Hippolytus used the commentary to define the identity of Hippolytan Christians against Jews and rival Christian groups. Hippolytus interpreted the Song as a complicated love triangle between Israel, Christ and the Gentile Church. He represented Christ the Logos in various richly symbolic ways: as the feminine Sophia, who lived with Solomon, as the transgendered maker of wine (like Dionysus) that nurtures the Church with his breasts, as the victorious Helios who rides across the sky, supreme over the nations. The commentary returns often to the topic of the post-baptismal mystery of Christic anointing. This work opens up the world of third-century rivalries within the Jesus movement for anyone interested in biblical interpretation or ancient Christian history and theology.

On the Song of Songs by Hippolytus is the earliest surviving Christian interpretation of the Song of Solomon covering the first three chapters to 3:7. Hippolytus wrote the commentary as a mystagogy, an oral instruction in the mysteries of the faith for newly baptized Christians during the Passover season. Side-by-side translations and in-depth studies of the social, liturgical, and theological context of the commentary uncover new evidence and fresh perspectives on debates about Hippolytus.

This work presents the first ever English translation of the Georgian, Greek, Paleo-Slavonic, Armenian and Syriac texts as well as many patristic quotations. It demonstrates how Hippolytus used the commentary to define the identity of Hippolytan Christians against Jews and rival Christian groups. Hippolytus interpreted the Song as a complicated love triangle between Israel, Christ and the Gentile Church. He represented Christ the Logos in various richly symbolic ways: as the feminine Sophia, who lived with Solomon, as the transgendered maker of wine (like Dionysus) that nurtures the Church with his breasts, as the victorious Helios who rides across the sky, supreme over the nations. The commentary returns often to the topic of the post-baptismal mystery of Christic anointing. This work opens up the world of third-century rivalries within the Jesus movement for anyone interested in biblical interpretation or ancient Christian history and theology.

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Contributor Biography

Yancy Smith

Yancy W. Smith is a translation consultant for the World Bible Translation Center, a ministry of the Bible League International. He holds an MA degree in New Testament from Abilene Christian University and a PhD in Biblical Interpretation (New Testament and Early Christianity) from Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University. He is an elder in a local church in Fort Worth, Texas, has been a church planter with his family both abroad and in the U.S., and is the chief consultants for various Bible translation projects including La Palabra de Dios para todos, a best-selling Spanish Bible translation.

  • Table of Contents (page 5)
  • List of Illustrations (page 9)
  • Foreword (page 11)
  • Preface (page 13)
  • Acknowledgments (page 29)
  • Abbreviations (page 33)
  • Introduction (page 39)
    • The Mystagogical Sitz im Leben of the Commentary (page 40)
    • Christ, His Two Wives, and the Heretics (page 49)
    • The Place of Provenance Arguments in this Study (page 53)
    • The Paschal Homiletic Connection of the Commentary (page 55)
    • The Commentary as Mystagogical Homily (page 56)
    • A Fresh Approach to the Commentary (page 59)
    • Preview of Chapters (page 77)
    • Texts and Translations of the Commentary On the Song of Songs (page 80)
  • 1. Hippolytus the Exegete (page 87)
    • The Commentary and Asiatic Rhetoric (page 90)
    • The Commentaries and the so-called 'Statue of Hippolytus' (page 92)
    • On the Song of Songs and the Hippolytus Question (page 97)
    • The Issue of Authorship in the Hippolytan Corpus (page 107)
    • The Date, Setting, and Influence of the Commentary (page 119)
    • On the Song of Songs Between East and West (page 125)
    • Summary: The Life and Times of Hippolytus (page 133)
  • 2. Women in Hippolytus' Commentary On the Song of Songs (page 135)
    • The Mystagogical Context of the Commentary and Female Redemption (page 147)
    • On the Song of Songs and Female Patronage (page 152)
    • Women and the Mystagogue in the Commentary (page 161)
    • 'Apostles to the Apostles': Eve and the Myrrhophores Ordained (page 163)
    • Hippolytus' Attitude toward Women in On the Song of Songs (page 170)
  • 3. On the Song of Songs in the Social Context of 'Heresies' (page 171)
    • The Christian Love of Commentaries (page 174)
    • Valentinian Influence on Christian Commentary Writing (page 183)
    • The Issue of Boundaries: A Relationship between On the Song of Songs and the Refutation? (page 201)
    • Summary (page 207)
  • 4. Embodied Logos, Domestic Art and Acculturation (page 210)
    • Paschal Baptism, Anointing and Hand Laying (page 212)
    • On the Song of Songs and the Severan Rhetoric of Empire (page 238)
    • Summary (page 247)
  • 5. Rhetorical Situation Part One: Ethos in the Commentary (page 249)
    • Speaker and Audience in On the Song of Songs (page 251)
    • The Household Context of Baptism and Anointing (page 257)
    • The Audience in the Commentary (page 265)
    • Rhetorical Features of the Early Christian Instruction of New Converts (page 272)
    • On the Song of Songs as a Banquet Speech (page 276)
    • Summary (page 285)
  • 6. Rhetorical Situation Part Two: Structure and Season in the Mystagogy of Hippolytus (page 287)
    • Seasonal Constraints on the Interpretation of the Song (page 287)
    • The Speaker's Choice of Genre (page 294)
    • Summary of Contents and Themes of On the Song of Songs (page 296)
    • Rhetorical Units and Arrangement (page 300)
    • Outline of the Commentary (page 304)
    • On the Song of Songs A Paschal Homily of Mystagogical Instruction (page 309)
    • The Mystery of the Passover (page 316)
    • On the Song of Songs among the Mystagogies (page 331)
    • Mystagogy and the Praise of Emperors (page 334)
    • Summary (page 338)
  • 7. Rhetorical Situation Part Three: The Commentary in its Celebratory Context (page 339)
    • The Greco-Roman Banquet Tradition (page 343)
    • The Roman Context (page 354)
    • The Refrigerium Meal (page 357)
    • The Agape Meal (page 360)
    • Summary (page 364)
  • 8. Hermeneutical Approach (page 367)
    • Introduction (page 367)
    • Tending Boundaries: Invective, Community Cohesion, and the Inner Chamber (page 368)
    • Revealing the Inner Chamber (page 371)
    • Kiss and Anointing that Fills the World with Meaning (page 374)
    • Precedents in Jewish Interpretation of the Song (page 377)
    • Greco-Roman Mythical Connections (page 381)
    • The Consolation of the Song in Hippolytus the Exegete's Use of Various Mythical Themes (page 382)
    • Valentinian Precedents of On the Song of Songs (page 413)
  • 9. Mystery and Divine Economy (page 426)
    • Typology and the Mystery of the Divine Economy (page 430)
    • The Divine Economy in On the Song of Songs (page 430)
    • Incarnation, Crucifixion, and the Resurrection of the Incarnate Word (page 433)
    • The World-wide Proselytizing Mission: the Grace of the Economy (page 441)
    • Divinization: the Goal of the Divine Economy (page 443)
    • Chapter Summary (page 449)
  • 10. Conclusions (page 450)
  • 11. Annotated Translation (page 456)
  • Works Cited (page 601)
  • Index (page 641)
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