Sacred Marriage: The Wisdom of the Song of Songs

Nicholas Ayo, C.S.C., Author, Meinrad Craighead, Illustrator Continuum $29.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8264-1030-6
The Song of Songs is arguably one of the most neglected texts of the Hebrew Bible, and any book that focuses attention on this puzzling and lyric piece is welcome. However, several weaknesses emerge in this interesting collaboration between Ayo, who teaches liberal studies at Notre Dame, and artist Craighead. Ayo admits to not reading Hebrew, so he appropriately refers to this book as an appreciation of the Song rather than a translation of it. Yet, while the Song is intended for lovers and newlyweds, the voluptuous quality of the Song's poetry is lost in the process of Ayo's attempt to render an appreciation of the biblical text in a contemporary culture. The commentary, which comprises the bulk of the book, discusses the poetry in a way that shows little feel for poetry; Ayo discusses the sense of the text--with occasionally questionable references to New Testament themes--but loses the sensuous quality of the Hebrew original. When discussing the beauty and strength of the woman's neck, for example, Ayo comments: ""No doubt here is a woman unafraid to stick her neck out, for hers is an uncommon strength."" Craighead's illustrations are often awkward and do little to help build appreciation for the Song. Although this volume holds great promise, it falls short of its potential. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1997
Release date: 12/01/1997
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