By E.A. (Elizabeth) Harvey
Christina A. Bucher, the Carl W. Zeigler Chair in Religious Studies at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College, recently published a Bible commentary on the book Song of Songs, as part of the Believers Church Bible Commentary series. Bucher’s commentary shares space in the volume, “Lamentations, Song of Songs,” with Wilma Ann Bailey, who explores Lamentations.
The Believers Church Bible Commentary Series is a cooperative project of the Church of the Brethren, Brethren in Christ Church, Brethren Church, Mennonite Brethren Church, and Mennonite Church. Writers for the series of 27 books thus far come from Anabaptist and Pietist/Radical Pietist traditions. It is published by Herald Press, and may be purchased through Brethren Press.
[Order “Lamentations, Song of Songs” from Brethren Press for $22.50 plus a shipping and handling fee. Go to www.brethrenpress.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=2035 or call 800-441-3712.]
Bucher’s writing discusses Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) unit by unit, focusing on the literary features of the biblical text. It also discusses themes within a larger canonical context, identifying ways in which Song of Songs has been interpreted within the church, focusing especially on Anabaptist and Pietist theological and devotional writings. The commentary also discusses the book’s understanding of human sexuality.
Bucher will talk about Song of Songs as a devotional text at 9 a.m. on April 29 at the Susquehanna Valley Ministry Center on the Elizabethtown College campus. This six-hour continuing education program, shared with Old Testament scholar Bob Neff, examines devotional texts in the Old Testament that go beyond the psalter. The registration fee of $60 includes refreshments, lunch, and .6 continuing education units for ministers. Registration and payment are due by April 13. [For more information and a registration form go to www.etown.edu/programs/svmc/files/Registration_LivesOfDevotion.pdf .]
The series, published for those who seek to more fully understand the original message of scripture and its meaning for today, illuminates the scriptures, provides historical and cultural background, and shares theological, sociological, and ethical meanings.
The series publisher notes that “Lamentations, Song of Songs” covers the full emotional register of biblical literature from the anguished sorrow songs of ancient Israel to the passionate, lyric poems of lovers. The Lamentations commentary includes questions about authorship, images of God, and depiction of a community’s response to exile and its development of an identity in the wake of catastrophe, while Bucher offers multiple perspectives on Song of Songs and its imagery, characters, and allegorical and literal interpretations.
Bucher holds degrees from Elizabethtown College and Bethany Theological Seminary. She completed her doctoral degree in Hebrew Scriptures at Claremont Graduate University. She was a research assistant at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont, Calif., and later spent nine months in Tübingen, Germany, working on a project at the Institut für ökumenische Forschung. In her present role as the college’s Carl W. Zeigler Chair in Religious Studies, she offers courses in Bible and biblical languages.
For 10 years she served the Church of the Brethren as a member of the planning team for the Covenant Bible Study program and wrote two studies for the Covenant Bible Study series published by Brethren Press: “Biblical Imagery for God” (1995) and “The Prophecy of Amos and Hosea” (1997). She has contributed articles to “Brethren Life and Thought” and “Messenger” and has written curriculum for the Church of the Brethren. In 2010, Bucher co-edited “The Witness of the Hebrew Bible for a New Testament Church,” also published by Brethren Press.
— E.A. (Elizabeth) Harvey is communications manager and news editor in the Office of Marketing and Communications at Elizabethtown (Pa.) College.