So why do I read the Song of Songs, or more to the point, why am I spending so much time with it? Having raised the question a little while ago, I am conscious that I still owe an answer. Or maybe several.
Here’s my first, which is probably self-evident. Then again, it doesn’t seem to be, at least not to most people. As a Christian, one might have thought that the book being part of the Bible would be reason enough to read it. Sadly, that is not, or perhaps it’s best to say no longer, the case. Having been one of the most read, preached and commented upon books of the Bible in medieval times, the Song of Songs features hardly at all in contemporary Christianity and spirituality.
It is easily demonstrated that the decline of the Song’s popularity began precisely at the point when it was increasingly recognised that it celebrates human love and sexuality rather than being concerned primarily, or even exclusively, with spiritual matters (of course, this is not to deny that there is a deeply spiritual side to our sexuality).
So does the Song of Song’s celebration of human love and sexuality (and the body!) lessen its relevance and importance? I would have thought not. Quite the opposite. But that is a different matter that I shall have to come back to some other time.
For the time being, my first answer is quite simply that I read the Song of Songs because it’s in the Bible.