Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Reader's Diary #754- The Good News Bible: Song of Songs


"there's a love that's divine and it's yours and it's mine" - Van Morrison ("Have I Told You Lately?")

A couple of years ago I reviewed Sara Holbrook and Allan Wolf's More Than Friends. These were meant to be love poems written between a teenage boy and girl. Had I been better read at the time, I would have noticed its similar premise to Song of Songs, the Old Testament book of love poems.

Love poems in the Bible? Sure! But the question of why remains. The introduction in my Good News version suggests that it is a metaphor for the love between God and the Jewish people, or between Christ and the Christian church. Clearly this interpretation is widely accepted or how else to explain why it was chosen to be part of the Biblical canon. On the surface it's much like More Than Friends, poems written between a man and woman in love.

"Your lips cover me with kisses; your love is better than wine."

"Your hair is beautiful upon your cheeks and falls along your neck like jewels."

I don't know, the secular love seems more the point here, but I'm not writing a theology blog and couldn't if I tried. From a casual reader perspective, Song of Songs is a sweet book, sometimes sensual. The poetry is sometimes simple and if it was written today would sound trite, but other times the rich imagery, utilizing all the senses, and the similes effectively capture the overwhelming obsession of a couple newly in love.

2 comments:

gypsysmom said...

Nice quote from Van to go along with the review and it's from one of my favourite songs. Van has a streak of religion running through his songs. He's also quite well read judging from some of his song lyrics.
There's even this trivia page about his references to poetry.

John Mutford said...

Gypsysmom: Yeah, it seems fitting as people interpret it differently (love song vs. a prayer) Great trivia questions, can't say I did all the great on them. Which is okay, just more incentive to listen to more Van Morrison.