New translation of Song of Solomon available for Valentine's Day

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--The first completed Old Testament book from the Holman Christian Standard Bible is available to the public, and it couldn't have come out at a better time.

The Song of Solomon, released in the form of a gift book, Our Song: Meditations on Love & Marriage, is available for Valentine's Day.

While perhaps not the easiest of all Old Testament books to understand, Broadman & Holman Publishers demonstrate the meanings of the passages by providing narratives and classic quotations to support them.

"God included love poetry like the Song of Solomon in the Scriptures because he takes great delight in marriage and love," said B&H editor Lawrence Kimbrough, who worked on the gift book. "The Bible would be incomplete if it only spoke of sexuality in terms of restraint. "In Christian marriages, romance doesn't have to be shushed."

Duane Garrett, assistant professor of Old Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass., completed the Song of Solomon translation for Broadman & Holman Publishers, a division of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

"I had written the Song of Songs commentary for (Broadman & Holman's) New American Commentary series, so I was already quite familiar with the text," Garrett said.

The biggest challenge in translating the Song of Solomon, he said, was trying to interpret a Hebrew text of complex poetry and strange imagery without losing the flavor of the original writing or having it come off as odd or crude in English.

"In some ways, the Song of Songs allows you to see love and sexuality through young, innocent eyes. It gives us an image of love as it was meant to be, and is almost Edenic. Studying the Song is definitely good for your marriage," he said.

Our Song: Meditations on Love & Marriage can be purchased at Christian bookstores or online at lifewaystores.com.

Selected Bible books from the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) have been released in various forms since 1999, and the complete New Testament is available now in various editions, including study and large print formats. It can also be searched and read in its entirety on www.broadmanholman.com.

Part of a seven-year, $10 million project, the entire HCSB translation (Old and New Testaments) will be completed in 2004, according to David Shepherd, senior vice president and publisher for B&H.

Despite hundreds of translations on the market, Shepherd said the HCSB bridges the gap between a literal translation and modern English versions tailored for lower-level reading skills.

"This is a fresh, modern English translation," he said. "Most work done lately has been on ease of reading, like the New Living Translation. That has a place and is helpful. But this is a new work on the other end of the spectrum, where accuracy is supreme."

Future HCSB Old Testament books scheduled for release prior to the complete Bible's 2004 launch include Psalms and Proverbs.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible translation originated with Arthur Farstad, formerly general editor of the New King James Version. He began pursuing a new translation in 1984, long before signing a contract with LifeWay.

After Farstad's death in 1998, a colleague, Edwin Blum of Dallas, took over Farstad's position as general editor of the HCSB. The team has 90 scholars from more than 20 Protestant denominations. One-third are Southern Baptists. All affirm a belief in biblical inerrancy.


(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: OUR SONG.

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