Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religious Studies


A.E. Combs


A.M. Cooper




During the past century, historical-critical scholarship on the reign of Solomon (I Kings I-II) has advanced the argument that the narrative is a heterogeneous mix of material, originating from diverse socio-historical settings. Reasonably enough, critical research on the Solomon narrative has concentrated on a number of compositional or redactional questions. The result of this research, however, is that the narrative itself is no longer read as a unit or as containing a coherent message. The purpose of this thesis is to try to recover the meaning of the narrative through a holistic reading of I Kings I-II. In particular, the thesis explores the "narrative tension," or "literary inconsistencies" in the text's portrayal of Solomono. The main problem facing the interpreter is to account for the fact that Solomon is both Israel's ideal and its apostate king. The thesis argues that this narrative tension can be explained through a holistic reading of the text, without recourse to an historical-critical analysis. The holistic approach reveals the structural unity of the text; the two dream theophanies to Solomon (3:4-15; 9:1-10) act as fulcrums which balance the narrative in two sections, one pro-Solomon, the other anti-Solomon. The unifying theme of both sections, it is argued, is Solomon's relationship with Torah and Wisdom. The development of that relationship lends a thematic tension to the narrative as well. By explicating these structural and thematic elements, the thesis demonstrates that the narrative tension in the Solomonic material is purposefully contrived. The investigation as a whole reveals that the narrative has a unit and an integrity of its own, from which a coherent message emerges.

McMaster University Library

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