Biblical Literature: The Solomonic Trilogy

Who was Solomon, son of David? The brilliant offspring of a scandalous marriage to a notorious beauty? The clever young prince who outsmarted his enemies to rule with penetrating wisdom? The builder of the greatest temple of the age, and the most exalted of its preachers? The maker of one thousand (and five!) songs and the collector of three thousand proverbs? The one-man Royal Society dedicated to finding out the nature of things and to summing all knowledge? Or was he the romancer of a prodigious harem, the knower of a thousand women who trusted none, the old fool whose lust for life seduced him into cults of death, and the embittered pessimist who gazed into the abyss until it gazed back?  In this class we will survey all of these Solomonic personae and more, through the three biblical books of this man synonymous with glory and wisdom, and also with sensuality and folly. The Solomonic personae are expansive enough to include not only the prudent life manager who speaks in the Book of Proverbs, but also the erotically charged lyricist of Solomon’s Song, and finally the chastened, disillusioned greybeard of Ecclesiastes. In other words, much as the Psalms are surprisingly many-voiced, so also does the knowledge and wisdom of the Bible’s Solomonic Trilogy come in more shapes than one. Starting with what we can know about Solomon’s origins and rise, we will survey these three varied anthologies that show his hand, and encounter Solomon not only in all his glory, but also in all his passion, his arrogance, his cynicism, his sorrow, and finally his hard-won equilibrium. “To everything there is a season,” he wrote, and this man of many seasons can still help us to reflect back—and perhaps forward—on the cycles and seasons of our own lives.

  • As One Who Brings Peace: The Solomonic Personae
  • The Wise and Their Riddles: How to Read a Proverb
  • Take Hold of Her: Wisdom and Desire in Proverbs
  • Love Strong as Death: Erotic Drama in the Song of Solomon
  • Enjoy Your Toil: The Counter-Wisdom of Ecclesiastes
  • Remember Your Creator: The End and the Beginning

Any good translation of the Bible will do. The professor will be using the New King James Version.


Tuesdays, 10:00 am — 11:30 am
March 12 — April 30 (no class March 19 and April 16)
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

Cost: $100

Christopher Hodgkins (M.A. and PhD, University of Chicago) is Professor of English and Atlantic World Studies. The winner of UNCG’s Senior Teaching Excellence Award (2004) and Senior Research Excellence Award (2011), he is author or editor of seven books on Renaissance literature and the British imperial imagination, and, most recently, of Literary Study of the Bible: An Introduction (Wiley-Blackwell)—from which this course material is drawn. He reads the Bible every day because it is true and beautiful.

Registration

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