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  1. November 13, 2013 8:22 pm

    Fascinating! I cannot agree with Clines about the woman in The Song being “the perfect woman from a male perspective,” because I think verses 5 & 6 of Chapter 1 contradict this. She is “black but comely,” and she asks the Daughters of Jerusalem not to stare at her for being dark. If being dark represented the ideal woman in a man’s eyes, wouldn’t the Daughters of Jerusalem be more envious than judgmental?

  2. November 14, 2013 8:22 am

    The woman not only speaks more often but also initiates the relationship and pursues it.

    Suzanne, You’ve done something important by showing that a “conservative” Hebrew Bible scholar has been quite open to showing that “not just women scholars” do show the woman authorship of the Song of Song.

    His one sentence about the woman speaking and also initiating suggests that we readers and listeners of our cultures (i.e., our rape culture all too often) might benefit from reviewing a blogpost by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, saying “In Torah, Dinah <a href="http://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2013/11/on-dinah.html"is silent (or silenced.) And Dinah is raped. I believe that these two acts of violence against women are connected.” (By the way, Willis Barnstone in the Introduction to his Complete Poems of Sappho, names as Sappho’s “aesthetic cousin, the Shulamite of the Song of Songs, who is one of the earliest voices to speak eloquently and powerfully from a woman’s vantage point.”)

    She is “black but comely,” and she asks the Daughters of Jerusalem not to stare at her for being dark. If being dark…

    Kristen, Excellent point. The color of the skin, the Africana histories, inform the readings of the Song of Songs in ways that Longman’s (majority culture white male dominant reading) cannot. For example, here’s a rather long excerpt from Nathaniel Samuel Murrell in the chapter on “Song of Songs” in The Africana Bible: Reading Israel’s Scriptures from Africa and the African Diaspora (my emphasis added):

    Two popular hymns of the Caribbean church in which I grew up were influenced by the lyrics of the Songs: “He is the Rose of Sharon…” and “… His banner over me is love. He brought me to the banqueting table…” Even worshipers who do not read such big words as ‘allegory’ are sure these songs speak of Christ and the church rather than of human sexuality. When my church’s youth group performed a dramatization of Songs, the erotic lines that placated our immature odes to human love were interpreted as a spiritual sexuality associated with Jesus, notwithstanding the anachronism of Songs predating Christ by over four hundred years. [White] Canadian and U.S. missionary founders of our church would approve of no secular reading of the Songs. I learned later, however, from its exquisite passionate intent to ennoble human sexuality that Songs speaks not to Israel or Christ and the church! It is a black woman’s search for her Sugarman….

    Songs offers a paradigmatic ode to love for the celebration of Africana sexuality and interracial intimacy. Weems says it best: “The Song of Songs advocates a balance in female and male relationships, urging mutuality not domination, interdependence not enmity, sexual fulfillment not mere procreation, uninhibited love not bigoted emotions”….

    But Africana peoples have always found the biologistic idea of ethnic purity objectionable and churlish… All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us are Brave mirrors the complicated reality of our saga…. Songs inverts any call for ethnic purity and unreservedly celebrates love in whatever race it is found. It bids us sing a song of Love to the one we love! Who can be born black and not sing?

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  1. cock a snook | Mind Your Language
  2. Woman Translating Man? אָח : ἀδελφιδός :: “brother” : “brotherkin”? | BLT

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