The Song of Songs - Introduction
Unique in the Bible, this collection of songs sensitively touches several major chords in the love life of a young man and a maiden. It is an anthology which plays on a wide range of themes: love's awakening, the description of the beloved, the enticement, the surrender of the embrace, the pain of separation, the joy of coming together again, the wedding ceremony. The book was early regarded as fully allegorical, a view not surprising because of the presence of some obvious symbolism, as is noted.
In its own way, the book extols the virtues of deep rather than transient love. There is no discernible overall flow of action or plot, although the positioning of the various songs creates a definite dramatic effect.
The traditional ascription of authorship to King Solomon ( 1.1 ) may have come about because of the several appearances of his name in the text. Scholars have dated the songs as early as the tenth century B.C.E. and as late as the Greek period, the fourth century B.C.E., with a postexilic date at least for the final redaction the usual view. There are no historical allusions; the geographical ones are mainly from the Northern Kingdom (see 1.14 n. ); the images are decidedly rural. The book is often referred to as Canticles.