Jew­ish Text

The Song of Songs: The Hon­ey­bee in the Garden

  • Review
By – March 13, 2014

Author and artist Debra Band has applied her cal­li­graph­ic and writ­ing tal­ent to cre­ate a per­son­al inter­pre­ta­tion of the Song of Songs, the most sen­su­al book of the Bible. The Hon­ey­bee in the Gar­den is a visu­al delight from begin­ning to end, con­tain­ing 65 orig­i­nal illu­mi­na­tions and paper­cut repro­duc­tions. The sources of the accom­pa­ny­ing text include Band’s own inter­pre­ta­tions, the orig­i­nal Bible text, the Jew­ish Pub­li­ca­tion Soci­ety trans­la­tion and new trans­la­tions by schol­ar David Band.

The intro­duc­tion is a com­pre­hen­sive ori­en­ta­tion to the lit­er­ary and reli­gious his­to­ry and the Jew­ish iconog­ra­phy of the Song of Songs. Band believes that the poems should be read at two lev­els simul­ta­ne­ous­ly: one ori­ent­ed to the phys­i­cal world and the oth­er to the spir­i­tu­al. The author/​artist explains that the pas­sion inher­ent in the lit­er­al words actu­al­ly enhances the reli­gious feel­ing evoked by the sym­bol­ic under­stand­ing. The fore­word by Jew­ish The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary schol­ar Ray­mond P. Scheindlin prais­es Debra Band’s con­tem­po­rary inter­pre­ta­tion by com­par­ing it with old­er ones, offer­ing read­ers an expla­na­tion of the new rendering.

Mat­ta Fre­und is a for­mer eval­u­a­tor for the Depart­ment of Vis­i­tor Ser­vices at The Met­ro­pol­i­tan Muse­um of Art. She earned a Ph.D. from the Depart­ment of Arts and Human­i­ties, Teach­ers Col­lege, Colum­bia University.

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