The Fable of Joseph and Aséneth is an imaginative elaboration of a verse from Genesis describing the relationship between Joseph, the son of the patriarch Jacob, and Aséneth, a beautiful maiden of Egypt. Infused with all the tender sensitivity and lyricism of the Song of Solomon, it weaves an enchanting tale of infatuation, heartbreak, and joyful reunion.
While the work may be read simply as a piece of visionary fiction, Aséneth—who soon becomes the story’s central and most sympathetic character—may also be taken as an allegorical figure of the human soul, as it moves through different stages in its relationship to God. Beginning with contentment in merely earthly things, the soul is then awakened to a consuming desire for the transcendent. Yet this transcendent ideal soon proves fleeting, inaccessible, and remote, leaving only a state of emptiness and desolation.
Finally, through a mystical encounter with the incarnate deity, the soul is taken up into an ecstatic union with God—a meeting of heaven and earth, of the human and the divine. This volume presents an English verse adaptation of the principal Syriac version of the fable, as well as prose translations of related Greek and Syriac fragments.
Freely adapted into English Verse by New Norcia's Fr Robert Nixon.