Selected Sunday Scriptures- #26

A shorter post today, as I hope to devote more time to other posts that I am working on. The first passage is from the Song of Songs:

Upon my bed by night
I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him, but found him not;
    I called him, but he gave no answer.
“I will rise now and go about the city,
    in the streets and in the squares;
I will seek him whom my soul loves.”
    I sought him, but found him not.
The watchmen found me,
    as they went about in the city.
“Have you seen him whom my soul loves?”
Scarcely had I passed them,
    when I found him whom my soul loves.
I held him, and would not let him go
    until I had brought him into my mother’s house,
    and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the hinds of the field,
that you stir not up nor awaken love
    until it please.

(Song 3:1-5)

The Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon as it is otherwise called, is not my usual fare when it comes to reading scripture. But I’ve been reading through the Wisdom books in my bible lately and it is included amongst them. This passage makes that connection appropriate, because there are two important messages contained in this passage (at least, as far as I can tell).

To begin with, this passage makes it very, very clear that women are sexual creatures, just like men. Verse 4 in particular, once you understand the metaphors involved, showcases that women can be just as passionate as men. The notion that women, at least good women, are “pure” and thus uninterested in sex is something that pops up all the time in Christianity. Yet not only is there no scriptural support for that position, scripture (such as this passage) indicates quite the opposite. Rather than examine this issue in depth in this particular post, my next post will  focus on this particular manifestation of the Madonna/Whore complex.

The next bit that I found interesting is the final verse. While it can be read several ways, one interpretation that strikes me is as warning against stirring up “love” before its time- with the love in question being best described as Eros. Essentially, the verse warns the women of Jerusalem (representing the women of Israel I would wager) about awakening their passions too soon. In this case I would equate “too soon” with being before marriage. In other words, women are warned about not stirring up or awakening Eros in a man before marriage.

Now, I think that this makes sense as a warning- it helps to ward women away from sexual immorality. It does, however, create some problems for Christian men looking to marry in the present environment. A number of Christian bloggers and commenters around these parts, and I would be included among their number, advocate marrying a woman only if she demonstrate clear sexual attraction for you. Marrying a woman who doesn’t show passion towards you risks being stuck in a sexless marriage.

So here we have two bits of advice, or two warnings, that seem butt up against one another. They can’t co-exist, because passion or Eros is tied up with a woman’s demonstrating sexual attraction. Or can they? I’m curious what my readers think. Can a woman avoid awakening love, while still expressing enough attraction to a man to convince him that he isn’t signing up for a lifetime of “friends without benefits?”

One more quick thing. I was re-reading Proverbs, as part of writing another post, when something clicked in my mind reading this passage:

15 Drink water from your own cistern,
    flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your springs be scattered abroad,
    streams of water in the streets?
17 Let them be for yourself alone,
    and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your fountain be blessed,
    and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
19     a lovely hind, a graceful doe.
Let her affection fill you at all times with delight,
    be infatuated always with her love.
20 Why should you be infatuated, my son, with a loose woman
    and embrace the bosom of an adventuress?

(Proverbs 5:15-20)

The main point of this passage is a warning against adultery, of course. But I realized that infatuation (I’ve also seen it translated as intoxication, which I think is a better fit) isn’t treated as negative in and of itself. Only when it is directed towards another women is it wrong. If anything it encourages men to be intoxicated with their wives. To me, this passage suggests a strong element of choice- choosing to focus on your wife after you are married, and before marriage choosing as a wife a woman who will intoxicates you easily. Which means that yes, the attractiveness of a woman does matter, and men should consider it when they are marrying.

[Speaking of what to look for when marrying, I’ve been slowly working on a post concerning that for some time now. I hope to finish it later this week, or early next week.]



Filed under Saturday Saints

29 responses to “Selected Sunday Scriptures- #26

  1. Published this before it was ready, so some of you may have seen an unfinished version. Sorry for that. The present iteration is the correct one.

