Friday, 11 February 2011

Sherwood Eliot Wirt on Song of Songs

Sherwood Eliot Wirt, ‘Some New Thoughts about the Song of Solomon’, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 33/4 (1990), 433-36.

I read this short article in the early-1990s when I was doing a lot of work on Song of Songs for a course I was teaching. For me, his discussion of the royal language in the Song was one of those happy moments when lots of cogs click into place and you begin to see things with new eyes.

Here’s a bit:

‘I believe that the song was neither by Solomon nor about him. Rather it is a dramatic love dialogue between a shepherd and a country girl, who use the imagery of royalty to address and describe each other in fantasy. To the Shulammite girl, chaste and beautiful, her young love is King Solomon in all his majesty. She sees him wearing a crown, riding in a chariot and escorted by warriors... The young shepherd on his part imagines his beloved as a prince’s daughter, spreading her perfume at the royal table, admired by queens and surrounded by the “daughters of Jerusalem.” In his fantasy she is as fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and majestic as troops with banners. Among the ladies she is herself the queen’ (435).


‘King Solomon, his retinue, his horses and chariots become in this Song nothing but the word pictures and imaginative expressions that lovers use’ (435-36).

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