Teach hermeneutics through the worklife implications of Song of songs

Seminary Curriculum / Produced by TOW Project

Surprised by Song of Songs

The Song of Songs is not a book we usually think of going to in order to  consider questions of  faith, work and economics. Certainly it has presented interesting hermeneutical challenges for successive generations of Christians, but usually debating the extent to which it is primarily a celebration of sexual love and marital fidelity between a woman and a man, or additionally (or alternatively) a more figurative poetic picture of the sort of intimacy God wants to enjoy with his people. But a closer more literal reading notices what the couple are actually doing while reciting love poetry to each other. They are planting a vineyard, and working hard at it. In other words, Song of Songs is about a couple who start a small business as a way to make a living and to strengthen their love. Their work draws them together, rather than keeping them apart. This book shows work and family life, not as a balance of competing priorities, but as an integrated way of achieving what is most important in life. Does this have anything to say to us? (See “Quit a Job to Spend More Time with the Family? You Bet” by Scott Behson, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 16, 2014.


Read the Introductory sections to two recognised commentaries on the Song of Songs (as recommended by the course coordinator). Note the different approaches that have been taken to interpreting the Song of Songs historically. Then read the Song of Songs Commentary from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary  In what ways is the TOW Commentary on the Songs of Songs both similar to, and different from, other historical approaches to this book hermeneutically? How valid and how useful is the TOW Commentary on the Song of Songs? Does it provide a new and useful perspective on the Song of Songs, or a distortion of the message of this book? Please offer specific examples from the text of the Song of Songs and the commentaries and other sources you have consulted.

Another component that could be added is:

Create the outline for a Bible Study or Sermon exploring the meaning of work based on the Song of Songs.

For more on teaching Song of Songs in the seminary, see the article Teaching Old Testament: Song of Songs.