BR 12:01, Feb 1996
Erotica in Holy Writ
The Song of Songs: A New Translation with an Introduction and Commentary
Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch, Afterword by Robert Alter
(New York: Random House, 1995) 253 pp., $27.50
The introduction to this book is aptly entitled In the Garden of Delights. The husband and wife authors understand the Song as a poem about the sexual awakening of a young woman and her lover. The woman is very young, barely past puberty. The lovers tryst in an idealized settinga kind of Edenwhere they discover the delights of love. But unlike the Eden story, in which loss of innocence is fraught with consequences, their adventure brings only the joy of discovery. Yet, even in this enchanted garden, there are problems. The lovers meet by night in secret and separate at dawn. It is thus apparent that they are not married. The situation evokes the old dilemma of love without marriage versus marriage without love and which is worse.