  2. femininebutnotfeminist

    I wonder if by not awakening love, what is really meant is not actually acting on that love? If that is what it means then I think it is possible. As one of those women who has been called “good” countless times, but also is very passionate in nature, I’m proof that it’s possible to feel passion/eros love, but keep it suppressed *just enough* to avoid acting on it before the time is right (as in, marriage). I once commented somewhere (I don’t remember where or when) that it’s like keeping a wild animal locked in a cage, and not releasing it before you should. (Because once you release it you can’t get it back in).

  3. femininebutnotfeminist

    Oops, I hit the button too soon.

    Although even then it can be very hard to not act in some circumstances. So if a woman has strong enough convictions for not acting on it, enough self control and stubbornness to help her do that, and relies on Divine help to resist when all else fails, then it can be done. As for demonstrating that she is sexually attracted to a man, she can do that verbally, I suppose. But she will likely exhibit some automatic behaviors that can’t be hidden or forced, such as dilated pupils, etc. I guess the man can look for those signs.

  4. Donal,
    I believe that one must keep a healthy view of the virtue of Temperance in mind when reading this.

    Intemperance is not passion, in and of itself. Intemperance is passion that has risen to the point where it blinds the individual to Prudence – Wisdom. When it rises to that point is when one must withdraw to seek peace and inner silence again so that they may be able to hear wisdom and pursue each thing in its proper place.

    With that in mind, women are able to have passion and be passionate. They should not stir it by considering temptations of the flesh or rushing into relationships with men too quickly. Instead, they must let their passion grow in accordance to reason as they come to know the man. They must pursue men in courtship, where passions and sins of the flesh will not dim their eyes to the Truth, but where they might come to love the truth and the Godliness within the man courting them.

  5. There is a difference between sexual attraction and sexual arousal.

    In my opinion, the Scriptures are talking about sexual arousal here. Actions by which you’re intentionally stimulating (either emotionally, physically, etc.) each other towards sexual intercourse.

    Also, it may help to look at this from the Jewish perspective from which the OT Scriptures were written:

    1. Pesha (deliberate sin; in modern Hebrew: crime) or Mered (lit.: rebellion) – An intentional sin; an action committed in deliberate defiance of God; (Strong’s Concordance :H6588 (פשע pesha’, peh’shah). According to Strong it comes from the root (:H6586); rebellion, transgression, trespass.

    2. Avon (lit.: iniquity) – This is a sin of lust or uncontrollable emotion. It is a sin done knowingly, but not done to defy God; (Strong’s Concordance :H5771 (avon, aw-vone). According to Strong it comes from the root (:H5753); meaning perversity, moral evil:–fault, iniquity, mischief.

    3. Cheit – This is an unintentional sin, crime or fault. (Strong’s Concordance :H2399 (חַטָּא chate). According to Strong it comes from the root khaw-taw (:H2398, H2403) meaning “to miss, to err from the mark (speaking of an archer), to sin, to stumble.”

  6. Interesting DS,
    Those greatly align with the Catholic concept of Mortal Sin, Voluntary Venial Sin, and Involuntary Venial sin (with a an area of non-sin as you fight temptation. Not a sin if you fight it immediately and with great force. Sin if you are slow to fight it or give into it).

    Thanks for linking that Wikipedia article, it was a really good read and interesting. I might have to ask my priest if he knows of any writings he’d recommend comparing the ways Sin is discussed in the Old Testament and within the New Testament. I haven’t noticed too much difference beyond the ways in which we overcome sin (sacrifices at the temple vs Christ’s sacrifice), and the manners in which each of those entails. Also of note is the passages in either 1 Kings or 2 Kings where Solomon asks God to allow those of the tribes unable to get to the temple for sin offerings to be able to pray to God in the direction of the temple to atone for sin instead.

    Sorry for that brief off topic Donal. I just found it really interesting.

    But this passage does seem to point to the idea that Christ vocalized directly – that those whom desire and contemplate sexual acts have committed them in their hearts even if they have not performed the act. As you pointed out in the original post, it is also a good passage for it acknowledges women’s own fallen nature, where those that analyze Christ’s own vocalization of such look over the fact that his audience was a group of men. As such, he was addressing them and denouncing their sins in particular. Such words do not mean that woman are suddenly free of that same sin; yet many in churches today do exactly that either explicitly or implicitly.

