Robert Alter on Unorthodox Bible: Esther, Song of Solomon, Jonah

Professor Robert Alter (UC-Berkeley) discusses the three books of the Bible which might be considered the “most unorthodox: the two books that never mention the word God (the Book of Esther, the Song of Songs) and the book that pushes back against religious nationalism (the Book of Jonah).” The discussion is with Scott Saul in Chapter & Verse, a books-and-arts podcast from UC Berkeley’s Townsend Center for the Humanities.

In the Book of Esther, a story that veers into sex comedy, a beautiful Jewish commoner joins a Persian king’s harem and contrives to save her people. In the Song of Songs, two lovers engage in a dance of mutual seduction that encourages us, as readers, to “be drunk with loving.” And in the Book of Jonah, a man who refuses to preach to his enemies is swallowed by a giant fish — God working in magical as well as mysterious ways.

Ilana Pardes on the Song of Solomon and Shmuel Agnon

Stroum

Professor Ilana Pardes, of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, delivered the 2010 Samuel & Althea Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. The lectures discuss Shmuel Agnon’s novel Yesteryear and the methods of Zionist and modern secular exegesis of the Hebrew Bible. The audio of each lecture is available in mp3 format.

April 25
“‘Upon the Handles of the Lock’: Agnon, Balak and the Israeli Bible”

April 27
“Agnon’s Ethnographies of Love and the Quest for the Ultimate Song”

The Song of Songs: Francis X. Clooney, Cheryl Exum, Michael Fishbane, Paul Griffiths, and Stephanie Paulsell

Harvard Divinity School provides a video of “a conversation between five scholars on the Song of Songs”, held on April 15, 2013. The panel was chaired by CSWR director Francis X. Clooney, S.J., and featured Cheryl Exum of the University of Sheffield, Michael Fishbane of University of Chicago Divinity School, Paul Griffiths of Duke University, and Stephanie Paulsell of HDS.