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The Literary Unity of the Canticle

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Mary Timothea Elliott, RSM

This study addresses the question of the literary unity of the Canticle of Canticles as that question is necessarily bound up with the problems of genre, structure, and interpretation.
The work is developed in three parts. The first reviews the state of the question, establishes a working definition of «poetic unity», and sets forth the criteria of structuration at the formal level.
The second part is a detailed poetic analysis of the Masoretic Text. A third part, synthetic in nature, collects, organizes and evaluates the evidence for textual unity at the formal and stylistic levels. It concludes that the Canticle is a single lyric poem, thoughtfully structured and well unified. Final hermeneutical reflections are concerned with the manner in which structure, style, and meaning exist together in the wholeness of the text.
Contents: Approaches to the Literary Unity of the Canticle - The Search for Unity, A Poetic Approach - The Poetic Structure of the Canticle - The Canticle as a Poetic System at the Formal and Stylistic Levels - Hermeneutical Reflections and Conclusions.