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Sign up here to see what happened On This Day , every day in your inbox! By signing up, you agree to our Privacy Notice. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. More About Song of Solomon 11 references found in Britannica articles Assorted References major reference In biblical literature: Song of Solomon allegorical interpretation In fable, parable, and allegory: Allegory and myth In fable, parable, and allegory: Blending of rival systems: the Middle Ages Hebrew literature In Hebrew literature: Preexilian period, c.

Song of Solomon - lyrics (Jesus Culture with Martin Smith)

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Song of Songs - She Reads Truth - She Reads Truth

Uh Oh. There was a problem with your submission. The kind of free association that Cyril of Alexandria engaged in is, of course, the problem with allegorical interpretation. Given enough imagination, you can get radically different messages out of the same passage: the Song can relate to Yahweh and Israel, God and the church, or wisdom and the individual soul.

Equally, you can get the same message out of radically different passages: in that case, why do we need the Bible at all, when by using the same technique you could preach edifying messages from Winnie the Pooh?


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On the other hand, a more typological form of interpretation pays attention to inner biblical connections. It sees the hero of the Song as Solomon, the son of David, the king of Israel. If that is the case, then it is not just a random connection to see the man as pointing to Christ and his bride as pointing to the church. There are two potential dangers with such a typological approach, however. The first is that in its eagerness to draw positive connections between the hero of the Song and Christ, it might overemphasize the similarities between them and overlook the differences. In practice, this tendency frequently pushes typology in the direction of the free-association kind of allegory in order to find Christ in the passage.

The other problem is that this approach tends to downplay or even ignore the specifics of the surface-level meaning of the text in favor of a general connection to Christ. The message that a passage such as Psalm 72 might have had for the Davidic kings themselves, or even for us as we think about our own rulers and political structures, gets completely lost. So, too, any message that the Song of Songs might have about human relationships and earthly marriage tends to get lost or downplayed in favor of its immediate application to the relationship of Christ and the individual believer.

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In response to this approach, other preachers have interpreted the Song of Songs simply as a celebration of human love and sex. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman and embrace the bosom of an adulteress? To use the Goldsworthy analogy, this time the koala is just a koala, and the Sunday school lesson becomes simply a Christian biology class about the birds and the koalas. In the process, the applications to human relationships can become as imaginative and strained as anything ever dreamed up by the earlier allegorists.

There is certainly nothing wrong with biology classes or practical tips about dating and marriage. He declared that the central message of the Old Testament is the sufferings of Christ and the glories that will follow—that is, the gospel. Is human love, even within marriage, the worthy subject of the very best of songs? The Bible tells us that true love is not that we love one another, nor even that we love God.

For the whole world is not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy and the Song of Songs is holy of holies" Mishnah Yadayim Indeed, as the sacrament of marriage was holy, and physical passion was a vital component of marriage, a text depicting such passion was not inherently problematic. There is no evidence that the ancient Jews rejected the literal sense of a writing either before or after accepting it as authoritative Scripture.

The unadorned meaning remained prominent after canonization, even though speculations about additional theological and moral meanings were given. It was contrary to the respect which Jews gave to the plain meaning of their literature to accept only the allegorical meaning. Even Philo of Alexandria , who was the most allegorically prone of all Jews, did not discard its literal meaning.

As regards Palestinian Judaism, R. Hanson has rightly observed: "Rabbinic allegory is characterized by the fact that it never for a moment impugns the validity of the literal sense. Despite the text's acceptance by the Jewish community albeit with allegorical expansions , the early Christians found such a frank discussion of love and sexuality to be both appalling and morally repugnant.

As such, they found themselves relying upon allegorical interpretations alone as the means of penetrating the text's meaning. In some sources, it was also thought to represent the idealized relationship between Christ and the individual believer as in the writings of Saint Jerome , [36] Bernard of Clairvaux , [37] and many other early and medieval Christian theologians. Likewise, though the Protestants generally abhorred what they saw as the excesses of allegorical theology, they generally turned to it as a means of explaining away the unconscionable lewdness of the text.

As one example of the continued ambivalence of the Christian churches to the text, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement, does not recognize the Song of Solomon as authoritative [41] , although it is included in the Church's canon and printed in Church-published copies of the Bible. It appears likely that the Song of Songs was once a popular piece of literature, "a song to be enjoyed on any occasion—including religious holidays—when song, dance or other ordinary diversions were in order.

It is likely due to such popular use that Rabbi Akiba c.

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In a modern context, the text continues to be read by Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews on Sabbath eve, to symbolize the love between the Jewish People and God a love that is also represented by the shared bond of the Sabbath. Also, most traditional Jews read the book on the Sabbath of Chol HaMoed at Passover , or on the seventh day of the holiday, when the Song of the Sea is also read. This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards.

This article abides by terms of the Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3. Credit is due under the terms of this license that can reference both the New World Encyclopedia contributors and the selfless volunteer contributors of the Wikimedia Foundation. To cite this article click here for a list of acceptable citing formats. The history of earlier contributions by wikipedians is accessible to researchers here:. Note: Some restrictions may apply to use of individual images which are separately licensed.

Song of Solomon. Previous Song Dynasty. Next Songhai Empire. Credits New World Encyclopedia writers and editors rewrote and completed the Wikipedia article in accordance with New World Encyclopedia standards. Categories : Bible Philosophy and religion Religion. Books of the Hebrew Bible. Contents 1 Text 1.


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