Introduction to CRYING STONES by Kristy Shellenberger Yordy

I am so thankful to partner with Hebrew text scholar, Kristy Shellenberger Yordy. She gave the initial shape to THE STONES CRY. Here is her introduction:

Part of my joy and passion in working with the Song of Songs—a Hebrew Wisdom text—the past number of years has been witnessing the intertextual conversations that the Song engages with the biblical texts surrounding it, both the texts that were written before it and the ones composed after it.

I have especially been interested in how the Song sings itself in the gospel of John’s telling of the anointing, the crucifixion, and the burial of Jesus, and, especially, of the resurrection scene. I also have been energized by the way in which the protagonist of the Song, called “the woman of shalom” (the Shulammite), and Mary Magdalene share many of the same characteristics and personality traits, as do the Shulammite’s beloved (“man of shalom”) and Jesus.

In fact, one of the leading commentators on the gospel of John, Bruno Barnhart, argues that the author of the gospel of John takes the “nuptial” symbolism, language, and imagery that has its origins in the Song of Songs—with its lush and fragrant garden imagery—and applies them to the encounter between Jesus and Mary Magdalene in garden of the resurrection. In fact, most of the fragrances surrounding the burial in John are prominently featured in the Song of Songs. (The other three gospels (Matt, Mark, Luke) describe Jesus’s tomb and resurrection site simply as a rock, somewhere.)

Also embedded in the Song are a few poems and several one-liners which, in their emotional mirroring, give voice to the crucial pieces of the Mary Magdalene story that have gone missing in the mainstream of the Christian tradition. And it is my feeling that these pieces are building blocks for reclaiming Mary Magdalene’s voice today. The reading composed for our Easter morning gathering illustrates some of these mirrorings and reflections.

Cynthia Bourgeault in The Meaning of Mary Magdalene has helped me intuit the connections between the Song and the resurrection and between Mary Magdalene and the Shulammite: “It’s almost as if the Song of Songs is furnishing the libretto in the text for the songs and statements that were never allowed to be said directly between MM and Jesus . . . to get the heart of Christianity and the underground flavor of Christianity, you really have to look at the Song of Songs.”

In fact, just about every renowned Christian commentator (e.g., Origen, Gregory the Great, Bernard of Clairvaux, Therese of Lisieux, Teresa of Avila, Bruno Barnhart) has written a commentary or commentaries on the Song of Songs within which is woven Mary Magdalene.

The reading composed for our gathering tries to furnish some of the “librettos” in the Song that help us hear more clearly the relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene at the heart of the Christian tradition. ~ksy

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