General preface     7
Author's preface     13
Chief abbreviations    16
Bibliography     17

An orientation to the Song

    The Song as poetic entertainment     19
    The role of Solomon in the Song     22
    The shepherd hypothesis     24
    The morality of the Song     26
    God, sexuality and allegory     31
    The Song in the Canon of Scripture     34
    The unity and structure of the Song     37

Part One: The Song as a whole

    An overview of the text of Song of Songs     43
    A literal translation of the Song     50
    A free paraphrase of the Song     64

Part Two: An exposition of the Song

    Title and attribution (1:1)     91
    The first cycle: Passionate longings (1:2-2:7)     93

      The deep yearnings of love (1:2-4)     93
      Black and beautiful (1:5-6)     101
      A hesitant enquiry, an ambiguous response (1:7-8)     107
      A filly in fine fettle (1:9-11)     110
      The fragrance of love (1:12-14)     115
      A duet of mutual admiration (1:15-2:3)     118
      Moving towards a climax (2:4-7)     124

    The second cycle: Springtime and showers (2:8-3:5)     131

      Love in the springtime (2:8-13)     131
      A tantalizing tease (2:14-15)     135
      An affirmation and an invitation (2:16-17)     139
      A very troubled dream (3:1-5)     143

    The third cycle: The lovers' royal wedding (3:6-5:1)     147

      Her rustic fragrant beauty (3:6)     147
      Solomon's sumptuous carriage (3:7-11)     149
      In praise of his beloved (4:1-7)     153
      The lover's urgent plea (4:8)     159
      A lover smitten (4:9-11)     162
      Moving towards a climax again (4:12-5:1)     163
      Anticipation (4:12-4:15)      164
      Invitation (4:16)     166
      Consummation (5:1)     166
      Affirmation (5:1)     167
      Reflections on themes arising from 4:12-5:1     168
      Chastity and virginity     168
      Laughter and bodies     169
      Hang-ups and Augustine      172
      Sex as sacrament     174
      The language of sex     175

    The fourth cycle: Lost and found (5:2-6:3)     176

      Another dream of frustration (5:2-8)     176
      The daughters of Jerusalem reply (5:9)     181
      In praise of her lover (5:10-16)     182
      An offer of help (6:1)     185
      Not really lost (6:2-3)     186

    The fifth cycle: Beauty kindles desire (6:4-8:4)     190

      Her awesome and terrifying beauty (6:4-7)     190
      She is utterly unique (6:8-9)     193
      Her cosmic beauty (6:10)     196
      Dreaming in the walnut garden (6:11-12)     198
      A sight for tired eyes (6:13)     201
      Her graceful form (7:1-5)     204
      A duet of desire (7:6-10)     209
      Love in the countryside (7:11-13)     211
      A longing for intimacy (8:1-4)     213

    The sixth cycle: The security of love (8:5-14)     218

      The happy couple (8:5a)     218
      Love's arousal (8:5b)     222
      Love, strong as death (8:6-7)     226
      The little sister (8:8-10)     235
      A vineyard not for hire (8:11-12)     238
      The continuing cycle of desire (8:13-14)     242

For further thought     246

    

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