The Shift in the Bible’s Assessment of Solomon

brueggemann solomonOver a year ago, I began to ponder the shift that takes place in the Bible’s assessment of Solomon. In some passages, he’s praised for his consummate wisdom and opulence. In others he’s parodied for his womanizing and idolatry. Pretty soon, one begins to wonder whether or not a given description of Solomon is really an under-handed jab at this very ironic figure.

Enter Walter Brueggemann. Brueggemann has long been known for his imaginative and innovative readings of the OT. In his book Solomon: Israel’s Ironic Icon of Human Achievement, he surveys biblical (OT and NT) and extra-biblical texts relating to Solomon as he describes how Solomon’s story has been passed down and employed through the imaginative testimony of various ancient readers.

Here’s the table of contents:

1. Beginning Points: History and Canonicity
2. The Larger Narrative in Which “Solomon” is Embedded
3. The Beloved Son amid Rough-and-Tumble Power
4. How a Modest Solomon Became a Large Narrative Solomon: 1 Kings 3-11
5. “Solomon” as Temple Builder
6. “Solomon” as Wise King
7. “Solomon” as Economic Genius
8. The Deuteronomic Proviso: The Voice of Ironic Criticism
9. Chronicles: Solomon Glorious, One-Dimensional, Minus Irony
10. Solomon as Durable Teacher: Proverbs
11. Solomon in Canonical Extrapolation: Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs
12. Solomon among the “Praises of Israel”
13. Solomon in Four Belated Refractions
14. Postscript: Solomon in the New Testament Perspective

The more I began to think about Solomon, the more I realized a book about his variagated portrait in the OT was necessary. I began to outline various chapters in my head of how such a book might look and was therefore delighted to find that I was beaten to the punch by Brueggemann himself!

Anyone interested in reception history and innerbiblical interpretation will find this volume to be a delightful read!


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