  7. @ Chad

    Jesus was addressing Avon (or voluntary venial if that’s the correct term) when He talks about lust in the heart. It’s voluntary and you’re dwelling on it. This is why Paul states that we should take every thought captive to Christ in order to avoid Avon.

    In terms of say involuntarily seeing pornography if you have popup issues on your computer that would fall under Cheit (or involuntary venial).

    I believe the passage in Song of Songs is talking about Avon and Pesha in particular… where you are intentionally rebelling or you are committing a voluntary sin of lust (awakening love… or arousal towards sexual intercourse) not in the context of marriage.

  8. Sorry for not addressing folk’s comments yet. I’m behind in things I need to do, and so really need to focus on them for the time being.

    @ Chad

    Don’t worry about going off-topic. These posts are the perfect opportunity to discuss matters of faith. So go ahead.

  9. @ DS
    Yes. You’re immediately grasping the concept and the terminology I was using exactly right.

    I’m particularly excited because I hadn’t come across very many references to what lies within a man’s heart that were as explicit as this within the Old Testament. Those that are mostly are with regards to Humility before God and a Holy Fear of the Lord. References to it in other areas are all over the place; but it isn’t until the New Testament with Christ and the apostles that it is said more directly.

    Of course, this might be partially my fault as well. I’ll admit I read Song of Solomon last week and was utterly baffled by the book, to the point where I got a 400 page book examining it as both directly related to marriage as well as allegorical to the relationship between God’s chosen people and himself. I also haven’t gotten into the prophets yet, whom I’m guessing are a bit more….. forthright in teaching God’s laws, than the histories and books of wisdom.

    Regardless, this is a beautiful example of the fact that there are loves and passions which men and women can participate in without sin. However, we must not stir those passions up to where they dim our eyes to God’s beauty with sin, but put those passions in their rightful place. Desiring a loving marriage and being attracted to your potential spouse is not sinful. Letting passions of the flesh blind you to whom the spouse really is, preventing you from properly loving them, is a HUGE issue. We cannot love what, or whom, we do not know. The more we allow our thoughts to wander from the truth, to allow them to partake in fantasies of sex or even fantasies of how perfect our marriage will be with an individual that blind us to the realities of who they are, are sinful.

    Such delusions of intimacy can be physical or not. Either way they create an alternate person whom you begin to feel passion for instead of loving the person right there in front of you as God would have you love them – with all their strengths and their weaknesses, just as he does. Such knowledge and love will inform a persons reason on how best the person should be loved, and if that involves marriage between you or not.

    Stir not up nor awaken love until it please.
    Let her affection fill you at all times with delight, be infatuated always with her love

    Beautiful lines. I can only pray that I will find such a love that I stand in constant awe of it. I have that from God already, but to find it from another human?

    I, quiet literally, can’t imagine what that would look like.

  10. Elspeth

    I agree that since we choose our mates we should choose someone we’re attracted to, but so much of what you said on the topic smacks of modernity.

    You do realize when these verses were written people didn’t choose their own spouses and sometimes married them sight unseen?

    I believe a lot of this is reference to not having sexual ties to anyone before your spouse so that intoxication with them and only them is markedly easiest. If you’ve only ever bonded sexually with that person, life and marriage are infinitely more pleasurable.

    I am NOT advocating marriage to someone you’re not attracted to. I am saying that you stretching those verses beyond credulity.

  11. Elspeth

    Feel free to correct my misspellings. This is why I shouldn’t type long comments on my phone.

    [DG: Done.]

  12. @ Elspeth

    You do realize when these verses were written people didn’t choose their own spouses and sometimes martied them sight unseen?

    Incorrect. Although parents did sometimes choose spouses they never married them unseen.

    Nevertheless, Judaism does not ignore the physical component of sexuality. The need for physical compatibility between husband and wife is recognized in Jewish law. A Jewish couple must meet at least once before the marriage, and if either prospective spouse finds the other physically repulsive, the marriage is forbidden.

