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“Feeding among the Lilies”: Lectio Divina on the Song of Songs


What is the garden? Is it the soul? Is it some other source of nourishment? What are the lilies? Traditional exegesis of the Song of Songs – from Gregory of Nyssa in the late fourth century through to the Cistercian John of Ford in the early thirteenth – has seen the garden as the soul in which the Lord delights, the lilies being the virtues, the bed of aromatics being the fruitful repose of contemplation (Gregory, Sermon 15; John, Sermons 44-5). And yet Ivan Illich’s masterful book In the Vineyard of the Text (1993) shows, scripture itself, in this period, was increasingly seen as a garden.

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