"Your dove-eyes among your hairlocks:" Language and authority in fray Luis de Leon's respuesta que desde su proision da a sus emulos (*).
Among the many praises heaped on the sixteenth-century Spanish humanist and poet fray Luis de Le6n, none may strike a more vigorous chord with modern sensibilities than those upholding him as a stalwart defender of intellectual freedom. Fray Luis' valiant struggle with the Inquisition during his long incarceration from 1572 to 1576 is one of the most famous episodes in the intellectual history of Golden Age Spain. (1) In the course of almost five years of solitary confinement, fray Luis vehemently fought the virulent accusations of numerous detractors to vindicate his academic pursuits as a Christian Hebraist at Salamanca. Intellectual and religious prejudices, compounded by his vulnerable social status as a Christian of Jewish descent, had made him prey to constant persecution in inquisitorial Spain. But the Augustinian friar always stood his ground in the spirited defense of his biblical scholarship. Fray Luis' stance with the Inquisition, more than any of his major works, has come to consolidate his preemi nent stature as an intellectual hero of the Spanish counter-reformation.
A precious document stands out in the paper trail left behind by his Inquisitorial process: a couple of loose folios torn and dated December 18th, 1573, where he contests several accusations against his biblical scholarship figuring in the trial. This magnificent text is centered and structured on some seeming trifles of scriptural semantics: the Spanish translation of a few Hebrew words in his commented version of the Song of Songs. However, fray Luis' response to his critics is a miniature tour de force in Hispano-Christian Hebraism -- a water-tight defense of his exegetical predilections served up with impeccable logic, mordant humor, and a virtuosic deployment of staple themes in the humanist repertoire. Fray Luis' succinct defense beautifully telescopes his contribution to the post-Tridentine debates on the canonical status of the Latin Vulgate, the question of vernacular Bibles and the applicability of humanist philology to Christian exegesis. It is also a rhetorical gem in humanist apologetics and a pr ivileged witness into the mind and personality of a remarkable figure from the Spanish Renaissance.
In this essay, we will examine the context, content, and style of fray Luis de Leon's inquisitorial "respuesta." The text will be set against the backdrop of the Jewish and Christian commentaries on the pertinent biblical loci and of the state of biblical learning in sixteenth-century Spain. A running commentary of the letter will then cap our introduction to the centerpiece of this study: the first translation into English of fray Luis' response (Appendix 2). (2)
The first line in the fourth chapter of the Songs of Songs reads in Hebrew:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
With this haunting verse, the love-struck Husband in Solomon's Canticle ushers in a rapturous evocation of the Beloved's beauty ("un loor lleno de requiebro" in fray Luis' felicitous words). A modern biblical scholar, Marvin Pope (1977: 5), renders it as follows: "Behold you are fair, my darling, / behold you are fair. / Your eyes are doves / behind your veil. / Your hair like a flock of shorn goats / streaming down Mount Gilead."
The problematic word is tsammah ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) in the phrase [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which Pope has translated as "behind your veil." This word appears three other times in the Hebrew Bible: Song of Songs 4:3 and 6:7, and Isaiah 47:2, always in the genitive construct [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (3) Most contemporary biblicists concur that tsammah means "veil" (from the root [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], as in the Arabic [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], to draw together or tie up") (4) and that the thrust of this phrase is a praise of the Beloved's eyes whose shining beauty can hardly be concealed by her veil. However, the Hebrew tsammah seems to have confounded most of the early translators and interpreters. The Greek Septuagint identically renders its three occurrences in the Canticle as "silence" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), most likely derived from the Hebrew root [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] , "to put an end or exterminate," which is related to the Arabic "to be silent." The Vetus Latina, which is based on and so follows the Septuagint, reads in all three instances "taciturnitatem tuam" (De Bruyne 1926: 101-02). In Isaiah, though, tsammah is translated as "covering, veil" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) which is more accurate and also coincides with Symmachus' translation of Song of Songs 4:3 and 6:7 ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) (5). St. Jerome, on the other hand, resorts to an intriguing circumlocution in his Latin translation for both Song of Songs 4:1 and 4:3: "absque eo quod intrinsecus latet" ("apart from that which lies concealed within"). He offers a slight variant in 6:6 (the Vulgate's renumbering of 6:7), "absque occultis tuis" ("apart from what is hidden from you"), whereas its final occurrence in Isaiah 47:2 is rendered as "turpitudinem tuam" ("your shamefulness"). (6) Jerome's rationale for his three versions of tsammah, his seemin g belief that it meant female genitalia as explained in his Latin commentary on the book of Isaiah ad locum, is the target of fray Luis' critique, which will be examined below. (7)
Early confusion over the Greek and Latin translations of tsammah sealed the exegetical fate of this scriptural passage in the medieval Christian tradition. The patristic and medieval commentators, with very few exceptions (such as Nicholas of Lyra), did not have access to the original Hebrew. Moreover, Hebrew was not a primary concern for these Christian commentaries, since they relied on the canonical translations for the literal sense of Scripture and most of their efforts, anyway, were devoted to the allegorical and mystical interpretations of the Song's Wife, whether as the Church, the soul, or the Virgin Mary. As far as tsammah is concerned, they had nothing to offer towards its philological elucidation. (8)
Jewish scholars, on the other hand, who were obviously attentive to the finer points of the Hebrew text, took tsammah to mean either veil, locks of hair, or hair-related trinkets. (9) Already in Midrash Shir ha-Shirim Rabbah, we find the following interpretation ascribed to R. Levi: "The entire body of a bride whose eyes are like blind must be examined; but if she has beautiful eyes, we do not need to examine her entire body. And whenever this woman gathers [mitsmet] her hair behind her, it serves her as an ornament. So when the Sanhedrin was seating behind the Temple, that was an ornament to the Temple." (10) In his Arabic Tafsir, Saadia consistently renders tsammah as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "veil",) (11) a choice of translation echoed among the early medieval lexicographers by Menahem ben Saruq, who offers the Hebrew synonym [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (under the root [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (12) and Jonah ibn Janah (1875: 612, lines 1-2), who also translates [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] in Arabic as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] (under the "biliteral" root [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII]). This reading of tsammah as veil can be documented in some of the later Jewish commentators of the Song such as Gersonides, whose philosophical exegesis of Song 4:1 [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] is explained as reference to "her [the Wife's] adornment and her modesty because a veil is a mask which she places on her face, her eyes being seen through the mask.(13) But Rashi, with the Midrash probably in mind, claims that it is "an expression for something used to confine [hatsimtsem] the hair so that it does not show. And that thing is a hair-net and ribbons" (14)-- an explanation that segues into a fine grammatical gloss on why [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] can not mean "your veil" (tsometech).(15) In Sefer ha-Shorashim, David Kimhi, although mindful of Ibn Janah, also claims that [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII], which h e derives from the root [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] refers to hair and even proposes the translations crins, crignes in Provencal and treccia, trecce in Italian. (16) In his commentary on Isaiah 47:2, Kimhi elaborates: "Tsammah is the hair that a woman arranges on her temples above her face by covering it with a kerchief. In that consists her honour. But a woman that goes uncovered forfeits her honour by not wearing a kerchief. Her tsammah is exposed, falling over her face like a despised woman." (17) Ibn Ezra states more succinctly [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("an expression for abundant hair"), (18) and the Italian Sforno adds: "it is an ornament of a wig." (19) The medieval Hispano-Jewish poets also support the translation of tsammah as either hair or veil. (20)
These later Jewish glosses on tsammah, typical examples of Rabbinic peshat, were quite influential in the medieval Bible translations. They left their imprint on the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Hispano-Jewish romanceamientos of the Song of Songs, as can be gathered from the various terms related to hair -- guedejas, cabelladura, crencha, crines -- used to translate it in the Spanish Bibles. (21) They also seem to be the source for the canonical Bible of the English language, King James' poetic translation where our verse is rendered "thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks." (22)
The minor point of biblical semantics discussed in the previous section provides the immediate context for one of the main Inquisitorial accusations later refuted in fray Luis' "respuesta."
Around 1561, fray Luis prepared a Spanish version of the Song of Songs directly from the Hebrew. This translation, he says, was made at the behest of a Spanish nun, Isabel Osorio, from the Salamancan convent of Sancti Spiritus. It was accompanied by a Spanish commentary intended to elucidate "la corteza de la letra," the literal sense or sensus litteralis of Solomon's Canticle, described in turn as an "egloga pastoril," a pastoral eclogue in meter. (23) Indeed, in soaring prose of exquisite beauty, the Augustinian scholar offers a literal commentary of the biblical love poem: that is, a running explanation of its narrative plot selectively attentive to the linguistic nuances of the Hebrew original as rendered by him in Spanish.
His philological gloss on tsammatech in Song of Songs 4:1 typifies fray Luis' approach to the literal interpretation of the Hebrew Bible.
Here is our translation of fray Luis' version of the verse (following Blecua's edition): (24) "Ah, how beautiful are you, my Friend, oh how beautiful! / Your dove-eyes between your hair. / Your hair like a flock of goats gazing from mount Gilead." (25) The original gloss on his translation of tsammatech in the 1561 Commentary reads:
Among your hairs. In the translation and declaration of this term there is some disagreement among the interpreters. The Hebrew word [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASC II] meaning hairs or mane, properly refers to that part that falls over the forehead and the eyes. In some women, what they wear is a hairpiece which is called "lados" ("sides") in Castilian. Sr. Jerome, I do not know to what end, thinks it means the concealed beauty and thus translates: Your dove eyes, apart from what is covered. Yet, this does not only run against the common meaning accepted by those most learned about that language, but somehow he also contradicts himself, since in chapter 47 of the book of Isaiah, where the same word appears, he thinks it means indecency and ugliness and that is how he translates it. (26)
Fray Luis de Leon offers various Spanish equivalents for [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] all of which mean "your hair-locks": "tus guedexas" in verses 4:1 and 4:3; "tu cabello" in verse 6:6; "cabellos," "cabellera," and "lados" in the commentary, also described with precision as "la parte de los cabellos que cae sobre la frente y ojos, que algunas los suelen traer postizos"; and "copetes" ("topknot") or "aladares" ("forelocks"--one edition reads "canaladores") in the inquisitorial response to be discussed below. (Of course, the Spanish scholar, who was also one of the preeminent poets of the Golden Age, could not resist such an opportunity to showcase his semantic virtuosity and shower the unsuspecting reader with so many different terms for the biblical "hair-locks").
Fray Luis' translation of tsammah as hair-locks lacks medieval precedents among Christian exegetes (even Nicholas of Lyra). However, it is explicitly propounded by some of the medieval Jewish biblical commentators (Kimhi, Ibn Ezra), as demonstrated above. The Jewish pashtanim are fray Luis de Leon's unidentified authorities, the scriptural scholars whom he refers as "los mas doctos en esa lengua." He seems particularly close to Kimhi's description of tsammah in both Sefer haShorashim and his commentary on Isaiah 47:2.
This minor debt to the medieval peshatim is nor an isolated incident. Fray Luis' selective convergence with Jewish commentarial sources can be documented elsewhere in his exegetical writings. Fray Luis himself brings the readers' attention to this important fact, for example in his explanation of tarsis in a gloss on the Song of Songs 5:15, where he offers a description of the biblical gem "segun la pinta un hebreo antiguo llamado Abenezra." (27) As in the case with tsammah, fray Luis here tries to elucidate contextually the meaning of a Hebrew term on the philological authority of a medieval Jewish exegete. His possible debts to the Jewish commentators are not limited, for sure, to the few instances where they are explicitly identified by the Spanish humanist. A student of Millas Vallicrosa, Alexander Habib Arkin (1966), culled in an early study several passages from fray Luis' Spanish commentaries on the Song of Songs and the book of Job and proposed plausible precedents for each in Jewish exegetical source s. (28) A recent short essay has added a couple of new examples of such exegetical resonances with the medieval Jewish commentaries (Fernandez Tejero 1988). (29)
Habib Arkin's monograph has been the object of important criticism, especially among some Hispanists who cautiously deplore fray Luis' excessive "Judaization" in the scholarly literature. Colin Thompson most recently (1988, 145-46) has raised two major criticisms: (1) Arkin's neglect of fray Luis' Latin commentaries; and (2) his inability to entertain the possibility of intermediate sources. We could add two more criticisms to Colin Thompson's list. First, Arkin's aprioristic circumscription to the Jewish commentaries on the Song and Job excludes other exegetical works plausibly relevant to fray Luis. (30) Arkin's study is also marred by textual inaccuracies and outright mistakes in his Spanish translations of some of the Hebrew passages. (31)
His second criticism in particular -- the possibility of a mediated access to Jewish exegesis in Spanish or Latin translations -- is relevant for this analysis and can not be summarily discounted. There are important Renaissance precedents, both in Hispano-Christian and in trans-Pyrenean biblical scholarship, for fray Luis' translation of tsammah and its concomitant gloss in the 1561 commentary. Already in 1522, the Vocabularium hebraicum that caps the Complutense Biblia poliglota explains [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] under the root as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "cincinnus capillorum seu coma capitis Secundum hebreos." (32) In his own Latin translation of the Hebrew Bible, completed around 1518 and first published in 1528, the Italian Dominican Santes Pagnini thus renders the middle part of Song 4:1: "oculi tui, columbarum inter cincinnos tuos" (he consistently translates tsammatech as "cincinnos tuos" in all four instances). (33) Moreover, Pagnino's Thesauri Hebraicae Linguae, included at t he end of Arias Montano's Biblia regia, documents the three prevalent readings of tsammah in Jewish lexicography (hair, hair-band, and veil). Thus, we read therein, again under [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "Inde [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] caesaries capillorum, cincinnus, crines, ut Canticum 4,1 [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] praeter crines tuos, vel intra crines aut cincinnos. Al. Intra retiacula tua, ligamina, quae constringunt capillos, ne effluant. Velamen: sic Isa 47.2." (34) The annotations ascribed to Francois Vatable, included along with Pagnino's translation and a recension of the Vulgate in Robert Estienne's Polyglot Bible -- the "Vatable Bible" first published in 1545 -- also expound on two of the three Jewish readings of tsammah in a way quite reminiscent of fray Luis' gloss. (35) Not surprisingly, fray Luis knew both Pagnino and Vatable very well. He was appointed to a commission, along with his nemesis Leon de Castro, that examined and granted a licence of approval in 1569 for a third "corrected" edition of Estienne's Bible, with the Vatable annotations finally printed in Salamanca in 1584. (36) Fray Luis' defense of Pagnino and Vatable resurfaced in the course of his inquisitorial trial, particularly among the accusations levelled against him by Castro. And these are not fray Luis' only plausible links to the Jewish explications of tsammah. In his Parafrasis al Cantar de los Cantares, a synoptic version of the Song probably started in 1552, which fray Luis de Leon certainly read, the preeminent Spanish Biblicist Arias Montano, fray Luis' colleague and friend, also rendered tsammah as "cabellos." (37) There is even an Escorial manuscript (a.iv.20) in Arias Montano's handwriting with a Castilian (and partly Latin) translation of David Kimhi's commentary on Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Malachi -- a plausible vernacular source for Kimhi's gloss on Isaiah 47:2 about tsammah (Zarco Cuevas 1924-25: 1:19). Finally, we may note a work by another trans-Pyrenean Hebraist, the Italian Agazio Gu idaceri (1477-1542), whose 1531 commented Latin translation of the Song provides yet another Christian precedent for fray Luis' gloss on tsammah. (38)
The exceptional command of biblical Hebrew displayed in fray Luis' linguistic arguments warrants the possibility of a direct access to rabbinic philologico-exegetical materials, fray Luis' verbal denial notwithstanding. (39) Some glosses, like the one on tarsis, plausibly suggests that indeed he consulted the Hebrew commentaries directly. (40) However, in cases such as tsammah, fray Luis could have also derived his knowledge of its Jewish explications (particularly Kimhi's) from intermediary sources, especially the sixteenth-century annotated Bibles aforementioned. Whether fray Luis resorted directly to these Hebrew sources or only to a translation, if not some other mediating link, cannot be settled definitively in this essay. An exhaustive study of the plausible Hebrew sources for his Spanish and Latin works certainly remains a desideratum.
More relevant to this inquiry is the immediate intellectual context behind fray Luis' Hebrew expertise and his acknowledged recourse to Jewish exegetes, whether directly or in translation -- an act of daring in the face of the Inquisition.
There were a small number of Christian humanists in the sixteenth century who resorted to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible in their translations and commentaries. They were prompted, as lucidly explained by Engammare, by several concurrent factors, including the development of Hebrew studies in biblical curricula, the aftermath of the Reuchlin-Pfefferkorn controversy, the emergence of Christian Kabbalah, the creation of university lectureships on Hebrew and Aramaic, the creation of specialized presses contributing to the wider availability of Hebrew grammars and dictionaries, and the direct collaboration with Jewish scholars (Engammare 1993, 176ff). However, very few of these trans-Pyrenean Hebraists were seemingly equipped to handle the Rabbinic commentaries in unvocalized Hebrew. Looking specifically at Solomon's Canticle, Engammare can only single out two of twenty-two non-Jewish commentators of the biblical poem in Renaissance Europe with a demonstrated usage in their commentaries of the Rabbinical sources in the original: Agazio Guidaceri and Sebastian Munster (Engammare 1993, 187).