    I’ve mentioned this before but this is also of interest:

    Sex is the woman’s right, not the man’s. A man has a duty to give his wife sex regularly and to ensure that sex is pleasurable for her. He is also obligated to watch for signs that his wife wants sex, and to offer it to her without her asking for it. The woman’s right to sexual intercourse is referred to as onah, and it is one of a wife’s three basic rights (the others are food and clothing), which a husband may not reduce. The Talmud specifies both the quantity and quality of sex that a man must give his wife. It specifies the frequency of sexual obligation based on the husband’s occupation, although this obligation can be modified in the ketubah (marriage contract). A man may not take a vow to abstain from sex for an extended period of time, and may not take a journey for an extended period of time, because that would deprive his wife of sexual relations. In addition, a husband’s consistent refusal to engage in sexual relations is grounds for compelling a man to divorce his wife, even if the couple has already fulfilled the halakhic obligation to procreate.

    Although sex is the woman’s right, she does not have absolute discretion to withhold it from her husband. A woman may not withhold sex from her husband as a form of punishment, and if she does, the husband may divorce her without paying the substantial divorce settlement provided for in the ketubah.

    This tradition and background is where I believe Paul’s exposition on 1 Corinthians 7 on conjugal rights stems from since he was a Pharisee of Pharisees but also saved by the Grace of God.

    Note that refusal of sexual relations was grounds for divorce in Jewish culture, but it is clear that Jesus came against that which has support in Genesis — what God has put together let man not separate.

  13. @ Eslpeth
    Maybe Donal understands what you’re trying to say about his post and writing, but I do not.

    Could you clarify how you think he’s stretching them beyond credulity through a modern perspective on the verses? I went through, reread the second and third chapters of Song of Solomon, then reread his post, and am not seeing any stretching of the verses to fit modernity.

  14. Elspeth

    I will get back to you tomorrow Chad.

  15. mdavid

    Elspeth, …so much of what you said on the topic smacks of modernity. You do realize when these verses were written people didn’t choose their own spouses and sometimes married them sight unseen?

    I agree this is a tough subject for us moderns to understand within a proper historical context. First, the harsh poverty. For many, a hard day’s labor barely covered their needed caloric intake to perform it. Add in no medical or dental care, high child mortality due to poor nutrition, and one gets family relations that are tribal, with cousin and very young marriages not at all uncommon, if only for economic and safety reasons. This “living on the edge” puts sex and marriage into a far more practical affair, be it prostitutes or arranged marriages. Biblical passages probably reflects a different outlook than ours.

    I knew a Brit working in Africa (oil) who talked about how young prostitutes would seek him out and sleep with him no charge, merely for the chance at a good meal. He said once you got used to the unburied bodies lying around, you began read and think about history and your own culture within another context. Knew a South American who worked the same field with similar experiences, but since his context was so different I had to slip in casual questions now and again to get it within my context. Culture matters a lot in understanding what is actually being expressed.

  16. I’ll hold off saying anything more until after Elspeth has replied. I think I know what she is concerned about, because after I re-read my post I saw how it could lead someone to a different interpretation of what I said then what I meant. Also, it was just a sloppy post all around. Not well thought out, more stream of consciousness than anything else. Which is why I don’t mind it when people rip it apart. Helps keep me on my toes.

  17. Elspeth

    Thank you all for waiting for me to elaborate.

    My point was not that Donal’s entire post was problematic. In its entirety, it was actually quite good. My issue was with this, in light of how differently marriages were arranged when compared with the way marriages are entered into today in the West:

    If anything it encourages men to be intoxicated with their wives. To me, this passage suggests a strong element of choice- choosing to focus on your wife after you are married, and before marriage choosing as a wife a woman who will intoxicates you easily.

    Nothing about the way marriages were done prior to the age of Romanticism indicates that this is what the writer meant to imply. In fact, given that the preponderance of Scripture expressly warns us against taking our feelings too seriously, I am just not sure that Donal sees how dangerous his interpretation of is. It is modern, not Scriptural.

