Marvin H. Pope, Song of Songs: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary The Anchor Bible (Doubleday & Company, Inc.: New York, 1979), p.25. See also Jack M. Sasson, “On Pope’s Song Song [AB 7C],” Maarav 1 (1980), pp. 177–196, and Marvin H. Pope, “Response to Sasson on the Sublime Song,” Maarav 2 (1980), pp. 207–214.


Marcia Falk, The Song of Songs: Love Poems from the Bible (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich: New York, 1977).


Franchs Landy Paradoxes of Paradise: Identity and Difference in the Song of Songs (The Almond Press: Sheffield, England, 1983).



Recent attempts at resolving difficulties in vocabulary and syntax include Michael Fox, “Scholia to Canticles,” Vetus Testamentum 33 (1983), pp. 199–206, and Manfred Görg, “Die ‘Sänfte Salomos’ nach HL 3, 9f.,” Biblische Notizen 18 (1982), pp. 15–25.


The last attempt at finding a definable structure in the Song is in Edwin C. Webster, “Pattern in the Song of Songs,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 22 (1982), pp. 73–93. Webster thinks that separate poems were arranged in a balanced form within chiasmi. Roland E Murphy, Wisdom Literature: Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Esther [The Forms of the Old Testament literature, 13] (Eerdmans Publishing Co.: Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1981), develops a structure for the Song of Songs (pp. 97–124). In 1979 (“The Unity of the Song of Songs,” Vetus Testamentum 29 [1979], pp. 436–443, and “Interpreting the Song of Songs,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 9 [1979], pp. 99–105), he took a different approach by concentrating on the unifying devices that are used within the Song: refrains, themes, and vocabulary/phrases. In my review of Pope (Maarav, 1979, pp. 192–194), I alluded to the use of “linkage” to obtain such a unity, but such devices necessarily alert us to the activities of editors rather than to those of the poets.


An excellent overview of the methods and the consequence of both of these approaches can be found in Edward Greenstein, “Theories of Modern Bible Translation,” Prooftext 3 (1983), pp. 9–39.


Marcia Falk, Love Lyrics from the Bible: A Translation and Literary Study of the Song of Songs (The Almond Press: Sheffield, 1982). For Ms. Falk’s translation without her literary comments but with illustrations by Barry Moser, see her 1977 book. Interestingly enough, when the poet Robert Graves, who is not a Hebrew scholar, turned his attention to the Song of Songs, he chose to render it into lyrical prose, The Song of Songs, illustrated by Hans Erni (William Collins Sons & Co.: London, 1973).


William W. Hallo, “ ‘As the Seal Upon Thine Arm’: Glyptic Metaphors in the Biblical World,” Ancient Seals and the Bible, edited by Leonard Gorelick and Elizabeth Wiliiams-Fone (Undena Publications: Malibu, California, 1983), pp. 10–13.


Beyond the bibliogrdphy in Pope’s Anchor Bible translation of the Song of Songs, see, for Egypt: John B. White, A Study of the Language of Love in the Song of Songs and Ancient Near Eastern Literature Society for Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 38 (Scholars Press: Chico, California, 1978); Michael V. Fox, “The Cairo Love Songs,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 100 (1980), pp. 101–109, and “‘Love’ in Love Songs,” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 67 (1981), pp. 181–182; and Virginia Davis, “Remarks on Michael V. Fox’s ‘The Cairo Love Songs,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 100 (1980). pp. 111–114. For Mesopotamia, see Jerome Black, “Babylonian Ballads: A New Genre,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 103 (1983). pp. 25–34.


We are not likely ever to place a secure date on the origins of the Song of Songs. Since erotic literature is available to many societies and at all periods of their culture, the content of the Song is especially impervious to acceptable methods of dating; note how often unconvincing cases have been made to date the Song by comparing it to similar delights from the biblical, classical (Giovanni Garbini, “Poesia alessandrina e ‘Cantico dei Cantici,” Alessandria e il Mondo Ellenistico-Romano: Studi Onore di Achille Adriani Università di Palermo Istituto di Archeologia: Studi e Materiali 4 [L“Errna” di Bretschneider: Rome. 1983], pp. 25–29), and—in one startling example that seems to have pleased Pope—the Asian subcontinent civilizations. Scholars have, therefore, turned to linguistic criteria to find a more plausible context for the origin of the Song. This method is very unreliable, however, and I direct the reader to my treatment of linguistic criteria used to date the Book of Ruth (Ruth: A New Translation with a Philological Commentary and a Formalist-Folklorist Interpretation [The Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore, 1979], pp 243–246), a treatment that is equally applicable here. One other dating criterion, one that depends on evaluating the Song’s rich vocabulary for aromatics and perfume, is more promising; see Athalia Brenner, “Aromatics and Perfumes in the Song of Songs,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 25 (1983), pp. 75–81. But it meets with the difficulty of properly evaluating the movements of trade and of cultural words. S. Saviv, “The Antiquity of the Song of Songs,” Beth Mikra 26 (1981), pp. 344–352, affirms an early monarchic date (i.e. Solomonic and traditional) for the Song by offering the fragile claim that Isaiah paraphrased its contents in his pardble of the vineyard (at 5:1–7).


