Song of Songs
Song of Songs

Song of Songs

in New International Commentary on the Old Testament

by Tremper Longman III

4.22 Rank Score: 6.5 from 19 reviews, 6 featured collections, and 21 user libraries
Pages 254
Publisher Eerdmans
Published 1/1/2001
ISBN-13 9780802825438


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Learned yet accessible, innovative yet fully informed by past scholarship, this commentary shows the beautiful Song of Songs to be a timeless celebration of human love and sexuality. Longman’s thorough introduction canvasses the long history of interpretation of the Song of Songs. He then structures the book according to its 23 poetic units and explains its message verse by verse. The exposition is made clearer by Longman’s frequent comparisons of the Song of Songs with other ancient Near Eastern literature. [Full Review]
Matt Quintana Matt Quintana May 19, 2023
Longman's commentary, as with his volume on Ecclesiastes in the NICOT series, is very useful for his technical notes on translation and difficulties in the Hebrew text. However, I found his work less helpful from a biblical-theological perspective. Spurning the lengthy history of symbolic or allegorical readings of the Song, Longman advocates strongly for what he terms the "natural" interpretation of the book, in which the Song of Songs is viewed as a sort of "erotic psalter." Occasionally, the proposed interpretations are simply bizarre. The author seems to uncover a sexual euphemism behind every bush and an erotic metaphor around every corner. The commentary is fairly technical, and is definitely short on practical theological reflection. In my opinion, one must reckon much more seriously with the fact that for almost 2,000 years, the kind of "natural reading" advocated for by Longman was ubiquitously rejected by Jewish and Christian interpreters alike. Perhaps they were wrong; but perhaps it is the stream of approaches initiated in post-Enlightenment historical-critical scholarship that have been mistaken. In my opinion, despite his push for some kind of "canonical" reading of the Song within the broader canon, Longman's approach fails to consider the implications of the larger canonical shape and context of the Hebrew Bible for reading Canticles.
ParkerM ParkerM October 5, 2021
The introduction alone is worth the price of the book. Longman argues thoroughly why certain traditions of interpretation are untenable. His sensitivity to metaphor is appreciated, as well as his reticence to overread. I would have liked more theological application; as it stands, the author leaves the reader to sort out the relevance of most passages.
G Ware G Ware November 28, 2019
This is the standard in evangelical circles. It is solid, reliable, but at times unremarkable- little makes it stand out over other commentaries. That said, it is a good choice to go to for a straighforward reading. The NICOT format being so user-friendly, this is a great option if you don't anticipate having a large collection of SoS commentaries.
Martha Berg Martha Berg November 13, 2017
I didn't buy this. I used a copy from my library. I wouldn't buy it because I'm not sure how the author reached his conclusions. Some mighty big leaps of faith to buy into many of his conclusions.
Mike DaVoice Mike DaVoice November 5, 2017
I just found this to be derivative. Nearly all of these conclusions could be found in older works, works that are much more comprehensive. I prefer commentators who explain why they translate, and how they translate. In that regard, a reader would be better off in established, traditional, work.
Tim Challies Tim Challies December 9, 2013
Tremper Longman is a highly-regarded Old Testament scholar and his work on Song of Solomon is considered one of the top scholarly works on the book. Keith Mathison says, “For those seeking a thorough exegetical commentary, Longman’s work in the NICOT series is a good resource. He approaches the book as a poem (or more precisely an anthology of poems) about the male-female relationship, which itself is analogous to the relationship between God and His people.” [Full Review]
Marcus Maher Marcus Maher January 27, 2013
Tremper Longman has given us the best Evangelical commentary on the Song of Songs. Every other commentator I will mention in this post understands the Song as a unity. Longman takes it to be a collection of poems. While I am not convinced that he's right, I do appreciate his recognition that the Song is not telling a linear story. The literary sensitivity that exemplified much of Longman's work is on display here. There's also adequate coverage on grammatical issues. Longman was most helpful to me in pointing out the spots where there were correspondences between the Song and Proverbs (probably the Song using Proverbs). Most other commentators treat the Song without trying to examine how it fits in with the rest of the wisdom literature. Overall from introduction to footnotes it's an exemplary intermediate commentary. I'd highly recommend pastors pick this commentary up, if nothing else for the introduction. It has the best concise discussion of the history of interpretation of any of the commentaries I read. [Full Review]
For those seeking a thorough exegetical commentary, Longman's work in the NICOT series is a good resource. He approaches the book as a poem (or more precisely an anthology of poems) about the male-female relationship, which itself is analogous to the relationship between God and His people. [Full Review]
John Glynn John Glynn September 20, 2008
Jim Rosscup Jim Rosscup September 20, 2008
Evangelical study of a collection of different love songs joined together by literary techniques into a progression. [Full Review]
Durham, North Carolina 27705 For approximately twenty-five years now, the Song of Songs has been the object of intense scholarly interest, probably for the first time since the Middle Ages. An initial marker of this renewed interest—and probably the impetus for much that has followed—was Marcia Falk’s rendering of the Song as universal love poetry. Her free translation was published in full in 1977, and followed five years later by a literary study detailing her approach. Also in 1977, Marvin Pope’s far more sexually explicit translation (The Anchor Bible) appeared, accompanied by a massive commentary which constitutes the fullest reading of the Song in light of what (little) we know about Canaanite cultic tradition. Longman’s own concise and lucid commentary follows in the trajectory set by Falk. Like her, he reads the Song as an anthology of topically related poems for which multiple authorship is likely—“a kind of erotic psalter” (43). More significantly, he agrees with Falk and the vast majority of contemporary scholars that the Song “focuses on the experiences and emotions of intimate male-female relationship” (xiii). However, the approach of this commentary is distinguished by its explicitly evangelical perspective, adopted for all the volumes in the NICOT series. In order to apply this perspective to a book that makes “a studied avoidance” of direct reference to God (116), Longman appeals to the role of the Song in the canon. This is the only extended biblical affirmation of sexual love—in his view, married love—as it is “redeemed” from the distortion that occurred in Eden (following the argument of Phyllis Trible). [Full Review]