Monday, 16 November 2009

Biblical Kings.

An interesting rhyme in today's Times:-

King David and King Solomon
lived merry, merry lives,
with many, many concubines
and many, many wives.
But when old age crept after them,
with many, many qualms,
King Solomon wrote Proverbs
and King David wrote the Psalms.

There is a new book out, published by OUP and written by Prof. Eric Cline, called "Biblical Archaeology: A Very Short Introduction. Apparently in it he says that there is very little evidence that either David or Solomon existed. Fifteen years ago there was no evidence at all in either case but then, in 1994 the Tel Dan Stele was discovered - it had been reused as building material. Dating back to 842BC it tells of the defeat of Joram, King of Israel in the ninth century BC by a ruler in Damascus. The wording says that he "slew seventy kings" and it actually mentions The House of David. But of Solomon there is not a single piece of evidence outside of the Bible.
I am not a religious person but I do love the poetry, particularly that of the Authorised Version of The Bible, and particularly Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Whether or not David and Solomon existed in reality I don't think matters at all. After all, we know that the figures of Classical Greek Mythology never ever existed but it doesn't stop us enjoying the wonderfully poetic stories they tell.

18 comments:

Reader Wil said...

Very difficult to prove that either king ever existed. I agree with you that the psalms and the proverbs are beautiful and somebody must have written them, so let's call them David or Solomon. They are so human!
Thanks for your visit,Weaver.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Maybe the blogging custom of writing under a different name goes back all those years!

gleaner said...

The use of myths and stories is probably our oldest method of understanding the world around us. I also love the poems and stories regardless of whether they are factual accurate.

Titus said...

Fantastic Weaver, so much my area of interest.

Going to quote myself here:

" ... the Christian, manna from heaven itself, as just when Darwinism was challenging their Creation, Khorsabad was unearthed, and with it the name of Sargon. Look, it’s there, incised in cuneiform, between the bull’s front and hind legs. Prior to the digging, this king was known only from the Bible, and thus discounted as merely fabulous. But Sargon was real, so the Bible was history. Soon after, cuneiform tablets that detailed the flood were found. Apes, indeed!"

from my history of the great Lamassu in the British Museum.

Think I saw the book there last time I was wandering, even more persuaded to get it now.

I think it's important to distinguish between myth and history, but that's a vast debate with very blurred edges!

Heather said...

There is so much in far more recent history that we cannot be certain about, and a great deal that we accept in blind faith. It would be impossible to prove the existence of King Solomon - if an archaeologist found some evidence, there would bound to be another who interpreted it in another way.

Penny said...

Well said Heather!

Dominic Rivron said...

Re poetry: there's The Song of Songs, too.

ChrisJ said...

Re: Professor Eric Cline. I think he needs to take a long, ponderous look at the rooms in the British Museum! All the archeological evidence that has been found (archeology has only been around about 200 years)has only supported Biblical narratives. They used to say the same about the Hittites, but see all the evidence they have now! But I do like the little rhymes, because I do have a sense of humor. I think God has too!

Tom Bailey said...

Proverbs and psalms make for excellent reading. Proverbs even has a little humor when it reminds you if you eat too much honey you will vomit.

I like your blog.

Leenie said...

A lot to think about. Whatever is truth, the books of psalms and proverbs are great literature.

Cloudia said...

Indeed!



Aloha, Thoughtful Friend


Comfort Spiral

Elisabeth said...

These kings exist in our imaginations and maybe that's enough. Perhaps they are archetypes and that too is enough.

I get tired sometimes of the call for proof and evidence of the existence of people and things from long long ago.

As the saying goes the past is a foreign country that we can never truly know, except in our memories and imaginations

steven said...

elisabeth's comment right above this eloquently expresses my own thinking. i'll experience whatever beauty, insight, understanding, learning or joy is left for us to experience without proof of the author's pedigree or "existence". have a lovely day in the dale. steven

Golden West said...

I'm with ChrisJ on this one. My understanding as well has been that archaeological finds support the Bible. One of the most recent discoveries that comes to mind is the cave of John the Baptist. However, as time goes on and I learn new things, I'm constantly reminded of how much I don't know.

Thank you, Weaver, for your kinds words for my daughter yesterday.

The Weaver of Grass said...

We all seem to be pretty much of one mind here - we love the poetry, we love the history, we are prepared to take it as it stands. Thank you for taking the trouble to read and comment.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

It's too bad so many people cannot see the symbolism and metaphors of scriptures - and instead take so much of it literally. Those that do seem to miss the beauty too.

Coastcard said...

I wonder what you feel about the scholars who have travelled in search of Troy and the Homeric places? I love the Michael Wood investigations.

My husband is an archaeologist, and touches occasionally on Biblical archaeology. I remember the thrill of arriving in Corinth for the first time on a school trip, and standing where the apostle Paul would have stood, 200 years before.

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Rather like Titus, I think it's important to distinguish between myth and history. I love a good story, provided everyone knows that's all it is.