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Song of Solomon, Song of Songs, Canticles

General Information

A book in the Old Testament of the Bible, the Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs or the Canticles, is a collection of lyric poetry celebrating human love. The tradition of Solomonic authorship does not stand scrutiny. The milieu of the poetry is heavily northern Israelite and the imagery rural, although it may have been among sophisticated urbanites. A reasonable hypothesis is that love lyrics from the period 950 - 750 BC were collected and supplemented in postexilic times and accepted among religious Jews as an allegory of the relationship of God and Israel. The early Christian church accepted this explanation, with the allegory becoming that of Christ and his church. Other scholars interpret the song as a collection of hymns to true love, sanctified by union. The poetry describes nature and the male and female bodies with an ardent and unjaded eroticism.

Norman K Gottwald

Bibliography
G Carr and D J Wiseman, Song of Solomon (1984); R Gordis, The Song of Songs and Lamentations: A Study, Modern Translation, and Commentary (1974); J B White, A Study of the Language of Love in the Song of Songs (1978).


Song of Solomon

Brief Outline

  1. The mutual admiration of the lovers (1:2-2:7)
  2. Growth in love (2:8-3:5)
  3. The marriage (3:6-5:1)
  4. Longing of the wife for her absent husband (5:2-6:9)
  5. The beauty of the Shulammite bride (6:10-8:4)
  6. The wonder of love (8:5-14)

Different scholars have interpreted this book as:

Jews generally believe that the bridegroom is God and the bride is the Jewish people. Many Christians feel that the bridegroom is Christ and the bride is the Church.



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