Dr. Lloyd Carr,  Song of Songs,  Lecture 1

 

The Song of Solomon is a very interesting little book in Old Testament. It’s one of a series of books that are usually classified with the wisdom literature. You know from your earlier studies that there are three basic parts in the Old Testament. There is the Torah, which is the foundation, the law, the first five books of Moses - the foundation which sets the stage for everything that follows in the Old Testament. Then there is the historical books - Joshua, Judges, Kings, Chronicles - those books that deal with the civic and political life of the nation. The prophets fit into that category as well, and they build on the Torah. The nation is the expansion, the unfolding of the effects of the law and the Torah as God gave it to the people.

Then there is the Wisdom Literature. That’s the rest of the books. Books like Psalms, Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes and these books are also based on the Torah - but these are the practical books. They don’t deal so much with the big issues of God dealing with the law and setting up the structure of the government. These don’t deal with God’s activity in the life of the nation the political or the military structure. These are concerned with the people, and they deal with the very ordinary day-by-day activities of the Israelite community.

The Wisdom Literature is probably the closest the Hebrews ever came to what we would call in the western world, “philosophy,” and it deals with the big questions. Why are we here? What’s life all about? Where are we going? How do we relate to one another? How do we relate to God? What’s the good life? What’s the bad Life? How can we avoid the bad, keep the good? These are all the issues that philosophers in Greece dealt with. These are the issues that wisdom writings in ancient Israel dealt with, and these are the issues that we need to face today in our own ongoing society and our own culture. It’s to those issues that the wisdom literature speaks specifically.

The focus in the Songs of Songs, Song of Solomon, is one part of that big issue. And that’s what we’re going to be looking at over the next few minutes, and perhaps over the next couple of hours depending on how things work out here. Now, first off, the book itself – I’m using here the Revised Standard Version, and the title of the book in this version is “The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.” Now that’s just a good fancy way of saying that this is the greatest song that was ever written. The Hebrew idiom Song of Songs is the superlative. It’s the best there is. It’s like the Holy of Holies - the most Holy place. This according to the title on this book is the greatest song which is ever written - and it is ascribed to Solomon. Now we’ll come back to Solomon in a minute but we’ll need to look at that in context of the book itself.

It’s also known by a number of other titles it could be just “The Song,” and it’s often identified as that. The Latin version of it is, “The Canticles,” which of course is the Latin word for “songs.” So it’s The Canticle of Canticles and some times in the literature you’ll see it identified simply as Canticles. Or it may be just “The Greatest Song.” That title has been used in some of the versions.

Well whatever it is, it’s a song, and it’s set to music. At least that’s some of the ideas that’s its done to music in a number of cases. There’s actually a fairly recent production by a Toronto scholar by the name of Calvin Seerveld, who did this as an oratorio. He actually wrote some music for this whole book and he staged it and its been done two or three times as an oratorio; choirs, soloists, singing the words of this particular song.

Now Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s, “that immediately raises a question for us. One, is Solomon the author of this book?--which is one of the good possibilities. Or, if he’s not, do we have any idea who is the author? Or, related to that, do we have any idea precisely when this book was written? Now if it is actually Solomon it nails it down pretty tight for us. Solomon was king in Israel after his father David died and he came to the throne in the 981 B.C, reigned till the 930’s. And if this is his book, actually written by him, then it comes somewhere in that period in the mid 900’s B.C period.

 Now there’s some question, a lot of scholars would reject that idea. Partly on grounds of some vocabulary, partly on the grounds of some of the theology in the book and other things. So you’ll find dates for the book all the way from Solomon’s time, 900’s, right on down to the first or second centuries B.C. One has to be a little careful coming too far down because there were some fragments of this book found at the excavations at the Qumran, the Dead Sea Scrolls people. Those go second century B.C so you can’t come much later than that as the latest date, for the writings of these books. Most of the scholars seem to put it in the post-exilic period. Some time after the exile, perhaps in the 400’s, or even down in the 300’s. There’s no real agreement among the scholarly community as to which is the best date for these.

