This is a Great Mystery and I'm Telling You It Refers to Christ and the Church

I am excited to work through a new volume entitled “The Song of Songs and the Eros of God: A Study in Biblical Intertextuality” by Edmée Kingsmill. This is her dissertation from Oxford. Ellen F. Davis has a nice review. Here are some highlights:

At the same time, she directly opposes its central and now nearly unchallenged presupposition that the Song celebrates human love and does so in terms that are not directly theological. In other words, it has little or no direct connection with the essential subject matter of every other book of the Bible. According to this modern orthodoxy of the Song, then, the once-traditional notion that it speaks of love between God and Israel, or God and the soul, is an extraneous imposition—even if that imposition is what won it a place in the canon.

Kingsmill rejects this orthodoxy because it misses the essential literary fact about the Song, namely, that its metaphorical language is thoroughly biblical and associates the Song directly with other poetic texts, especially in the prophetic corpus. The poet picks up on yet reverses the prophetic metaphor of the eros of God for Israel; while the prophets generally represent this as a failed marriage, this poet “portrays the eros for God of his chosen people at its most sustained, unfaltering and faithful” (39).

A strong messianic element points not to national deliverance but rather to the ideal of intimacy with God, with a corresponding emphasis on the validity of the Jerusalem temple—the gardens of the Song—as the locus of abiding intimacy.

[W]orship … provides the hermeneutical key to the Song” (199).

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