Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs
Pages 320 pages
Publisher Westminster John Knox Press
Thoughtful, insightful and concise commentary. WEll worth reading
The most unique commentary I read was by Ellen Davis. I have a lot of respect for Davis as a scholar, but I do not think that this represents her best work. She took an allegorical approach to the Song. While she's not totally explicit about this, it seems as if Davis understands the Song to have been allegorical in its original intention. There are several times during the Song where she is insistent not on multiple layers of meaning, but that particular verses can only be understood fully when interpreted allegorically. I disagree and had no such trouble. If she had come to similar interpretations but recognized that they are not the primary meaning of the text then I would be less harsh. Davis's work is interesting to read for her reflections on God and love but doesn't aid ones understanding of the Song in any significant way. [Full Review]
This review is for the Ecclesiastes portion of the commentary. At about 70 pages devoted to Qoheleth, the insights gained from Davis' thoughts on this book belie its miniature size. I first interacted with Davis' work in The Art of Reading Scripture, in which she (as a co-editor) sets out helpful practices towards a faithful interpretation of Scripture. Many of these are enacted in her commentary on Qoheleth. She interacts with an impressive array of voices from church history and deftly combines historical-critical knowledge with theological insight. Davis' critiques of the NRSV translation (which is included in the text) left me wishing she had provided her own translation. The only pitfall is the inexplicable absence of several sections of Qoheleth from the interpretation. Without any justification for their removal (that I could find), Davis included no commentary on 4:9-16; 6:1-9; 9:13-10:15. If this 4-star commentary included these sections (and perhaps was longer and with an original translation), it would be a 5-star.