The Song Of Songs Celebrates God’s Kind Of Love -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer
PP 28:3 (Summer 2014) p. 7
The Song Of Songs Celebrates God’s Kind Of Love1
Aída Besançon Spencer has been a long-term supporter of Christians for Biblical Equality—on the Board of Reference and helping with book reviews for Priscilla Papers. She is Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. She has written a number of books related to the Bible’s perspective toward women, such as Beyond the Curse, Marriage at the Crossroads, The Goddess Revival, and, most recently, commentaries on 1 Timothy and 2 Timothy and Titus.
Romance novels are popular, especially among women. Romance fiction sells more than inspirational, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, or classic literary fiction. It had the largest share of the United States consumer market in 2012. What are the two basic elements in every romance novel, according to the Romance Writers of America? “A central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. . . . In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.” More than ninety percent of the market is comprised of women.2
The Bible contains numerous romances, but the Song of Songs according to Solomon is romance that is completely nonfiction. The Song of Songs has passion, competition, conflict, and resolution. Even though the Song of Songs is “according to Solomon,” much of it is written from the feminine point of view. The first and last voices are a woman’s. Almost two-thirds of the verses (62 percent) are quotations of the Shulammite (65 verses) or the daughters of Jerusalem (6.5 verses), while about one-third (38 percent) are quotations from Solomon (33 verses) or the shepherd (11.5 verses).3 Moreover, more than five of the eleven verses of the shepherd’s words are being quoted by the Shulammite (2:10-14; 5:2b). Richard S. Hess agrees: “The female voice dominates this poem to a greater extent than any other book or text of comparable length in the Bible.”4 Remita J. Weems also notes, “Nowhere else in scripture do the thoughts, imaginations, yearnings, and words of a woman predominate in a book as in the Song of Songs.”5 What is this woman like? A lover of God’s creation, she is sensual and passionate. Not shy, she takes initiative, seeking the shepherd, but...
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