Unsettled Christianity

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Archive for the ‘Song of Solomon’ Category

August 28th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Song of Solomon memes

I tried to do more… But they kept coming out…um….naughty…


August 28th, 2015 by Joel Watts

the “best” books on the Song of Solomon

Title page of Píseň písní = The Song of Songs ...

Title page of Píseň písní = The Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) translated by Rudolf Dvořák (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is only a brief book list for the Song of Solomon.

See also:

August 28th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Michael Goulder on the Song of Solomon

English: "Presents to King Solomon."...

English: “Presents to King Solomon.” A miniature from the Georgian “Jruchi Gospels”. 15th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For those of you who don’t know about the late Dr. Michael Goulder, he is the one who well defined Rev. Dr. Austin Farrer’s theory, giving rise to a solid and substantial challenge to the Q hypothesis. His expertise was not limited to the Gospels, but as you can see, was expanded to both Testaments — and even somewhat beyond. This is his take on the Song of Solomon:

The following, then, as I understand it, is the ‘plot’ of the Song. The young woman is an Arabian princess from Nadiv, and in Song 1 she has arrived at Solomon’s palace: ‘the king has brought me into his chambers’. She expresses passionate love for her royal fiancé, ‘let him kiss me …’, and ends by asking the way to the Audience Chamber, which the Chorus, the ladies of the harem, tell her. Song 2 is in the Audience Hall, where the King greets her with enthusiasm. They embrace (‘My beloved is unto me a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts’), and she begins to speak with a proprietorial tone of the furnishings—‘our couch, our house, our rafters’. Thereafter things move quickly. She sits down beside him and kisses him, ‘I delight in his shadow and sit down, and his fruit is sweet to my taste’; and the scene ends with his left hand under her head, and his right hand enfolding her. With Song 3 he comes running to court her, and invite her into the country; and she bids him to her bed for the night—not of course to sleep with her, for they are not yet married, but he is to be as a hart on the cloven hills of her breast. In Song 4 she awakes to find the King has gone; she goes after him through the streets and ways of the city, that is the corridors and rooms of the palace. She meets the watchmen, the eunuchs, and the King himself, and takes him back to bed with her. In Song 5 the ladies are watching the Princess in the royal palanquin (mî zō’t) being carried in procession to her wedding, where the King awaits her on his special new throne (’appiriōn) in the crown Bathsheba has given him for the occasion. In Song 6 the King admires her in her wedding veil, praising all the loveliness that he can see, from her eyes and hair down to her breasts. Song 7 is the consummation of their marriage: he bids her to come down from the mountains—that is from her breast—to the garden of her womb, to the sealed spring full of the aromas of desire. She welcomes him into her garden, and he says, ‘I have come into my garden, my sister-bride’. It is not until this Song that he calls her his bride, as he now does repeatedly. Song 7 marks the half-way point of the fourteen Songs, and the Consummation is the first of the two high points of the book.

In the second half, from 5:2, the Princess moves from being Solomon’s new wife to being his Queen. In Song 8 he knocks on her door, but she is slow in responding, and he goes. She follows but cannot find him, and in Song 9 asks help of the ladies, who are conveniently about in the middle of the night: she describes her love in detail. With Song 10 he returns to her—she cries ‘I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine!’ He then tells her that she is his only love, and has captivated him: even his queens and women salute her. They make love the second time: ‘I went down to the garden of nuts …’ We might think her victory rather easy, so in Song 11 the ladies call for the return of Abishag the Shunamite: but the Princess is not having that, and dances for the King herself. This time the praises move up from her feet, beautiful in their sandals, to her arms waving like a palm-tree; not much between is omitted, so she is probably dancing naked. Having now further aroused her husband, she takes him off to the country in Song 12, where she ‘awakens’ him under the apple-tree. In this way she can be hailed in public in Song 13, ‘Who is this coming up from the desert?’, now her beloved’s open favourite; and she makes the famous and beautiful appeal to him, ‘set me as the seal upon your heart, for love is strong as death, and jealousy hard as Sheol’. She can only be satisfied to be permanently with him, and in Song 14 this is put to the test. He is with his nobles administering his vineyard: she calls to him from the garden, and he comes.

August 27th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Does Song of Solomon argue with Genesis 1-3 about human sexuality ?


If, as some critics have argued, the Song’s humanistic viewpoint represents an Israelite poet’s self-conscious attempt to “demythologize” ancient Near Eastern concepts of sacred sexuality — manifest in fertility rites of sympathetic magic — the broader vision sketched in Genesis 1–2 calls into question the notion that male-female sexual relationships were thereby completely desacralized, secularized, or set loose from constraints of moral decision making. Neither in the Song nor elsewhere in Scripture is human sexual love celebrated as “its own legitimation.” It is to be diligently sought after and treasured when found, because it is a vital part of God’s gracious design for human life; it is a “good” gift to be enjoyed and yet, like others, capable of being twisted by human perversity.1

The author goes on to suggest that by looking at these things together, we get a framework for human sexuality. He gives a few points:

  • That sex is (morally) good (think Genesis 1)
  • That love makes sex better
  • Erotic love makes sex steamy and that is good

He concludes…

Human sexual fulfillment, fervently sought and consummated in reciprocal love between woman and man: Yes, that is what the Song of Songs is about, in its literal sense and theologically relevant meaning.

  1. Roland Edmund Murphy, The Song of Songs: A Commentary on the Book of Canticles or the Song of Songs (ed. S. Dean McBride; Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1990), 100–101.
August 26th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Song of Solomon: Kisses aren’t just Kisses, and Love isn’t just Love

Illustration aus: Das hohe Lied, farbige Orig....

Illustration aus: Das hohe Lied, farbige Orig.-Lithographien von Lovis Corinth, Berlin, Cassirer, 1911 (Pan-Presse) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Keel sees Song 1.2–3 pulling from a Ugaritic myth, one of Shachar and Shalim, where the god El bends over two women:

He stooped (and) kissed their lips;
behold! their lips were sweet,
sweet as pomegranate[s].
In the kissing (there was) conception,
in the embracing (there was) pregnancy.1

Bede: But if the breasts of Christ, that is, the source of the Lord’s revelation, are better than the wine of the law, how much more will the wine of Christ, that is, the perfection of evangelical doctrine, surpass all the ceremonies of the law? If the sacraments of his incarnation vivify, how much more will the knowledge and vision of his divinity glorify? COMMENTARY ON THE SONG OF SONGS

Isn’t it odd that it was easier for them to see this as an allegory that led to further allegorizing a God or Jesus with breasts (El Shaddai, anyone?) than it is to acknowledge the plain sense meaning that the woman in question was doing wild and crazy things to the man’s thoughts?

  1. Othmar Keel, A Continental Commentary: The Song of Songs (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1994), 41.}

    The Septuagint of 1.2 sees “love” as breasts. He likewise notes that “Hebrew term for “love” used here” is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

    Several of the sainted Fathers understand this “love” as breasts, but argues for something different:

    St. Ambrose: But why do we doubt? The church has believed in his goodness all these ages and has confessed its faith in the saying, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; for your breasts are better than wine,” and again, “And your throat is like the goodliest wine.” Of his goodness, therefore, he nourishes us with the breasts of the law and grace, soothing our sorrows by telling of heavenly things. And do we then deny his goodness, when he is the manifestation of goodness, expressing in his person the likeness of the eternal bounty, even as we showed above that it was written, that he is the spotless reflection and counterpart of that bounty? ON THE CHRISTIAN FAITH 2.2.32[3.J. Robert Wright, ed., Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 290–291.

  2. J. Robert Wright, ed., Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), 291.
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