A highly detailed study of one of the most beloved sections of the Bible.
Sypher’s densely packed debut is a thorough, point-by-point and verse-by-verse commentary on the biblical Song of Solomon. The author opens his account by noting the sharply divergent interpretations of the text over the millennia; some take its sexual content literally, while others, such as Jewish scholars, take it as an extended metaphor for God’s relationship with his chosen people. Christians, meanwhile, approach the text as a kind of allegorical prophecy involving Jesus Christ’s relationship with his “bride,” the church. Sypher takes a different approach “while not disregarding the others”—an admittedly tricky feat, as the second and third interpretations are fundamentally incompatible, and both Jewish and Christian commentators have traditionally taken a dim view of reading the text as erotic love poetry. Throughout, the author makes canny use of the Song of Solomon’s dual nature in its depiction of two lovers, which leads him very smoothly to discussions of the spiritual dualities that fill the story of Jesus. He also fills out his line-by-line reading with a rich variety of allusions to other parts of Scripture; his interpretations range over the whole of the Bible and are uniformly interesting. Indeed, he subjects every image in the Song to a passionately readable, if sometimes hyper-specific, multilayered interpretation. Many of his spiritual glosses feel like particularly incisive Sunday morning homilies: “Jesus is only Lord of those who will let him rule in their lives,” he tells readers at one point, and at another, he says that Christians are “lovesick, so in love with the Lord.”
A deeply thoughtful Christian reading of the Song of Solomon that will furnish students and experts alike with plenty of fuel for discussion.