Solomon as a Divine Mediator


by Andrew G. Home-Cook

[Andrew Home-Cook is a postgraduate student working on the M.Litt. degree at the Divinity School of the University of St. Andrews.–JRD]

How can a study of Solomon as a ‘Divine Mediator Figure’ contribute to our understanding of the origins of the worship of Jesus?

The majority of the primary texts available to us on Solomon show him to be a divine mediator of the “exalted patriarch” variety. However Solomon is unique in that in addition to this type he also fits another type of divine mediator the “exorcist”. Hurtado’s typology does not allow for such a figure which is alarming since Jesus and Apollonius of Tyana are even more suitable candidates for this category. Davila’s additional two-fold typology is moving in the right direction with charismatic prophet but there is no real sense in which Solomon prophesied.

I have looked at shamanism as a possible model to look at Solomon as a divine mediator and conclude that despite some degree of parallel in certain aspects of Solomon’s life and personality with shamans of contemporary cultures (e.g. ability to exorcise and control demonic and spiritual beings in such a way that it benefits the community – demons helped him build temple, also Solomon acted as a mediator between his community and the supramundane exoteric community) there exists little comparison. Indeed nowhere do we see that Solomon underwent any form of austere shamanic initiation ritual unlike Jesus and other exorcists like Apollonius who were driven by the spirit into the wilderness. Yet even Jesus does not fit this type in certain respects in particular there Jesus’ worldview towards the outsiders appears to be radically in contradistinction to that of a would-be shaman.

Solomon slots perfectly into Davis’ legacy pattern of mediation since in Josephus _Antiquities of the Jews_ VIII/2/5 and ancient Christian magical texts in particular he is esteemed as a man who left behind him an incredible wealth of wisdom, magical incantations, spells and amulet descriptions. Additionally in the Testament of Solomon, Solomon is displayed as a seer type figure who downloads an incredible amount of esoteric and secret information concerning demonology and cosmology from a whole series of demons which he summons and adjures by means of a magical ring. The very fact that the genre of this writing is described as a “testament” bespeaks its function namely the legacy of Solomon. However since these magical formulations were still very much thought to possess real power on request at any point in time it is also possible hence to see Solomon as an intervening mediator. Eleazar calls repeatedly upon Solomon’s name which evidently was reputed to enhance the chances of exorcistic success.

It is hard to see how Solomon may have contributed directly to the worship of Jesus but certainly there is considerable evidence that ideas of Solomon existed as an exalted patriarch-cum-exorcist who mediated through his legacy and through intervention (through either supplication or manipulation of his name) and it is quite possible that Jesus’ followers may have drawn from such a schemata (Rainbow’s term) as a partial aid in the near impossible process of fitting Jesus’ identity and characteristics into their Jewish monotheistic worldview.

(c) 1998
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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