Friday, March 7, 2014

The Song of Songs Read Along the Bible's Storyline

Stephen Dempster on how to read the Song of Songs along the Bible's storyline:
In the light of the larger storyline and the prophetic commentary, notably Jeremiah and Hosea, the love between the two human lovers points to the relationship between Yahweh and Israel at the beginning: "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me, and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown" (Jer. 2:2). . . . 
Short of its literary context, the song [of Songs] could be almost pornographic. But the context of the canon both restricts the meaning to the context of marriage and expands it to include the relationship between Yahweh and Israel. When reading this text, the reader hears Jeremiah's oracle, Ezekiel 16, and Hosea 1–3. There is the reminder of the passionate and fiery love that Yahweh had for his people before the crisis [of exile]. . . .
He concludes, quoting Karl Barth:
The little text of the Song of Songs looks to the end of the larger Text, of which it is a part, when "Yahweh and His people are together and are one flesh."
—Stephen G. Dempster, Dominion and Dynasty: A Theology of the Hebrew Bible (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 207–208.

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