In Spain, on the other hand, a different scenario is easily discernible. There was a rich humanist tradition of Christian hebraism in sixteenth-century Spain. It was pioneered by biblical scholars of Jewish descent such as Alonso de Zamora (c.1474-c.1544) and the Segovian Pablo Coronel (1480-1534), both recent converts to Christianity with an expertise on the Jewish exegetical and philological tradition, which they had ostensibly acquired in the Hispano-Jewish aljamas (Carrete Parrondo 1993, 135-43). Zamora and Coronel's philological expertise was brought to bear on their monumental efforts to revamp biblical studies at the Spanish universities: first, in Alcala de Henares, site of their collaboration in Cisneros Biblia poliglota, one of the crowning achievements of sixteenth-century Hispano-biblical scholarship, and later in Salamanca, where Coronel held the newly installed chair of Hebrew studies from 1521 until his death (Carrete Parrondo 1983; Saenz-Badillos 1987). Alcala de Henares in particular, with it s "Colegio Trilingue," became the center of training for a generation of hebraists during the first half of the sixteenth century. The Leonese Cistercian Cipriano de la Huerga (1510?-60), himself a Bible student in Alcala of the Augustinian friar Dionisio Vazquez, introduced to the Hebrew Scriptures most of the leading biblicists of the sixteenth-century Spanish schools: Benito Arias Montano (1527-98), Martin Martinez de Cantalapiedra, Juan de Mariana, probably Sixto de Siena (1520-69), Pedro de Fuentiduena, and fray Luis de Leon (Morocho Gayo et al. 1996). Benito Arias Montano, whose Biblia Poliglota of Amberes surpasses even the Complutense in the ambitious scope of its critical edition and scholarly apparatus, emerged from the halls of Alcala de Henares as the leading biblical scholar of Phillip II's Spain (Reker 1972). Likewise, fray Luis de Leon studied Hebrew under De la Huerga in 1556-57, coinciding with Arias Montano who was also attending De la Huerga's lectures at Alcala, although the Augustinian ma y have first attended his classes as early as 1552 when Montano, Fuentiduena and Cantalapiedra were also registered in there (Morocho Gayo 1996, 178). It was in Alcala, under the inspiration of such brilliant hebraists as De la Huerga and Arias Montano, that fray Luis may have first discovered the rabbinic commentaries as an exegetical resource. It is this biblical expertise that he also brought to another distinguished bevy of Christian Hebraists: the "Salamancan school" of Hebrew philology at the Trilingual College of the university, where fray Luis taught until his death in 1591 and which included the converso Alonso de Montemayor, a former teacher of Arias Montano, as well as Martinez de Cantalapiedra and Gaspar de Grajal, two other biblicists of Jewish descent incarcerated along with fray Luis by the Inquisition in 1572 (Carrete Parrondo 1983; 1993: 129-59).
The Erasmian tradition that so deeply marked Arias Montano and fray Luis envisioned the restoration of the Scriptures to their original purity with the humanist methods of textual criticism and scientific philology as a necessary basis for Christian reform (Bataillon 1966, 738-70; Fernandez Marcos et al. 1986). Erasmus, indeed, vigorously propounded a "trilingual biblicism" already implicit in the early humanists. (41) These humanist ideals of biblical scholarship were also embraced by these Spanish Hebraists in their passionate defense of the veritas hebraica: the philological retrieval of the Christian "Old Testament" according to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew original. They shared Erasmus' call for a return to the biblical sources in the original languages and the concomitant criticism of the Latin Vulgate. However, their precocious commitment to a scientific biblicism came with a high price in the aftermath of Trent, as they became increasingly suspect in the eyes of the Inquisition which dealt them so me terrible blows in the second half of the sixteenth century.
Why the inquisitorial apprehension against their biblical scholarship? This question brings us back to fray Luis' original gloss on tsammah, for the Augustinian's rationale behind his Spanish translation beautifully illustrates why the inquisitors decried his biblical scholarship in particular and that of the Spanish Hebraists in general.
Let us consider again the core argument of his commentary ad locum.
Fray Luis argued therein that Jerome had definitely erred in his Latin translation of the Hebrew tsammah in the Song 4:1, noting how it differed not only from the Hebrew original according to "those most learned about that language" but also from the Vulgate's rendition of the same word in another biblical verse from the book of Isaiah. Hence he had opted to bypass Jerome's cryptic paraphrase for its favoured interpretation among the Hebrew philologists, an interpretation that made better sense in the immediate context of the passage.
This apology, seemingly innocuous to a modern reader, proved particularly nettlesome to his critics for four reasons, all of which figure in the seventeen charges that his denouncers originally made against fray Luis, Grajal, and Cantalapiedra at the Vallodolid inquisition. (42)
First, this gloss exposed a translation error and an internal discrepancy in the Church's official Latin version of the Bible. The Tridentine canonical decree on the Vulgate's authority, albeit open to different interpretations, made an overt exposure of such a mistake clearly susceptible to inquisitorial suspicion. Fray Luis' vilifiers, indeed, accused him of claiming that "melior translatio potest haberi scripturae sanctae ea quae nunc est in ecclesia" ("There can be a better translation of the Holy Scriptures than the one now used by the Church" -- Proposition 13 [Alcala 1991: 4]). One of the issues at stake in fray Luis' inquisitorial process was his sensible views on how to interpret the Tridentine statutes about the primacy and authenticity of Jerome's Bible (Thompson 1988: 36-85).
Secondly, fray Luis had adduced this argument to defend a choice of translation in a vernacular rendition of a biblical book. This was a deliberate transgression against the blanket prohibition of such romanceamientos in the Spanish inquisitorial indexes since 1551, a prohibition riding on the crest of the anti-Erasmian backlash in the middle of the century. This accusation also figured in his trial as proposition two (Alcala 1991: 3): "Canticum canticorum potest legi et explicari sermone vulgari" ("The Song of Songs can be read and explained in the vernacular").
Thirdly, the circumscription of his Spanish gloss to the literal sense of the Canticle, consistent with the expressed purpose of his Spanish commentary, could be easily misinterpreted as a deliberate denial of an ulterior spiritual meaning to the Biblical epithalamium. This was obviously not the case, as can be gathered from fray Luis' ambitious exposition of the Song's allegorical and mystical content in his Latin commentary. But the statement of purpose in his introduction, that this commentary is only intended to elucidate "la corteza de la letra," and the concomitant claim that Solomon's Canticle can be analyzed at the literal level as a "pastoral eclogue," a poem akin to the Virgilian bucolic tradition cultivated by Garcilaso in the sixteenth century, could be -- and was -- selectively misquoted to impute to him the assertion that "Canticum canticorum est carmen amatorium Salomonis ad filiam Pharaonis, et contrarium docere est futile" ("The Song of Songs is a love poem by Solomon for the daughter of Phar aoh and to teach the contrary is futile" -- Proposition 1 [Alcala 1991: 4]).
Fourthly, his proposal of an alternative reading based on the Hebrew original and the Jewish commentaries, as this commentary explicitly does, made him prey to anti-Semitic hostilities on the part of the Inquisition as a potential "judaizer." His accusers also stated: "Communiter et ordinarie explicantur sanctae scripturae secundum explicationem rabbinorum, rejectis vel neglectis sanctorum explicationibus" ("The Holy Scriptures should usually and normally be explained according to the rabbinic explanations, whereas those of the Holy Writers should either be rejected or skipped" -- Proposition 3 [Alcala 1991: 3]). Of course, fray Luis only resorted to these commentaries on matters of biblical philology not theological content. But many staunch defenders of the Vulgate, fueled by anti-Semitic prejudice, criticized any recourse to the Hebrew original, not to mention the rabbinic commentaries, arguing that the Jews had willfully falsified the biblical passages used by Christian exegetes to uphold the Catholic fai th. The rabid anti-Semite Leon de Castro, professor of Greek at Salamanca and one of fray Luis' principal impugners, invoked such arguments to lash against "Iudaei & Iudaizantes" as he defended the superiority of the Vulgate and the Septuagint over the Hebrew Bible (Thompson 1988, 47ff). (43) Fray Luis' status as a Hebraist and a Christian of Jewish descent, a converso, made him even more vulnerable to this line of criticism. The inquisitorial plights of his Jewish and converso ancestors on both sides of the family are episodes well-known to any student of fray Luis' work. (44) Fray Luis himself was haunted throughout his life by the burden of his converso roots. In an early letter, the inquisitor Diego Gonzalez already noted, "since Grajal and fray Luis are well-known conversos, I believe that they only want to obscure our Catholic faith and return to their law." (45) As can be gathered from this and other texts in the Inquisitorial process, the converso stock of fray Luis and his peers was insidiously invok ed to imply their putative preference for Jewish over Christian Interpretations of Scripture. Fray Luis' defense of the veritas hebraica and the explicit recourse to Jewish commentaries in matters of biblical philology was not merely an academic dispute over methodological predilections. It was entangled with the social tragedy of other converso intellectuals subjected to anti-Semitic persecution in sixteenth-century inquisitorial Spain.
A fifth additional reason could also be adduced here: fray Luis de Leon's explicitness in the exposition of his method. Most of the charges discussed above -- diverging from the Vulgate, resorting to Jewish philology, establishing the veritas hebraica -- could have been levelled as well against the sixteenth-century Polyglot Bibles and biblical commentaries that served as Hispano-Christian precedents for fray Luis' gloss on tsammah. These Bibles were equally defiant of the exegetical scruples displayed by his detractors. However, none of the aforementioned sources fleshed out so explicitly, indeed provocatively, the implications of their philological method for an appraisal of the Latin Vulgate vis-a-vis the Hebrew original. Fray Luis, on the other hand, did not mince words in drawing direct attention to the inevitable conclusions of his philological method. He was quite adamant about his rightness. And he did so in Spanish, not in Latin, which made his views widely accessible beyond the small bevy of other p rofessional biblicists. It was this in-your-face overtness that cost him most dearly during his inquisitorial trial. It is the same unflinching bluntness, turned into an apologetic weapon, that we will encounter undiluted in his 1573 Respuesta.
Fray Luis' "respuesra" to his accusers is a detached fragment of the inquisitorial process where he defends selected aspects of his commented translation of the Song of Songs, with special attention devoted to how he explains the Hebrew tsammah, (46) The original autograph is no longer extant. At least, it is not among fray Luis' Inquisitorial papers at the National Historical Archive in Madrid. However, several copies of the "respuesta" were made early on, including the surviving manuscript 18575/39 in a seventeenth-century handwriting now preserved at the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid. This document must have captured the attention of those who circulated it as it was also preserved and divulged in the two main editions of fray Luis' Can tar de Can tares: the 1798 editio princeps of the Song's translation and commentary printed by Francisco de Toxar in Salamanca, and a 1806 edition of fray Luis' works prepared by the Augustinian friar Antolin Merino and printed in Madrid. The Salamancan edition published an already incomplete version of the lost inquisitorial document under the misleading title Respuesta que desde su prision da a sus emulos ("A response that he gives from prison to his rivals"). It included the following note: "Esta respuesta o mas bien memorial apologetico aunque nuestro juicio defectuoso y truncado, nos ha parecido digno de la luz publica. Los sabios disimularan sus defectos y conoceran el fin que nos mueve a anadirlo una obra, que atraxo sobre su autor la persecucion" ("Albeit defective and truncated in our judgement, we deemed this response, or rather this apologetic memorial, deserving of public attention. Learned men will overlook its faults and will understand why we were inclined to have it included in a work that brought persecution upon its author"). Father Merino on the other hand, published it as the Respuesta de fray Luis de Leon estando preso en la carcel ("Fray Luis de Leon's response while incarcerated"), adding that "Este titulo tiene la copia del exemplar, que se guarda en el Real archivo de Simancas. Se han notado algunas variantes del impreso" ("The copy of the exemplar, kept at the Royal Archive of Simancas, bears this title. Some variants from the printed version have been noted"). Jose Manuel Blecua. in a recent edition of the document based on Merino's text (Cantar 283-93 [Appendix]), confirms that Ascension de la Plaza, director of the Archive, was not able to locate the exemplar examined by Merino, which is now presumed lost (cf. pp. 30 and 284). Blecua still opted for Merino's version as the basis for his edition, since the editio princeps contained a sizeable lacuna (lines 80-105 in Blecua's text) and it also omitted all the Hebrew and Greek terms used by fray Luis (our translation is based on Blecua's reproduction of Merino's text). BAC'S edition of fray Luis' complete Spanish works also reproduces Merino's text, albeit with the Greek and Hebrew terms fully transliterated (Garcia [ed] 1991: 1: 211-18). Finally, Jose Barrientos Garcia (1991: 238-44, documento 41b) includ es it in his edition of fray Luis' autographs from the first inquisitorial process. (47) He notes that fray Luis himself had promised to defend in writing his Spanish commentary on the Song of Songs during his process. The dating and content of the "respuesta" clearly indicates that it was part of fray Luis' efforts to deliver on his promise. We can only surmise how many other portions of fray Luis' self-defense may have also been lost in this way.
Turning our attention to the content of this "respuesta," one can easily discern why this piece on biblical arcana could have proven so riveting to fray Luis' admirers. Its stated purpose was simple: to fill in the missing arguments in some of his Spanish glosses for his inquisitors. But its execution was typically "frayluisian," a brief series of philological arguments crafted with exceeding care, rhetorical precision, unimpeacheable logic and even stylistic flair for a judicial deposition. Equally in tune with fray Luis' temperament was the underlying mood of this exegetical exercise: a veneer of dispassionate coolness laced with biting irony and subtle humour as he tactfully gaged such delicate issues as the scriptural references, or lack thereof, to genitalia.
The outline of fray Luis' exposition can be summarized as follows:
i. Introduction: Captatio benevolentiae
ii. Rationale for his Spanish translation of tsammah as hair-locks in Song of Songs 4:1
a. Hebrew authorities: tsammah is hair-locks.
b. Jerome differs from the Hebrew authorities.
c. Internal contradictions in the Latin Vulgate.
iii. Refutation of the first charge: that he swerves from the Vulgate on "fundamentals."
iv. Proof that Jerome thought tsammah to mean vulva.
v. Arguments against Jerome's translation:
a. Biblical decorum.
b. Immediate context of the passage.
c. Teleology of nature/Scripture and Ciceronian propriety a lo divino.
d. Lack of decorum even for a secular love-poem.
e. Rhetorical propriety.
f. Meaning(s) of the Hebrew original according to the (Rabbinic) authorities.
vi. Final counterargument:
a. How to deliberate between different translations of the same word.
vii. Refutation of two other charges related to his Spanish translations of the Hebrew
a. Song of Songs 7:6.
b. Song of Songs 6:5 (the meaning of hirhib).
Let us examine its content in detail.
The extant text, whose first sentences are missing, opens quite bluntly with a rhetorical warrant. Fray Luis first tells us that he will broach a subject not merely difficult, sensitive, and prickly but also open to dangerous misreadings and accusations of prurience. However, his delicate predicament requires that he overcome any wariness and be forthright in the advocacy of his philological views, even when it entails making explicit references to our sexual biology in a language unencumbered by euphemisms ("my due and necessary defense requires that I speak about those things that nature made for an honest end with common words"). Of course, fray Luis is the consummate rhetor and his deftly crafted plea works successfully on two fronts. First, his argument is clearly buttressed by Augustine's influential position on obscenity from De civitate dei 14.23.17, that is, by the idea that frank speech about sexual matters is permissible because nothing natural is shameful. (48) At the same time, it conveys more in formation than your run-of-the-mill captatio benevolentiae. After all, fray Luis manages to insinuate the real nature of Jerome's "mistranslation," which will serve as the cornerstone of his apology, while sounding as if he is more concerned about the prudishness of his judges than the actual nature of his inquisitorial charges: another rhetorical coup.
With this caveat duly in place,, fray Luis may now review his commentarial statement. He begins with a tripartite explanation of his original gloss on tsammatech. First, he carefully notes the precise things he stated therein: that tsammah meant hair according to Hebrew scholars, that Jerome had translated it otherwise for reasons that he ignored, and that Jerome's translation as "quod intrinsecus latet" contradicted his rendition of the same Hebrew term in Isaiah 47:2. Secondly, he explains how the Husband's delicate reference to his Wife's hair is meant to highlight his loving praise of her gleaming eyes ("...for ordinarily some tufts of hair, dishevelled out of the order and array that the artifice of hairdo and braiding impose on others, fall over her forehead and, stirred by air and motion, they sway as if playing over her eyes, so that sometimes they cover them and others they reveal their lights, which makes them look better"). (49) This exquisite expansion on the original gloss, a visually arresting p oetic miniature, is quintessential peshat, as it aims to clarify the passage's literal meaning in the immediate context of the Wife's biblical portrait. Thirdly, fray Luis reiterates that this was all he originally intended to disclose, for the original gloss was neither "the right place" (a literal commentary for non-scholars) "nor was it appropriate for the person to whom I was writing that book" (the nun Isabel Osorio). This explanatory comment serves as another preemptive strike against his accusers. It implies that his own circumspection in the Spanish commentary did not betray a fearful uneasiness over its ostensible heterodoxy but a rather sensible deference to his intended audience.
