The story of Solomon given in I Kings 2-11 is a cautionary tale picturing one of the few examples of apostasy in the Bible, Old or New Testament. The dual before-and-after collages describing his sprititual decline are shown below. These were created this year on oval canvases mounted on 20″ x 24″ hardboard backings.
Solomon: The Sage
Solomon began his reign auspiciously with God giving him the wisdom of seven men as well as power and wealth beyond imagining. His wisdom is amply demonstrated by the collection of Proverbs ascribed to him. Images from this book surround his composite portrait.
Solomon: The Apostate
Unfortunately, his end was not as glorious as his beginning. Chapter 11 of I Kings tells us that he married many foreign women and adopted their pagan religions before he died. The images surrounding this portrait are taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes, which is about, and possibly by, Solomon. This book describes the various futile experiments of someone who has everything attempting to find ultimate meaning in life. The various sayings in Ecclesiastes can be described as anti-wisdom in that they demonstrate that the general truths of Proverbs regarding the fates of the wise and foolish do not always play out simply in this life. In this manner, the book resembles that of Job.
As with Job, however, the author does not resort to nihilism but, as one author has said, “He is even skeptical about his own skepticism.” This phenenomenon plays itself out in the literary structure of Ecclesiastes in that each section, however negative in tone, concludes by coupling a cynical statement such as “All is vanity and a striving after the wind” with a positive qualifier such as “there is nothing better than that all should enjoy the work God has given them.”