There are definitely some emails that feel bigger than others. Or in this case, are almost too big to send. This summer I sent off the manuscript of my first book, The Song of Songs in the Early Middle Ages. It is a sad truth of modern technology that, in the email attachment, the text of the entire book was absolutely dwarfed by the size of the three high-resolution images I wanted to include. The book represents many years of work and thought, and it is a real labor of love and source of satisfaction to have brought it, finally, to completion. No one tells you that, days before you send off the final copy, you will be digging in footnote no. 253 trying to figure out which edition of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Rule you were using eight years ago, but so it is.
The book that I completed during my recent sabbatical looks at how a group of early medieval clergy in northern Europe in the eighth and ninth centuries started reading the Song of Songs as an allegory to think about how to reform the church of their own day. At the time, training the clergy to educate the people in the basics of Christian truth was the pressing issue of the day—some things never change, right? But first, they had to create some kind of identity for the clergy in the first place, and I look at how the Song of Songs helped them to do that.
Hannah Matis, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Church History