Interpretive Images in the Song of Songs: From Wedding Chariots to Bridal Chambers, by Steven C. Horine

Article excerpt

Studies in the Humanities 55. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. 235 pp. $59.65.

This interesting study on the Song of Songs seeks to clarify its complex imagery and rhetorical framework with a view to aiding an understanding of the text within its original context, in particular by identifying a paradigm of bridal chamber images which serves, it is claimed, as an interpretive framework for understanding the Song's erotic love lyrics, metaphors and motifs. After a brief Introduction (pp. 1-12) the author launches directly into his first substantive chapter, on the interpretive history of the Song (pp. 13-45). His particular interest here lies in showing how, in contrast to much recent interpretation of the Song, marriage has typically been understood to be the context of the love relationship described therein, and the presence of bridal chamber images has historically been noted at numerous points. Chapter 2 (pp. 47-72) proceeds then to introduce the proposed methodology for the project, described as "integrative literary" methodology, which is advanced as a synthesis of elements from both traditional and conceptual-metaphorical approaches and an improvement on both. This method engages first in genre identification, and then in the determination of primary imagery; the elucidation of an imagery paradigm based on the identification of primary organizational imagery; the determination of secondary imagery or motifs; and the analysis and synthesis of significant literary relationships. Chapter 3 (pp. 73-121) analyzes the primary interpretive imagery of the Song, and Chapter 4 (pp. 123-164) its secondary imagery, before the author moves to his Conclusion (pp. 163-169) and offers his own translation of the text (pp. 171-181). The bridal chamber is identified as primary imagery, since it constitutes the central metaphor of the Song -- much emphasis here is laid upon the Song's introduction as a proleptic summary to the work as a whole and on the particular connection between the beginning and the end of the book (8:13-14). …