The synoptic review now gives way to a more systematic defense of his position. It begins with a pivotal clarification of his views on the Latin Vulgate. He notes how the primary sense of the Holy Spirit ("to praise the beauty of the Wife's eyes") is equally conveyed in Jerome's version as in his Spanish translation of the Hebrew original, their glaring discrepancy notwithstanding, for the authenticity of the Vulgate is not compromised by a minor translation error since it faithfully conveys in Latin the intention of the Holy Spirit. Fray Luis thus denies that he rejects the Church's official Bible: "Being as it is, to say that I dismiss the Vulgate in this is a pure calumny, for I do not dismiss anything that I deem important. Nor do I properly reject the Latin text in what I say, but I rather declare it, and, as it were, reduce it to its meaning by using one word and changing, as it were, a single letter." (50) The rejection of the Vulgate was one of the most serious charges explicitly levelled against fray Luis. A substantive portion of his defense was thus devoted to his interpretation of the Tridentine edict on the primacy of Jerome's translation. In this paragraph, likewise, fray Luis formulates a hermeneutic principle for the exegetical scrutiny of this venerable text: to conform one's reading of the Latin Vulgate with the "intentions of the Holy Spirit." He is not bypassing St. Jerome's Vulgate but rather declaring what it means according to God's intention -- a substantive hermeneutical subterfuge to shield his philological arguments from unfounded accusations of Christian heresy.
But why did Jerome translate tsammah as "quod intrinsecus latet," anyway? This is the crux of the matter, to which fray Luis now turns his attention. His answer: Jerome, following Symmachus, deems the Hebrew word tsammah a biblical term for "vulva" -- hence, their euphemistic circumlocutions for the "shameful parts of a woman." Their Greek and Latin translations are only meant to "convey with many words honestly covered, that which would be dishonest if rendered with its appropriate word." They reflect that necessary recourse to periphrasis for sidestepping obscene matters endorsed, for example, by Quintilian in the rhetorical tradition. (51)
Fray Luis has no difficulties substantiating this claim. St. Jerome's commentary to Isaiah 47:2, on his translation of tsammah as turpitudinem, is quoted at length to this end, and then summarized as follows:
From these words, we can clearly conclude, first, that St. Jerome deemed this Hebrew word to be the name given in that tongue to the indecent parts of a woman; second, that he also believed the Holy Spirit to have put this word in the Song of Songs with this very meaning; third and last, that Jerome and Symmachus, out of respect for the Holy Scriptures, did not translate it openly using the appropriate term in Latin or Greek, but rather proceeded in a roundabout way, the former saying "apart from what is kept quiet or apart from the silence"; the latter, "apart from what is hidden." (52)
As can be easily corroborated, Jerome's "rodeo de palabras" was, indeed, a euphemistic circumvention of what he deemed a sexual reference prompted by the Ciceronian code of rhetorical prudishness expounded in his commentary (Ziolkowski 46). Fray Luis fails to notice Jerome's interpretive "misreading" of Symmachus' Greek versions of tsammah (in Song 4:1, Symmachus coincided with the Septuagint; in Song 4:3 and 6:7, his reading was in accordance with its modern interpretation noted above). But as this passage demonstrates, fray Luis understood very well Jerome's understated rationale for his Latin mistranslation of tsammah.
Was Jerome's explanation justifiable? Fray Luis answers in the negative, advancing six different arguments in his refutation.
First, there is what may be called the principle of biblical decorum. How -- fray Luis argues -- could a biblical book intended for our spiritual edification use "indecent" language so explicitly in naming her shameful parts? This is no rhetorical query, for sure, as it is followed with a string of comments that expose, albeit tongue-in-cheek, some of the interpretive contradictions in Jerome's exegetical reasoning. Why, for example, should the Holy Spirit be less prudish in Hebrew than Jerome and Symmachus in Latin and Greek, since that part of the female anatomy had its proper name in each of the three languages (one can almost picture fray Luis' puckish smile as he raises a couple of inquisitorial eyebrows with this ironic observation). Or even more daring -- and another provocative witticism that must have sunk those inquisitorial eyebrows and turned them into angry frowns: since the Canticle's Wife is an allegory of the Church, what could the allegorical tsammah of the Church's "body" possibly be? Of cou rse, there is a deeper point to fray Luis' mocking indulgence in the indecorous possibilities of allegorical extremisms -- to wit, highlighting as an exegetical principle that a precise reconstruction of the Bible's literal meaning is paramount to any sensible attempt at allegorical interpretation.
His second argument, more impish in humor, follows an earlier line of reasoning which we have already characterized as quintessential peshat that a word's ostensible meaning must be validated in its immediate context. Fray Luis de Le6n now argues that there is no reason why Solomon's "downward" praise of the Wife's beauty should hasten from her eyes to her "shame," skipping the rest of her body as if he were driven by an incontrollable lust pruriently spilling onto the page. (53) He adds that the word is repeated in the Song three times, which would be even more indelicate if it meant what Jerome thought. Besides, fray Luis asks, further pressing his argument, wouldn't it have made better sense if Solomon had alluded to that part in his "upward" encomium of the Wife's beauty from her feet to her head (Song of Songs 7), rather than proceed, as Solomon did, from her thighs "to her stomach and navel, passing over in silence what nature keeps covered"? Suffice to say, to fray Luis' credit, that the modern biblici st Marvin Pope (1977, 617) will use the very same linguistic argument from context, albeit for the opposite reason: to substantiate his philological explanation of shor in Song of Songs 7:3 as a biblical term for 'vulva'! (54)
The third argument, a tenuous echo of fray Luis' theology; amounts to a brief scholastic sophism on the varieties of divine revelation cast in terms of Ciceronian propriety a lo divino and laced with his own teleology of natural beauty. How can there be any beauty in the recollection of that which nature intended to keep concealed, fray Luis states. Besides, nature and Scripture both reveal the same divine will. Hence, "how can one believe that in His book the Holy Spirit intended to expose and make public what He so diligently hid and did not want to reveal in the body?" The first question thus implies a natural principle of the aesthetic congruent with fray Luis' Neoplatonic sensibilities. The second, on the other hand, extends to biblical speech the Ciceronian reasoning for decorum in sexual matters -- the same rhetorical line of argument that fray Luis repudiated in his defense on Augustinian grounds! (55)
The fourth argument skillfully plays with the literary sensibilities of a sixteenth-century Spanish audience. The Petrarchan sonnets and pastoral eclogues of Garcilaso de la Vega and his Spanish followers enshrined in Italianate verses their beloved women as unattainable objects of distant worship and desire: Elisas and Galateas remembered, disdained, admired with classical elegance and endless tears by courtly suitors in shepherds' clothes. Fray Luis himself, a towering poet and a connoisseur of the classical and Romance lyrical traditions, shrewdly invokes to his advantage the literary conventions of Petrarchan love poetry in vogue at his time and which his accusers certainly knew. (56) He now argues that even if we treated Solomon's canticle as a secular love poem written by a courtly man ("una cancion puramente enamorada, compuesta por un hombre cortesano") -- nothing too far from his literal commentary, where he describes it as an "egloga pastoril" -- the canticle would still abide by certain principles of aesthetic decorum and social convention. (57) For which poet-gentleman would ever name "it" so openly in praise of his lady's beauty? Not even Ovid, the classical bard and Latin master of erotology whose "excessive lasciviousness" so many of fray Luis' contemporaries were quick to indict, ever ventured this far in praising the female body. Of course, a learned reader would have immediately picked up on the peculiar appropriateness of the unidentified quote from Ovid with which fray Luis closes this argument: a single verse from a passage in the Metamorphoses where a lovestruck Phoebus marvels at Daphne's physical beauty his eyes gliding over her body from her hair to her eyes to her arms, yet refraining, just like Solomon, at the hidden parts which "meliora putat." (58) Fray Luis may have overestimated the cultural literacy of his inquisitors but here he marshalled a perfect literary prooftext from a secular love poem that further buttressed his second argument on the "downward" encomium of Solomon's Wife.
The rhetorical debate on obscenity is retaken yet once more as another "secular" argument. "Reason itself," fray Luis observes, tells us that that which is wrong to say even in the secrecy of bed, can not be said in public and in writing, without great awkwardness and disarray." Thus, even if this were not Scripture, the principles of linguistic propriety that should govern couples in the intimacy of their bedroom also extends to speech and writing in the public sphere -- seemingly another spin on Ciceronian decorum.
To cap his demolishing logic, fray Luis de Leon raises another possible objection: if the Hebrew tsammah actually meant "vulva," did Jerome have any choice but to resort to a euphemism? Fray Luis' reply seals off his arguments with another golden rule for the philologist-exegete. The evidence amassed against Jerome's translation is irrefutable. But even if tsammah could mean "vulva," as Jerome certainly believed, it also meant hair or hair-locks according to the Hebrew experts. This would not be strange. It is not rare for Hebrew words to mean more than one thing, for in the Semitic languages, polysemy is quite common. However -- and this is the key -- when a biblical term admits more than one meaning, the exegete can adjudicate among them according to the immediate context. As he sensibly puts it: "And thus, since this word has both meanings and seeing how one meaning is so fitting to what is intended in that passage and the other one, so farfetched, I do not think there will be a censor, however unjust, tha t will condemn my opinion or that will fail to confess how, in something of so little significance such as this, a few minor words in St. Jerome's translation could be improved." (59) This pivotal clincher sums up fray Luis' virtuoso defense of his translation of tsammatech. By this point, fray Luis has deployed his exegetical arsenal, a defense that encapsulates (1) his views on the Latin Vulgate; and (2) his philological method as a Christian pashtan.
First, he has stated the Vulgate's primacy as the Latin translation that best captures the divine intention, while noting how minor translation errors, which do occur, do not compromise substantially its canonical status.
Secondly, he has delineated three basic exegetical principles for the biblical philologist:
a. To establish the literal sense of the Old Testament, one must determine the primary meaning of the text as explained by the best authorities in the original languages, be they Christian or Jewish;
b. Biblical terms must be interpreted contextually and comparatively, to wit, both in light of the immediate context of the longer passage under consideration and compared to other passages where the same term is also used. If a biblical word admits more than one meaning, its sense, likewise, must be determined from its immediate context.
The philological reconstruction of the Bible's literal meaning is paramount to an adequate exegesis according to the other three senses.
The exegetical claim quoted above wraps up fray Luis' review of his philological method. However, his respuesta is not complete. There are two more verses in the biblical translation whose Spanish commentaries were seemingly targeted by his Inquisitorial denouncers: Song of Songs 7:6 and 6:5. With the explanation of tsammah, fray Luis has clearly laid out his philological methodology. Now he can proceed more expediently with his final clarifications, which we will briefly examine.
The second part of Song of Songs 7:6 reads in Hebrew:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
which Marvin Pope translates as follows: "... The locks of your head like purple, / A king captive in the tresses." Fray Luis' original poetic translation was "Tus cabellos como purpura. / El rey atado en las canales," which he also renders more literally in his commentary as "Los cabellos de sobre tu cabeza como purpura. El rey asido y preso a las canales." The latter in Spanish coincides with Pope's English translation on everything but the word [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] which fray Luis renders as "canales" instead of tresses.
The problem alluded in his commentary which fray Luis now addresses in the "respuesta" is grammatical rather than semantic: whether the word melekh [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "king," is the end of the second phrase or the beginning of the third. The former supposes an "adjectival" use of melekh as a type of purple ("royal purple," literally, "the purple of a king" where melekh is the second part of a construct), whereas the latter's use is strictly nominal, the hair-locks being compared to "a king captive in the tresses." The problem, in a manner of speaking, boils down to whether or not there is a comma/period before melekh.
The early translators and interpreters differed in their reading. The Septuagint's rendition, coinciding with the one accepted by modern biblicists, starts a new phrase with "melekh" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The Vetus Latina again follows directly the Septuagint's translation ("Caput tuum super te sicut carmelus, et ornatus capitis tui sicut purpura. Rex datus in transcursibus" -- Song 7:5 in this version). Jerome, on the other hand, like Symmachus and Aquila, deemed melekh an attribute of the color "purple" (melekh is translated by the genitive regis / [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] rather than the nominative rex / [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] -- "et comae capitis tui sicut purpura regis vincta canalibus"). The medieval and early modern Jewish exegetes -- Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Sforno -- assume in their commentaries that "purple" refers to the Wife's hair, whereas "king" begins a new phrase, (60) an assumption reflected in the medieval romanceamientos of the Song of Songs as well as in the sixteenth-century humanist Bibles. (61)
Fray Luis' 1561 translation bypasses Jerome in favor of the Septuagint on this point, beginning a new phrase with "king." His extensive gloss ad locum briefly addresses this issue as a grammatical interpolation. It begins with an explanation of the various translations for [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], "tresses." He points out how in Hebrew, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] could either mean maderos o tablas delgadas y pequenas, as in the coffered ceilings typical of Moorish houses, or canales, as in the troughs or gutters where water runs -- a polysemy reflected in the early translations. (62) As he graphically expounds on the alternative readings of this Biblical metaphor, fray Luis inserts almost in passing a brief clarifying statement on the syntactical issue. He simply notes (Cantar 227), "Si se mira y guarda la propiedad de la letra hebrea [...] se ha de leer asi: Los cabellos de sobre tu cabeza como purpura, y aqui se ha de hacer punto; y anadir luego: El rey asido y preso a las canales," c ontinuing with an exquisite explanation of middle eastern cosmetics, where every detail is commented upon in typical peshat mode.
This passing remark is explained and qualified in the respuesta to exemplify a grammatical version of the semantic principle at the end of his gloss on tsammah. Fray Luis observes how the Septuagint's rendering of this phrase differed from the Vulgate because the Hebrew original admitted both translations. But -- applying again his hermeneutical rule in a conciliatory note absent from the gloss -- either translation conveys the primary sense of the passage which is to praise the beautiful hair of the Canticle's Wife, whether "melekh" qualifies the purple color of her dyed hair, which is most appreciated by the people of her land, or whether it refers to the biblical husband entranced by the beauty of the purple hair as if he were captive (this clearly is but a tight summary of the peshatic gloss on the middle eastern styles of hairdressing and dyeing in the original commentary). Both readings are equally acceptable given the phrase's primary intention, even if earlier precedents and the immediate context sens ibly leads him to accept the Septuagint's version, which -- he notes in allusion to the Vetus Latina -- was "also followed and expounded by the whole ancient Church."
The final point of argument is in his translation of Song of Songs 6:5, which reads in Hebrew:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
Again, here is Marvin Pope's translation: "Avert your eyes from me, / for they drive me wild. / Your hair is like a flock of goats / streaming down Gilead."
The semantic problem in here is the meaning of the causative verb [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], the Hiphil form of rhb in [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (hirhibuni), which Pope renders as "they drive me wild" (other modern English translations include "overcome," "overwhelm," "hold captive," and "disturb"). (63) The Septuagint translated this phrase as "they made me fly" ([alpha][nu][epsilon][pi][tau][epsilon][rho][omega][sigma][alpha][nu] [micro][epsilon]), which seems to be the basis for both the Vetus Latina ("quoniam ipsi eleuauerunt me ["for they lifted me up"]) and Jerome's Latin rendering ("quia ipsi me avolare fecerunt" ["for they made me fly"]).  The Jewish lexicographers and exegetes, likewise, offered a variety of readings to explain the presumed effects of the Beloved's eyes on her bedazzled lover, most of which revolved around the notion of overpowering. Saadia, for example, translated it in Arabic as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "th ey captivated me"), and Ibn Janah paraphrased it, also in Arabic, as "they increased my desire and power over him" (65) -- an explanation which seems to be the direct source of Kimhi's gloss in his Sefer ha-Shorashim. (66) Menahem ben Saruq explains every variant on the root, including the causative form in Song 6:5, as meaning "rule, dominion, power." (67) We get a similar explanation in Ibn Ezra's first exposition of the Canticle: "they overpowered me or rather they deprived me of my strength and my power, as in 'the destruction of the powerful' (Isaiah 51:9) [and] 'their power is labor and pain' (Psalm 90:10)." (68) On the other hand, Rashi's gloss ad locum prefaces his allegorical interpretation with a couple of biblical prooftexts to buttress an alternative reading of hirhib as "to make haughty": "they made my heart prideful, as in 'but their pride ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) is labor and pain' (Psalm 90:10) [and] 'they are arrogant, idle' (Isaiah 30:7), aisoijer in the [French] vernacular." (69) This range of meanings in Jewish exegesis is reflected, likewise, in most of the medieval romanceamientos (Escorial I.j.3: "me esforcaron"; Escorial I.j.4: "me espantaron"; Ferrara: "me forcaron"). (70) The medieval Jewish explanations are also documented and explained in the sixteenth-century polyglot Bibles to which fray Luis had access. (71)
Fray Luis translated this hemistich: "Vuelve los ojos tuyos, / que me hacen fuerza" (Turn your eyes, for they overpower me [lit, make force on me]). The Spanish commentary frames his philological argument in a delicate psychological gloss, an explanation that opens and ends with an evocative peshatic excursus on the desires and motivations in the groom's mind as he requests the bride to divert her eyes following their amorous exchange of glances. The philological comment itself is succinct and clear. The early interpreters differed on the meaning of hirhibuni. The Septuagint and the Vulgate translated it as "they made me fly" ("Aparta tus ojos, que me hicieron volar"). "Others" translated it as "they made me haughty" ("Aparta tus ojos, que me ensoberbecieron" -- an alternative version documented by Pagnino and Vatable which can be traced back to Rashi, as seen above). However -- and this was fray Luis' hermeneutical coup -- each of these readings constitutes an alternative interpretation of its primary meanin g in Hebrew, which is "to overpower": "The former and the latter translated, not what they found in the Hebrew language, but what each one thought that it meant, since its sound and primary meaning, which is literally Avert your eyes, which overpowered me justified either sense. For the Hebrew [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] hirhibuni used in the original properly means to overpower." (72) The literal translation of hirhib as "to overpower," which fray Luis upholds, is the one reaffirmed by most of Jewish lexicographers and exegetes: Menahem, Ibn Janah, Kimhi, and Ibn Ezra. But the renderings of the Septuagint and the Vulgate, on the one hand, and Rashi, on the other, also constitute, for him, legitimate interpretations of the primary term in context. Hence, in another display of peshatic genius, he evocatively reconstructs their respective rationales in terms of the Husband's psychological response to the eyes of his Wife.
