Song of Songs
Publisher Yale University Press
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- Old Testament Advanced Commentaries by Moore College Journal: Societas
remains a classic, idiosyncratic to be sure, but chalked full of all kinds of delightful tidbits and still very much worth consulting.
Pope's strength is his grasp on the history of interpretation. The introduction and bibliography are exhaustive and unparalleled. It extends to the commentary proper as well. He closes his comments on every unit with a brief discussion of one or more ancient interpreters drawing on both the Jewish and Christian traditions. I consider that to be about the only strength of the commentary. The commentary is massive and it needed to be massively reduced. There is so much extraneous information to wade through that, even though well organized, it makes utilization a chore. A prime example is his six page exploration of black goddesses in the ancient world when commenting on 'black but beautiful.' It adds nothing to ones ability to interpret the Song. It's also often difficult to find Pope's actual opinions on how verses should be interpreted. It's hard to believe, but in 776 pages he doesn't find a lot of space for laying out his own views. The commentary very much is a commentary on commentaries. When he does get around to presenting his own positions they're usually well wide of the mark. His cultic interpretation has gained little or no traction and he interprets the Song almost as if it were pornagraphic at times. It's hard to give a rating to Pope's work because of both its significant strength and its glaring weaknesses. In the end the weaknesses overwhelm. I would only recommend it to someone with a keen interest in the history of interpretation of the Song. Buy Murphy or Garrett instead. [Full Review]
A large commentary with frequent digressions into comparative customs. [Full Review]