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 Jewish Lives Biography / Book on Solomon; King , Biblical Figure  Preview
March 14, 2011
240 P., 5.5" x 8.25"
978-0300137187

Solomon: The Lure of Wisdom

by Steven Weitzman

According to the Bible, Solomon’s wisdom was so great, his knowledge so vast, that "there was nothing hidden from the king"—no secret he could not uncover, no riddle he could not solve. The king knew everything there was to know—the mysteries of nature, of love, of God himself. But what do we know of Solomon? The king himself remains a mystery.

In this "unauthorized biography,"Biblical scholar Steven Weitzman seeks to illuminate this mystery through an account of King Solomon’s life that aims to reintroduce his story in a fresh way while also exploring its surprising influence in shaping Western culture. He follows explorers and archeologists as they seek traces of Solomon’s kingdom and wealth; delves into what is known about his Temple and the nature of his wisdom; and introduces the various biblical books attributed to Solomon—Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and the Song of Songs. Weitzman’s true subject, however, is Solomon’s place in the collective imagination of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the role that he plays as a symbol of wisdom, judgment, and intellectual ambition. Solomon’s story as it is told here goes well beyond ancient Israel and the Bible, reaching into many corners of religious and cultural history and with an impressive cast of characters that includes Christopher Columbus, Isaac Newton, Sigmund Freud, and other famous figures united by the shared Solomonic ambition to penetrate the deepest secrets of life.

Even as it seeks to tell the story of ancient Israel's wisest ruler, this insightful volume is also a meditation on the Solomonic “lust to know,” the desire to learn what ordinary mortals are forbidden to understand, and on the role of this desire in world history. King Solomon was a master of parables, of insights encoded in the form of a king’s life, and this biography discovers in his story such a parable for our own times, a story of, as Weitzman notes in his preface, "where the wish for wisdom comes from, how it pursues its ambitions, the deals with the devil it makes, and the tragic end that it often comes to."

Feature Review: 

....a meditation on the quest for unattainable knowledge....There is something deeply human about this appealing book of intellectual distinction."--Robert Alter

"An engrossing, elegant and erudite exegesis of the quest for knowledge — and an examination of where wisdom originates, the shapes it takes, the Faustian bargains it often makes and the tragic end to which it often comes."-Glenn Altschuler, Forward

"Steve Weitzman turns the challenge of writing a biography of King Solomon into a meditation on the quest for unattainable knowledge, an enterprise equally embodied in the figure of Solomon in Scripture and in legend. There is something deeply human about this appealing book of intellectual distinction." Robert Alter

"A thoroughly entertaining treatment of a controversial topic." Publishers Weekly

"In looking anew at Solomon’s life, [Weitzman] offers answers to many questions about the accomplished and wise king, and writes of Solomon’s significance to Jews, Christians and Muslims." Sandee Brawarsky, Jewish Week

"Weitzman captures the longstanding ambivalence regarding the pursuit of knowledge that has troubled many a Western imagination and that continues to the present day." Eve Levavi Feinstein, Jewish Ideas Daily

“Weitzman, a biblical scholar, uses all the latest research garnered from archaeological digs and literary history to try and unravel the mysterious personage of the fabled king.” Catholic Herald

Steven Weitzman

Steven Weitzman is the Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion at Stanford University. He was awarded the Gustave O. Arlt Prize for Outstanding Scholarship in the Humanities for his first book, Song and Story in Biblical Narrative.

Weitzman What Matters to Me and Why

Date: Wednesday, February 6, 2013. 12:00 PM. Location:Stanford University, Common Room in the Center for Inter-Religious Community, Learning and Experiences
(Old Union 3rd Floor)

HEAR WEITZMAN SPEAK ABOUT SOLOMON AND BIOGRAPHY AT CUNY: Start at 4:08min

For a documentary shown on PBS about a recent archaeological discovery bearing on Solomon's mines CLICK HERE

For Steven Weitzman’s response to the alleged discovery CLICK HERE

For the alleged recent discovery of a Solomonic wall in Jerusalem CLICK HERE