On October 21, Paul J. Griffiths, Warren Chair of Catholic Theology at Duke Divinity School, came to Loyola University Maryland, and presented his “Identifying the Beloved in the Song of Songs” lecture, which relates to the theme of the darkness and love in John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent.” In his lecture, he teaches, discusses, and interprets the Song of Songs, as well as the Beloved, who it is written to. He describes the book as a love-lyric, a scriptural book, and a book about God all in one. He also goes into great detail about the speakers in the Song, most importantly the voice of the Beloved, as well as interoperating the Song figurally. The lecture was important because not only did it provide incite on the Song of the Songs, but it also created a connection between theology and our literature class. The love shown for the Beloved by the Delightful Man is the same love Milton shows for God in his poem “When I consider how my light is spent.” They are both devoted to their love and through their words describe how much they care for them.
Griffith’s “Identifying the Beloved in the Song of Songs” was divided into three parts: explaining what the Song of Songs is, a description of the voices in the Song, and interpretations of the Song. He went through all these ideas and explained them in thorough detail. He stated that the Song of Songs is love-lyric, as well as a scripture book about God. He believed the Song could be ready both literally and figuratively. The book talks about the relationship between the Beloved and the Delightful Man, the two main protagonists. It is a dialogue between the two, showing their true love for each other. Not only does it show the relationship between the two, but also Griffiths stated that there is also a metaphor involved in the Song. He believes that the Song stands for the love and relationship between God and the people of Israel. He stated that the Song is God talking to his people, telling them that they are good and beautiful, trying to increase their religious beliefs about Him. He believes this because it is a book of the Bible, and it does not have any religious symbolism, and therefore must be an allegory relating to God. Ultimately, Griffith stated that there are many ways to think about the Song of Songs. It is very easily interpreted in many different ways, but regardless of the interpretation, love is the major theme of the Song of Songs.
The theme of love for God is also a major part of John Milton’s “When I consider how my light is spent.” The poem is about how the speaker is blind and wants to serve good. Because of his blindness, he is not able to, and is very distraught about it. His blindness is ruining his life, and he begins to cry out to God. He loves God so much that he will do anything to serve him. God then speaks to him and says that he does not have to run around and preach the word of God to serve Him. God states that he can wait on him by his side and still be able to enter heaven. Ultimately, the poem is about how bad the speaker wants to serve God. He wants to be with Him in eternity, and serve him forever. This is just like the Song of Songs, as it is a love-lyric. It literally describes the speaker’s love for God. It is also like the Song of Songs because it provides an allegory. The allegory is that to get into heaven, one must serve God in anyway possible, just like the allegory in the Song of Songs is so people are also able to get into heaven by worshiping God. These two ideas provide a perfect connection between the two pieces of literature.
The lecture by Griffiths’s and “When I consider how my light is spent” both have the same main ideas. There is a solid connection between the two, ultimately allowing for cohesion between the two subjects. This truly provides for a liberal arts education, something the Jesuits hold in high regards.