Song of Solomon in the blogs

The Song of Solomon seems to be the most blogged about book of the Bible over the past few days. John MacArthur, in the Rape of Solomon’s Song is critical of Mark Driscoll’s crassness and explicitness in his teaching series. I haven’t heard Mark’s series but I did hear a few things.

In 1992 I preached a sermon at North Beach Baptist church (where I was associate pastor) on Song of Solomon. The title of the message was “Sex That Sizzles” and it was a celebration of the intimacy, the verdant and luxuriously sensual garden, of a sexual relationship in its right context, and in its right time. It got a lot of press and the tape seemed to go all over the place to all kinds of churches and groups. Many had never heard this side of the book before, having heard mostly of its spiritual implications rather than its erotic imagery. People appreciated the talk and I got a lot of invitations to speak at youth groups. But I did it in a respectful way, one which honored the poetic nature of the book.

And I never presented the teaching of Song of Solomon in a prescriptive way, or in a way that would lead someone to demand certain practices because they are celebrated in the Scriptures. This would be paramount to abuse. We need to watch out for that.

As for the argument, I appreciate Mark’s desire to expose the frankness of the book but I also appreciate John M’s desire to protect the mystery of the imagery. Here’s some links:

Irish Calvinist has all 4 links to JM’s messages.

Matt and Ryan say it well.

Tim Challies also wants to protect the mystery

Fallen and Flawed have more story on how this progressed.

Interestingly enough, I was reading poetry from the Persian poet, Rumi, yesterday and some of his stories are far more eye-popping than Song of Solomon and far cruder in comparison.


Also, back in 2002, my good friend Sasa Flek translated and released the Song of Solomon into the Czech language in a beautifully bound book illustrated with Chagall’s erotic and evocative paintings. I know, because I was there. It was an amazing party with actors and readings and purfume and lots of red fabric. Sasa continued to translate the the whole Bible was just officially released last week in Prague. Read about it in the Prague Post in the article “The Good Book Gets a Modern Translation.”

Just for Geeks:

Speaking of translation, and also connected with the mystery vs. relevance debate in Song of Solomon, check out the influence of Walter Benjamin’s ‘Task of the Translator’ here on Google Books version of the Postmodern Bible Reader. I have the big hard copy of this book at home but here you can read about dynamic equivalence in translating the Bible as a “modern” task OR the more postmodern idea of Walter B that a translator has to protect the text in order to honor it. The sentence, says Benjamin, is a “wall” and not a “bottle.” The text must confront the original text more than the transmission of its meaning. In this understanding of translation, it seems to me that John MacArthur is taking Walter Benjamin’s more ‘postmodern’ approach and Mark Driscoll the modern. Just thinking out loud.

Technorati Tags: ,


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • I understand what John was getting at, but his post was a little over done for me.

  • Mark Rico says:

    Interestingly, both the article and the commenters who support JM’s assessment of Driscoll’s methods sound like they haven’t gotten a grasp of either his forum or audience, much less the intent of his preaching the S.O.S. the way he did. I listened to the whole series and my marriage was enriched as a result.
    When some statements are taken out of the context of the message, of course they’ll sound crude, like some description of sex yelled from a passing car. But within the context of the exposition of the book, the way he preached Biblical marital love was free and beautiful, and convicting at the same time.

  • Albert says:

    JM’s critique was not aimed at the Peasant Princess series, but at a sermon MD preached in Scotland (which was a lot more crude). JM links to the sermon in both part 2 and part 4 of his blog series.

  • Emily says:

    Albert, I couldn’t find those links, any other ideas where the sermon might be?

  • Becky says:

    And then there’s Jon Birch’s interpretation – this includes the link to the Mark Driscoll teaching series on this topic.

  • ianmcn says:

    MacArthur’s critisism was specifically aimed at the Scotland sermon, although much of the content was repeated (although slightly toned down) for the Peasant Princess series. The worst lines from the scotland sermon are transcribed here.

  • I haven’t heard Mark’s series, but I’ve read his Re:Lit Porn book. It’s ‘tasteless’ and ‘crass’ and ‘inappropriate’ for polite company. He uses all the word, phrases and situations he can. Driscoll doesn’t hold back, and I can’t imagine him holding back on Song of Solomon. But maybe he crosses the line.
    John MacArthur is a great preacher, but I’ve read several of his books and he always seems to be without a shred of self-doubt. He calls himself a ‘biblicist’ which justifies every claim he makes. He gets his claims from the Bible, and that makes him right, all the time. Maybe he crosses the line a bit in his confidence.

  • Matt Stone says:

    yeah I like Rumi. he’s a sufi muslim you know. check out his poems on Jesus.

Leave a Reply