    For the purposes of making my point, this may get more sexual than I am used to. But I don’t know any other way to say it, so I’m just going to say it.

    If the only person you have ever had sex with or experienced orgasm with is your spouse, it shouldn’t be a huge leap from there to being “intoxicated” with your spouse. And that intoxication is only to be experienced within the context of marriage. Not outside of it, and not before it (See my post here, which links back to Dalrock’s very excellent post on the subject).

    As it turns out, Boxer left a good comment at Dalrock’s recently that echoes something I have tried to teach my girls:

    Be heavily invested in looking for intangibles and righteousness and not be so easily swayed by outward trappings. Again, not that you shouldn’t be attracted to your spouse, but that being easily intoxicated is probably not the best sign in most cases. Not every case, which I can testify to, but most. Besides, it has been duly noted time and again that my marriage is the exception, and I accept that this is true.

    I find it odd that the general consensus in the sphere is that if a woman is enthralled early on, she should probably run for her life, and then read something like this.

    If I had read evidence that a significant portion of arranged marriages were unhappy, I wouldn’t be so strident about this, but everything I’ve read implies just the opposite. And we all know what the vast majority of Western marriages, born of intoxication, end up as.

  18. Elspeth

    For the record, I can see where part of my comment may have left open that I am accusing Donal of condoning or encouraging premarital sex.

    I meant to imply no such thing as I appreciate the strength of his conviction of the subject of chastity as expressed on his blog numerous times.

  19. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ Chad,

    I’m curious about this 400 page book you’re talking about. What’s it called and who wrote it? Granted, I have a few others in line to read first (well, more than a few, heh). But that one sounds absolutely fascinating to me, and right up my alley.

  20. Eslpeth

    I do note and agree with you on arranged marriages. The part of proverbs quoted is for men -after- they have married, not before. To me, the heart of that lesson is that you should be able to be intoxicated by the love of your wife.

    Note I said love, and not appearance.

    Im very much in line with the comment by boxer you linked. I’ve gone over my own strengths and weaknesses in terms of attraction before as relates to looks vs femininity, so I won’t again.

    However, I will note that song of Solomon specificly depicts a couple that knew each other before hand and does not address any courtship in the scripture. While I think you’re absolutely right that we must keep in mind arrangements of marriage, I think the book has a great deal to teach on courtship as well. The woman sat in the shadow of her love, just as psalms often depict David and Israel as resting under the shadow of God’s wings. The woman grew to respect and love her the one her soul loved.

    And, in that context, she says not to stir up passions before their time. She then goes on to list qualities of her bridegroom. While such can have adoration attached to them, if they are true they are also a sign that she has not been overwhelmed by her passions to worship a false image of her passions, rather than grow to love the real man.

    Which, to me, is the lesson God is trying to teach in this passage. Not to let our passions, pride, and Vanity come between us as humans in our quest for God and to love each other as God loves us. Only in this context can marriage be healthily pursued. This leaves room for arranged marriages and courtship both, while also addressing faulta that can come up in both. It doesn’t eliminate them, but informs parents and the two potential spouses how to act and think in order to overcome the challenges and their own weaknesses

  21. @FBNF
    I haven’t started reading it yet, and am unfamiliar with who its by. I’ll get that to you when I get home this evening

  22. @ Elspeth

    You are correct, I did go beyond the meaning of that verse from Proverbs, at least with regards to the second part of what you quoted there. If I gave the impression that the verse stated as much, which it sounds like I did, then I apologize; it wasn’t my intent. I was attempting to expand on the wisdom contained within by making an inference or two based on its original premise. Essentially, applying that logic yet further.

    Also, I am not saying that you should marry someone you are intoxicated with. As you point out, that is an awful idea and scripture warns against it. What I was trying (and failing) to say was that you should marry someone with whom you can become intoxicated easily… after you are married. Not before. Linking back to the Song of Solomon passage, don’t awaken love too early. Eros is something that should be kindled -after- you say your vows, not before. Physical attractiveness is a large part of that, but not the only part. Personality also plays an important role as well- those married couples that I know who are the most intoxicated with one another have personalities that mesh well. What you are looking for is compatibility. [And of course, after marriage you need to choose to work at that creating and sustaining that intoxication, and working through those times when it wanes.]

