Song of Songs by Tremper Longman III
I have not been such a fan of commentaries, having been exposed to too many conservative ones, but this one is a delight! Here is a good review of the book overall. The review does mention that he does not refer to Ariel and Chana Bloch’s book The Song of Songs: A New Translation with an Introduction and Commentary (New York: Random House, 1995), nor Renita Weems in C. Newsom and S. Ringe, eds., The Women’s Bible Commentary[Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1992], pp. 156-60). The only other question I have is was it really necessary to reference Keil and Delitzsch. They have such terrible views on women. (See there views on Gen. 3:16 here.) So those are my reservations. Otherwise it is really informative and considers a wide range of interpretation.
First, Longman supports the possibility that Song of Songs was at least in part written by women. He regards the book as a collection of poems, some of which could easily have female authors. After some discussion about female authorship, he writes, page 8-9,
It is not just women scholars who argue for this position; they are also joined by F. Landy and A. LaCocque. Indeed the latter quotes the former as he states his opinion that “the author of the Song was a female poet who intended to ‘cock a snook at all Puritans.'” In other words, according to both these commentators, the Song was written by a woman who was resisting social norms, including the idea that women should be receivers and not initiators of love.
Against the rising tide supporting the idea of female authorship of the Song, comes D. J. A Clines, always reading against the grain.”In a nutshell, his opinion is that the woman of the Song is the perfect woman from a male perspective, the ideal dream of most men, and thus a fabrication by men. He believes that the book was written by men in order to meet the need “of a male public for erotic literature.”
The most honest appraisal is that we do not know for certain who wrote the songs of the Song, a man or a woman, and in any case it is a collection of love poetry, whether by men, or women, or both. It strikes me, though, that Clines is the most egregious of these commentaries since his view relies on the supposition that no woman would have an interest in the kind of love that the beloved articulates.
So Longman just gives us the views of others, but identifies the male author theory of Clines as the least appealing. Longman later writes, page 15,
We begin with the woman because she is by far the most dominant presence in the Song. She speaks more frequently than the man, and, when the latter speaks, he often speaks of her. … The woman not only speaks more often but also initiates the relationship and pursues it. She frequently expresses her desire for the man; she even overcomes threats and obstacles to be with him.
And later, writing regarding the man, page 16, Longman reinforces mutuality,
He is desired to be sure, but he also desires her. She pursues him, but he also pursues her.
There is nothing in this commentary about Sappho, but much about Egyptian and Mesopotamian poetry. Much to appreciate in this book. This connects also with Bauckham’s chapter in Gospel Women on Female Power and Male Authority.