Wednesday, October 24, 2007

My own vineyard is mine to give

I'd been vaguely aware of these "Biblezines," I guess they call them; they look like teenybopper girls' magazines, but one of them includes the text of the New Testament. The one I picked up cheap is called Revolve, and contains all my favorite books of the Bible: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. Yes, it's the suffering of Job...with beauty tips! And the despair of Ecclesiastes (or as I know it, Qoheleth. Sounds Klingon, doesn't it?) with quizzes on your instant messaging style!

How I wish I were clever enough to be making this stuff up.

Normally it's Job and Ecclesiastes that interest me, and depending on my attention span, I might get more into that. This time around, though, it was the atypically sexy Song of Solomon that caught my eye. I'd forgotten about the kind of "really like your peaches/wanna shake your tree" stuff (see Song of Solomon 7:7-8).

Then there's the whole repeated thing in 3:1-4 and 5:6-8, where the girl goes out alone in the city at night to track down her missing lover. In both, she runs afoul of the "watchmen." In the first example, she finds her man and brings him back to her place. In the second, she can't find him until the next book, but in the meantime, she wants him to know she is "weak with love."

Since I've been thinking about whether I was, in fact, warped by my childhood reading, it occurs to me that I read this book in its entirety when I was in elementary school. And since I've always been a fairly forward gal (I am batting my eyes, looking coy and innocent, even as we speak!), it's another of those chicken/eggs. At least I've got Biblical support for my bad behavior.

The translation I'm using puts in a heading in both scenes that "The Woman Dreams," maybe to get out of the implications. But the text clearly states that she was sleeping and woke up to find her man gone. So for once I don't think I'm the one making things up.

It's the same translation they use in the "zine," a New Century Version I'm otherwise unfamiliar with. Revolve includes their footnote at the first mention of the heroine wearing a veil, that "This was the way a prostitute usually dressed." But they pass quietly by the fact that her wearing a veil gets mentioned several times more in the book.

So is the beloved a hooker? I mean, that's fine with me. I don't know if it would be so fine with them. But they brought it up!

This translation, accurate or not, does put a good spin on the protective verses (labeled here "The Woman's Brothers Speak") about how "We have a little sister, and her breasts are not yet grown." (8:8) The Woman responds that "my breasts are like towers," which implies that she can take care of herself, and she's not as young as they think she is. (8:10) Then she mentions how Solomon had a great vineyard that he rented out. "But my own vineyard is mine to give." (8:12)

Amen, sister!

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