Monday, April 27, 2009

(Almost) Banned Book: The Song of Songs

If only you were my brother
that sucked at my mother's breast
Then I could kiss you no matter who was watching
and no one would criticize me.

I would bring you to my childhood home
and there you would teach me
I would give you spiced wine to drink
my sweet pomegranate wine.
Your left hand would be under my head
your right hand would embrace me.

Song of Songs 8:1-3

Something tells me that the anti-first amendment parents (see previous post) would have a big problem with this book. This book has been a puzzle to priests and rabbis for centuries.
Obviously,they reason, the book cannot be talking about carnal love (thy breast like two young roes?). So, it must have a deeper spiritual meaning. The general belief is that it is an allegory of God/Christ's love for the Church/Israel/the Virgin Mary. The style of the book is very similar to that of Egyptian love songs or those of Sappho, the lesbian Greek poet.

The tradition is that it was written by Solomon, but the style dates it to a period 500 years after his death. The old Church used to interpret most of the Bible as allegorical, so they followed suit with this book.The priests used to recommend (maybe they still do) that young priests not be allowed to study the text, for fear it would incite passions (!)

The problem is that nowadays, people want to take the Bible literally- and that interpretation makes the Song of Songs a fish out of water.

There was some question as to whether this book should even be included in the Hebrew canon- along with Ecclesiastes, which is dark and pessimistic. So, that is why it is technically "an almost banned book".

This book is a prime example for those who contest the depiction of sexuality in literature for religious reasons: this book is in the Bible and it's literal descriptions are as hot and heavy as some Harlequin romances, yet most people believe there is some deeper message there.

Books have layers.


Miss_Nobody said...

"The priests used to recommend (maybe they still do) that young priests not be allowed to study the text, for fear it would incite passions (!)"
experience is the best teacher?

TheChicGeek said...

Really great post :) The Bible has it all and why shouldn't it? God has made us human and how wonderful that we can go to his word seeking wisdom in every area of our life!
Thanks, Sharazad! This was lovely :)

George W Whitehead said...

Perhaps there is no deeper meaning, maybe Solomon just got a kick out of writing rude rhymes! lol

sharazad said...

Lol, George.
I've read some interpretations that say it's possible the book was written against Solomon- who had 500 wives and 700 concubines.
Since the book glorifies the idea of a "single great love", it might have been meant to tell Solomon to stop being a gigolo and settle down with one woman-- of course, not in those exact terms.

Rebecca :) said...

I think it shows that this type of writing is beautiful in its own right and that if the Bible doesn't censor it, then nobody should censor it. Not that I am a fan of censoring anyways. I think the practice should be illegal, but that's just me. :)

Miss_Nobody said...

hi,just dropping by to say you have been tagged at