Partly it comes from some of the questions of the unity of the book. We’ll get into that a bit more fully a little bit later on. The book itself is either a collection of shorter poems which have been organized and structured into this overall picture, or, as a number of scholars have suggested, it is a unity, written by one person, and therefore comes from one particular time. Now there are lots of ides of course and the idea of poetry like this goes back not just to Solomon’s day, but long before that so there may be some roots going back pre-Solomonic. There may be some editing or some working over the text as we come on down into the middle of the period of the kingdom, or into the post-exilic period. My own personal position is that it is probably written in the period of Solomon, although it may have been edited in the next hundred years or so. And so, somewhere between the 7th century and the 10th century B.C. is a reasonably good date for the material here in this little book: The Song of Solomon.

Now if this is Solomon’s song, there are a couple of issues. Was it written by Solomon? Well, that is a good possibility. The text would allow that, although it doesn’t require it. A couple of other possibilities – one, this is a book which is attributed to Solomon. He didn’t actually write it, but he was sort of the great king, the king of golden age of Israel and so the song would be given in his name.

For a verity of reasons, one the fact that he was the great king, this was the golden age, and Solomon was recognized as a writer of Proverbs, he was a writer of songs, and he had certainly the leisure and the wealth to peruse these kinds of activities.

 The third alternative or a third option is that the song is dedicated to Solomon. And it may be in the case that someone else wrote it and Solomon as the great king would be the one to whom this song was dedicated.  A couple reasons for that - Solomon was a great king but he is also the great lover of ancient Israel. A passage in the book of Kings which says that he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. That’s a pretty big harem. Solomon was sort of the Donwan of the ancient Israelite community. So if this is a book, which seems to be related to human love and those kinds of things – and love is certainly a key element of this song--if this is a series of love poems or a single love poem, then Solomon would be the obvious person to dedicate it to. After all he was the great lover of ancient Israel. So Solomon is the author, possibly. Solomon to whom it is dedicated is another possibility, and this one - Solomon the great lover who is the image of what the Song of Songs is all about.

There are a number of references to Solomon in the text. I want to look at those for a minute, to see if this gives us any clue to whether or not he was the writer or the recipient to the poem, or the one to whom it was dedicated. The references of Solomon occur in the beginning of the book in the first chapter, in the title obviously which is here. That may or may not mean anything directly because most of the titles in the biblical material were added somewhere down the line. This has every mark of an early addition, but it is probably not an original title. So Solomon’s name there is pretty much irrelevant to this question - whether or not we need to identify him to the context of this book. In chapter one, fifth verse, there is a reference to Solomon where the speaker, the woman in this case, says “I am very dark but comely daughters of Jerusalem, like the tent of Kedar like the curtains of Solomon.” She is talking here about the building, the structures and the curtains of Solomon are the kind of draperies or hangings which would be very beautiful and perhaps dark as she is herself, but beautiful in that context. The reference here maybe to something that this particular person is aware of in the temple or palace of Solomon but more likely this is kind of a expression that these very beautiful curtains, and very beautiful hangings, and she’s like that. Dark, woven, hangings which have all sorts of beautiful tapestry effects in them.  Nothing here directly that identifies the author of the book in that context.

           There is another series of references in chapter three but I’ll come back to those in a minute. Over in chapter eight the eleventh and twelfth verses - this is right at the end of the book, and again there is a comment from the woman who is speaking. Beginning at the eleventh verse it says, “Solomon had a vineyard at Baal Hamon. He let out the vineyard to keepers, each one was to bring in its fruit for a thousand pieces of silver. My vineyard my very own is for myself and you, O Solomon, may have the thousand and the keepers of the fruit, two hundred.”

 She goes on talking about the ones who are dwelling in the garden with her. Now Does this references suggest that Solomon is one of the protagonists in the book? It may. But it doesn’t necessarily. This again may simply be a matter of Solomon as the “great land owner” - the king who had huge vineyards and other possessions. The woman here is setting up the contrast: her own personal vineyard, which in the context, is probably her own body, her own physical being. This is her own, she is going to do with it as she pleases. Solomon may have his thousand, seven hundred wives, three hundred concubines but she has her own. The reference here is not so much a specific comment to Solomon, but just the general idea. Ok the king has it all, but he’s not going to get this. Solomon there as the great land owner.

Now the other passage where Solomon is mentioned here is in chapter three. His name appears a number of times, starting at verse six. This is a little account - six through eleven in the passage, which is describing a parade; a procession coming up out of the desert. Let me read it for you.

