Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)
The Bible: long-winded commentaries on the finer points of goat slaughter, God blowing his top about something the Israelites did, and fire and brimstone raining down on us because of how terrible we are. Hmmm. Can't we do something fun today?
Why yes we can. Turn on some Marvin Gaye, think sexy thoughts, and bust open the Song of Songs.
Song of Songs is the story of a young man and woman who fall in love in the springtime and sing each other songs about their feelings… and desires. Yeah, it's a bit steamy and mushy. But these kids have their reasons. See, the bride's family is preventing the two lovebirds from marrying, so instead of being together, they have to write each other love poems. It's like Romeo and Juliet meets You've Got Mail. Best combination ever.
People the world around have found all sorts of stuff in the Song of Songs—one biggie is the allegory for love between God and ancient Israel—but it's not out of the question that these poems were written in ancient Israel for weddings and festivals. It might just be a plain ol' meditation on love.
However you want to read this book (and really, you should just read it—it's pretty short), one thing's for sure: the Bible has never been so romantic.
Why Should I Care?
The culture of love can tell us a huge amount about the world the lovers live in.
Think about how much we can learn about Renaissance England from Romeo and Juliet or what Fifty Shades of Grey tells us about the 21st century. We know, we know, Fifty Shades of Grey may be labeled as pulp during its time (and hey, we wouldn't be surprised if it were labeled as pulp forever), but we sure learn a lot about the lovers of the day:
- What do they do every day?
- What's keeping them apart?
- How do they relate to each other emotionally? Physically?
- Are they more Bella/Edward or more Katniss/Gale?
If you want to have these questions answered for the wayback days, look no further than ancient love poetry. Oh, and one more thing. Love poetry is fun to read.