Fray Luis' comment on hirhib in his "respuesta" essentially restates the 1561 gloss but with an added goal. This gloss had also been adduced to impute to him the claim that in the Vulgate, "St. Jerome translated as it struck his fancy and not according to the Hebrew." So now he replies that whether the Wife's eyes made him haughty (Rashi), entranced him as if he were flying (the Septuagint, the Vulgate) or just overpowered him (the primary sense in Hebrew), all these translations convey the same primary idea: the power of the Wife's eyes over the biblical groom. In the Spanish translation, fray Luis opted on philological grounds for sobrepuxar as the better choice. However, "they can not say that I reject the Vulgate, as they do, but that I rather declare, in line with the simplest sense in the original, the metaphor and trope used in the Vulgate." This is a brilliant clincher to the philological exercise warding off, once and for all, the inquisitorial denunciations of his views on the Latin Vulgate. Its tac it distinction between primary meanings and figurative speech, which serves as a basis for his theory of translation, also adds an interesting twist to his earlier interpretive insights -- a subtle contrast that underscores anew fray Luis' noted attentiveness to hermeneutical nuance.
Fray Luis' bitterness-tinged conclusion now makes way for a final plea. In the ten years that his commentary was copied and circulated (presumably without his knowledge), the many readers who approved of it far outnumbered his two or three detractors before this tribunal. So -- fray Luis now implores -- couldn't the inquisitors turn a deaf ear to the malicious accusations of a few enemies, that truth itself may prevail even if he was destroyed? The majority of his learned readers never found fault with his exegetical principles -- the same verities succinctly established in the course of his arguments in this "letter." An eloquent conclusion to a brilliant defense, no doubt, and one that would still go unheeded for at least four years until he was finally released! As fray Luis very well understood, "It is not the less fair to call me daring, since I do the work of a learned and diligent man. But it is impossible to please everyone; it is hard enough to please a majority" (See Appendix 2).
Two final notes are in order to wrap up this introduction.
As this document confirms, fray Luis de Leon did not buckle under inquisitorial pressure in his commitment to the veritas hebraica. He fought the inquisitorial bureaucracies in self-defense with a level of theological sophistication that flew over their heads, and an uncompromising stubbornness partially responsible for his lengthy stay in prison yet leading in due time to his fortunate release. It is also important to note that his relentless apology as a Christian hebraist displayed in "respuesta" did not subside in the aftermath of his inquisitorial experience. When we turn to his In Canticum Canticorum Triplex explanatio, whose first edition appeared in 1580, four years after his release, and its final version in 1589, when the third "explanation" was added, we encounter the same spirited scholar, much wiser and cautious but no less courageous, now developing in Latin a three-tiered interpretation of each chapter of the Song, according to the literal, mystical, and allegorical meanings and one that now co mprises an expanded version of the Spanish commentary on the sensus litteralis, a mystical rereading as a meditation on the soul's love for God, and an allegorical interpretation as a cipher for Christ's relationship to the Church -- the prima explanatio, altera explanatio, and tertia explanatio, respectively. (73) As expected, the longer commentary in Latin, albeit more palatable to the Spanish church and more moderate in tone, in no way attempts to dilute his position on the Vulgate or his philological method. On the contrary, one is pleasantly surprised, for example, to discover that his prima explanatio on the Song of Songs 4:1 according to the literal sense actually expands on the 1561 gloss, adding most of the philological arguments so convincingly advanced in the 1573 Respuesta (Opera 2: 228-30). The Latin version of the biblical passage quoted in this commentary may be a faithful version of the Vulgate in a contemporary recension, but the Latin gloss ad locum in the Prima explanatio almost reads like a translation of the Spanish defense. It is a shorter paraphrase of the latter down to the restatement of four of his six arguments against Jerome's mistranslation of the Hebrew tsammah. Likewise, his comments on Song 7:6 and 6:5 are faithfully restated in the Latin explnatio (Opera 2: 386-87; 2: 346-47). We only miss the literary musings on sexual decorum in secular love poetry (the fourth argument), the concomitant remark on rhetorical propriery (the fifth argument), and the ironic query on the allegorical tsammah of the Church in Jerome's misguided "sense" (one sentence from the first argument). There is also a minor addition to the peshatic explanation on the way young women wore their hair that was presumably reflected on Song 4:1. (74) In sum, the content of fray Luis' respuesta was integrated wholesale into his triple commentary for every other Hispano-Christian scholar to see -- further proof of fray Luis' courage in the defense of his scholarship.
Secondly, we are well served in reconsidering the methodological precociousness of fray Luis' insights. In his provocative critique of traditional New Testament scholarship, the historian of religions Jonathan Smith (1990: 54-84, esp. 77-79) had noted two important requirements from the perspective of linguistic theory for any serious modern effort at biblical philology: first, a contextual approach to lexicographic matters based on the appreciation of sentences rather than words as the primary bearers of meaning; second, the concomitant development of a theory of translation. Fray Luis' instincts as a biblical philologist, so marvelously embodied by his Respuesta, dovetail with Smith's ideal on both methodological scores. He draws from the Rabbinic peshat to outline a contextual, passage-centered approach to biblical semantics. The latter is also framed, in his Cantar de Cantares, by an explicit theory of biblical translation and a sophisticated appreciation for hermeneutical issues. His theory is particular ly attentive to that search for primary meanings in consonance with an intention that Walter Benjamin engagingly extolled as "the task of the translator." (75)
It was a defining mark of our Renaissance humanists to establish their authority as interpreters of history on their scientific command of ancient languages. (76) The mix of integrity, intelligence, and verve in fray Luis' self-defense as a biblical philologist earned our Augustinian friar his undisputed place among the great Spanish humanists of the Golden Age. His heightened sensibility for questions of linguistics, historicity translatability, and hermeneutics cast the celebrated exegete from the sixteenth century as a Hispano-Christian precursor of modern biblical studies.
(*.) A note of gratitude to Gary Anderson, Dan Donoghue, Francisco Marquez Villanueva, Bernard Septimus, Colin Thompson, Alison Weber, and Jan Ziolkowski for their invaluable comments, corrections and insights, both in writing and in conversation.
(1.) The best English account of fray Luis' inquisitorial process is Thompson (1988). The extant documents of his Inquisitorial process can now be studied in a recent critical edition by Alcala.
(2.) An important caveat is here in order. To stress fray Luis' centrality in Renaissance humanist thought and his particular contributions to the Christian exegetical literature on the Song of Songs would be redundant if it weren't for the saddening disregard of Spanish materials, even by authors of fray Luis' stature, in Renaissance studies nowadays. It is disheartening, for example, to find an otherwise exhaustive, intelligent, and lengthy monograph on the Song of Songs in Renaissance Europe -- over seven hundred pages with extensive bibliographic materials and multiple indexes -- that fails to make a single reference to fray Luis' Spanish Exposicion sobre el Cantar de Cantares de Salomon, perhaps the most famous exegetical work in sixteenth-century hispano-biblical scholarship (Engammare 1993). Engammare rightly includes the Salamancan editions of fray Luis' Latin commentaries (1580, 1582, 1589) in his main bibliographic essay (cf. Engammare, *21-*148: on fray Luis, see C463 in p. *124, C470 in p. *125, G 515 in p. *135 and a reference by Palau to a lost Additiones et apologia ad Cantica canticorum C523, *136), along with a couple of references to other Spanish commentaries from the sixteenth century most of which are no longer extant (Arias Montano, Cipriano de la Huerga, Alonso de Orozco). His nominal index, however, does not mention any of the Spanish biblicists included in this bibliography. Moreover, fray Luis is completely absent from his important discussion on Christian Hebraism in the Renaissance (175-249), where he examines in detail the few Christian Hebraists (Agazio Guidaceri, Sebastian Munster) who resorted consistently to the Masoretic text of the Hebrew Bible (and even rabbinic sources), whether in translations or commentaries of the Song, both in Latin and in the European vernaculars. Our preliminary study on this text should suffice, however insufficiently, to underscore the inexcusability of this glaring omission.
(3.) The second hemistich in Song of Songs 4:3 and Song of Songs 6:7 are identical in Hebrew: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(4.) Pope, 1977, 457 notes that the Aramaic verbs [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are used of veiling the face: e.g. Targum Gen 24:65 and Midrash Genesis Rabbah.
(5.) Symmachus follows the Septuagint's rendering of tsammah as silence in Song 4:1 and also translates it in Isaiah 47:2 as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], although an alternate variant of Symmachus' version reads [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Aquila and Theodition both transliterate it (A: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]; Th: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). The Septuagint's rendering of Isaiah 47:2 is also echoed in the Vetus Latina, which translates this instance of tsammatech as "operimencum tuum (Sabatier, 1743: 2:597), while Jerome's commentary on Isaiah 47:2 (see below) compares the four Greek versions to justify his own translation. (Our citations from the different Greek versions of the Hebrew Bible, other than the Septuagint, are from Field, ed., 1875).
(6.) The Latin translation for each verse reads: "sicut fragmen mali punici ita genae tuae absque eo quod intrinsecus later" (Song of Songs 4:3--second hemistich); "sicut cortex mali punici genae tuae absque occultis tuis" (Song of Songs 6:6) and "tolle molam et mole farinam denuda turpitudinem tuam discoperi umerum revela crus transi flumina" (Isaiah 47:2). Jerome's rendering is obviously reflected in medieval vernacular translations of the Bible based on the Vulgate: e.g. the thirteenth-century romanceamiento of the Song of Songs in the 3rd part of Alfonso el Sabio's General Estoria--there we read "que dedentro se encubre" (4:1 and 4:3) for "quod intrinsecus latet" and "ascondidas en ti dentro" (6:6) for "absque occultis tuis" (Sanchez-Prieto and Horcajada Diezma, 1994, 174. 180).
(7.) Here are the pertinent texts from Jerome quoted by fray Luis--we follow the 1998 critical edition by R. Gryson et al., 1395-97, but with a minor change in the Greek citations (Jerome, 1963, 521-22): "In eo, ubi nos interpretati sumus denuda turpitudinem tuam, pro quo LXX transtulerunt revela operimentum tuum; Theoditio ipsum verbum hebraicum posuit samthech; Aquila semmathech; Symmachus, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] quod nos exprimere possumus "taciturnitatem taum," quod taceri debeat pro uerecundia. Quod quidem et in Cantico legimus canticorum, ubi sponsae pulchritudo describitur et ad extremum infertur absque taciturnitate tau, nolentibus qui interpretati sunt transferre nomen, quod in sancta scriptura sonaret turpitudinem. ... Disputant Stoici multa re turpia praua hominum consuetudine verbis honesta esse, ut parricidium adulterium homicidium incestum et caetera his similia, rursumque re honesta nominibus uideri turpia, ut liberos procreare, inflationem uentris crepitu digerere, aluum releuare stercore, uesicam urinae effusione laxare. Denique non posse nos, ut dicimus a rutu rutulam, sic [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] mentae facere. Ergo semmathech quod Aquila posuit, ut diximus, uerenda mulieris appellantur. Cuius etymologia apud eos sonat "sitiens tuus," ut inexpletam Babylonis indicet uoluptatem." (Fray Luis' citation contains some variants that will be noted in our translation below. For the two Greek terms, both of which are unintelligibly corrupted in the Inquisitorial manuscript, we have followed the Corpus Christianorum's edition since it is more faithful to the original Greek sources than Gryson's edition (Gryson renders them in capital letters as TO CI[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]MENON COY and YIIOKOPIC M[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] respectively. He also renders "etymologia" in Greek]).
(8.) See Appendix 1.
(9.) In what follows, we are limiting ourselves to the Jewish commentarial and lexicographic glosses on the literal meaning of the Hebrew tsammah Of course, there is a complex array of allegorical and mystical interpretations of the Song of Songs in the Jewish exegetical tradition: the Midrashic, Talmudic, and Targumic readings; the great medieval commentaries; the philosophical and Kabbalistic interpretations. These interpretations are wide-ranging: an allegory for God's relationship to the people of Israel in the course of history; the allegorized union of the active and material intellects in Maimonidean epistemology; a symbol for the union of Malkhut and Shekhinah in Zoharic theosophy (or the soul and God in the mystical conceptions of devekut); and a paradigm for the liturgical personification of Shabbot as the divine Bride (see Pope [1977, 89-112, 153-79] for a useful overview of the variety of literal and non-literal Jewish interpretations). However, these non-literal exegeses fall beyond the scope of the present paper. In the argument that ensues about the sources of fray Luis' gloss, the burden of proof is greater on the Christian side than on the Jewish one. On the Jewish side, we need only to document the exegetical precedents for fray Luis' Spanish glossed translation, whereas on the Christian side, a stronger claim is made: namely, that most Christian exegetes of the Song, whose works should have been more readily accessible to the Augustinian friar, completely ignored the literal sense of this verse in the Hebrew original, relying on the Latin and Greek translations even for their interpretations of its "literal" meaning, and hence, could not have served as his source on this particular issue. (Besides, as will be selectively noted below, the Hebrew tsammah proved to be less of a provocation for non-literal Jewish readings than Jerome's "quod intrinsecus later" for the Christian counterparts).
(10.) Midrash Shir ha-Shirim, ad locum:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(11.) It may be noted that Saadia's attributed commentary ad loci offers no allegorical interpretation of tsammah in its ongoing exegesis of verses 3:6-4:7 as a reference to the erection of the tabernacle and Israel's wanderings in the desert before entering Canaan.
(12.) Menahem ben Saruq, 320 (*), lines 12-13: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(13.) The English version is from Menachem Kellner's recent translation (Gersonides, 55), the Hebrew reads:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII]
(14.) Rashi's commentary on Song of Songs 4:1 ad locum. [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII]
Graetz (1871, 154-55), who may have been aware of Rashi's comment, dismisses the exegetical readings of tsammah as veil, hair-locks, or braids, and also translates it as a band, "Binde," to hold the hair (indeed, in his translation, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] begins a new clause: "deine Augen Tauben. Hinter deiner Binde ist dein Haar" -- his explanation goes: "Ueber [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] differiren die Ausleger: "Schleier, Haarflechte, Haarlocken, Zopfe." Alles falsch. Aber da die Lexicographen dabei an [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] Hiob 18,9 "Schlingen" und an das arab [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] "binden" erinnern, so kann [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] doch nur die "Binde" sein, womit das Haar zusammengehalten wurde, damit es nicht wild auseinandarfahre."
(15.) In essence, Rashi argues that for [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] to mean "your veil" ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] tsomet), tsomet) [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] the tav would have to be part of the radical and hence be punctuated with a "daggesh" in a genitive construct with either the feminine or masculine possessives, as it happens, for example, to [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] in the constructs [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] and [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII] (cf. Hos 2:13 and Num 28:10, respectively -- the biblical prooftexts adduced by Rashi).
(16.) Cf. Kimhi, 1847, 314: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII]
(17.) [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE INASCII]
(18.) Cf. Ibn Ezra's commentary on the Song of Songs 4:1 and 4:3 (first exposition, second recension). His commentary on the Song 4:3 after the first recension reads:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(19.) Cf. Sforno's commentary on the Song of Songs 4:1 ad locum.
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
In Song 6:7 Sforno also offers an allegorical interpretation. Her temples, compared by the biblical author to a split pomegranate, stand for the "talmidim," those who are "full of the knowledge of God in study and in deed." The phrase [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] then refers to the separation of the "talmidim" from the sages of the other nations.
(20.) As an example, we can consider the following two sets of lines from two different poems by Yehudah Halevi (1994: 44 and 138, respectively):
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
In the first example, clearly mindful of the Song of Songs, Halevi refers to a tsammah of reddish hair, as if the bunches of hair falling over a woman's forehead were a veil that concealed her beautiful face, later compared to the shining sun. In the second example, the four opening verses of a nuptial poem in praise of a bride on the day of her wedding, it makes more sense to translate it as "veil," but the topical comparison of her face to the sun invites reference to the earlier poem, where the veil is her hair.
