Saturday, March 29, 2008

More from the MAR-SBL 2008

The quality of the papers at the conference this year was high, surpassing previous years, several folks have commented. One excellent paper that I heard was by a Ph.D. student at PTS, Sarah Zhang, who is writing a dissertation on the Song of Songs, working with my friend Chip Dobbs-Allsopp. As part of her talk, she shared this image, a 1949 painting by Salvador Dali entitled, The Madonna of Port Lligat:

click to enlarge

Sarah understands the painting to connect with the Song of Songs in several ways. The gaps in the bodies of Mary and Jesus create a continuity between them and their natural surroundings, similar to how in reading Canticles we look "through" the lovers' bodies to see eyes as doves and hair as a flock of goats, etc. Soo too, Dali was highly inspired in his work on this painting both by his love for the female model in it and his love of the natural locale that he depicts. In a parallel way, canticles upholds and supports romantic love and love of nature as interrelated, twin portals to a hightened spirituality.

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