 “What is that coming up from the wilderness like a column of smoke? Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense with all the fragment powders of the merchant. Behold it is the carriage of Solomon. About it are sixty mighty men of the mighty men of Israel all girded with swords and expert in war. Each with a sword at his thigh against alarms by night. King Solomon made himself a palanquin from the woods of Lebanon. He made his post of silver, its back of gold, its seat of purple. It was lovingly wrought with him with by the daughters of Jerusalem. Go forth O daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him on the day of his wedding; on the day of the gladness of heart.”

 Now that little unit stands by itself in the third chapter. It’s in the midst of a search motif, where the woman is searching for her lover. Goes up, goes down the city street looking for him, and then she ends up in this unit with verse five where she warns the daughters of Jerusalem not to stir up love or waken it until it is ready. Then it goes into this description of the wedding procession, and that apparently is what it is. The great palanquin cart that was carried on the shoulders of slaves, beautifully designed silver posts, golden back purple seat, all designed, decorated inside. This is the palanquin that he is coming up. Solomon the king is coming up with the crown on the day of his wedding. Some of the commentators suggest that this passage is related to the marriage we know from the book of Kings that Solomon made with one of the Egyptian princesses.
            It is an interesting little passage, that the king of Israel, a relatively small nation would get an Egyptian princes as a wife. Well according to Kings that happened. It was very unusual for that to happen. There is one of the articles in the Egyptian literature, which says, “No princesses of Egypt was ever given to a foreign king.” But we do have a record here and there are instances apart from that where that actually did happen. So maybe this is the wedding of the Egyptian princes and Solomon the King, no proof of that; it is simply one of the possible suggestions. They are coming up from the wilderness across the desert; coming up to Jerusalem. It is a great procession. It doesn’t tie in specifically with the rest of the poem - this just seems to be a kind of an interlude in the story and many of the commentators think that it doesn’t even belong at all.

My own idea is that it probably is set up as a picture of the glory and the mighty wealth, splendor and the power of the king and the fact that he could have any woman he wanted and probably got. But in comparison to the passage in chapter eight that we just looked at, the girl in the Song of Solomon is not going to fall for his wiles. So she can see the gorgeous procession coming up, and say that it is beautiful, but that it is not for me.

Those are a couple of the possibilities for Solomon and the idea of the royal wedding coming out of this perspective. Now, what do we know about Solomon in this context? Well perhaps it is a book that is related to this royal wedding, it could be that. It has some marks of a royal celebration. We will talk about that a little later.

Some of the commentators suggest that Solomon in this story or this collection of poems is really a kind of literary fiction. That he really had nothing to do with it, but because he was who he was, the great king, the great lover, his name had to appear. After all you couldn’t have a great love poem without Solomon’s name in it. And so, just to make it work they dumped Solomon’s name in at these several places. That’s a possibility, I’m not sure it holds much water, but at least it’s out there.

The third option on the use of the name here and this will get us into another issue, the issue of interpretation, is whether Solomon here is simply being identified in some sort of allegorical perspective. He is the great king. Samuel talks about a descendent of David being the redeemer of the nation, and Solomon, the immediate descendent of David, was that in the early days. Perhaps it’s looking ahead to the ultimate development, the ultimate salvation of the nation, with the coming of the Messiah. If that is the case than perhaps the message here, Solomon as the great king, the great lover, the one who is bringing power and prestige and wealth to the nation is picturing the future Messiah. So Solomon here is simply kind of an allegory, a hint of something bigger and better which is about to come. That’s the perspective, or some of the perspectives, on the nature of Solomon and on whether this is his book. As I said a few minutes ago my own perspective is that it probably was not from his pen directly, although it certainly comes from the period of Solomon. He may be the one to whom the book was dedicated. I don’t think these references in the book would require anything more than that when we’re looking at the book which is Solomon’s, as it is called there in the first line of the first verse.

Now the next problem, or issue, which comes up in the Song of Solomon is, How do we interpret it?  What’s the point of it?  How do we get at what this book is about? and there are about four standard approaches to this. I’ll try to summarize fairly simply and then move to what I think is the most likely of the four.

The first one is one I’ve already mentioned: the idea of allegory. Allegory is a very, very common perspective for interpreting ancient literatures, particularly for the Bible. The word comes to us from two Greek words. One, which is the word “to talk” or “to speak.”  You know about the Agora in Athens where the philosophers gathered to discuss particular issues, well that’s the last half of the word. The first half of the word “allegory” comes from the Greek word which means “other” or “different”. The two words together mean to say one thing, but mean something else. So in allegory you take an idea or you take a statement from a piece of literature, and read it and then you say “oh it doesn’t mean that, it means this.” Now where did that idea come from? Well it goes way back into the 500 B.C. and it’s a Greek idea. First record we have of it is by a fellow by the name of Theogenes from the city of Regium in Greece.

