Study Guide

Song of Solomon (Song of Songs) Genre

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Love Poetry

When you think of love poetry, you probably think of Shakespeare. Petrarch. Neruda. One Direction. But whoever wrote Song of Songs was in the love poetry business long before those guys.

Doesn't seem like such a huge deal, right? We mean, Catullus was around back in the day, too. Think about it, though. These love poems—the Song of Songs—got put in the Bible. We're used to hearing about marriage, family, and babies in the Bible (often with a little political or social turmoil thrown in), but straight up love poetry? Not so much.

Which isn't to say, of course, that nobody in the Ancient Near East was composing their very-own slow jams. There are some serious love poems in the literature of Ancient Mesopotamia (mostly between gods and goddesses, with the odd human smooch-fest).

More relevantly, Ancient Egyptian love poetry has some serious parallels to Song of Songs—they've got their fair share of poems which have lovers announcing their yearning and desire and using tons of sensual and natural language to do it. There are four enormous collections of love poems from Ancient Egypt...that we know of. They seem to have been a people that loved to love.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Song of Songs is a copycat. By all accounts, the sonorous and sensuous dialogue of Song of Songs puts it in a class of love poetry all its own. But it does show you that the language of lurve was widely spoken back in the day.

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