Song of Songs

series: Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

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In this addition to the well-received Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, Paul Griffiths offers theological exegesis of the Song of Songs. This commentary, like each in the series, is designed to serve the church—providing a rich resource for preachers, teachers, students, and study groups—and demonstrate the continuing intellectual and practical viability of theological interpretation of the Bible.

The general editor for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible is R. R. Reno (editor, First Things). Series editors include Robert W. Jenson (Center of Theological Inquiry); Robert Louis Wilken (University of Virginia); Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto); Michael Root (Catholic University of America); and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas).

Volumes in the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible

R. R. Reno (editor, First Things) on Genesis Thomas Joseph White (Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum in Rome) on Exodus Ephraim Radner (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Leviticus David L. Stubbs (Western Theological Seminary) on Numbers Telford Work (Westmont College) on Deuteronomy Paul Hinlicky (Roanoke College) on Joshua Laura A. Smit (Calvin University) and Stephen Fowl (Loyola University Maryland) on Judges & Ruth Francesca Aran Murphy (University of Notre Dame) on 1 Samuel Robert Barron (Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles) on 2 Samuel Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Kings Peter J. Leithart (Theopolis Institute for Bible, Liturgy, and Culture) on 1 & 2 Chronicles Matthew Levering (Mundelein Seminary) on Ezra & Nehemiah Samuel Wells (St. Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, London) and George Sumner (Episcopal Diocese of Dallas) on Esther & Daniel Ellen T. Charry (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Psalms 1–50 Jason Byassee (Vancouver School of Theology) on Psalms 101–150 Daniel J. Treier (Wheaton College Graduate School) on Proverbs & Ecclesiastes Paul J. Griffiths on Song of Songs Robert W. Jenson (1930–2017; Center of Theological Inquiry) on Ezekiel Phillip Cary (Eastern University) on Jonah Stanley Hauerwas (Duke Divinity School) on Matthew David Lyle Jeffrey (Baylor University) on Luke Jaroslav Pelikan (1923–2006; Yale University) on Acts Kimlyn J. Bender (Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University) on 1 Corinthians Kathryn Greene-McCreight (The Episcopal Church at Yale) on Galatians Michael Allen (Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando) on Ephesians George Hunsinger (Princeton Theological Seminary) on Philippians Christopher R. Seitz (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Colossians Douglas Farrow (McGill University) on 1 & 2 Thessalonians Risto Saarinen (University of Helsinki) on the Pastoral Epistles with Philemon & Jude Douglas Harink (The King’s University College) on 1 & 2 Peter Joseph L. Mangina (Wycliffe College, University of Toronto) on Revelation


"Griffiths provides a wonderful commentary on the New Vulgate text of the Song of Songs. Readers will benefit from his introduction defending the value of the study of translations, his close study of the translation he has chosen, and his theological interpretations of Christ and the church. His review of major Christian interpreters of the Song throughout the history of the church is most valuable."--Richard S. Hess, Earl S. Kalland Professor of Old Testament and Semitic Languages, Denver Seminary

Praise for the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible:

"What a splendid idea! Many preachers have been longing for more commentaries that are not only exegetical but theological in the best sense: arising out of the conviction that God, through his Word, still speaks in our time. For those of us who take our copies of Martin Luther's Galatians and Karl Barth's Romans from the shelves on a regular basis, this new series in that tradition promises renewed vigor for preaching, and therefore for the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church in our time."--Fleming Rutledge, author of The Bible and The New York Times and The Seven Last Words from the Cross

"This new series places the accent on 'theological' and reflects current interpretive ferment marked by growing resistance to the historical-critical project. It may be that scripture interpretation is too important to be left to the exegetes, and so a return to the theologians. We will wait with great anticipation for this new series, at least aware that the outcomes of interpretation are largely determined by the questions asked. It is never too late to ask better questions; with a focus on the theological tradition, this series holds the promise of asking interpretive questions that are deeply grounded in the primal claims of faith. The rich promise of the series is indicated by the stature and erudition of the commentators. Brazos has enormous promises to keep with this project, and we wait with eagerness for its appearing!"--Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

