An ancient love poem: the Book of Canticles

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Statement of Responsibility:
Longacre, Robert E
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SIL International
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SIL e-Books 19
pages 191-200

Rejecting the allegorical interpretation of this book in favor of a view that this is a song of human love in a theistic context, the article goes on to consider two background problems: (1) Are there two or three main participants, and settles on two, King Solomon and the Shulammite. (2) Is the book one unified poem or a collection of love lyrics? In settling on the first alternative, recognition is given to the overall chiastic structure of the book in which the passage 4:16–5:1—the lyrical depiction of the consummation of the marriage—is the key to the chiasm. Dialogue and dramatic features are then noted with the endearing terms of address and Hebrew pronouns (masculine versus feminine forms of ‘you’). Providing the main clues as to speaker and addressee identification, these features also provide clues to the progress of the drama, e.g., the use of the term ‘my bride’ in and around the depiction of the consummation of the marriage. Lyric features, that often run riot, are noted. Special attention is given to the embedded hortatory discourse in the last chapter of the book—a hortatory appeal in which the bride passionately implores of Solomon an exclusive commitment which he can not make in view of his other wives and concubines!

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Discourse structure
Discourse analysis
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Relation Text:
A Mosaic of languages and cultures: studies celebrating the career of Karl J. Franklin, Kenneth A. McElhanon and Ger Reesink
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