Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
August 24th, 2015 by Joel Watts

Song of Solomon completes Genesis 1.26-27 (a week’s discussion)

We have a difficult time in reading Song of Solomon. We can easily gloss over Ruth and Esther and they way they got their positions, but Songs is a different animal. This week (24-28 Aug 15) I will focus on Song of Solomon both on the blog and on Facebook. I will attempt to update this page with the posts and Facebook conversations.

It is in line with the basic affirmation of creation, especially of man and woman, as good (Genesis 1). It also harmonizes with the sages’ understanding of sex as portrayed in Prov 5:15–19, and in Prov 30:18–19 (“the way of a man with a maiden,” a great mystery). In the rest of the Bible marriage is usually viewed from a social point of view, the union of families and property, and the importance of descendants. In the Song sexual love is treated as a value in and for itself.1

The Song is hot, sensual, and sexual. It is filled with a building erotica and orgasimic bliss. And it is often interpreted at allegory for God and Israel (or Christ and the Church). There are several layers of interpretation, none really wrong – but each layer should be used for different reasons, with the others not ignored.

English: The Song of Songs (1853) by Gustave M...

English: The Song of Songs (1853) by Gustave Moreau, Oil on canvas, 319 x 300 cm, Musee des Beaux-Arts de Dijon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After all, while I find it blushingly odd that we would use this book as a symbol between God and Israel, the writer of Ephesians had no issue using the symbol of marriage for Christ and the Church.

…the modern view, especially from the 17th century on, is that the Song deals with human love. But for centuries before this, the common understanding of the Song was that it described the love of God and God’s people. There is extraordinary agreement between both Jewish and Christian tradition on this point.2

So, sit in a dark corner by yourself and hide from the eyes of the world. Read it only for the articles.

Other postings:
Facebook Conversations:

  1. Roland E. Murphy, “Song of Songs, Book of,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 153.
  2. Roland E. Murphy, “Song of Songs, Book of,” ed. David Noel Freedman, The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 154.
Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).


6 Responses to “Song of Solomon completes Genesis 1.26-27 (a week’s discussion)”
  1. Star Trek Deep Space Nine?
    Again, I think of Gnostics. Seven of Nine. Hot, but cold!

    • Actually, this brings up an interesting side of the Star Trek series. Spock, more Gnostic than anything, goes into heat every 7 years. 7 of 9, hot and cold. 7 is a biblical number for completeness. I wonder if the writers of Star Trek and its follow-on’s were pulling our leg. Actually, maybe the author of the Song of Solomon was doing the same. But the elite priesthood of the time thought that it was just too good to throw out (much like Star Trek – canceled, then resurrected, then became a cult following), so they had to include it in the OT. Just conjecture, but fun.

      Much more likely than Song of Solomon being an allegory for Jesus and Israel!

      • Actually, the ascetic Gnostics (and even the orthodox Monks in monasteries), had to slip up at least every seven years, otherwise their heads would explode. Thus, including the Song of Solomon in the OT was purposeful. The Gnostics came at a later date, but the earlier Jewish priesthood probably had the same motivation. Call it the Hugh Hefner syndrome. I expect the Jewish oral tradition of Lilith was a similar occurance. Male fantasy.

    • Seven of Nine was on Voyager, you ST:Heretic!

      • 7 of 9 may have been its only redeeming quality. But I am ashamed to say she made it worth watching, even for Gnostics. Although I can not image how she could have possibly put her outfit on. Something like spray paint.

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