"The Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible makes a most welcome contribution to the church, the academic world, and the general public at large. By enlisting a wide range of Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox theologians who differ on much, but who agree on the truth of the Nicene Creed, the series also represents ecumenical activity of the very best kind. It is always a daunting challenge to expound the church's sacred book both simply and deeply, but this impressive line-up of authors is very well situated for the attempt."--Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame

"Preachers and teachers in particular, but thoughtful Christians more generally, have long lamented the slide of biblical scholarship into hyper-specialized critical studies of ancient texts in remote historical context. It is no wonder, therefore, that the Brazos Theological Commentary is being so warmly welcomed. The outstanding array of authors, beginning with Jaroslav Pelikan's splendid commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, is, at long last, reclaiming the Bible as the book of the living community of faith that is the church."--Richard John Neuhaus, author of American Babylon: Notes of a Christian Exile

"Contemporary application of the Bible to life is the preacher's business. But no worthy contemporary application is possible without a thorough understanding of the ancient text. The Brazos Theological Commentary exists to provide an accessible authority so that the preacher's application will be a ready bandage for all the hurts of life. We who serve the pulpit want a commentary we can understand, and those who hear us expect us to give them a usable word. The Brazos Commentary offers just the right level of light to make illuminating the word the joy it was meant to be."--Calvin Miller, author of A Hunger for the Holy and Loving God Up Close

"For pastors, wanting to get at the theological heart of a text, there is some good stuff. When I am preaching, I usually try to take a peek at the Brazos volume."--Nijay K. Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College

The Author

  1. Paul J. Griffiths

    Paul J. Griffiths

    Paul J. Griffiths (PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison) is the author or coauthor of many books, including Intellectual Appetite, Reason and the Reasons of Faith, and An Apology for Apologetics: A Study in the Logic of Interreligious...

    Continue reading about Paul J. Griffiths


"The Song [is] among the most commented upon books in the last two thousand years. Griffiths makes an admirable contribution to this long tradition. . . . In addition to reading the Song as one between a lover and beloved, Griffiths also reads the Song as between Christ and Israel/the Church, God and Mary, and God and the individual. His efforts here draw out fascinating--though never fanciful--comments. . . . There is much to celebrate, from a Reformed point of view, in Griffiths' exposition of the Song. . . . Griffiths' own delightful writing admirably draws us into the kiss of the Song, the Song which sings of the great love of God for us, a love stronger than death (Song 8:6)."--Steve Harris, Christian Courier

"One of the fascinating, even if rather unusual, aspects of this commentary is that it takes the New Vulgate of the Catholic Church as its starting point. . . . At the same time, Griffiths' careful attention to philological detail throughout the commentary does make for fascinating exegetical results--and interesting insights into the meaning of the Song. One of the most intriguing elements of the commentary is the way in which Griffiths links the surface meaning of the text theologically to the relationship between God and his people. . . . For Griffiths, as for many premodern readers, it is the Scripture text that determines which interpretations fall within one's plausible parameters. Far from being arbitrary, figural reading takes the canonical context--and in particular Scripture's own description of God's self-disclosure in Christ--as determinative for its understanding of the revelatory text. Griffiths' commentary thus offers us a wonderful sample of how we may continue to read the Song of Songs as sacred Scripture."--Hans Boersma, Calvin Theological Journal

"Paul Griffiths . . . intends his commentary to be read by Christian laymen and laywomen today, in an age when the sacramental nature of marriage urgently needs rediscovery and reaffirmation. . . . A new 'figural' reading of the Song of Songs . . . offers a model for reordering our human loves. And this is precisely what Griffiths offers. . . . [He] offers his own English translation of the New Vulgate Song of Songs, and the translation and his justification for it are among the book's most valuable features. . . . The grammar of love that guides Paul Griffiths' profound reading of the Song of Songs schools us in an urgently needed unforgetting."--Ann W. Astell, First Things

"Griffiths should be commended for a well written, engaging, and imaginative commentary on the Song of Songs. . . . Griffiths' commentary will find great acceptance among those interested in theological interpretation of the Song of Songs. They will find thorough reflection on the Song as Christian Scripture, with due treatment of its reception history."--L. G. Wisley, Expository Times