About this Song of Songs
"I am dark and beautiful, O daughters of Jerusalem . . ."


The Song of Songs (also known as the Song of Solomon) is one of the greatest pieces of erotic literature ever written. Consisting of intense expressions of physical love, this classic poem describes the voluptuous beauty of lovers longing for one another. With a uniquely feminine perspective, its language is seductive and intimate, conveying an immediate, sensuous, and intoxicating desire.

This new, illustrated adaptation of the Song of Songs by Judith Ernst renders this literary jewel accessible to a new generation of readers. While retaining much of the beloved phrasing from the King James Bible, Ernst has made stylistic changes that give the text a fresh and arresting charm. In addition, her twelve detailed gouache paintings appropriately capture the poem's moods of love by portraying a woman longing for her lover. Interspersed between sections of the poem and their accompanying illustrations is short, thoughtful commentary to help readers understand ancient references in the text.

Brilliantly regaining the erotic power, poetic beauty, and authentic experience of the text, this updated and reenvisioned Song of Songs restores for modern audiences the same seductive spell that has captivated readers for thousands of years.

—From the Eerdmans Catalog


Interpretive History of the Song of Songs
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Despite all the maleness of so much of Scripture, the book that screams the unity of God with humankind is a book built around the image of a woman. In this book, as in the Book of Ruth, the strong woman, not the warrior man, is the central figure. When the Divine author speaks of oneness with human creation—its beauty, its strength, its fidelity and its worthiness—the message comes to us in the figure of womankind. Who can possibly read "The Song of Songs" and ignore woman as a repository of God, a sign of the fullness of creation and a mediator of holiness. Judith Ernst's adaptation of Song of Songs: Erotic Love Poetry revives the awareness of the centrality of woman in the design of God at the very moment in history when we insist on making it a question. Ernst reminds us that it is time to take this book seriously again.

Joan Chittister, author of The Story of Ruth and The Ten Commandments: Laws of the Heart


This rendering of the Song of Songs displays great dignity and delight. I admire it.

Robert Bly, poet, editor, translator, storyteller, and teacher; he is the author of numerous books of poetry as well as the bestseller, Iron John: A Book About Men

Judith Ernst's bold and vibrant illustrations stunningly capture the exquisite sensuousness of the Song of Songs, its timelessness, and its appeal to lovers everywhere. The scenes represented have been carefully chosen to represent key moments in the Song, to whose dramatic development Ernst is remarkably sensitive. All of them portray the woman, because of the prominence of her voice in the Song, and most of them show her in the countryside, where, as in the Song, the beauty and bounty of nature provide the perfect setting for love. We can feel in her poses and the lush surroundings the sense of pleasure the lovers have in each other and in nature. The setting could be Israel of the distant or not-so-distant past—biblical plants abound in these scenes—but it could be India, for the artwork has a distinct Indian flavor. Such details remind us not only that the Song is exotic but also, and especially, that it is not bound to a particular time or place. With notes and a somewhat modified text of the King James Version to accompany these alluring images, this is a book for lovers of the Song, and most of all for lovers.

J. Cheryl Exum, Professor of Biblical Studies at The University of Sheffield, and author of Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives and other books about women in the Old Testament

". . .a wonderful blend of text, art, and substantive reflection."

Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics at the Duke Divinity School, and author of A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, Naming the Silences, and many other notable books on Christian theology and ethics. He was also a Gifford Lecturer.

Judith Ernst has given us a fine rendering of the exquisite Song of Songs in accessible contemporary language, reverently extolling the Song's holy eros as an antidote to our "modern media-driven notions of sexuality, which commodify the body and reduce sexuality to voyeurism."

—Mother Tessa Bielecki, Abbess of Spiritual Life Institute and author of Teresa of Avila: Ecstasy and Common Sense and other books about St. Teresa and women's spirituality

Judith Ernst's gorgeously illustrated volume has the potential to do for the Song of Songs what Coleman Barks did for the poetry of Rumi: popularize a sacred/profane text by (re)introducing it to an entirely new mass market. . . Ernst's approach is original, that of an artist and a woman. Her illustrations bring the text alive as mere words cannot . . . a pure pleasure for its illustrations and thought-provoking for its commentary.

Samia Serageldin, novelist and essayist, author of The Cairo House, from her Amazon.com review of Song of Songs


More Reviews
Durham Herald Sun

Article by Cynthia Greenlee

Chapel Hill News
Article by Samia Serageldin

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