I have this problem where everything I write comes out like a conversation or a sermon. I write in the same way I would like to talk.
The problem with this is that I have to write academic papers now. You can’t write conversationally in papers discussing the history of biblical exegesis.
So, I started writing this paper about how church fathers (or parents, as we are required to say in our inclusive, gender-neutral writing regulations) read the Song of Songs… and I came across this quote from Origen about the Song of Songs… and I wrote something really cool but totally unusable academically….
So I thought I would share it here…
In the Song of Songs, the narrative is driven by the Bride and the Bridegroom’s longing for each other during a period of time between their betrothal and the consummation of their marriage. The couple is separated by physical distance. The Bride longs for her future husband and says “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.” (20) Origen draws a direct connection between the desires of the Bride and the anticipation of the church as it waits for the return of Christ. Writing in his own voice he says:
“…for this reason I beseech you, Father of my spouse, and pour out my prayer, that you will look with pity upon this love of mine and send him, so that now he may not speak to me any longer by way of his ministering angels and his prophets, but may come in his very own person and kiss me with the kisses of his mouth…” (21)
Origen seems to be affected by the words of the ancient story. He uses very strong phrases such as “I beseech you, Father” and “look with pity on this love of mine”. He is not a passive exegete that is engaging the text only with his intellect. I would suggest that, much like the Bride in the Song of Songs, Origen is experiencing something real and moving. When he reads the Bride’s words he hears the echoes of his own heart’s desire to stand in the presence of Jesus and see his face and be wrapped up in his loving arms.