(21.) The Bible translation in the Escorial manuscript I.j.3 (Lazar, ed., 1995) renders [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as "cabelladura" in all four instances (e.g. Song 4:1: "tus ojos de palominos, de parte de tu cabelladura" -- 670). The Ferraran Bible (Lazar, 1992) translates it as "crencha" (Song 4:1; 4:3 and 6:8 656-57) and also "guedeja" (Isaiah 47:2 344). The biblical romanceamiento in manuscript 87 of the Real Academia de la Historia (Lazer et al., 1994) does not contain the Song of Songs but its version of Isaiah 47:2 reads: "escubre las tus crines" (29). The Escorial manuscripts I.j.7 (Littlefield, 1996) and I.j.19 (Littlefield, 1992) lack both Isaiah and the Canticle. The only interesting discrepancies occur in Escorial I.j.4 (Hauprmann and Littlefield, 1987) and Arragel's Bible (Paz y Melia, 1922). In Escorial I.j.4, we find three different translations: "fruente" (Song 4:1 280), "syenes," (Song 4:3 and 6:7 280) and "gesto" (Is 47:2 342). This probably arises from a confusion with raqqah [LAN GUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] in 4:3 and 6:7, which most translators agree it means facial "temples." Arragel's Bible, on the other hand, is revealingly inconsistent. In both Song 4:1 and 4:3, the phrase [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is translated "de dentro de las tus sienes" (vol. 2, 489), just like in Escorial I.j.4 (in 4:3 Arragel renders the Hebrew raqqah as mexilla, "cheek" -- "el pedaco de la granada es tu mexilla de dentro de las tus sienes"). However, the final hemistich of Song 6:7, which should be identical to the one in 4:3, is translated instead "segund el pedaco de la granada, es las tus sienes dentro del tu velo," so that [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is properly rendered as "sienes," whereas tsammah is rendered as "veil," the Saadian translation privileged by the lexicographers (this is the only biblia romanceada where this translation can be documented). In the gloss ad locum, Arragel notes: "Pero en este testo alabo dos cosas: una la bermejura purissyma, suaue como la granad a, segunda, que tenia el cabello dentro del velo, lo qual sygnifica grand onestad e verguenca." Moreover, in Isaiah 47:2, tsammah becomes "crines," the favoured version in the other romanceamientos under the influence of Jewish commentators ("Toma la muela e muele farina e descubre tus crines, escubre los touillos, arregaca las piernas, passa los rios, parescera la tu verguenca e vista sera el tu blasphemio, que venganca yo tomare, non curare de omne"). But its gloss, probably influenced by his Christian colaborator, seems to reflect Jerome's important commentary.
(22.) It is only at the time of the Reformation that we will find the first Christian readings of tsammah as veil (e.g. Luther's German translation as "Schleier," probably following Symmachus' emendation of the Septuagint rather than the early Jewish lexicographers).
(23.) "Solamente trabajare en declarar la corteza de la letra asy llanamente como si en este libro no uviera orro mayor secreto del que muestran aquellas palabras desnudas y al parecer dichas y respondidas entre Solomon y su esposa.... Porque se a de entender que este libro en su primera origen se ofrecio en metro, y es todo el una egloga pastoril, adonde con palabras y lenguaje de pastores hablan Salomon / y su esposa, y algunas vezes sus companeros como si todos fuesen gente del aldea." ["I will only work to declare plainly the outer sense of the letter as if this book did not have a greater secret than that shown by those naked words which are seemingly exchanged between Solomon and his wife. Because it must be understood that this book in its inception was rendered in meter and it is all a pastoral eclogue, where Solomon and his wife, and sometimes their companions, speak with the words and in the language of shepherds, as if they were all people from a small village"] Cantar 47-48 (All English translatio ns of fray Luis are mine). Fray Luis' description of the Song as an eclogue reflects not merely his acquaintance with contemporary bucolic poetry by Spanish poets such as Garcilaso (a poet whose three eclogues exemplified that typical conjunction of Petrarquism and classicism rooted in the Italianate humanist tradition), but his direct knowledge of the latter's classical inspiration as well (fray Luis prepared, among other things, beautiful, "amplified" translations of Virgil's ten Eclogues into Spanish [cf. Garcia [ed] 1991, 2:835-78 -- BAC'S edition of fray Luis' Spanish works]).
(24.) Cantar 131. There are five extant manuscripts, two editions (Salamanca, 1798 and Madrid, 1806) and even an autograph of fray Luis de Leon' Cantar de Cantares. Blecua's edition is based on an eighteenth-century copy of a manuscript prepared for the press by fray Diego Gonzalez, the most faithful to the autograph. For a detailed description of the extant witnesses, see Blecua's introduction, esp. 26-39.
(25.) "Ai, que hermosa eres, Amiga mfa; ai, quan hermosa!/ Tus ojos de paloma entre tus guedexas; / tu cabello, como un rebano de cabras que suben del monte Galad."
(26.) Entre tus guedexas. En la traslacion y esposicion de esro hay alguna diferencia entre los interpretes. La voz hebrea [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] tzama, que quiere decir cabellos o cabellera, es propiamente la patte de los cabellos que cae sobre la frente y ojos, que algunas los suelen traer postizos, y en castellano se llaman lados. San Geronimo, no se por que fin, entiende por esta voz la hermosura encubierta, y ansi traduce: Tus ojos de paloma, demas de lo que esta encubierto; en que no solamente va diferente del comun sentido de los mas doctos de esta lengua, pero tambien en alguna manera contradice a si mismo, que en el capitulo 47 de Esaias, donde esta la misma palabra, entiende por ella torpeza y fealdad, y asi la traduce."
(27.) Fray Luis' gloss on Tarsis reads: "la piedra tarsis, que se llama asi de la provincia donde se halla es un poco entre roja y blanca, sigun la pinta un hebreo antiguo llamado Abenezra. Y segun esto se da a entender la Esposa las unas, en que se rematan los dedos de las manos, que son un poco rojas y relucienres, como piedras preciosas de Tarsis" ("[T]he tarsis stone, from the name of the province where it is found, is somewhat between red and white, as it is described by the ancient Hebrew Abenezra. And by this the Wife means his nails, which lie at the end of his fingers, because they are a little reddish and shining like the precious stones of Tarsis"). Fray Luis seems to be following Ibn Ezra's gloss on the Song 5:14 (which Habib Arkin [1966, 52-53], in an early study about fray Luis to be discussed below, quotes but mistranslates):
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
"A precious stone as [in the verse] 'Tarsis, onyx and jasp' and there are those who say that it is like the color of the heavens." In Habib Arkin's Spanish translation, Ibn Ezra says: "A precious stone such as tarsis is an onyx and a jasp, and some say it is the color [semblance] of heaven." Habib Arkin misses Ibn Ezra's allusion to another Biblical passage where tarsis is also mentioned: namely, Exodus 28:20 (where the three gems are set on the fourth row of the chest-plate in this same order), if not Ez 28:13 (the second row of gems encrusted on the vestments of the king of Tyrus: cf. also Kimhi's commentary on Ez 1:16). Arkin, however, fails to ask the obvious question: why fray Luis' description of tarsis as a gem "between red and white" whose color resembles the human nails is nowhere to be found in Ibn Ezra's commentary, his ostensible source. The answer is that Fray Luis (like Habib Arkin), if not an intermediary source, seemingly misread this gloss as if Ibn Ezra had actually identified the tarsis wit h the onyx, from the Greek for nail and a gem which St. Isidore, following Pliny, does describe as pink mixed with white and comparable to the human nail (cf. Etym XVI, 8, 3, in his list of "de rubris gemmis" where he explains how "Onyx appellata quod habeat in se permixtum candorem in similitudinem unguis humanae": the Plinian source is XXXVII, 90-91).
(28.) See also, twenty years before Arkin, Jose Llamas (1946).
(29.) Fernandez Tejero's study is not too detailed but it manages to produce some new evidence mainly by combing through the Latin Explanationes of 1580-1589 (see below).
(30.) For example, there is no extant commentary on the Song of Songs by David Kimhi, yet his Sefer ha-Shorashim and his commentary on Isaiah 47:2 offer an important precedent for fray Luis' gloss on tsammah ignored by Habib Arkin (see below).
(31.) This is the case, for example, when he translates exegetical passages with unidentified Biblical citations that he fails to recognize as such. Cf. his translations of Ibn Ezra's commentaries on Song of Songs 5:14 [his explanation of tarsis, 53 -- discussed above] and 6:5 [on the meaning of hirhib, 54 -- discussed below].
(32.) We consulted the Vo cabularium, vol. 6 of the Complutense Bible, fol 136b.
(33.) We have consulted a later reimpression of Estienne's Polyglot Bible (see Estienne, ed.), which includes Pagnini's translation along with the philological annotations ascribed to Francois Vatable and Arias Montano's recension of the New Testament; see Arias Montano, 1599. This Bible was first printed in Heidelberg in 1586 and reprinted in 1616.
(34.) We consulted Pagnino's Epitome thesauri linguae sanctae in the seventh volume of Arias Montano, ed., 1571.
(35.) Vatable's gloss on "Inter cincinnos tuos" goes (we are quoting from the 1599 reimpression of the Estienne Bible consulted at the Houghton library, see above): per comam tuam. Significat eos crines quos mulieres dependere sinunt super frontem, ut scribunt docti inter hebraeos. Quidam, praeter crines tuos. Alii, intra cincinnos tuos. Alii, intra ligamina tua, aut, intra retiacla tua. Quae scilicet constringunt capillos, ne volent exeundo."
(36.) On the inquisitorial fate of the Vatable Bibles in Spain, see Gonzalez Novalin 1996. As noted by Gonzalez Novalin, this expunged version printed in Salamanca seems to have been prepared from the original 1545 edition, already included in the inquisitorial index of 1551, rather than from the 1556-57 reedition with the commented translation of the New Testament by the Calvinist biblicist Theodore Beza.
(37.) "Morada de belleza eres, amiga mia, eres hermosa: tus ojos de graciosa paloma son, los lindos tus cabellos castanos, crespos, bellos que Ilegan a cubrir hasta los ojos" (Arias Montano, 1990, 41).
(38.) In his 1531 commented translation (cf. Engammare, "77, C 216 for the bibliographic information), the Calabrese priest, who assiduously resorted to Kimhi, Ibn Ezra and other such "docti veteres Hebraeorum doctores" in his own biblical scholarship (cf. Engammare, 1993, 187), translated the second hemistich of Song 4:1 as "oculi tui columbarum ex crine tuo." After quoting Jerome's canonical version, Guidaceri thus defends his own translation based on the Hebrew original as expounded by Jewish philologists: "Oculi tui columbarum absque eo quod intrinsecus latet. In Hebraeo autem sic, Mibbahad lezammatech, hoc est, ex crine tuo, vel de intra crinem tuum. Et hoc dicit ad denotandum quod crines eius desuper addebant ipsis oculis decorum et pulchritudinem. Zamma enim crinem sive comam significat, etsi Rabbi Iona, teste Rabbi David in libro de Radicibus, exposuerit masueb, id est velum" (fol. 40v, quoted by Engammare, 190-91, n.101).
(39.) 1n his verbal replies to Leon de Castro's accusations (March, 1573), fray Luis is quoted by the inquisitorial scribe as claiming that he "nunca defendio interpretaciones de Judios por ser de Judios ni en su vida ha leydo comentario de Judios, ni los ha alegado ni citado sy no ha sido de lo que ha leydo en otros autores para reprovarlos quando en algo les contradezian" ("he never defended the interpretations of the Jews because they were Jews, neither has he ever read Jewish commentaries in his life, nor has he adduced them or quoted them except from what he has read in other authors in order to condemn them whenever they were contradicted on something": Alcala, 1991, 224. However, fray Luis' putative claim must be taken with a grain of salt. His recourse to Jewish biblical philology (as opposed to content-exegesis) can be hardly denied. Alcala's claim that fray Luis never mentioned a single Jewish exegete by name (224, n. 30) is plain false, as shown by his explicit citation of Ibn Ezra mentioned above (Alcala's concomitant assertion that the works of the great Jewish commentators was accessible to fray Luis in the writings of Christian apologists, especially conversos such as Nicholas of Lyra and Pablo de Santa Marfa, does not suffice either, as shown above in the case of tsammah). At any rate, this would not be the first time fray Luis lied under inquisitorial pressure, for "taking the fifth amendment" was an inevitable strategy of self-defense in such a predicament. His daring invocation of the authority of "los mas doctos en esa lengua" and his explicit mention of Jewish exegetes, whether he resorted to them in the original or through a translation, is irrefutable.
(40.) In this case, fray Luis' "misreading" of Ibn Ezra discussed above could provide indirect evidence to a direct recourse. Fray Luis, for example, may have derived his description of the onyx from any of the sixteenth-century Bibles consulted above -- the Complutense Bible, Arias Montanos, and the Vatable Bible (we have noted this elsewhere -- Giron Negron, Luis. Forthcoming). However, they consistently differentiate between tarsis, which they describe as a byacintbus or a chrysolithus (its two renderings in the Vulgate), and the Plinian onyx. Unless he was reproducing an erroneous translation which is no longer extant, the simplest explanation for his description of tarsis is to consider it fray Luis' own misreading of Ibn Ezra's gloss.
(41.) Francisco Rico, 125-33, suggestively examines the incipient ferment of the Erasmian ideal of a trilingual Biblical philology in light of the relationship of both Erasmus and Nebrija to Larenzo Valla.
(42.) Fray Bartolome Medina, with the assistance of Leon de Castro as fray Luis himself well knew, was responsible for the original set of accusations to the Inquisition that the Augustinian friar, along with Grajal, Cantalapiedra and later Gudiel, debated in the course of his long incarceration (for the entire list, see Alcala, 1991, 3-4). It must also be noted that in examining this gloss we are not implying, as it is popularly believed, that fray Luis' translation and commentary on the Song was the primary cause of his incarceration (his participation in defense of the Vatable bible proved more crucial, for example). Rather, our claim is that this particular gloss, which he defends in Respuesta, adequately exemplifies some of the main issues raised against him in the trial.
(43.) It is ironic to note, as recently underscored by Kamin, that Jerome undertook his own Latin translation of the Bible to replace the Vetus Latina because he knew that the Septuagint itself, upon which the Vetus was based, had been translated by Jews prior to the advent of Christ.
(44.) "Several of fray Luis' maternal ancestors were tried by the Inquisition for heresy and apostasy as judaizers (some of them, posthumously) -- the penitential garments of his great grandmother and her sisters were still exhibited in the parish church of Belmonte when fray Luis was a child (Carrete Parrondo). His father, Lope de Leon, who was oidor of the Chancellery of Granada, equivalent to an United States Supreme Court Justice, had been convicted, on the other hand, as a falsifier in matters of "hidalgufa" in 1561 -- a failed attempt, on Leon's part, to fabricate a family history and conceal his own Jewish ancestry. Fray Luis must have been fully aware of his father's tragic plight, an incident that no doubt fueled his enmity towards Philip II who gave his personal sanction to the outcome of this process (Blanco; Marquez Villanueva, 209-10).
(45.) Por ser Grajal y fray Luis notorios conversos, pienso que no quieren mas que oscurecer a nuestra fe catolica y boluer a su ley:" a text quoted by Thompson (57).
(46.) This "respuesta" partially fulfills fray Luis' earlier promise to defend in writing his commented translation of the Song of Songs, a promise made in a long response to the depositions of his witnesses dated May 14th, 1573 and submitted before Diego Gonzalez in Valladolid ("Y a lo que dize de los arrevimientos en reprehender la vulgata, si pusiera los lugares y mos palabras vierase que ny eran reprehensiones ni atrevimientos, pero yo lo trattare y mostrare todo en particular cuanto trattare de la defensa de este libro" -- cf. Alcala, 1991, 279, fray Luis' reply to the ninth witness later identified by either an inquisitor, a secretary or some other reader as fray Vicente Hernandez).
(47.) Barrientos Garcia's version is based on the surviving manuscript from Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid, but also includes variants from BAC'S edition.
(48.) Fray Luis' statement reads: "and so I will speak about those things that nature made for an honest end with common words, words which, while turned awkward by their vicious usage, are purified by a sane judgement that only deals with the knowledge of truth. For those who are pure and good, who did not pervert in any way the natural usage, all things natural are pure and only vice, which is a disorder of nature, offends them." Augustine had also explained how, if it were not for the fall "there would be no cause for modesty to object when I wish to discuss this subject in detail, no reason for decency to insist on asking my pardon, with an apology to pure ears. Nor would there be any reason for calling the actual words obscene: in fact whatever was said on this subject could be as respectable as any talk about other parts of the body. Accordingly, if anyone has indecent thoughts in approaching what I am now writing, it is his own guilt that he should beware of, not the facts of nature. He should censure the actions prompted by his own depravity, not the words imposed by necessity" (we are quoting from Bettenson's translation of Augustine's City of God, 587). As an Augustinian friar, a seasoned homilist and one of the best Neo-Latin prose writers in sixteenth-century Spain, fray Luis de Leon was certainly privy both to the debate on obscenity in the Latin grammatico-rhetorical tradition and to the influential position on this topic advanced by Augustine in this passage. For an elegant discussion on the obscenity debate that also addresses the origins, context and fate of the Augustinian view, see Jan Ziolkowski, 1998, 46-49.
