Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Song of Songs: A Plan of Attack

So I've started working through some background on Song of Songs. Hopefully within four to six weeks a post or two will start rolling out here. I thought I'd give you all a heads up on my plan of attack.

This study will probably move slowly, both because I'm sure I'll get sidetracked for various reasons and because I want to try to do a fairly detailed study. I'll be working out of the LXX for three reasons. Two of them are practical - I don't know Hebrew and I need to sharpen my Greek. Thirdly, though, in our quest to recover the 'original' reading (I'm not sure what exactly constitutes an original reading for most OT texts, Song of Songs included), we've often completely shelved the LXX in favor of the Hebrew MT. I'm not so sure that we should for several reasons, two of which I'll briefly mention. One, the LXX represents the earliest interpretation we have of the OT. Second, the LXX was an authoritative version of the early church and became the primary version of the Christian church. It would be a shame to silence that voice from continuing to speak to the church today.

As for modern commentaries I've penned in Pope, Garrett, Davis, and Exum. Longman, Bergant, and Griffiths are penciled in. For non-commentary studies, I'll utilize that of Fox and possibly Barbiero. I'll also use selected pre-modern works. For sure, I'll use the commentary of Hippolytus of Rome, and possibly the homilies Bernard of Clairvaux. My goal isn't to be exhaustive but to be representative. Are there any that I'm missing out on that I should be using, or are any of the above a waste of time? Does anyone know of a good reformation commentary or collection of homilies on the Song?


  1. I'm a huge Duane Garrett fan, one of the best profs I had. I have his shorter Song of Songs commentary (NAC series) and it's excellent.

    You might have already read this, but Pope has perhaps the finest overview of the history of interpretation of the Song in any commentary (if memory serves me right, it's been years since I've looked at it).

    Anyway, enjoy reading a bunch of crusty old Bible scholars writing about sex. That'll be fun...

  2. Yeah, I really liked Garrett's when I looked through it at the library.

    I picked up Pope for precisely that reason. I was really impressed with his detailed interaction, particularly with the history of Jewish exegesis. I've been reading his introduction. It's fascinating how both Jews and Christians outlawed a literal interpretation of the Song.

    Yeah, we'll see how that goes. The weirdest will be reading Bernard of Clairvaux. He was a monk after all.