Song of Songs weekender

Hey guys, Thought you might like some food for thought for weekend reading of song of solomon.

Love. What a great idea! Glad the Bible finally took it up.

The more you love poetry the more you like this book. How does it stand up as a love poem? Is anyone willing to find an ancient or classical love poem that even through translation and transcription exceeds it for rhythm and flow? (I will look for some Islamic ones.)

Some of it reads so personal, yet it’s meant for public consumption. So let’s think about who is loving whom in this book: God and man? Man and Israel? “Man” and “woman”? Solomon and his BBW bride from egypt? If all of the above, why?

What about the structure, nothing like we’ve seen before in the Bible: Non-linear. Episodic. Call and response. Tightly focused, sensory moments and symbology that overlaps like rings. Is this product of several authors or poet’s intention?

Before we get all hot and bothered about the soft-core nature of S of S (“open up to me, my sister, my love”), heed some cooler heads on the subject of what happens when you plunge into sexual or erotic love without having the spiritual component. Digging around on the Web, I noticed that our fellow reading group member Pope Benedict XVI delivered his first encyclical, the Vatican’s first in many years, in Dec 2005 on the subject of love. It was called Deus Caritas Est (God Is Love). In it he draws on lots of sources, including the Song of Songs, to make his point that we all love along a continuum between eros (an ascending, possessive, sensual love) and agape (a descending giving love). But watch out, because eros is “at risk” of being downgraded to mere sex if it doesn’t have that spiritual component. Do you all think the Song of Songs encourages love without a spiritual component? (NB: Besides condemning one-night-stands, Pope Benedict has also come out against “unscrupulous adults who, lying to themselves and to [their children], draw them into the dead-end streets of consumerism.” Take that, Urban Outfitters.)

In chapt 2, why does the poetic address use so many nature references: flowers, birds, fig trees, grapes, foxes, lilies and harts. Intention?

Chap 3: The Lover wanders the streets at night looking for her beloved. Later, men around his bed “all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.” Why the note of dread? Why the war footing?

What’s going on in chapt 5? Why does the assignation fail?

Also, I thought you might love this line from corinthians:
“If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor 13:3).

More to come on second half of SofS over the weekend.

bruce

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