(49.) Francisco Marquez Villanueva suggested, in conversation, that there may be a partial echo in this passage of Garcilaso's twenty-third sonnet "En tanto que de rosa y d'azucena," especially the two opening quatrains describing her captivating glance and the air that plays with her loose hair: "En tanto que de rosa y d'azucena / se muestra la color en vuestro gesto, / y que vuestro mirar ardiente, honesto, / con clara luz la tempestad serena; / y en tanro que'l cabello, que'n la vena / del oro s'escogio, con vuelo presto, / por el hermoso cuello blanco, enhiesto, / el viento mueve, esparce y desordena" (our citation is from Bienvenido Morros' edition of Garcilaso de la Vega's complete poetry[1995: 43]). However, it should also be noted that the "loose hair stirred by the wind across the face of a beautiful woman" motif has ancient roots in the classical Latin and Petrarchan traditions from which both Garcilaso and fray Luis drew poetic inspiration: cf. Venus' portrait in the Aeneid 1,319 ("dederatque comam diffundere ventis") and, more important, Daphne's description in Ovid's Metamorphoses 1,529 ("et levis impulsos retro dabat aura capillos" this is in the same Ovidian passage from which fray Luis will appropriately quote -- see below); cf. also Petrarch, Bucolicum carmen 3,15 ('Ardentesque comas humeris disperserat aura") and Canzoniere 90,1-4 ("Erano i capei d'oro a l'aura sparsi / che'n mille dolci nodi gli avolgea") as well as 127,83; 143,9 and 159,6 (the texts quoted here are taken from Morros' erudite note on the literary precedents of the Garcilasian verses: in Garcilaso de la Vega, 402, n. 43.5-7).
(50.) "Y, siendo esto asl, decir que par ella me aparto de Ia Vulgata es pura calumnia, pues no me aparto en cosa que me importe; ni lo que alli yo digo es propiamente desechar el texto latino, sina dedararle y coma reducille a su signiflcacion can declarar una palabra y coma con mudar una sola letra."
(51.) Cf. Ziolkowski, 55-57 on the debate over periphrastic euphemisms in the Latin grammatical and rhetorical tradition.
(52.) "De las quales palabras se colige claro de S. Geronimo, lo uno, que entiende que esta palabra hebrea es el nombre prapio en que en aquella lengua se llaman las partes deshonestas de la mujer; lo otro, que canfiesa que en los Cantares esta palabra la puso el Espfritu Santa en la misma significacion; lo tercero y lo ultimo, que el y Simaco, por servir al respeto que se debe a la Santa Escriptura, no le trasladaron con otra tal palabra latina o griega, sino que dixo por rodeo, el uno, demas de lo que se calla, o demas del silencio; y el otro, demas de lo que esta escondido."
(53.) "Or is it that Solomon was trying to praise the beauty and gentleness of his Wife, detailing all of her features and, he had begun with her head, and when he reached her eyes, unable to contain himself (leaving out so many parts in between that could also be the subject of extreme beauty, such as her forehead, her nose, her mouth, her lips, her neck, her breasts and her hands) he made such a perilous leap"
(54.) "Since the movement of the description of the lady's charms is from the feet upward, the locus of the evermoist receptacle between the thighs and the belly would seem to favor the lower aperture.
(55.) As noted by Ziolkowski, 46, Cicero reproves explicit language about certain body parts and functions as indecent on the grounds that it makes public what nature itself intended to keep hidden (cf. De officis 1.35.126-28).
(56.) Cf. fray Luis' commentary on Song of Songs 5:14, where he explicitly invokes the Petrarchan metaphors for each body part of a beautiful woman to illustrate the figurative language used in the Song of Songs when the bride and the groom praise each other's beauty ("Como lo hace aquel gran poeta toscano que haviendo de bar los cabellos, los llama oro, a los labios grana, a los dientes perlas, y a los ojos luces, lumbres o estrellas" (Blecua, ed., Cantar, 185).
(57.) It is important to note the clear connotation of fray Luis' reference to the author of a love poem as "un hombre cortesano." The courts were the primary social milieu of the Spanish poet-humanists in the sixteenth century and fray Luis invokes, indeed, a very precise and recognizable ideal of cultural refinement: the all-around "cortesano" enshrined in the Spanish cultural imagination thanks to its influential portrayal in Baldassore Castiglione's Il cortigiano and the latter's Spanish translation by Juan Boscan. Garcilaso de la Vega was the very embodiment of the ideal "cortesano."
(58.) "Ovid, whom good judges condemn as excessively lascivious, when dealing with the one that conceived beautiful figures about the other, got to say: And what is hid he deems still lovelier." The Latin hemistich is from the Metamorphoses 1, 502 and the relevant passage (1, 497-502) reads: "Spectat inornatos collo pendere capillos / et "quid, si comantur?" air. Videt igne micantes / sideribus similes oculos, vider oscula, quae non / est vidisse satis; laudat digitosque manusque / bracchiaque et nudos media plus parte lacertos; si qua latent, meliora putat" (our citation is from the Loeb edition, 1977, 1:36). Interestingly enough, Quintilian quotes the same Ovidian passage to characterize those whose deliberate attempts at obscene humor with double-entendres he disparages (Institutio oratoria 8.3.44-47, quoted by Ziolkowski, 49-50). It is difficult to imagine that our Augustinian rhetor could have ignored Quintilian's classical discussion on the varieties of cacemphata. (We are grateful to Matthew Carter for his help in locating the Ovidian quote).
(59.) "Y asf, teniendo esta palabra ambas significaciones, y viniendo la una con el proposito que allf se trata tan a pelo, y la otra tan a pospelo, no creo yo que habra ningun censor, por injusto que sea, que condene mi parecer, o no confiese que, en cosa de tan poca importancia como esta, algunas palabrillas de las que San Jeronimo en traslacion puso, reciben mejorfa."
(60.) Rashi offers two brief glosses on the phrase [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and a separate gloss on the other clause [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. The first gloss on [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] offers a synoptic, and somewhat cryptic, explanation for the reference to purple: "The braided hair of your Nazirites are as beautiful with mitzvot as braided purple" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. In the second exposition of Ibn Ezra's commentary after the 1st recension, the exegete explains [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] as "soft to the touch" [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] -- presumably in reference to her locks of hair, whereas the clause [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] is taken to express the king's longing to be captive in her hair as a formulaic expression among Arabian love-smitten tribal chiefs:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
Sforno ignores the latter phrase but offers a brief gloss to explain why the hair-locks are like purple:
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(61.) Here are some of these Spanish translations of this fragment from Song of Songs 7:6: Escorial I.j.3: "Tu cabeca sobre ti commo carmel, e la rrueda de tu cabeca commo porpola, rrey preso en andamios" (671). Escorial I.j.4: "tu cabeca sobre ty commo el Carmel, & el altura de tu cabeca commo jalde; rrey preso enlas acequias" (p. 281 -- the verse is here renumbered as 7:5); Ferrara: "Tu cabeca sobre ti como grana, y cabelladura de tu cabeca como purpura, rey atado en corredores" (652). Arragel: "La tu cabeca es sobre ti, es como el Charmel, e la vedija de la tu cabeca segund purpura, rey prisionado en prisiones (canales)" (2: 489). Pagnino's sixteenth-century Latin translation: "...coma capitis tri sicut purpura, rex ligatus in rignis."
(62.) The Septuagint renders it as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], whereas Symmachus translates it as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and Aquila simply transliterates the Hebrew phrase in Greek [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII].
(63.) This causative form of the root rhb appears only here and in Psalm 138:3 but with a slightly different connotation ("the arousal of strength in the 'soul' of the supplicant when answered by God" -- Pope, 1977, 564).
(64.) "This evocative rendering of hirhib in the Vulgate pressed itself upon the poetic imagination of Christian exegetes, mystics, and poets through the sixteenth century. To name but one example from a famous contemporary of fray Luis, at the beginning of lyre 12 in St. John of the Cross' Cdntico espiritual (version A), the Esposa is prompted by the eyes of her Beloved -- those eyes engraved within her which she wishes to see reflected in a crystal spring -- to soar after him in mystical flight. Paraphrasing the Vulgate's rendering of Song 6:4, she exelaims: "iApartalos, Amado, / que voy de vuelo!" [27, vv. 56-57] -- and the Esposa turned into a dove prepares to fly, only to be halted mid-verse by the Esposo's first triumphant appearance in St. John's poem. This is probably one of the most effective poetic renderings of the lovers' drama inspired by a "mistranslation" in the Vulgate epithalamium.
(65.) [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (Kitab al-'usul668, lines 31-32).
(66.) "His gloss could read as a Hebrew translation of Ibn Janah (Sefer ha-Shorashim 345):
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
(67.) Menahem ben Saruq, Mahberet 350*, lines 4-7 ([LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])
(68.) [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
Again, we have translated the two Biblical intertexts in English according to Ibn Ezra's take on the meaning of hirhib (the fragment from Isaiah 51:9, to quote from the Jewish Publication Society's translation, should rather be translated as "It was you that hacked Rahab in pieces"). It may also be noted that Habib Arkin, 1966, 54, in his effort to find the Jewish precedents for fray Luis' translation of hirhib as "to make haughty" failed to notice, yet again, the insertion of Biblical quotes in the Ibn Ezra text and, hence, mistranslated [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] above as "como (me quitaron) la piedra angular de la soberbia" (like they removed from me the cornerstone of pride). If he had only consulted Ibn Ezra's comment on Isaiah 51:9, where he explains [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], he could have better gaged Ibn Ezra's reading of this verse. Moreover, as will be seen below, Habib Arkin failed to identify the better precedent for fray Luis' translation: Rashi.
(69.) [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]
The citation from Isaiah 30:7 has been translated according to Rashi's explication ad locum (its meaning remains uncertain). As to the la'az there are different versions of the transliterated French word in the extant manuscripts and printed versions [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] but most compilations on Rashi's le'azim concur that the intended word is asoijer, Old French
(70.) The only exception, again, is Arragel's Bible, whose translation therein derives from Jerome's Vulgate ("Tira los tus ojos de mi, que ellos me fizieron bolar") -- another instance where we can probably document Arragel's collaboration with fray Arias de Enzina.
(71.) Pagnino's translation goes: "Averte oculos tuos a conspectu meo, quia ipsi fortiores me sunt." Vatable's annotation ad locum reads: "quia ipsi fortiores me sunt] quia ipsi vincunt me. Alii, alacriorem me reddunt. Alii, quia ferocem me fecerunt, aut, superbiorem." Pagnino's explication of [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (under the root [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]): "Er in Hiphil, Cantic 6:5: [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] Fortiores fuerunt me, praeualuerunt. Al. Superbire fecerunt cor meum." Finally, the 1522 Complutense glossary states: "Pro quo hebrei legunt. Ipsi me excellere vel superbire fecerunt."
(72.) "Y los unos y los otros traducen, no lo que hallaron en la lengua hebrea, sino lo que le parecio a cada uno que queria decir, porque daba ocasion al uno y al otro sentido el sonido y propia significacion de ella, que es este al pie de la letra: Aparta tus ojos, que hicieron sobrepuxarme. Porque la palabra [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] hirhibuni, de que usa aquf el original, propiamente quiere decir sobrepuxar."
(73.) "The original Latin commentary was first published under the title in Cantica Canticorum Salomonis Explanatio (Salamanca: Lucas a Junta, 1580). A second Salamancan edition by Lucas a junta appeared in 1582 and the final, expanded version with the triplex explanatio was published by Guillermo Foquel in 1589, also in Salamanca. This final version is included in the late nineteenth-century edition of fray Luis' Latin corpus by the Augustinian Marcelino Gutierrez (189 1-5).
(74.) He adds that these hairs were an ancient sign of intelligence and also that young women used to let them loose over their eyes in the manner of a veil (the original gloss, as noted, only explained how the same effect over their eyes was produced when some hairs got loose from their typical hairdo). We quote the ending in full: "Illud tanrum dicum Hebraicum [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] zama, pro ea capillorum parte solere accipi, quae fronti, atque temporibus imminet; quos capillos foeminae, quibus nativi desunr, supposititios gestare solent. Hos igitur capillos, quod ex antiquis signis intelligere licet, adolescentes foeminae non constringebar nodo uti reliquos, sed libere dependere sinebant ante oculos, illisque pro velo utebantur. Et certe sub iis capillis occuli latentes atque micantes, nescio quo pacto ipso capillorum errore, atque motu commendati pulchriores apparere solent" (Opera 230).
(75.) "The task of the translator consists in finding that intended effect upon the language into which he is translating which produces in it the echo of the original" (Benjamin, 1968, 76). Fray Luis' hermeneutic abstraction of the "intention of the Spirit" in assessing the canonical translations as well as his own could even be compared to that asymptotic striving for an unifying language of truth that Benjamin identifies as the philosophical project in all translations. A Benjaminian analysis of fray Luis' theories on translation, naming, and Biblical semiology could prove interesting.
(76.) Commenting on the root motivations of the early humanists, Rico, 43 has eloquently stated: "Language is based on social convention and literature teaches how to communicate individual differences. An accurate conjecture or the inspection of a more correct manuscript restitutes that singular expression and shows how the error that corrupted it was made: it forces one to understand the author, but also the copyist, to apprehend the motivations and circumstances of one and the other. For even on a minuscule scale, fixing a locus disfigured by its medieval transmission is a process ultimately analogous to the one that depicts for us the entire trajectory of humanism. It had all begun with the aesthetic bedazzlement of some in facing a few texts and a few remnants whose grandeur highlighted the insufficiencies of the present and thus invited the restoration of ancient culture as a remedy. But an adequate emendation makes palpable how a passage has deteriorated in an age that for that very reason must be call ed barbaric and how the recuperation of an authentic reading gives us back a richer model for today. Even a small work of textual criticism presupposes that one becomes aware of the flow of history" (English translation mine). This awareness of history in the conscientious exercise of philological criticism governed with equal passion the humanist retrieval of the biblical texts that fray Luis' accomplishments exemplify.
Medieval and Renaissance authors are alphabetized either by first name or common acronym. The following abbreviations are used: BAC (Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos), HSMS (Hispanic Seminary of Medieval Studies) and PL (Patrologia Latina. J. -P Migne [ed], Paris).
Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra. 1874. Commentary on the Canticle after the First Recension. Ed. H. J. Matthews.
-----. Commentary on the Song of Songs. In Mikra'ot Gedolot.
-----. Commentary on Isaiah. In Mikra'ot Gedolot.
Alcala, Angel. 1991. Proceso inquisitorial de fray Luis de Leon, Junta de Castilla y Leon, Consejeria de Cultura y Turismo.
Alcuin of York. Compendium in Canticum Canticorum. PL 100: 641-64.
Angelome of Luxcuil. Enarrationes in Cantica Canticorum. PL 115: 555-628.
Anselm of Laon. Enarratio in Canticum Canticorum. PL 162: 1187-1228.
Aponius. 1986. In Canticum Canticorum Expositionem. Turnholt.
Arias Montano, Benito, ed. 1571. Biblia sacra. Antwerp. Houghton Library (Typ 530.69.210).
-----. 1599. Sacra Biblia Hebraice, Grace et Latine: cum annotationibus Francisci Vatabli. Heidelberg. Houghton Library (Bi 5.99.10 F*).
-----. 1990. Pardfrasis del Maestro Benito Arias Montano sobre el Cantar de los Cantares de Salomon en tono pastoril Huelva. Diputacion.
Augustine. 1972. Concerning the City of God against the Pagans. Trans. Henry Bettenson. Hardmondsworth.
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We suggested that pre-modern Christian commentators of Song of Songs 4:1 had nothing to contribute to the philological debate over the literal meaning of the Hebrew tsammah. This broad generalization requires further elaboration. The Greek Fathers, on the one hand, who followed the Septuagint version by and large, were primarily interested on the spiritual significance of the putative silence of the Canticle's wife. Typical is Gregory of Nyssa's interpretation in the seventh homily of his Commentary (1960, 219), where, taking the bride to be an allegory of the Church, he deems her eyes a reference to Christians with spiritual discernment and their [sigma][iota][omega][pi][eta][sigma][epsilon][omega][zeta], the silence elicited by their awareness of the hidden and concealed which belongs to God, the contemplation of divine mysteries [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] -- Gregory of Nyssa may have been influenced here by Origen's allegorical interpretation of the Canticle, although this cannot be proven since the extant texts in Latin of the Origenist commentary and homilies on the Song do not extend beyond the second chapter).
