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This book is also known as” Song of Songs” or as “Canticles”. We do not know with certainty when or where this poem was written. We also do not know who the author is. Historically Solomon has been cited as the author probably because of references to Solomon within the text. Some believe it was written at the time of Solomon (tenth century BCE) others would date it to the Hellenistic period ( fourth to sixth century BCE). Other cultures (Egypt and Mesopotamian)also had love poetry. The Song of Solomon is similar to the love poems of other cultures but not exactly like them. More likely the author was influenced by the cultural tradition.

The poem is dialogue and we learn about love and the lovers through what is said. At the same time, there is not a linear structure. The poem may be better understood as lyric poetry or a series of vignettes or a song cycle.  The speakers are a young woman and a young man with occasional comments by the women of Jerusalem.  The use of “brother” and “sister” are terms of endearment and not descriptions of their actual relationship. Both a male and female perspective on love is presented.

This book has a long history of being interpreted as an allegory. First by Jewish interpreters as an allegory about the relationship between God and Israel. Later Christian scholars was it as an allegory about Christ and the Church, or Christ and the individual believer. Many modern scholars believe this is a poem about human love that celebrates the human experience.

Here are several good sources to aid your reading of the Song of Solomon

Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.

Exum, J. Cheryl “The Song of Solomon” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Fox, Michael V. “The Song of Songs” in  HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.

Weems, Reinta J “The Song of Songs”,in The New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary Vol 3, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1996

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