The Song Of David’s Son: Interpreting The Song Of Solomon In The Light Of The Davidic Covenant -- By: Iain D. Campbell

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 62:1 (Spring 2000)
Article: The Song Of David’s Son: Interpreting The Song Of Solomon In The Light Of The Davidic Covenant
Author: Iain D. Campbell


The Song Of David’s Son:
Interpreting The Song Of Solomon
In The Light Of The Davidic Covenant

Iain D. Campbelli

Evangelical scholarship on the interpretation of the Song of Solomon has not advanced much beyond E. J. Young’s position that the Song is a “tacit parable,” which is “moral and didactic in its purpose.”1 For such an evangelical master of Old Testament studies to declare that there is no warrant for a typological interpretation of the Song2 was to set a boundary beyond which few have dared to venture.

Some of the most recent evangelical work on the Song has echoed the position adopted by Young. For example, Tremper Longman III has written that the book is “a book celebrating human sexuality”3 and Tom Gledhill, in the IVP series The Bible Speaks Today, suggests that the Song is a love poem celebrating the love between Everyman and Everywoman, and warns against a typological approach which only blossoms “into the uncontrolled extravaganza of extreme allegories.”4 David A. Hubbard, in the IVP New Bible Dictionary, has similarly argued that the exegetical basis for an allegorical or typical interpretation of the Song is “questionable.”5 More recently, Paul R. House has argued, while raising important issues of canonical significance in his discussion of the Song, that its testimony is “to the one God who created men and women for loving, permanent relationships with one another.”6 These approaches find common ground in advocating an interpretation of the Song which precludes typology. At one level, there is little to distinguish this approach from the more extreme liberal interpretations of the Song, which regard it as “pure sexual passion without the least trace of religious sentiment, all the more beautiful for that.”7

Yet even after Young had published his Introduction, with its disavowal of any typological interpretation of the Song, Professor Fred Leahy of Northern Ireland raised questions which have not satisfactorily been answered. In an article on “The Song of Solomon in Pastoral Teaching” he acknowledges that the preacher must settle the interpretative question before the Song can be preached, thus highlighting that the path from Song to sermon is fraught with difficulties. He also ackno...

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