On the Latin side, the more relevant to fray Luis because of the Vulgate's canonical status, we find a similar scenario. Leaving aside both Jerome (whom we will examine later on) and those authors whose extant comments do not reach the fourth chapter of the Song (Origen, Gregory the Great -- both widely reprinted in the sixteenth century: cf. Engammare's bibliographic essay *2lff), one is hardpressed to find a patristic, medieval or early Renaissance Christian exegete puzzled over the primary sense of "quod intrinsecus later" in light of the Hebrew original. There are four prevalent interpretations of the Canticle's Wife in the Latin Christian tradition up to fray Luis' time: (1) an allegory of the Church; (2) a symbol of the soul; (3) a reference to the Virgin Mary; and (4) the hylic intellect in scholastic psychology. Only 1, 2 and 3 are relevant for our verse. Those who interpret the Song's Sponsa as an allegory of the Church -- the largest group -- deem Jerome's "absque eo quod intrinsecus latet" a refere nce to some distinctive attribute of the Church's allegorical "dove-eyes." Already in the fifth century, Apponius (1986, 139) identifies the Church's "oculi columbarum" as her priests ("duces rectoresque populi christiani, id est sacerdotes") and "absque eo quod intrinsecus latet" as their evangelical decorum in the performance of good deeds only known to God ("Quando uero ita intrinsecus Deo reddunt in mente decorum aspectum sicut foris hominibus, ipsum est quod a Christo occultum laudatur, quidquid illud boni operis fuerit, dicendo: Oculi tui columbarum, absque eo quad intrinsecus latet; ut, quidquid agunt, totum Deo et nihil ad laudem hominum er uanae gloriae detur"). Bede the Venerable (d. 735) also explains Jerome's circumlocution as a reference to the inner qualities of the Church's life animated by the love of Christ and the invisible rewards bestowed upon those who perform loving deeds in secret: on Song 4:1: "Absque eo quad intrinsecus latet: Absque invisibili in coelestibus retributione, quae a te i n terris peregrinante necdum valet videri"; on Songs 4:3 (after explaining the Church's parallel to the biblical pomegranate): "Et recte additur Absque.., quia confessionem quidem Ecclesia vivificae crucis possunt omnes audire, pressuras ipsius Ecclesiae possunt omnes aspicere ... Sola autem novir ipsa quanto invisibilis vitae teneatur amore, quanta in visione Conditoris sui, quanta in profectu membrorum suorum dilectione flamescat"; on Songs 6:7: "Et consulte, quia cortici mali punici, genas comparaverat Ecciesiac, idea subintulir Absque quia videlicet cortex malici punici solum quidem ruborem foris ostendin, sed multa interius grana, quibus exuberat, occultat. Sic etenim anima devota Deo, ac salubriter verecunda, virtute quidem se vivificae crucis per omnia studet tutari, sed sub ejusdem crucis signaculo plum virtutum genera quae foris minime apparent, verum mentem intus reficiunt continet" (PL 91: 1128-29, 1132, 1180). Bede's comments are extensively quoted in the tradition: cf. Alcuin of York (d. 804), th e Glossa ordinaria, and Angelome of Luxeuil (cf. Compendium in Canticum Canticorum, PL 100: 659-60, 668; Glossa in Canticum Canticorum, PL 113, 1146, 1147, 1158 [Migne includes it in his Patrrologia under the name of Walafrid Strabo]; and Enarrationes in Cantica Canticorum, PL 115, 606, 607 and 618, respectively). Other exegetical glosses based on the ecclesiological interpretation of the Wife include Peter Damian Cd. 1072), Collectanea in Vetus Tesramen turn Teseirnonia Dc Canticis Canticorum on Song 4:1: "Quia licet sancti doctores nunc creatorem suum per contemplationis gratiam aspiciunt, latet tamen adhuc magnum aliquid, ad quod in hac corruptibii carne humanae mentis acies non aspirat" (PL 145, 1146); Anselm of Laon, Enarraria in Canticum Canticorum (or at least the author writing under that name) on Song 4:1 "Oculi, id est, tui provisores et diligenter intuentes Sctipturas, sunt columbini absque id est praeter intentionem quac longe pulchrior est" (PL 162, 1205-06); Bruno of Asti, Evposirio in Cantica c anticorum on Song 4:1 "Absque Multa inquit, de re dici possunt. Laudabilis est in virtute, in constantia, in sapientia. Magnum est quot videtur, maximum est quad latet. Magna in te fulget operatia, magna in coelesti secretaria tibi servatur retributio. Magnus est labor, sed maxima spes. Possumus etiam et per oculos propheras intelligere qui ea quae futura erant multo ante praeviderent" (PL 164, 1255); Wolbero, Commentaria Vetustissima at Profundissima super Canticum Canticorum Salomonis "Est ergo laudabile hoc modo tenere studium activae vitae, sed longe laudabilius est, id quod intrinsecus latet, habere virtutem scilicet vitae contemplativae, foris enim exteriore honeste dispensanri sed divinae tantum patet cognitioni qua intentione id faciant, dum plerumque ab humanis oculis qui corda non vident aliqui religiosi exteriora interdum tractanres judicantur" (PL 195, 1149).
On the other hand, among the mystical interpreters for whom the Canticle's Wife symbolized the human soul, a mystical exegesis of Jerome's "mistranslation" can also be documented. This is the case with Richard of St. Victor (d. 1173) for whom the "oculi columbarum" represent the spiritual senses of the mystic's perfected soul, and "absque eo quod intrinsecus latet," the ineffable qualities of the soul's union in its innermost chamber with Christ as the divine Beloved ("Isti columbarum oculi, id est sensus spiritales, ista sublimiras, inta tranquillitas mentis est in te, o anime, absque his quae intrinsecus latet. Illam enim quae cum Christo secrete in cubili cordis versas, quis foris exponere queat? Illam confabulationem mutuam, ausum loquendi ad eum, consolationem ab eo acceptam sive revelationem, unitatem animorum, concordiam voluptatum, amorem mutuum, zelum justitiae et animarum, desiderium visionis et fruitionis Dei, peregrinationis taedium, dissolvendi cupiditatem quis fans intelligat vel expnimat verbis ?"). Richard, however, does nor have many followers among the mystici maiori of Latin Christendom. Not a single reference to either Song 4:1, 4:3, or 6:6/7 is to be found, for example, in Bernard of Clairvaux's celebrated Sermones in Canticum, nor in Sr. John of the Crass' entire oeuvre, among the two most famous mystical interpreters of the Song of Songs, as can be easily corroborated in the BAC editions of both authors (cf. Bernard of Clairvaux  and John of the Cross [1989, 945-53 -- the biblical index]).
Among the Marian interpreters, our third group, it suffices to mention their main representative, Rupert de Deutz (d. 1135), whose In Cantica canticorum de incarnatione Domini comentarii is the object of several editions in the sixteenth century (Engammare enumerates six in his bibliographic essay). Rupert deems the various parts of the Wife's body praised in the fourth chapter of the Song (her eyes, her hair, her teeth, and so on) references to different attributes and virtues of the Virgin Mary. Her "oculi columbarum" in the Song 4:1 stand for her "simplicitas" and thus Rupert explains the invisible qualities of Mary which only God can see: "Igitur oculi tui columbarum, et haec vera pulchritudo est, absque eo quod intrinsecus latet, quod solus in te Deus videt, nobis autem quia inexpertum, idcirco ineffabile imo et incogitabile est. Si enim quispiam dixit, et teste Deo vel conscio, non mentiens, dixit raptum se fuisse in paradisum, sive ad tertium coelum, ita ur nesciat, sive in corpore, sive extra corpus r apus fuerit et audisse arcana verba, quae non licet homini loqui (II Cor 12), quanto magis tu, regina coelorum, persaepe coelestibus interfuisti, quippe quam er circumsteterunt obstetricum vice, gloriam Deo concinentes angeli: et inter haec didicisti vel assecuta es aliquid, quod later et latere nos deber?" (PL 168, 884-85; cf. also PL 168, 888 on Song 4:3).
Finally, we must note the important case of Nicholas of Lyra in the fourteenth century. Lyra was the most influential Christian commentator of the Bible of the later Middle Ages as can be gathered from the numerous editions of his Postillae (Engammare mentions 32 references to incunabula of the Postillae, most of them no longer extant). His excellent command of Biblical Hebrew and direct recourse to the Jewish commentators, which had earned him the pejorative term of Rashi's ape among his detractors, makes him a notable exception to our general statement about the Hebrew illiteracy of the patristic and medieval exegetes. However, even Nicholas de Lyra seems not to have availed himself of the canonical Jewish exegetes and lexicographers on this particular issue. In his Postillae ad locum (Biblia latina cum postillis Nicolai de Lyra 1489 -- see references for text consulted), he tersely declares that "absque eo quod intrinsecus later, id est pulchra membrorum dispositione sub vestibus latente." This reference t o the beautiful disposition of the Wife's "bodily extremities" concealed by her clothing is equally foreign to the Jewish commentaries on the meaning of tsammah.
For other edifying interpretations of tsammah according to the Septuagint and the Vulgate among Christian exegetes, see Pope (1977, 460-61).
Fray Luis de Leon's Response from Prison to his Enemies / Respuesta que desde prision da a sus emulos (full English translation of Blecua's edition, 285-93).
... where there is a greater difficulty, I would like to pass it over in silence; for I do not know whether I will find the appropriate words to explain what I feel. Yet, since the force and harm of my enemies thus compel me, your honest and religious ears will forgive me if my due and necessary defense requires that the veil be lifted with which St. Jerome tried to cover the shame, which he thought to have found in that place, and so I will speak about those things that nature made for an honest end with common words, words which, while turned awkward by their vicious usage, are purified by a sane judgement that only deals with the knowledge of truth. (a) For those who are pure and good, who did not pervert in any way the natural usage, all things natural are pure and only vice, which is a disorder of nature, offends them.
Thus I say that St. Jerome used the roundabout expression Praeter id, quod intrinsecus latet instead of what Hebrew renders with a single word, which is [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] zama. Dealing with this in my book, I say that I do not know why St. Jerome resorted to this circumlocution, suggesting that zama meant concealed beauty since he himself in the book of Isaiah, chapter 47, where the same Hebrew word appears, rendered it as indecency and ugliness. And thus, without further ado, I add that this word means "hair," or what we appropriately call in Spanish "topknots" or "forelocks" in women. In line with this meaning, I say that it befits the praise which the Husband intends to bestow on the eyes of the Wife to say that they are "beautiful among her hair," for ordinarily some tufts of hair, dishevelled out of the order and array that the artifice of hairdo and braiding impose on others, fall over her forehead and, stirred by air and motion, they sway as if playing over her eyes, so that sometime s they cover and then reveal their lights, which makes them look better. This is what I said there and I did not intend further to expose the wound because that was not the right place, nor was it appropriate for the person to whom I was writing that book. But what I kept to myself then, I will say here as I am only addressing good and learned men.
First of all I say that, whichever of the two aforementioned ways we take to translate this passage, whether your eyes are beautiful, apart from what is hidden or between your hair-locks, it is in essence the same sentence. Either way we manage to convey what the Holy Spirit itself intended therein, which is to praise the beauty of the Wife's eyes. And if these renderings differ in something, the whole difference between them is insignificant. (b) Being as it is, to say that I dismiss the Vulgate in this is a pure calumny, for I do not dismiss anything that I deem important. Nor do I properly reject the Latin text in what I say, but I rather expound it, and, as it were, reduce it to its meaning by using one word and changing, as it were, a single letter.
The second thing I say (and please forgive me whoever hears it for I do not know how to say this nor can it be said otherwise) is that St. Jerome thought that the Hebrew word zama, which we just said, was the proper name used in that tongue for the shameful parts of a woman, just as in Castilian they have their name and in Latin they have theirs, and since he dared not to translate it into Latin using the appropriate term, in order not to offend someone's ears, he proceeded in a roundabout way and thus said: Besides what is hidden. And in this he followed Symmachus, who understood it the same way and in order to translate it, also availed himself of the same subterfuge, namely to convey [lit, signify] with many words honestly covered, that which would be dishonest if rendered with its appropriate word. And thus he translated: The eyes are beautiful apart from what is left unsaid. I must confess that St. Jerome's opinion on this verse and word neither convinced me then when I was writing that book not does it please me now.
First, I will show that St. Jerome says this, that I am not making this up. Then, I will enumerate all the reasons to be unsatisfied with this.
Pertaining the first, let him be his own witness, for in his Commentary on Isaiah, ch 47, verse 2, book 13, he thus says: Here, where we rendered uncover your shamefulness, which the Septuagint translated as [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], (c) that is your veil was exposed; (d) Theodotius transliterated the Hebrew word [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] tetsamatech; (e) Aquila, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] tsamatech; Symmachus [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (f) which we can render as your taciturnity since he ought to keep silent out of shame. For indeed, in the Song of Songs, where the beauty of the Spouse is described, we read at the end: Besides your silence; (g) not wishing to translate, according to their interpretation, a word which in the Holy Scriptures means that which is base. And further below: The Stoics argue that many things are base in reality and perverse in human custom but unobjectionable in words such as parricide, adultery, homicide, incest, and other similar things. (h) In turn, there are unobjectionable things whose names may seem base, such as procreating children, the noisy release of a distended stomach, the unburdening of the intestines through excretion, the relieving of the bladder through urination. And finally, it is not possible for us, in the same way that we say "rutulam" (a little piece of rue) from "ruta" (rue), to make a diminutive for "menta" (mint). (i) Hence, tsamatech which Aquila deemed, as we said, the name for the private (j) parts of a woman, a name whose etymology according to them is, your thirsting, in reference to the unsatisfied desire of Babylon.
From these words, we can clearly conclude, first, that St. Jerome deemed this Hebrew word to be the proper name given in that tongue to the indecent parts of a woman; second, that he also believed the Holy Spirit to have put this word in the Song of Songs with this very meaning; third and last, that Jerome and Symmachus, out of respect for the Holy Scriptures, did not translate it openly using the appropriate term in Latin or Greek, but rather proceeded in a roundabout way, the former saying apart from what is kept quiet or apart from the silence; the latter, apart from what is hidden.
It now remains to explain why I was always displeased with this rendering, which I think will be pleasing to a few people of good judgement. The Song being, as it happens, spiritual and dictated by God for the health and profit of the soul, how can it be allowed in there to have such shameful parts named with names so in the open or -- should we rather say -- so indecent? And if they seemed indecent to both Jerome and Symmachus and they could not bear to give it its proper name in Latin, how can they believe and be persuaded that the Holy Spirit would give it its proper name in Hebrew? Is it less shameful or less dangerous or less indecent to name it in Hebrew to the Hebrews rather than in Latin to the Latins or in Greek to the Greeks? Or did the Holy Spirit intend Jerome to be more respectful to the ears of Rome than he was to the ears of the Hebrew people, where all the Hebrew saints and servants of God could read it? Besides, if the Church is the woman to whom this refers in the Song, as it happens to be t rue, what could be the Church's zama? For, if the word of God is conceived in the souls of the faithful through the ears, it is not necessary to name them with metaphors and disgusting circumlocutions, since they already had a pure and gentle name. (k)
They will say, perhaps, that the thread of this saying and the order of what was being spoken about forced Solomon to recall that concealed part. Nothing is further from the truth. Or is it that Solomon was trying to praise the beauty and gentleness of his Wife, detailing all of her features and, he had begun with her head, and when he reached her eyes, unable to contain himself (leaving out so many parts in between that could also be the subject of extreme beauty, such as her forehead, her nose, her mouth, her lips, her neck, her breasts, and her hands) he made such a perilous leap; and further more he repeated it three times, as he does when he refers to the eyes, the temples and the cheeks, which are indeed covered by her hair. Quite a thing is that to be repeated, as if its insertion would enhance her purity! (l)
If there is a point when reason would demand that this name be brought to memory, that would be in chapter 7, where, turning to praise how beautiful the Wife is, Solomon begins with her feet and moves up to her legs and from there to her thighs and arrives at her womb and climbs up to her breasts, and finally, he does not come to a halt until he reaches the highest point in her head; yet, as can be seen, he does not name it. Thus, if talking about her thighs, Solomon proceeds to her stomach and navel, passing over in silence what nature keeps covered, how can we believe that he would name it and mention it while he is busy portraying her beautiful face and has not gone beyond her eyes? What do die eyes shining on her face have to do with the awkwardness that her legs conceal? What consonance or consequence can there be between things so separate and different, that the mentioning of one should bring to memory and tongue the other?
Even more, who ever saw that in the recollection of beauty mention should be made of such a thing? Or how is it possible that something should have its share of beauty which nature, on account of its ugliness, conceals in the most secret corner of the house? Or how can one believe that in his book the Holy Spirit intended to expose and make public what He so diligently hid and did not want to reveal in the body?
But why am I talking about the Holy Spirit? Let us assume that this book is not the word of God, nor that it deals with heavenly things, even less that it was written by Solomon, a wise king and prophet, but that it is purely a love song composed by a courtly man. Then I ask: what half-decent law could tolerate that a gentleman pay such a compliment in song to a lady? Which poet, Greek or Latin or any other, ever used such words in the open? Ovid, whom good judges condemn as excessively lascivious, when dealing with the one that conceived beautiful figures about the other, got to say: And what is hid he deems still lovelier. (m)
And without my disputing this, reason itself tells us that that which is wrong to say even in the secrecy of bed, cannot be said in public and in writing, without great awkwardness and disarray.
But they will say: If the Hebrew word means that, what can St. Jerome do but say what it was and dress it up with honest words, as he did? To this I reply that I do not know whether the Hebrew word have that meaning; but even if it did, it also has a rather different one, since it means hair or hairlocks as we have said and as it has been taught by the experts in that language. And thus, since this word has both meanings and seeing how one meaning is so fitting to what is intended in that passage and the other one, so farfetched, I do not think there will be a judge, however unjust, that will condemn my opinion or that will fail to confess how, in something of so little significance such as this, a few minor words in St. Jerome's translation could be improved. And this is what pertains to this point.
In the words The locks of your head like royal purple captive in canals, the seventy interpreters translated according to the Hebrew: Like purple, a king bound to the canals; for the Hebrew original lends itself to either of the two translations. Thus I expound both senses even if at the end I am more inclined to the translation of the seventy interpreters, which was also followed and expounded by the whole ancient Church, since it is more fitting to the intended purpose therein.
But either way, learned men will realize that all this leads to a single goal and it has in essence one same meaning, which is earnestly to praise the beautiful hair of the Wife. For if we say Like royal purple captive in canals, that means they are the color of purple, when it is in the vessels where the dyeing is done, which is when it is at its finest and newest; and hair this color is most beautiful, in the judgment of the people from those lands. And if we read Like purple, the king bound into the canals, namely, that it has the color aforementioned and that with its beautiful color they have the Husband as if he were captive, in the way I explain in that little work of mine. And thus both ways we only get to say that the Wife' hairs are most beautiful.
