A slightly more condensed version of these articles were originally written
for the online mag Examiner.com (now AXS).
My links thereto no longer work, so I am guessing they took them down.
I moved them here.|
Note: Yellow text items contain notes. Hover the mouse (or whatever the equivalent on your system) to see them.
Article 2 Article 4
The biblical worldview is exclusively monotheistic, but there were people in ancient Israel who were drawn to the nature religion way of seeing things. Sometimes they would supply a wife for God to make it possible; on other occasions they would import the foreign religion unaltered (see Eze. 8:14 ). Even so-called "sacred prostitution" may have been practiced at some shrines to the God of Israel. This is not what lies behind the Song of Songs, but such thinking does set the stage for seeing this genre of literature as fundamentally sacred, rather than just as a form of bawdy or romantic entertainment.
It is possible to imagine sacred love (called hieros gamos) poems being de-paganized by substituting the name of God for those of the foreign gods, thus rendering it useful for use by orthodox Israelites. This suggestion may challenge us, but there are good reasons to think this happened with some wisdom literature and possibly with a few pagan hymns. In spite of this, it is a little more of a stretch to get from the gods loving each other sexually to us loving God mystically. Strange things do happen, though, particularly if it turns out that this is the best way to express those kinds of feelings toward the Eternal lover.
The next installment will finally get to the Song of Songs itself, examining the way it has been interpreted and used devotionally in the Jewish community.
The next section
The previous section
|Return to Song of Songs page||
Page: © Copyright 1995-2011 Alan Humm.
Comments and corrections: