The Message of the Song of Songs, By Tom Gledhill
The Message of the Song of Songs
  • Length: 264 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.25 in
  • Published: November 07, 2023
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: A0633
  • ISBN: 9781514006337

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At first reading, the Song of Songs appears to be an unabashed celebration of physical attraction, mutual love, and sexual consummation between a man and a woman. Tom Gledhill maintains that the Song of Songs is in fact just that—a literary, poetic exploration of human love that strongly affirms loyalty, beauty, and sexuality. Yet in God's story, these things are not ends in themselves. They are also transcendental longings, whispers of immortality. Like all of creation they point beyond themselves to their divine author, who in this Song is nowhere mentioned but everywhere assumed.

Gledhill explores this unique biblical book that forms an interlude in the Old Testament story. He incorporates reflections on other biblical material concerning issues raised by the Song—such as human nature, mortality, and social and cultural conditioning—while staying focused on the text as an extended love poem, both beautiful and mysterious.

Part of the beloved Bible Speaks Today series, The Message of the Song of Songs offers an insightful, readable exposition of the biblical text and thought-provoking discussion of how its meaning relates to contemporary life. Used by students and teachers around the world, the Bible Speaks Today commentaries are ideal for those studying or preaching the Bible and anyone who wants to delve deeper into the text. This revised edition of a classic volume features lightly updated language and current NIV Scripture quotations with a new interior design.


General preface
Author’s preface
Chief abbreviations
Select bibliography

An orientation to the Song

Part 1: The Song as a whole
1. An overview of the text of the Song of Songs
2. A literal translation of the Song
3. A free paraphrase of the Song

Part 2: An exposition of the Song
4. Title and attribution (1:1)
5. The first cycle: passionate longings (1:2–2:7)
6. The second cycle: springtime and showers (2:8–3:5)
7. The third cycle: the lovers’ royal wedding (3:6–5:1)
8. The fourth cycle: lost and found (5:2–6:3)
9. The fifth cycle: beauty kindles desire (6:4–8:4)
10. The sixth cycle: the security of love (8:5-14)

For further thought


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Tom Gledhill (1942–2020) served as a member of the teaching staff at Union School of Theology in South Wales. His articles and book reviews have appeared in Themelios, Foundations, and Bible Translators Magazine.