The last thing of which they accuse me is on chapter 6, verse 4, where it says Avert your eyes from me, for they made me fly; where they say that I claim St. Jerome translated as it struck his fancy and not according to the Hebrew. As to this, whoever says this shows that they do not understand Spanish. For my actual words are, "St Jerome and the Seventy translated they made me fly and others, they made me haughty, and neither one translates according to the Hebrew word that they find, but rather according to what each thought that it meant." As to this I do not say that they translated incorrectly but that they translated the Hebrew word as it sounded in the original language according to what each person understood, not according to the intended purpose that applied. Because the sound of the word is this: they made me overpower; and thus it seemed to some, as I said in there, that overpower meant to fly, and to others, that it meant to become haughty; yet the original word can be understood either way. So I explain all, and afterwards, I show that even then according to the uttered sound, without further talking or philosophizing, it makes more sense if we change the words and agree that it says they overpowered me.
For it is clear and true that, if the Husband says that the Wife with her glance makes him haughty, namely, that it causes him to faint and drives him mad or overpowers him and exerts force on him, in all this and in any way, he says and expounds the same thing, which is the power that the Wife's eyes had on him so that, looking at him, she became the mistress of his heart. They cannot say that I reject the Vulgate, as they do, but that I rather expound, in line with the simplest sense in the original, the meraphor and trope used in the Vulgate. Nor is it fair to call me daring, since I do the work of a learned and diligent man. But it is impossible to please everyone; it is hard enough to please a majority.
And thus, concluding with this reasoning, I entreat you to consider how among the large number of learned and religious men that, during the course of ten years when this book of mine circulated publicly, saw it and read it, how many more are those that approve it, since there are only two or three that condemn it. Let it suffice, and may on this issue the judgment of so many dispassionate judges prevail rather than the latter's ill-will who are not only a few but, as you know, my enemies also. Since so far they have managed to rake revenge on me our of passion by means of deceit in front of such a holy tribunal, and, as far as my own person is concerned, destroyed me, from now on is time for me to speak the truth, that you may hear it; and if I do not get my due, that truth at least may. For any harm to her is a common evil and to give her its due is to honor God, who is the Father of truth and the only one who deserves true honor and glory.
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([sic] meaning, in prison) December 18th, 1573.
fr. Luis de Leon.
... donde hay alguna mayor dificultad, yo quisiera pasar con silencio pot ella; porque no se si hallare palabras convenientes para declarar lo que siento. Mas pues la fuerza e injuria de mis enemigos me compele a ello, perdonarme han las orejas honestas y religiosas, si para mi debida y necesaria defensa se levantare el velo con que San Geronimo quiso encubrir la verguenza que a su parecer hallo en este lugar; y asi hablare de las cosas que la naturaleza hizo para fin honesto con palabras usadas; las quales, si el uso vicioso las entorpece, el juicio limpio y que trata de solo el conocimiento de la verdad las limpia. Porque a los limpios y buenos, que no pervertieron en nada el natural uso, todo lo natural les es limpio, y solo el vicio, que es desorden de la naturaleza, les ofende.
Pues digo que S. Geronimo puso este rodeo de palabras: Praeter id, quod intrinsecus latet en lugar de lo que en hebreo se dice con sola una, la qual es [LANGUANGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] zama. Y yo tratando de ello en este mi libro, digo que no se por que causa quiso S. Geronimo usar de aquel rodeo, y dar a entender que zama que quiere decir hermosura encubierta, habiendo el mismo en Isafas, en el capitulo 47, donde esta Ia misma palabra hebrea, trasladado por ella torpeza fealdad. Y asi, sin declararme mas, anado que aquella palabra quiere decir tambien cabellos, o lo que propiamente llamamos en castellano en las mujeres copetes o aladares. Y siguiendo esta significacion, digo que bien viene para el loor que all el Esposo pretende dar a los ojos de la Esposa decir que son hermosos entre sus cabellos; porque de ordinario algunos de ellos, que sedesordenan de la orden y asiento que el artificio y tocado y trenzado pone en los otros, caen sobre la frente, y meneados del aire y movimiento, andan como jugando sobre los ojos; y ansf cubriendo a veces y descubriendo sus luces, les son causa que parezcan mejor. Esto dixe allf, y no quise descubrir mas la Ilaga porque no era para aquel lugar, ni para la persona a quien se escribfa aquel libro; y lo que calle allf, dire aquf, adonde hablo con solos los hombres buenos y doctos.
Y lo primero de todo digo que, de qualquiera de las dos maneras sobredichas que traslademos aquel lugar, ora digamos: Hermosos son tus ojos, de mas, y allende lo escondido, o entre tus cabellos, en substancia es la misma sentencia, y pot todas parece se consigue lo mismo que allf el Espfritu Santo pretende, que es loar la hermosura de los ojos de la Esposa. Y si estas razones en algo se diferencian, toda la diferencia de ellas no importa un cabello. Y, siendo esro asf, decir que por ello me aparto de la Vulgata es pura calumnia, pues no me aparto en cosa que me importe; ni lo que allf yo digo es propiamente desechar el texto latino, sino declararle y como reducille a su significacion con declarar una palabra y como con mudar una sola letra.
Lo segundo digo (y perdoneme el que lo oyere, que ni lo se decir ni se puede de otra manera), pues digo que S. Geronimo entendio que la palabra hebrea zama, que habemos dicho, era el nombre propio conque en aquella lengua se nombran las verguenzas de la mujer, como en castellano tienen su nombre, y en latin el suyo; y porque no se atrevio a trasladallo en latin por su vocablo, por no ofender los ofdos, uso de rodeo y dijo como vemos: Demds de lo que esta alla escondido. Y siguio en ello a Simaco que entendio lo mismo y se aprovecho tambien para trasladallo del mismo artifico de significar, por muchas palabras encubiertas honestamente, lo que dicho pot la suya propia era deshonesto. Y asf traslado: Hermosos son los ojos, demds de lo que se calla. Este parecer de San Geronimo acerca de este lugar y palabra, yo confieso que ni me quadro quando escribia aquel libro ni me satisface agora.
Y, lo primero, mostrare que S. Geronimo dice esto, y que yo no se lo levanto; y lo segundo, dire las causas que tengo para estar poco contento de ello.
Y, quanto a lo primero, sease el testigo de sf mismo, que en los Comentos sobre Isafas, en el capftulo quarenta y siete, verso segundo, alegado en el libro trece, dice asf: In eo, ubi nos interpretati sumus denuda turpitudinem tuam, pro quo septuagint transtulerunt, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] id est revela operimentum; Theoditio ipsum verhum hebraicum posuit [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] tetsamatech;
Aquila, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] tsamatech; Simachus, [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] quod nos exprimere possumus, taciturnitatem tuam, quod taceri debeat prae verecundia. Quod quidem et in Cantico Canticorum legimus, ubi Sponsae pulchritudo describitur, ad extremum infert: Absque taciturnitate tua; nolentibus, qui interpretati sunt, transferre nomen, quod in sancta Scriptura sonaret turpitudinem. Y un poco mas abaxo: Disputant Stoici multa re turpia, prava hominum consuetudine, verbis honesta esse: ut parricidium, adulterium, homicidium, incestum, et caetera his similia. Rursumque re honesta, nominibus videri turpia, ut liberos procreare, inflationem ventris crepitu digerere, alvum relevare stercore, vexicam urinae effusione laxare; denique non posse nos, ut dicimus, a rutu rutulam, sic [LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] a menta facere. Ergo tsamatech quod Aquila posuit, ut diximus verenda mulieris appellantur; cuius ethymologia apud eos sonat, sitiens tuus, et inexpletam Babylonis indicet voluptatem.
De las quales palabras se colige claro de S. Geronimo, lo uno, que entiende que esta palabra hebrea es el nombre propio en que en aquella lengua se llaman las partes deshonestas de la mujer; lo otto, que confiesa que en los Cantares esta palabra la puso el Espfritu Santo en la misma significacion; lo tercero y lo ultimo, que el y Simaco, por servir al respeto que se debe a la Santa Escriptura, no le trasladaron con otta tal palabra latina o griega, sino que dixo por rodeo, el uno, demds de lo que se calla, o demds del silencio; y el otto, demas de lo que esta escondido.
Resta decir agora el porque siempre me desagrado este parecer, el qual creo yo que agradara a pocos buenos juicios. Porque, siendo este Cantar, como es, espiritual y dictado pot Dios para la salud y aprovechamiento del alma, ?como se sufre que en el se nombren partes tan vergonzosas con nombres tan descubiertos, o pot mejor decir, tan deshonestos? Y si a S. Geronimo y a Simacho les parecia cosa indecente y que no se pudiera sufrir ponerlo por su nombre en latin, ?como pudieron creer y persuadirse que en hebreo lo habia puesto por su nombre el Espiritu Santo? ?Era menos deshonesto, o menos peligroso, o menos indecente decirse en hebreo a los hebreos, que en latin a los latinos yen griego a los griegos? ?O quiso el Espiritu Santo que tuviese San Jeronimo mas respeto a las orejas de Roma que el tuvo a los oidos de la gente hebrea, donde le leian todos los sanros y siervos de Dios, hebreos? Demas desto, si esta mujer de quien se trata en este Cantar es la Iglesia, como lo es en la verdad, ?qual sera en la Iglesia el zama? Que si son los oidos pot los quales se concibe en las almas fieles la palabra de Dios no es menester nombrarlos por metafora y rodeos asquerosos, pues tenian su nombre limpio y gentil.
Mas diran, por dicha, que el hilo del decir y la orden de lo que se iba platicando le forzo a Salomon a hacer memoria de aquella parte encubierta. Ninguna cosa va mas fuera de camino. Trataba Salomon de loar la hermosura de la Esposa y su gentileza, particularizando sus facciones todas, y habfa comenzado por la cabeza; y en llegando a los ojos, sin poderse mas sufrir (dejando tantas en medio que pueden ser sujeto de extremada belleza, como son frente, nariz, boca, labios, cuello, pechos y manos), hizo salto tan peligroso; y ansf, tornandolo a repetir tres veces, como lo repite, en los ojos y sienes y mejillas, que son los que cubren los cabellos. Cosa (i) es aquella para se repetir, como intercalar limpieza!
Si en algun tiempo la consequencia de la razon obligaba a la memoria de este nombre, era cuando, en el capftulo septimo, tornando a loar a la Esposa de bella, comienza Salomon desde los pies y sube a las piernas, y de alif a los muslos y llega al vientre, y sube hasta los pechos, y, finalmente, no para hasta lo mas alto de la cabeza; y alif, como se ve, no lo nombra. Pues si diciendo de los muslos, trata luego Salomon del vientre y ombligo, y pasa callando por lo que naturaleza tiene cubierto, ?como es verosfmil que lo nombra y predica quando anda ocupado en pintar la cara hermosa, y no pasa aun de los ojos? "Que tienen que ver los ojos, que resplandecen en la cara, con la torpeza que esconden las piernas? "O qud consonancia o consequencia puede haber entre cosas tan apartadas y diferentes, para que la mencion hecha de lo uno lleve a lo otto la lengua y la memoria?
Mayormente que, "quien jamas vio que en cuento de hermosura se hiciese cuenta de cosa semejante? "O como es posible que tenga parte de hermosura lo que naturaleza, por feo, encubre en el mas secreto rincon de la casa? "O como puede creer que el Espiritu Santo quiso hacer publico y patente en su libro lo que con tanta diligencia escondio y no quiso que se pareciese en el cuerpo?
Mas "para que digo del Espiritu Santo? "No quiero que este libro sean palabras de Dios, ni digo que se traten en el cosas del cielo, ni menos sea el que le escribio Salomon, rey sabio y profeta, sino sea una cancion puramente enamorada, compuesta por un hombre cortesano. Pregunto: "en que ley de mediano aviso se sufre que un galan diga, cantando, semejante requiebro a su dama? "Que poeta jamas, ni griego ni latino, ni alguno de otra qualidad, uso de vocablos tan descubiertos? Ovidio, a quien los buenos juicios condenan por lascivo demasiadamente, quando trata del otro que comedia consigo las hermosas figuras de la otra que iba huyendo, se alargo a decir: Et si quae latent meliora putat.
Y esto sin que yo lo dispute, la misma razon nos dice que lo que aun en el secreto de la cama se dice mal, nadie lo puede decir en publico ni por escrito, sin gran torpeza y desorden.
Pero diran: Si la palabra hebrea lo significa, ?que pudo hacer San Jeronimo sino decir lo que era y vestillo de palabras honestas, como lo hizo? A esto digo que no se si la palabra hebrea tiene tal significacion; mas cuando la tuviese, tiene tambien otra muy diferente, porque significa los cabellos o aladares, como habemos dicho, y como lo ensenan los doctos en aquella lengua. Y asf, teniendo esta palabra ambas significaciones, y viniendo la una con el proposito que alli se trata tan a pelo, y la otra tan a pospelo, no creo yo que habra ningun censor, por injusto que sea, que condene mi parecer, o no confiese que, en cosa de tan poca importancia como esta, algunas palabrillas de las que San Jeronimo en traslacion puso, reciben mejoria. Y esto cuanto a este lugar.
En el cap VII, v. 5. en aquellas palabras Comae capitis tui, sicut purpura regis vincta canalibus, los Setenta Interpretes trasladan, segun que esta apuntado en el hebreo: Sicut purpura rex ligatus in canalibus; y la letra hebrea recibe la una y la otra manera de trasladar. Y ansi yo declaro la una y la otra letra, aunque a la postre me allego mds a la de los Setenta Interpretes; la cual siguio y declaro toda la Iglesia antigua, porque al proposito que alli se trata conviene mejor.
Pero de cualquier manera que sea, bien veran los hombres doctos que todo ello va a un mismo proposito, y que en substancia hace una misma sentencia, que es loar encarecidamente los hermosos cabellos de la Esposa. Porque si decimos: Sicut purpura regis vincta canalibus, es decir que son de la color de la purpura, quando esta en los vasos donde se tine, que es quando esta mas fina y mas nueva; y los cabellos de esta color son hermosisimos, al juicio de las gentes de aquella tierra. Y si leemos: Sicut purpura Rex ligatus in canalibus es decir que tienen el color sobredicho, y que con su hermoso color tienen como preso al Esposo, en la forma que yo declaro en aquella obrecilla mfa. Y asf por ambos caminos venimos solamente a decir que los cabellos de la Esposa son hermosfsimos.
Lo ultimo que me achacan esta en el capftulo VI, v.4, en aquellas palabras: Averte oculos tuos a me, quia ipsi me a volare fecerunt; donde dicen que digo que S. Geronimo traslado lo que a el le parecio y no lo que hallo en el hebreo. En lo qual, los que lo dicen muestran que aun no entienden romance. Porque las palabras formales que digo son estas: "S. Geronimo y los Setenta trasladan que me hicieron volar, y otros, que me ensoberbecieron; y los unos y los otros trasladan, no lo que hallan en la palabra hebrea, sino lo que parece a cada uno que quiere decir." En lo qual no digo que traducieron mal, sino que traducieron la palabra hebrea asf como suena en su lengua, y no conforme al proposito a que se aplicaba, lo que cada uno entendio. Porque el sonido de la palabra es este: hicieronme sobrepujar; y ansf a unos parecio, como allf digo, que el sobrepujar era volar, y a otros que era ensoberbecerse; y alo uno y a lo otro da ocasion la palabra original. Y lo declaro todo, y despues muestro que aun asf en el soni do que suena, sin discurrir ni filosofar mas, hace sentido conveniente, si destrocamos las palabras y entendemos que es decir sobrepujaronme.
Pues es claro y cierto que, si dice el Esposo que la Esposa con su vista le ensoberbece, esto es, le desvanece y saca de quicios, o le sobrepuja y hace fuerza, en todo ello y por qualquiera manera de ello, dice y declara lo mismo, que es el poder que tenfan en el los ojos de la Esposa, para, mirandole, hacerse senora de su corazon. No pueden decir que desecho la Vulgata, como dicen, sino que declaro, con lo que esta sencillo en el original, la metafora y figura de que uso la Vulgata. Ni menos tienen justicia en llamarme en esto arrevido, siendo lo que hago obra de hombre estudioso y diligente. Pero es imposible que nadie contente a todos; harto es contentar a la mayor parte.
Y asl, concluyendo roda esra razon, a Vms. suplico consideren de tanto numero de hombres doctos y religiosos que por espacio de diez afios que anduvo en publico este mi libro, le han visto y lefdo, quantos mas son los que le aprueban, pues los que le condenan son dos o tres solos. Y valga y pueda mas en este juicio el sentido de tantos desapasionados que no el enojo de estos, que, demas de ser pocos, son, como Vmds. saben, enemigos mfos. Los quales, si hasta aquf enganosamente en el ministerio de Tribunal tan santo han vengado en mi sus pasiones, y, quanto toca a lo particular de mi persona, me han destruido, ya de aqui adelante es tiempo que hable de la verdad y sea oida de Vmds.; y ya que yo no pueda set reparado, que a lo menos ella lo sea. Porque su dano es mal comun y su reparo es honrar a Dios, que es Padre de la verdad y merecedor unico de todo lo que de veras es honra y gloria.
[LANGUAGE NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ([sic] quiere decir, en la cdrcel.)
18 de diciembre de 1573.
fr. Luis de Lain.
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|Title Annotation:||Luis de Leon's translation of 'Song of Song's'; Spanish humanist apologetics of 16th century|
|Author:||Giron-Negron, Luis M.|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2001|
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