Article Index

Song of Songs

Introduction

Songs of Songs has the same name as Bhagavad Gita, both books have this title that means, ‘the greatest song of all’. Neither the Bhagavad Gita nor Song of Songs are especially beautiful musical pieces of music or poetry. Their beauty however lies in the fact that they sing of the most beautiful topic known to humankind - the ecstatic union of the soul with the Spirit.

Song of Songs is different to any other Scripture in many ways. The most striking difference however lies in that it does not describe The Way to union, or even the process of deification, er even the moral lessons so often found in Scripture. Song of Songs is dedicated to describing the experience of unification with the Divine Lover. Theosis is the Way, the process of becoming in Christ, and most Scripture is dedicated to throwing light on this path. The goal or aim of theosis culminates in henosis, the union with the Energies of God. This is what Song of Songs is about, a description of the henosis experience.

The uninitiated reader will probably find the book overly sensual, repetitive and pointless. Song of Songs is pointless because it does not tell a progressive story. It tells of of an existential spiritual experience, a spiritual sensation.

The initiated reader will immediately recognise the familiar overtone of yearning, and the repetitive undertone of sensual fulfilment. The mystic having been emptied of all desires and ego needs, and have placed the humble feminine Spiritual Mind (6th chakra), in charge of the being, and fills up with a new passion that is aflame in the inner-self. Experienced mystics will recognise the familiar pulse - the teasing coming and going of the Lover, the opening and closing of heaven’s gate, the ecstasy of meeting and the awe-full contentment of it, and the desperate almost pathetic yearning that sets in when He has left again.

Collection

The current book is a compilation of Songs probably reworked by various cultural settings over a long oral period. We understand that there once was a shorter original version of Song that became popular for use in wedding ceremonies because it suits the setting. This ancient passion-mysticism influenced Syrian, Persian and Indian cultures to adopt a ‘king’ and ‘queen’ setting for the bridegroom and his bride. Over time the original Song became a collection of Songs, each influenced by its situation. The editor of Song of Songs used those versions known to him/her and compiled this rich work we use today.

Song of Songs consists of six or seven different poems. Some division exists among scholars whether we should read poems six and seven as one poem or not. Chapter 8 consist of six unrelated verses which an editor seems to have added to the end.

Setting

The book is probably written in Palestine by one who knows Persia intimately. The most probable date of this compilation is about 400 BC. The original Song that gave rise to this collection of derivatives, however, comes along with The Way and therefore must date from about 3 000 BC.

Solomon and the girl of Shulam

King Solomon is the patriarch of the Mediterranean Wisdom Tradition. Song of Songs was written, like many other Wisdom works, as a tribute to him. According to the story Solomon is the main character, the seeker and bride. This is the first striking allegory in the book – the introduction of the bride by name, the girl of Shulam, or the Shulammite. The name of the girl is a feminine version of Solomon – showing that Solomon the seeker has acquired the status of placing the feminine Spiritual Mind in charge of his being. She now seeks , and experiences union with her Divine Lover the Spirit.

Commentators

Song of Songs is the most celebrated of Scriptures among mystical commentators in the church. As early as the 2nd century already the mystical fathers wrote extensive commentaries on Songs. Among the earliest great scholars was Ambrose, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, the Tall Brothers, Pseudo Dionysus the Areopagite. During Medieval times Bernard of Clairvoux, St. John of the Cross, Therese of Avila and a host of other mystic theologians wrote commentaries on Songs. St. Bernard wrote more than 80 books commenting on Songs but died before he could finish. Overall it seems as if mystical theologians have written more than one thousand books expounding the enormous wealth of Song of Songs.

This edition of the Wayist Bible does not attempt to draw from the masses of mystical information available to explain the text in the footnotes.