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The Song of Songs: New Translation: A New Translation [Paperback]

Ariel Bloch
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 July 1998
"The Song of Songs", often referred to as the "Song of Solomon", is one of the greatest love poems of all time. In their lyrical translation, Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch restore the sensuousness of the original language and strip away the veils of mistranslating that have obscured the power and meaning of the poem. Presented "en face", this translation is scrupulously faithful to the Hebrew text.


Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Reprint edition (27 July 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520213300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520213302
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,722,833 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"[This translation] has a crisp energy that mirrors the poem's springtime mood, and a phrasing that captures the impulsiveness and the delight of the lovers in each other and in their mutual imaginative play. . . . Next to Genesis, no book in the Hebrew Bible has had a stronger influence on Western literature than the Song of Songs. This attractive and exuberant edition helps to explain much of its power, while leaving its mystery intact."--Alicia Ostriker, "The New York Review of Books

About the Author

Ariel Bloch is Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Chana Bloch is a poet, translator, scholar, and literary critic. She is Professor of English and Director of the creative writing program at Mills College.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this on the recommendation of a lecturer at the London School of Jewish Studies where I took a course on the Song of Songs. This is a truly beautiful translation which benefits from the husband and wife team, she is a poet and he is a bible scholar and they lend their respective talents to this ancient and multi-layered piece of scripture. It is presented beautifully with the Hebrew text facing the English translation followed by notes and commentary. I especially liked the absence of footnotes to the translation as this preserved the feeling of poetry in the English mirroring the Hebrew (which is in a helpful legible font, fully vowelled). I can't recommend this highly enough.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweeter than wine... 30 July 2008
Format:Paperback
The song of Solomon (Canticles) is a beautiful book. It's about love. It's also a difficult book.

The Canticles are attributed to Solomon, son of David, king of Israel c.970-c.930 BC. In the Bible he's traditionally associated with The Song of Solomon (Canticles), Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs. His alleged wisdom is illustrated by the Judgement of Solomon. It doesn't mean necessarily that Solomon actually wrote them. In those days it was custom to ascribe some anonymous books to a famous person.

The Canticles is a collection of love songs written in such way that the reader gets the impression to be a participant in a feast or a wedding feast. It's a dialogue, presented as love songs, between a man and a woman. That sounds obvious but it isn't because it's not clear who they really are. The Jews say that he and she are God and Israel. According to the Christians they symbolize Christ and the Church and yet another explanation says they are God and the Soul.

Today we know that Solomon was not the author, the Canticum was written in the third century BC.
The Canticles (or Canticum, Song of Solomon, Canticum Canticorum.) are not a story but a collection of songs. It provides tools to improve our knowledge of God's intentions and at the same time to understand better our own thoughts and fears.

The "Canticles" is easy to read when you take the words literally. But when you search for a deeper meaning it can be very difficult.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
As love poetry in the midst of theology and prophecy, The Song of Songs (or "of Solomon") is an often-ignored book of scripture. This translation celebrates its important place in our faith traditions. While it is aimed for the Jewish reader, as a Christian in love I found this a moving book, and as a scholar I found the commentary useful. Thank you for showing this to me, Rebbe!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable translation of "The Song of Songs" 17 April 2000
By Esther Nebenzahl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Reading "The Song of Songs" directly out of the Bible and reading the work of Ariel and Chana Block is a complete different experience. The later enriches the first! An academic approach providing a first rate translation of "The Song of Songs," an in depth study and analysis of the poem itself, will broaden your understanding and enjoyment of this forever lasting and debated love poem. Its love transcending sexual imaginary!
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spiritual & Romantic - with excellent commentary 4 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
As love poetry in the midst of theology and prophecy, The Song of Songs (or "of Solomon") is an often-ignored book of scripture. This translation celebrates its important place in our faith traditions. While it is aimed for the Jewish reader, as a Christian in love I found this a moving book, and as a scholar I found the commentary useful. Thank you for showing this to me, Rebbe!
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentic & Beautiful - Capturing the Mystery of Love 1 Sep 2010
By J. Davies - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The best translation, hands down, is this Modern Library Classics by Bloch and Bloch. The layout is very user-friendly, with the original Hebrew on one side, with the English translation on the other. Anyone who knows or is studying Hebrew will appreciate this feature. Also the Song jumps between voices and narration without the typical "he said"/"she said" obtrusions that are common to modern writing. Using context clues it is not too challenging to figure out if the lines belong to the Lover or the Beloved, but the translators' use of italics and bold, makes this distinction clear and renders a very smooth reading.

What makes this translation supreme is Bloch and Bloch's great command of Biblical Hebrew combined with their artistry in maintaining the poetic beauty of this text. They took great care to translate this text as closely as possible to the original Hebrew, but still made some artistic adjustments when a too literal translation would be awkward.

This edition includes a wonderful introduction which discusses the various historical interpretations of this text, as well as their own take. A detailed commentary follows which explains in minutiae the justifications for various translation decisions. For example the word "love" in 5:1, Bloch and Bloch argue has in Hebrew really the specific meaning of "love-making" as opposed to other Biblical terms for love such as the NT Greek "philos," or "agape," or the OT Hebrew "chesed" all of which can have meanings quite different from the act of coitus implied in "love-making." But the Blochs are careful to point out that the same Hebrew word used for love in 5:1 is used elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible, and in those instances is very clearly in the context of romantic lovers spending the night together.

The Bloch translation manages to capture the mystery, the beauty, the sensuality of the language, in a way that is fresh, readable, and true to the Hebrew.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The publisher goofed! 26 Mar 2012
By Lois Padawer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My comment is not about the Song of Songs, nor do I write to praise this beautiful translation. I write to complain about this Modern Library edition, which is inferior in two ways to the edition published by the University of California Press. First, the University of California edition contains the entirety (two pages) of the authors' Acknowledgments. Since this is what we would routinely expect, it would not be worth mentioning, except for the fact that the Modern Library edition omits the first page almost entirely: this first page is completely blank except for the word "Acknowledgments." Upon turning this page, the reader encounters the second page of the Acknowledgments, the text merrily rolling along in midstream and mid-sentence. I believe this happened because standards of proofreading today are so low, with some famous publishers considering proofreaders expendable. Second, the University of California Press edition is printed on high-quality paper; this makes for a pleasant reading experience, because when reading one side of a page the reader does not have to contend with text bleeding through from the other side. Again, this is so taken for granted that it would not be worth mentioning, except for the fact that the Modern Library edition is printed on cheaper, thinner paper, so that the text from the other side of the page does bleed through. This is yet another reflection of the lowering of standards by publishers who once stood for quality. Modern Library, modern times.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly Sensual 21 Jan 2007
By Jack Washington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
How wonderful you are, O Love,

how much sweeter

than all other pleasures!

But to try to quote from the Song is like hunting for a rabbit's foot. Or trying to cook only a spoonful of soup. The lovers are stoked with the such desperate passion, that no matter the circumstance, the politic, or the law, they bestow on themselves and, now, thanks to the translation, on us, a profound innocence. In that split moment before tears begin to well. Before pain is translated into reaction. Or desire hits the brain. No wonder the Song flaunts such a pure animal presence. The lovers living between the heartbeats. I can see the Shulamite stealthing around the city at night. Silent, almost rolling, footsteps. The lovers collision always in the softlight of dawn. The air cold.

Hurry, my love! Run away,

my gazelle, my wild stag

on the hills of cinnamon.
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