About 520 B.C. he was one of the leading philosopher spokesmen in the golden age of the Greek culture. Theogenes, like many of the other philosophers, had a major problem with the literature that was the religious literature of the ancient Greeks. Particularly the writings of Homer, The Iliad/The Odyssey, and the writings of Hesiod, who was a little bit earlier. The problem there was that these stories of the gods and the goddesses and the actions of the Greek community were not very nice. The ancient Greek gods were a pretty unloving group. They were vindictive, they were cruel, they mocked, and they cheated. They were certainly not the type of beings that you would want to identify as good role models for the population.

Well the philosophers saw that and they realized that there was some major problems with these characters and so they said, “well they’re so ingrained into the culture that we can’t really pull them out. If we dumped Homer, we would lose the basis of our whole religious culture, so we can’t just dump them. What we’ll do, is we’ll just reinterpret them. We’ll make them say something different from what they say.” They allegorized them--say one thing, mean something else.

So the Greek philosophers went through the writings of Homer and the others and they made them say things, interpreting them in such a way, that the message that came across was all this great new stuff the philosophers were thinking up. It didn’t have anything to do with the gods and goddesses. It had to do with what we were saying as philosophers. So the allegorical method in allegory, gets its roots here in Greek philosophers from the 500 B.C.  Now this method of interpretation, this method of study, was focused in the Greek community in these early years. Then of course Alexander the Great came barging through Palestine in the 300’s and conquered Jerusalem, moved on down to Alexandria in Egypt, and established a great university there in Alexandria. Alexandria became the second most important educational center in the Roman Empire and the Greek Empire. Athens first, Alexandria second. Incidentally Tarsus, where Paul came from, was the third most important center for education in the Roman Empire. So Alexandria is a big study center. All the philosophies, all the ideas out of Greece came to Alexandria.

By the 200’s down into the 150’s and 160’s B.C. a lot of Jews from Jerusalem, from Palestine, moved down to Alexandria. Three fifths of the city were primarily Jewish in the first century B.C. So there was a large Jewish population in Alexandria, and Alexandria became the place of a big study center. Translations of the Scripture, commenting on the Scripture, those kinds of things.  Alexandria became a focal point of religious study in the Greek speaking community of the Jews. It was in Alexandria that the Jews learned about allegory. They started applying it to there own scriptures. They had some of the same problems, some of the teachers didn’t like what was going on in the Torah, so they wanted to change it. They didn’t like what was going on in the rest of Scripture, so they wanted to change it. So they began this allegorical method, primarily through the influence of the Alexandrian schools. It began in Alexandria and in the Jewish literature first in about 160 B.C. with a man named Aristobulus and the allegorizing of the scriptures and the other religious literature began to take route in Palestine. 

         It spread from there to two other key figures. One was a fellow by the name of Philo, who was a contemporary of Jesus. He was born 20 BC, so he was twenty years older than Jesus. He died 40 A.D., so he lived ten years after Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. But Philo was one of the ones who, really took a hold of this allegorical method, and applied it to much of the biblical material that he was working with, and he was studying with. One of the books he applied it to was the Song of Solomon. Philo’s activity became then a very important work in the study, in the interpretation of the biblical material.

         By the time you get down to he end of the first century A.D., it was quite evident that there was a big debate going on in the circles of the rabbis, as to which was the most correct way to interpret the Song of Solomon. One of the great rabbis said that whoever sings the lyrics of the Song of Solomon in the taverns and pubs is not worthy of the life to come. Well that tells us one thing - some people were singing these words in the taverns and in pubs. This particular rabbi didn’t like that idea. His perspective was that this was a commentary on God’s dealings with the people and there’s a great deal of literature on this sort of thing. Let me just give you a couple of examples.

