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  1. Could’ve summed this up for you in fewer words: It’s about sex.

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  2. It’s an essay that informs me a little about scholarly perspective. For this I am grateful since it is not always that I pay attention to such a perspective. I don’t think the Song is ‘meant with intention’ to be utilitarian such as might be read in your comment “this Song may have helped, or been intended to help, shape sexuality in Ancient Israel”. I don’t read the Scripture this way – though it seems many do impute redactional motives as having an explicit social purpose.

    I understand that it is Jewish practice to read the Song at Pentecost and that the male reader is instructed to identify with the Bride. This is how I was taught to read it, but I can’t tell you when or where this authority came from – no footnote. It was about 35 or 40 years ago. I do not regret the instruction.

    What was intended to shape sexual behaviour in Israel? That is a good question. Does circumcision for instance? Certainly the holiness code. Equally, it seems likely if not obvious that some cult practices indicate that sexuality needed shaping – as it does in every age.

    Perhaps though the approach is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope as if scholarship makes everything seem farther away. We cannot separate ourselves from our sexual being – as Paul notes ‘they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh and its desires’. But I can’t reason about the Anointing in the TNK from this point of view. What I can do is observe what God says about David and Bathsheba in a story where sex and power are abused. (2 Sam 12:8).

    In other words, I don’t think the allegorization of the Song is an escape from or an avoidance of its true nature as an erotic poem. ‘purposely clouded in allegorical mystery’ should drop the purposely – who purposed that it should be cloudy? Perhaps it is a cloud of glory that prevents one from entering the reality that – my beloved is mine and I am his.

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    1. Sorry for the delay in responding.

      I agree and would yield to many of your points. This is something for later, of course, but I think that works such as these should be regularly examined, and see how it shapes us.

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