    If the only person you have ever had sex with or experienced orgasm with is your spouse, it shouldn’t be a huge leap from there to being “intoxicated” with your spouse.

    Honestly, I’m not sure this is the case. I think it helps make it easier, but I don’t think will be sufficient in and of itself. Physical and Personality compatibility dominates.

    Also, that first link you left didn’t work.

    And yes, Boxer described a quality woman there. I hope she finds a quality man. Although that bit about wanting to immediately go out on a mission is a possible red flag according to some of the Protestant men around here.

    Going back to your original comment…

    You do realize when these verses were written people didn’t choose their own spouses and sometimes married them sight unseen?

    Incorrect, as Deep Strength pointed out. I’ll leave his comment as is, and add this:

    While sometimes fathers did choose spouses for their children, it was not sight unseen. And there are plenty of examples in scripture where men and women choose their own spouses. Not all of these end poorly, even.

    I believe a lot of this is reference to not having sexual ties to anyone before your spouse so that intoxication with them and only them is markedly easiest. If you’ve only ever bonded sexually with that person, life and marriage are infinitely more pleasurable.

    I may have taken the passage out of context, but so have you. You are stretching that passage, which was clearly warning against adultery, well beyond its writer’s intent. It was in no way saying or implying that men shouldn’t sleep with other women before marriage. While chastity is a virtue that should be lauded, and premarital sex for men is sinful, the passage from Proverbs doesn’t address it explicitly. In fact, it doesn’t address male chastity period. You need to look elsewhere, such as Tobit or Sirach to find that.

  23. @ Chad

    Song of Songs does have some application to courtship, especially in warning against awakening love (sensual love) too soon.

    The woman sat in the shadow of her love, just as psalms often depict David and Israel as resting under the shadow of God’s wings.

    While I admire your ability to draw a connection to imagery of wings, a sexual reference is more likely as to what that verse is about. Most of the language in the Song contains sexual references, some more subtle than others. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an additional purpose or meaning present, but don’t make my mistake and draw too much out of it.

  24. Elspeth

    That was supposed to be a link to “Romance and Marriage… Go Together Like a Horse and Carriage?”

  25. @ Donal
    I don’t know if we’ll find agreement on this one. The more I put forth a cursory research on it, the more I find that the book is meant to be mainly allegorical as the relationship between Christ and the Church, as well as the journey of a soul towards sainthood. From what I’m seeing, a great many saints and doctors considered it as such, and a council declared it as such around 550 AD at the second council of Constantinople.

    As it is cursory, I will honestly say that I have no grasp of the reasons why the saints or the council declared it as such.

    However, here are the Psalms I mentioned that this reminded me of.

    Psalm 63:5-8
    My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat,
    and my mouth praises you with joyful lips,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
    for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
    My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me

    Psalm 17:6-9
    I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
    incline your ear to me, hear my words.
    Wondrously show your mercies,
    O savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.
    Keep me as the apple of the eye;
    hide me in the shadow of your wings,
    from the wicked who despoil me,
    my enemies who surround me.

    Take those two, and compare it to the language and the actions of Song of Solomon 2:3-7

    As an apple tree among the trees of the wood,
    so is my beloved among young men.
    With great delight I sat in his shadow,
    and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
    He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his banner over me was love.
    Sustain me with raisins,
    refresh me with apples;
    for I am sick with love.
    O that his left hand were under my head,
    and that his right hand embraced me!
    I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the deer of the field,
    that you stir not up nor awaken love
    until it please

    There’s simply too much similarity between the passages for me to dismiss it out of hand. Likewise, while not as explicit as these two particular passages, there’s a great many times in Psalms where David, Israel, or Jerusalem are treated as such by asking God to rest within his shadow, to find his favor, or feast at his banquet. Apples and fruits have a great deal of meaning attached to them, obviously, both with the fall and with David being the apple of God’s eye; along with fruits of our labors and of the spirit. Add in references to the right hand…

    Well, let me just say that this short book in the Bible has suddenly greatly drawn a very focused amount of attention from me.

