Subscribe via RSS Feed

Should Pentecostals Interpret the Song of Songs Allegorically? by Brandon Biggs

II. Romantic Love

As previously stated, the proper interpretation for the Song of Songs is a literal approach where the lovers are actual persons who are expressing their feelings for one another in a natural manner. The song portrays “both celebration and warning concerning that most intense and fragile of all human emotions, romantic love, and its physical expression, sexuality.”3 Thus, it is this author’s opinion that romantic love is the unifying theme of the Song, with the whole of the book describing both the pleasure and danger of romantic love.

A.      The Pleasure of Romantic Love

Many have presupposed that the Song concerns a married couple, but there is no internal evidence to support such a claim. Others have supposed that the Song details the excitement of physical exploration. However, the nature of the Song is more than a simple “teen journal entry” of a thrilling date with one of the opposite sex. No. The purpose of the Song is to depict physical love and beauty as a gift from the Creator. “The emphasis of the Song lies in the expression of desire between two lovers. It is not sexual consummation that is most important, but the desire itself that drives the lovers together….Here sex plays a secondary role to desire….”4 Concerning the various descriptors of this romantic desire, the author of the Song uses a literary poetical device from the Ancient Near East called a wasf (i.e. a common type of poetry where the physical attributes of an individual are described).5 Understanding the double entendres, metaphors, similes, and motifs are critical for grasping the theme of romantic love within the Song.

1. Wasf Descriptors

Much of the explicit descriptors within the wasf sections have proved to be a stumbling block to both the early and the modern Church. However, it is just such language that captures the intimacy between the lovers. There are three wasf sections concerning the woman (4:1-7; 6:4-7; 7:1-7) and only one for the man (5:10-16). These sections use some language that is difficult for the modern reader, as well as some language that is quite sexually explicit. However, as it serves the theme of romantic love, these sections contain some of the most culturally remarkable praises that one could ever receive.

a) Imagery of the Woman

The “garden” motif is a common double entendre as it describes the woman’s physical attributes as well as the literal place where their physical encounters occurred. Firstly, the garden describes the physical qualities of the woman. For example, in 4:12-16, “the image of the garden behind its walls and with the gate locked suggests the unapproachableness of the area to all but those who rightfully belong.”6 Metaphorically speaking, the garden is representative of the virginity of the woman. As a side note, though there is a consummate act of intercourse described in the Song, there is no internal evidence to suggest that the lovers are married. Though the term “bride” is used to describe the woman, the term “kallah” is often used to describe one who is betrothed, not necessarily an actual spouse in the legal sense.7 Furthermore, the morality of the Song is questionable at best, for it is probable that the “Daughters of Jerusalem” are none other than Solomon’s harem. However, we have no reason to believe that the Song is a “marriage manual.” Rather, the purpose of the Song is to describe romantic love with all of its excitement, danger, and sensuality as a gift from the Creator.

Pin It
Page 2 of 612345...Last »

Tags: , ,

Category: Biblical Studies

About the Author: Brandon Biggs is a graduate student at a classical Pentecostal institute of higher learning and lives in Texas.

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1259 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Listening for God’s Voice and Heart in Scripture: A conversation with Craig S. Keener

    William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major w...

    Evangelist of Pentecostalism: The Rufus Moseley Story

    Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Reader in Contemporary Christianity and Pentecostal Studies at the Universit...

    Steven Felix-Jager: Pentecostal Aesthetics