My pre-sleep ritual consists of scrolling through reddit for up to an hour (some of those questions about creepiest/weirdest things you saw in some line of work are so engrossing) and then reading a book for up to an hour. I do not recall which subreddit or post I was looking at last night when I got the idea to look up the differences between Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Presbyterians on YouTube. I ended up watching part of this video about whether it’s true that Lutheranism is the True Catholicism, which then prompted me to check out the content creator’s channel.
I bounced around through a few videos and suddenly got the idea that I wanted to read the Bible…but not in the Sunday School sort of way. I still have the one from when I was ten-years-old, but I wanted to read an edition that provided more historical context. Of course, The Ten Minute Bible Hour would have not one but two playlists about the text and a video where he provides an overview of many popular editions.
Why would I want to read a book that so many people have turned to in times of extreme duress but also to justify harmful behavior? What could I gain from it now that I wasn’t able to when I was going to church every Sunday through my junior year in high school? Despite being raised non-denominational Protestant, I never considered the Bible to be like a To-Do List or a brand styleguide. At the same time, though, I didn’t think about it as a text separate from dogmatic teachings of a particular religion. I never read all of the Bible either (not even in college when I attended the Asian Christian Fellowship meetings every Friday for a couple years). On a whim, I decided that I would read all of the Bible…mostly because I think I would enjoy reading it now as story, as parable, as letters to a cynic. And, I wanted the violent bits that my Sunday School teachers probably summarized instead of having us read the source material.
I went to the Barnes & Noble at the Mall of GA today to go looking for a new Bible. I almost got a Precious Moments edition of the Catholic Bible just because I wanted one when I was a kid, but instead went with the Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible NRSV. Since Song of Solomon has always been a favorite book, I flipped straight to it to see what supplemental information flanked the pages. What did I find? Sections on the “Historical Setting,” the “Literary Setting,” and…
~ Love and sex are powerful forces in our lives.
~ Wisdom will result in discipline and an understanding of appropriate timing in love (1091).
If you’ve only ever heard a couple lines from the Song of Solomon, it’s probably the second verse: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine. *
The notes at the bottom of the page for verse 2 indicate that “A kiss on the lips was a passionate expression throughout the Near East, though Egyptians touched noses instead…the comparison of the man’s love to wine is analogous to a stock metaphor of Egyptian love poetry, in which lovemaking is compared to pomegranate wine or to beer…the Egyptians knew wine, but they favored beer. In contrast, Israelites preferred wine, and no word for beer occurs in Biblical Hebrew” (1092).
Sold. This particular edition weighs 4 pounds and measures 6.50 inches (width) x 9.40 inches (height) x 2.30 inches (depth). As I held it up before me, I thought to myself, “This is going to save my life one day.” I mean physiologically.
I moved on to the DVDs and after I finished milling about there, I happened to look up and my eyes fell upon the other Robert Matzen book about Audrey Hepburn. The commemoration of my not having died for a year is just a few days away and between the reason why I went to the bookstore in the first place to where my gaze landed, the thought entered my head that “oh, this is my god-wink experience…goddess-wink, theologian-wink.” I want it to be as such, something more divinely premeditated than synchronicity or fate. Au fait, there will be a meaningful purpose and reason for why I wanted to read the Bible, which led me to that particular Barnes & Noble…so that I could also read Robert Matzen’s book.
C’est possible aussi que comme l’instance il y a une semaine, I was just at the right place at the right time.
*The NIV version says instead, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth–for your love is more delightful than wine.”