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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Epilogue: Directions for Reinterpretation.

1.

In contemporary scholarship various trends can be discerned. Some scholars re-examine the possibility of an early, perhaps even Solomonic, provenance for the Song in the light of extra-biblical parallels (Rabin 1973–4; Fox 1985 ). Others attempt to reconcile allegorical and surface (Heb. pĕšat: simple) meanings. According to Rabin, Murphy (1990 ), and others, the possibility that the Song was, from its very inception, a double-tiered composition relating to both human love and divine-human love should be explored. Yet other scholars, such as Pope, look for a goddess in the Song, again an allegory, if of a modern kind.

2.

Feminist critics have paid a lot of attention to the pre-dominance of female voices in the Song. Understanding this phenomenon and its implications, even though it reflects similar phenomena in the love lyrics of cognate cultures, requires further deliberation. Already there is a backlash against feminist appropriation of female voices by way of reclaiming male authorship for the Song (Clines 1995 ).

3.

Ultimately, it is the sheer beauty of the poems, the unadulterated strength of the lyrics and imagery, that keeps it so attractive, be its interpretation secular or religious. Regrettably, part of the experience, the musical aspect of the performance—for songs are there to be performed to music rather than merely recited—is lost to us. Fortunately, in the newly minted traditions of Zionism and modern Israel, many of the songs of the Song have been set to music afresh. I grew up on this music, these lyrics: for me they are inseparable—and intrinsically secular.

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