See the article “Allegory” in the Encyclopaedia Judaica.


For a very sensitive, even lyrical, plea in behalf of a theological reading of the Song by a well-known Jewish intellectual, see André Chouraqui, “The Canticles of Solomon: An Introduction,” Service International de Documentation Judeo-Chrétienne 16 (1983), pp. 4–7


A recent discussion of the dramatic interpretation is found in G. Lloyd Carr, “Is the Song of Songs a ‘Sacred Marriage’ Drama? Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 22 (1979), pp. 103–114.


See the works of White (1978), Murphy (1979 BTB) and Davis (1980). Mesopotamia has not produced love poetry that is similarly secular, since almost all examples either are drawn from religious circles or insert Ishtar/Inanna as paradigmatic of the beloved. Recent texts that could be placed in the same category are available in Jerome A. Black (1983); Jacob Klein, Three Sulgi Hymns: Sumerian Hymns Glorifying King Sulgi of Ur (Bar Ilan University press: Ramat Gan, 1981); and Joan G. Westenholz, forthcoming in the Reiner Festschrift (1984). A few more examples, already identified as such, await publication. A most delightful study of the Mesopotamian evidence is available in the recent French edition of a book by Samuel Noah Kramer. Le Mariage Sacré, à Sumer et à Babylone, translated by Jean Battéro (Berg International: Paris, 1983). Cesare Perugini, “Cantico dei Cantici e lirica d’amore sumerica,” Rivista Biblica 31 (1983), pp. 21–41, assesses the import of Sumerian “sacred marriage” texts upon the Song of Songs. Frederic Raurell, “Erotic Pleasure in the ‘Song of Songs,” Laurentianum 24 (1983), pp. 5–45, writes interestingly on the erotic in the Songs.


Meek’s readings were presented in a series of articles and studies beginning in 1922 and ending in 1956: “Canticles and the Tammuz Cult,” American Journal of Semitic Languages 39 (1922–1923), pp. 1–14; “Babylonian Parallels to the Song of Songs,” Journal of Biblical literature 43 (1924), pp 245–252; “The Song of Songs and the Fertility Cult,” A Symposium on the Song of Songs, ed. W. H. Schoff philadelphia, 1924), pp. 48–79; “Introduction and Interpretation of the Song of Songs, Interpreters Bible V (New York, 1956), pp. 98–148.


Sasson, “On Pope’s Song of Songs,” Maarav 1 (1979), pp. 177–196.


Ze‘ev Meshel, Kuntillet ‘Ajrud, A Religious Centre from the Time of the Judaean Monarchy on the Barder of Sinai (Israel Museum Catalog 175: Jerusalem, 1978), and “Did Yahweh Have a Consort?” BAR 05:02; for later views, see Itzhaq Beit-Arieh, “Fifteen Years in Sinai,” BAR 10:04, and André Lemaire, “Who or What Was Yahweh’s Asherah?” BAR 10:06.


Pope, “Response to Sasson,” Maarav 2 (1980), pp. 207–214.


See my comments in “Ruth: A New Translation,” pp. 184–185.


Rabbi Akiva, who went into paradise and alone emerged unscathed, is quoted as saying (Landy’s reading): “When you come to the place of stones of pure marble, do not say ‘Water, water,’ for it is said ‘Liars shall not endure in my sight’” (Landy, Paradoxes, pp. 269–270). It is not surprising to find Landy unable to do justice to this very difficult passage. In fact, he may not even realize that his quote itself contains a quote (“liars shall not endure in my sight” from Psalms 101:7). A fuller appreciation of this passage is to be found in chapter 2, “The Mystical Collection,” of David J. Halperin’s The Merkabah in Rabbinic Literature (New Haven, 1980).


Phyllis Trible, “Depatriarchalizing in Biblical Religion,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 41 (1973), pp. 30–48, and God and the Rhetoric of Sexuality (Fonress Press: Philadelphia, 1978); Elizabeth Cady Stanton, The Woman’s Bible (European Publishing Co.: New York, 1895) [Reprint. Arno Press: New York, 1972].