So, I grew up with translations of Scripture that call this book the Song of Solomon being taught that Solomon wrote it. A lot of people have believed he wrote it because it has the subtitle, provided in the first line of the book, “of Solomon.”
Song of Songs, which is of Solomon, is a much better translation because it leaves the author in doubt and accurately uses the literary device of period poetry. It is the song of songs, is the song, the best of them all. And “of Solomon” could still suggest he wrote it, but we aren’t sure he did. It makes a lot more sense to consider this as poetry in the vein of Solomon’s work.
The man had 300 wives and 700 concubines. I don’t know that I would consider any love poetry he wrote to be particularly significant. Certainly not sincere.
Anyway, The Bible Project guys have made an excellent video explaining the name, themes, and purpose of the book. Much better than I ever could explain it.
I just have to say: I wish it were taught more. Not even because I think the message is so very neglected. Mostly, I wish it were taught more because I think the church could use more direct reminders that the Scripture wasn’t written from our cultural point of view. I think diving into love poetry from a vastly different people would a brilliant cultural exercise for most people in Western Christianity.
Just from the physical descriptions alone. Learning how other people value and express beauty can be invaluable to opening your perspective on the world. Comparing this ancient poetry to love poetry from English history, to modern Israeli and Arabic poetry… There is so much to gained from emphasizing the context of Scripture.
Maybe it wouldn’t make the best sermon series, but I think it would make an amazing small group or Bible Study.