          Chapter one: twelfth verse, “while the king is on his couch manard by perfume gave forth his fragrance.” Verse thirteen, “my beloved is to me a bag of myrrh that lies between my breats. My beloved is to me a cluster of henna blossoms in the vineyards of En Gedi.” She’s drawing a picture here from perfumes, from the blossoms En Gedi, the vineyards there, and the springs, and the beauty of that place. With verse thirteen: “My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh that lies between my breasts.” What do we do with this to allegorize it? Well, on the surface it looks to be a very straightforward comment, that she wants to hold her beloved, in her arms against her breasts and that’s the way she wanted to do it. But that was a little bit too risqué for these rabbis who wanted to allegorize this, so they interpreted it in a little different fashion.

         The beloved, in this understanding, is the glory of God, the shrine of glory, the pilgrim of cloud and fire that stood over the mercy seat, the lid of the ark of the covenant, that’s God, and this presence of God lies between the two cherubim on the lid of the ark of the covenant. You say how in the world they get that out of there? I have no idea, but that was the understanding. The presence of God, the pilgrim of cloud between the two golden angels on the ark of the covenant is what this verse means - that’s allegory. That’s taking it to a pretty big extreme but that’s one example of many, many other examples of allegory and the allegorical method.
         Now there’s a second one, allegory, here would reject any historical or literal understanding of the passage and insert into its place these spiritualizing ideas, which in many cases, may have some connection to the text. But, in many cases they are completely and totally removed from any connection with the material, which is here in the text before us. Allegory would then reject the basic historical perspective.

         Second possibility or method of interpretation is whatʼs known as typology. Type is the Old Testament comment or statement, or historical event, which is being described in the biblical text, and then in some kind of interpretive addition to that, whether itʼs a New Testament perspective or a rabbinic idea, there is whatʼs called the anti-type, which is the fulfillment of the original prophecy.

         A few minutes ago I made a reference to the passage in the Book of Samuel where the son of David will rule over the people and will bring redemption to Israel. Well, the type would be Solomon, who was the immediate descendant of king David, who became the king and brought in the golden age. But thereʼs more to that story than appears there in Solomon’s lifetime. Get over to the New Testament and you find a reference to Jesus, as a descendant of David. The promise was made to Mary by the angel that he would sit on the throne of his father David and would bring redemption to the nation. Well, Jesus here is the fulfillment if you will, of the original messianic prophecy in Samuel. Samuel is the type, Jesus is the anti-type. So the typical interpretation of the particular passage, is Jesus is the fulfillment of that original idea. Now, what has that got to do with the Song of Songs? Well, not a great deal directly - but there is one point that does give us a little bit of a clue on this.

          One of the other passages in the Old Testament, which is a love song, is Psalm 45. Itʼs identified in the title as a love song, and it goes on, at some great length to this great song. A couple of verses at the beginning. “ My heart overflows with a goodly theme. I address my verses to the king. My tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe”--introduction. The First stanza:  “You are the fairest of the sons of man, grace is poured out on your lips for God has blessed you forever. Gird your sword upon your thigh, Oh mighty one, in your glory and majesty.” Now over in verse six, in this Psalm 45, we read this: “ Your divine throne endures forever and ever. Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity. You love righteousness, hate wickedness therefore your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows. Your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia. From ivory palaces, string instruments make you glad. Daughters of kings are among the ladies of honor, at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.” That’s middle stanza out of Psalm 45.

         Now the middle idea here is not just that we’re looking at a love song, but over the New Testament in the Book of Hebrews first chapter. Hebrews Chapter 1, beginning at the eighth verse: “But of the Son, he says”, this is the author of Hebrews now talking about God who spoke through the prophet and now through the son, “ Of the Son, thy throne, O God, is forever and ever. The righteous scepter is the scepter of thy Kingdom. Though loves righteousness and hates lawlessness, therefore God, thy God has anointed thee with the oil of gladness among thy comrades,” This is a quotation from Psalm 45, and here in the book of Hebrews, that passage is applied to Jesus, the son. Now, Jesus as the anti-type, the fulfillment. Solomon or perhaps some other king back in Psalm 45, as the type, the one for whom it was first said is  “Now brought to fulfillment in the coming of Jesus.” Now, that’s a legitimate position that the Scripture itself sets out. Now, a couple of problems with taking that principle law and applying it across the board. Where the biblical text of the New Testament does not make those specific applications, we need to be a little bit careful. For instance, in Psalm 45 verse 9 talks about, “the daughters of kings among your ladies of honor, at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.” Now that that sounds very nice. Problem is, the word that’s translated there as “queen” really means the favorite from the harem. She might not have been the queen at all, just a girl he had his eye on at that particular point. So to take that passage and make it into a type of Jesus, you get yourself into all kinds of problems. Typology is a useful method where it’s clearly spelled out in the biblical account, Old and New Testament, but it can be very dangerous if it’s taken beyond what the Scripture itself permits.