    @ FBNF
    On that note, the book I got that I’ll be reading is The Song of Songs by Father Juan G Arintero. Here’s the amazon link:

    It’s pricey, and I’m suddenly glad my Priest loaned it to me. I’d recommend looking around at used book websites.

  26. femininebutnotfeminist

    @ Chad,

    Oy, that is pricey! (Starting at almost $50 used, if anyone else planned on checking). To my wish list it goes for now. Hopefully I can find it elsewhere cheaper. If not I might end up breaking my frugal self down and getting it anyway. It really does appeal to me that much. Thank you for linking it Chad 🙂

  27. @ FBNF
    Check around other used book sites. Amazon is actually one of the worst for buying books used.

    My confirmation sponsor had some app or website that would track specific books for deals. I’ll check with him what it was – I’ve been too overwhelmed with reading books my Priest tells me to read to spend time or money on yet more books (besides when I wander into a used book store and drop 30 dollars on 10 books).

  28. @ Chad

    I found a great resource many moons ago that covered Song of Songs in depth. I wish I still had the link, but don’t any more. Anyways, the author of the piece went into great detail about the Song, tying in Scripture just as you did with the Psalms. He also brought in a lot of history and cultural context, helping make sense out of a lot of it.

    Basically, Song of Songs is rife with double (sometimes even triple) meaning. On the one hand it is a tale of two lovers, and is quite sexual in nature. Nearly all of the language was borrowed from erotic love poems of the surrounding cultures of the era. Even things you and I wouldn’t take as sexual were back then, in the proper context. On the other hand you have an extended allegory of the love that Israel is supposed to have for Lord, and the Lord has for Israel. The important thing the resource emphasized is that both were equally applicable- it was the intent of the writer to convey multiple meanings at once. I can’t remember if it was Prot or Catholic in nature, but I do remember the scholastic work was quite good.

    Regarding the verse with the shadow of her love, you make a good case for that interpretation, although there is no reference to “wing” in the Song (which from my understanding is an important part of the metaphor- of course, it could simply be implied).

    I am curious to see what more you have to say of it, especially if you decide to write a post. I will admit that my reading and mention of it was cursory. Perhaps I should go through it again, both in light of the Psalms as well as the prophets (especially those who use bride metaphors for Israel).

    From what I’m seeing, a great many saints and doctors considered it as such, and a council declared it as such around 550 AD at the second council of Constantinople.

    Interesting. Part of me wonders though, if those later fathers of the Church were influenced by some of the questionable theology at the time concerning sex and marriage. That time period was one where more than a few theologians were arguing that human sexuality was sinful, and that sex should only be for the purpose of begetting children. Considering the sexual nature of the Song, I could easily see them arguing for a purely allegorical interpretation in order to better mesh with their beliefs. [Incidentally, there were some other theologians who basically argued that married priests should either live celibate lives or leave their wives. This particular belief was more prominent in the West than in the East, where it was vigorously rejected.]

  29. @ Donal
    Wow. Thanks for the in depth response. I definitely agree that there is a great deal beig said in relation to husbands, wives, and those whom are engaged (and would argue for courtship as well, as I have). I haven’t changed my thoughts on that so much as…. added depth to them. I see a hint of depth and long to explore. I hope the book I have is as good as the one you read.

    I’ll certainly let you know what I find.

    As far as church history, thanks for sharing. I was about to post a brief comment that I think I at once came off more arrogant than I intended as well as needing to admit I don’t know if any saints disagreed with the allegories or councils later expanded upon the one I mentioned. I know I have confirmation bias right now. All the above is mainly due to my excitement for the subject. Hopefully that will endure and lead me to a bit of wisdom. I’ll make sure to check any saints of the time and their later… acceptance of thought as the Church grew in age and in wisdom

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