Even as an erotic poem, the Song has much to teach. Robert Alter observes that in much of the world’s erotic literature, “the body in the act of love often seems to displace the rest of the world.” By contrast in the Song, “the world is constantly embraced in the very process of imagining the body. The natural landscape, the cycle of the seasons, the beauty of the animal and floral realm, the profusion of goods afforded through trade, the inventive skill of the artisan, the grandeur of cities, are all joyfully affirmed as love is affirmed.” Solomon is no courtly lover who abandons the world and all to chase after his bride. When he turns from the world, he rediscovers his world in her. That insight alone is enough to justify the Song’s inclusion in the wisdom literature.
A very helpful piece, encapsulating a number of observations that readers of his blog may already be familiar with, but which prove profoundly illuminating in our reading of this book. Read the entire article here.