• Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs: a Contemporary Encounter With Contemplative Aspirations

      Sweetman, Robert; Mols, Michael John; Institute for Christian Studies (Institute for Christian Studies, 2007-08)
      Recent scholarship in biblical interpretation has remained suspicious of the "allegorical" approach to scripture, presumed as common to Medieval Christianity, and Bernard of Clairvaux is often acknowledged as paradigmatic of contemplative exegesis. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs is often alleged to be an ultimate example of the dangers of monastic "allegorizing," in that such an approach lacks any consistency of method and maintains an ideological stance that is suspicious of and ultimately rejects the nature of bodily existence. This thesis counters these claims by utilizing the work of contemporary medievalists, instead of contemporary biblical exegetes, as a lens in a close reading of Bernard's Sermones Super Cantica, as well as his textual interaction with Peter Abelard and Peter the Venerable. This thesis suggests that Bernard is consistent in his method of performative reading and holds bodily existence as vital to the monastic and broader Christian way of life.