            Ok, allegory is: to say one thing and mean another. Allegory rejects the historical. Typology accepts the historical as valid, but then adds a second meaning, an extended meaning. Of course, that’s very common and quite often done. The third option is to see this book as a drama. It’s a stage play of some sort, perhaps some kind of cultic ritual that was being acted out. Will talk a bit more about that a little later on, but there’s a couple things we need to identify here.

            First, this idea that it’s a drama being played out is pretty ancient. It goes all the way back to Origen, who was living in the early 200’s A.D. He identified it as a drama, and, therefore, this could come into a kind of a liturgy, or ritual kind of thing, which was being used by the religious authorities. This view is quite possible, although there’s no evidence for that. The idea of this being a drama is a little confusing. Origen’s idea was picked up, it sort of disappeared for quite a long time, and the allegorical/typology method took over for many, many centuries. But in the 1900’s, a German scholar by the name of Franz Delitzsch, a great Old Testament scholar, picked up the idea of the Song of Solomon as a drama. In his commentary on this book, he elaborates at some length on the dramatic structure of the book of Song of Solomon. I mentioned a while ago, Calvin Seerveld, the Toronto scholar who took this and made an oratorio out of it, did the same sort of thing.

            Now, drama is a little bit different from just liturgy or ritual, and it’s the kind of thing that we need to take a fairly close look at. The suggestion that the Song of Solomon is a drama runs into some major difficulty. The first is that there is no real plot in the book. It doesn’t go anywhere. It goes around in circles. It doesn’t start, move through, and come to a conclusion. Aristotle in his Poetics made the comment that a good drama has a beginning, middle, and an end. Song of Solomon doesn’t do that. It just sort of drops in the middle of the thing, it circles around for eight chapters, and you come back out same place you went in. There’s no progress in the story.

            Second thing is, drama as a literary form, is not known much before the Greek literature. There’s some little bits, pieces of ideas, that goes back, some possibly as early as the 11th century in Egypt, there’s the myth of Horace drama that fits, and comes from about the 11th century. There are some Mesopotamian, and ancient Near Eastern cult dramas, having to do with the worship and the liturgy, but those are not very clear. There are some suggestions, but there’s a lot of problems with those. The difference in both of those, in the Mesopotamian literature and in the Egyptian literature, is they’re quite evidently dramas. There are speeches assigned, there are speakers identified, and there are actual stage directions in the sequence. For instance, in one of the Mesopotamian pieces, it says “you go down from the palace to the temple, and on the way say these words,” “this act is to be done at this point,” and then it will describe that and move on. Same thing with the Egyptian myth of Horace drama, there are specific stage directions. There’s none of that in the Song of Solomon. The speakers here are not clearly identified, some of them are quite obvious, others are not. We’ll come back to that shortly, but there’s no clear identification of speakers, there’s no plot as such, and there are no stage directions. There are things which are descriptors, but they don’t fit the pattern of stage directions. I’ve had considerable experience in directing the drama, I directed the drama program at the college for a number of years, and I know from experience that this simply would not make a good stage play. So, drama is pretty much rejected as a possibility, although it still serves as this periodically.

            The fourth one is to take this as what it appears to be. Some commentators call it the “literal approach.” I don’t really like that word because if you take it literally it doesn’t give you any room for figures of speech, and those kind of things. So many of the commentators identify it simply as the “natural approach”; what does this appear to be? Simply reading it, it appears to be a love song--a love poem. Describing the relationship between a man and a woman, their interactions, the things that they’re thinking, the things they’re going through, the things that they are doing. And this is, essentially, a treatment of very normal human relationship. A man and a woman, and their love as they’re starting to share it. Now, we’ll get into this in a little more detail and some more supportive material in the next round.

This was the first of four lectures on the Song of Songs by G. Lloyd Carr.

 

                Transcribed by:  Steven Veiga, Elijah Langille, Isaiah Ray, Brit Huber, David Hicks,
                                edited by Mark Spooner
                Edited by Ted Hildebrandt