Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Love in the Key of Delight 1

Church kids, in the middle of a boring sermon, sometimes wander around in the Bible to keep themselves occupied. Those who wander accidentally into the Song of Songs not only wander but begin to wonder just what it is they have happened upon. No matter how hard some well-intentioned parent, Sunday School teacher or pastor tries to convince the young Christian kid that this book — smack dab in the Bible — is an allegory of our relationship to God, it sure does sound like love poetry. So it is.
And we begin today a series on the Song of Songs as a love poem that will lead us into reflections on love and marriage for a few months. I’ll avoid discussing all the introductory problems — when it became “canonical” and the various ways scholars have read Song of Songs — and just say these things:
1. Song of Songs is a love song between a young woman and a young man.
2. There are four basic voices/characters: the young man, the young woman, the brothers, and the daughters/women of Jerusalem.
3. The theme is the love of the two lovers for one another, and as a highlight of this love is the commitment of the woman to her husband as she spurns the wooing of Solomon. So, the Song affirms fidelity and repudiates desertion for the king.
4. Love finds expression in poetic imagery of one another’s bodies, in commitments to one another, and in the adventures of exploring life with one another.
5. I see no problems interpreting Song of Songs as a dramatic play; it could be an original love song of two real people that, because of its timelessness and universal appeal, became poetry scripted for a dramatic presentation. The words of this Song became popular for weddings.
One thing I love about Song of Songs is that love is seen as playful and delightful. So it should be.
My major helps will be J. Cheryl Exum’s commentary, Song of Songs, and Ariel and Chana Bloch’s The Song of Songs. At times I’ll dabble in Richard Norris, The Song of Songs (The Church’s Bible). I’ll do my best to avoid this being a tedious exercise in history and exegetical debates, and do what I can to keep our reflections on love and marriage as they arise from the contours of this poetry.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 2:21 am

Sweet!!! I’m looking forward to this.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 2:37 am

Oh I love this… God has three good blogs all doing Song of Solomon at the same time… right when I started studying it… LOLOL
More Lord! LOLOL
I’m watching……..

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posted April 2, 2007 at 4:14 am

Der Sämann » Blog Archiv » Das Hohelied der Liebe

[…] … ist Gegenstand einer neuen täglichen Serie von Scot McKnight. Der erste Post findet sich hier. Ich freu mich drauf! […]

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Ted Gossard

posted April 2, 2007 at 4:23 am

Sounds like a winner, Scot!

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posted April 2, 2007 at 7:43 am

As you progress I would love to know what you think of Cheryl’s commentary, I heard a number of presentations from it, and it sounded really good!

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posted April 2, 2007 at 9:58 am

I have heard it said that the older rabbis would not let the younger single rabbis read it because it was too explicit. Is that a sort of urban legend or is there evidence for that?

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Scot McKnight

posted April 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

I’ve not seen that, Matthew, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 10:26 am

Looking forward to the series.

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posted April 2, 2007 at 1:25 pm

I was taught growing up that this was written between Solomon and one of his wives, but point 3 suggests differently. Are you going to dwell more on this?

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Doug Wilson

posted April 2, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Teaching through this recently, I appreciated many insights in Richard Hess’ “Song of Songs” contribution to the new Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms series . . . but really loved the presentation of David Allan Hubbard in the Communicator’s Commentary series (aka The Preacher’s Commentary, aka Mastering the Old Testament).

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John Frye

posted April 3, 2007 at 10:12 am

While not denying some valuable “insights” from the allegorical approach to this “Song,” to see it liberated into its intended purpose–a celebration of married sexual love–is long overdue. I’ll follow these entries with interest, too, Scot. Thanks for tackling the book.

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Aaron Pelly

posted April 3, 2007 at 11:40 pm

I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now, but this is the first time I have commented. I’m looking forward to this series. I’m with Krista on point three; I’ve always understood Song of Songs to be a love poem between Solomon and one of his wives. I once ran across an SDA publication that said basically what you said in point three. Because it was coming from an SDA pub., I distrusted it, though it did cause me to re-read Song of Solomon. I still couldn’t figure it out. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.
P.S. I grew up understanding this to be love poetry, and I pretty much thought that the allegorical view hadn’t been seriously believed by many people for quite a long time. Is that really still a popular view?

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posted April 11, 2007 at 3:56 am

Photography by Aaron Pelly | the blog » Blog Archive » Poetry

[…] One of my favorite bloggers, Scot McKnight of Jesus Creed, has been doing a series lately examining one of my favorite poems — Song of Songs. His first post is here; the rest of the entries continue from April 2 on. […]

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