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Commentary on the Song of Songs

It is customary to list this work among the wisdom books, even though it is clearly not such. The title, which is also given as Canticle of Canticles, is merely a Hebrew form of superlative: the greatest song.

Dates of composition have been proposed all the way from the monarchic period to the third century B.C. The attribution to Solomon is only a familiar literary device.

There is much disagreement on its structure: some have seen only seven love songs in it, others as high as fifty.

If taken in the literal sense it would be an erotic composition. In that way it could be a message that God created sexuality as a means of spiritual growth, if used according to His plan and within His laws. Thus Paul VI, in an address to the 13th National Congress of the Italian Feminine Center, on Feb.12,1966 (cf. The Pope Speaks 11, 1966, p.10), said that marriage should be "a long path to sanctification."

But at least by the 2nd century A.D. the allegorical view was dominant. We saw, especially in Hosea, the imagery of God as the husband of Israel. Early Christians tended to make it refer to the relation of Christ and His Church. cf.Eph 5:22-32.

Further, God often in the OT used material images to stand for spiritual realities; the promises to Abraham and at Sinai spoke of material benefits, were later reinterpreted, as in Gal 3.15, for eternal goods. So too the description of a renewed temple in Ezekiel 40-48.So the images here could speak of God's spousal love for His people.

St. Alphonsus in his meditation on the Assumption in his Glories of Mary imagines Jesus Himself coming forth to meet her and saying (2.20): "Arise my love my fair one and come away. For behold the winter is past.the rain is over and gone...."

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