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THE TESTAMENT OF SOLOMON,FROM LATE ANTIQUITY TO THE RENAISSANCE. Sarah Iles Johnston,Introduction, To work on the Testament of Solomon properly a scholar must acquire. something like one of Solomon s legendary magical rings not the ring that. he used to imprison demons which the Testament itself describes but the. one that enabled him to understand and speak the languages of all earth s. creatures The Testament drew upon and in turn influenced so many cul. tures folk beliefs magical practices and literatures that unless a scholar is. fluent in numerous languages ancient and modem Greek Latin Hebrew. Aramaic Arabic and Persian as well as in all the contemporary European. languages just to name a few it is impossible to present the text and its. significance completely A scholar must also have infinite time at his or her. disposal for the territory that the Testament inhabits is not only geographi. cally vast but also temporally so it stretches backwards into much older. Jewish lore and the traditions represented in the Graeco Egyptian magical. papyri and then stretches forward into the Arabian Nights medieval folk. lore Renaissance grimoires and even modem novels and films. Lacking both a magical ring and S i t e time I have chosen to provide. a brief survey of our knowledge about the Testament its background and its. dissemination and following that to discuss the relevance of two of its. most distinctive features for the study of the history of magic the use of. demons for the benefit of humanity and the imprisonment of demons in. sealed containers It is my hope that this small taste of what the Testament. has to offer will stimulate other scholars to undertake further more detailed. I thank the organisers of the conference for inviting me to deliver the paper on. which this was based and many of the audience members for their comments In. addition I am grateful to Gideon Bohak and Dick Davis for their help with some of. the comparative materials I used and particularly to Jan Bremrner for his many. suggestions as I completed the essay,36 SARAH ILES JOHNSTON. Description of the document, The Testament of Solomon is a document written in Koine Greek purport. ing to be the testament diathskg of King Solomon and narrated in the fust. person 2 Like many ancient testaments it has two components 1 an exten. sive middle section that conveys information and 2 a ffame consisting of. a brief opening statement that explains who the narrator is how he acquired. the information he is about to convey and why he wants to convey it and a. closing statement exhorting the reader to make good use of the information. and explaining what happened to the narrator after he had acquired it Later. tradition picks up on Solomon s final words and explains that we must be. prepared to cope with the demons whom Solomon once had captured be. cause they subsequently were freed by the Babylonians or Chaldeans as. the text variously calls them who had been ordered by King Nebuchadnez. zar to destroy the Temple under which the demons bottles had been. buried The Babylonians thinking that the bottles contained gold opened. The information that Solomon passes along to his readers in the Testa. ment comprises a demonology Solomon tells us in the opening statement. that during the time when the Temple was being built his favorite work. man was attacked each night by a vampire like creature who sucked out his. energy through his thumb the demon also stole half of the worlanan s pro. visions and wages TSol 1 4 Solomon asked God for help and via the. angel Michael God delivered a magical ring to Solomon This ring upon. which was engraved the famous Seal of Solomon could be used to control. and bind all the demons of the world TSol 1 s,With a little help from the.
Work on the Testament TSoT should begin with consultation of the following. works Duling Testament 1992 Jackson Notes which corrects and amends. Duling McCown The Testament Preisendanz Salomo pp 684 690. The story appears most fully in an eighteenth century manuscript from a Greek. monastery in Jerusalem which McCown includes in his edition Bonner The Sibyl. pp 5 6 translates the text discusses the relevant portions and shows that it is. likely to be much older The tradition is already alluded to at TSol 5 5 and 15 9 15. as well See also The Testament of Truth N a g Hamnzadi Codex IX 3 70 5 24 for an. alternative and early attested second or third century version that blames the. Romans for opening the bottles when they destroyed the Temple. On instructions for making rings to be used in exorcisms of demons see Cyranides. 1 13 and the discussion at Bonner Technique Lucian Navigium 42 45 mentions. magical rings that are able to do all sorts of things cf also his Philopseudeis 45. The magical papyn include recipes for making magical rings e g PGM V 213 303. VII 628 42 XII 201 350 cf also Sepher ha Razim 6 16 29 Solomon s ring is first. mentioned at Josephus Antiquitates Judaicae 8 41 9 cf bGittim 68a b Cf also. PGM IV 3039 which adjures a demon by Solomon s seal but without mention of a. THE TESTAMENT OF SOLOMON 37, angel Ouriel Solomon first brought under his control Omias the demon. who was persecuting his workman he then forced Omias to bring Beelze. boul a more powerful demon into his presence TSol 1 10 3 5 Beelze. boul was compelled to call up all the other demons one by one so that. Solomon might learn from each of them what his or her name was how. each of them persecuted mortals and how each could be controlled TSol. 3 6 ff The bulk of the rest of the Testament describes how some of these. demons were then sealed immediately into vessels with the help of the ring. while others were first set to work building the Temple carrying out tasks. that ranged from plaiting hemp into ropes to lifting stones that were too. heavy for humans to handle At the end of the Testament Solomon relates. how seduced by the beauty of a foreign woman he agreed to sacrifice. grasshoppers to the gods Raphan and Moloch and thus fell out of God s. grace losing his power over the demons TSol 26 1 6 He ends his. Testament by exhorting other people to use the information that he has. passed on to them to protect themselves against demons as best they can. and to resist temptations to leave their faith better than he had TSol 26 8. Date and place of composition orientation of composer. The most recent scholar to study the Testament extensively Denis Duling. favors dating the text between the first and third centuries AD previous. scholars had suggested dates between the fust and thirteenth centuries AD. with proposals clustering in the first five centuries of the Common Era. Most scholars accept that some of the traditions underlying the Testament. most importantly the tradition that Solomon could exorcise demons go. back at least as far as the fust century B C It is now also agreed that the. ring and similarly amongst others Isbell Corpus nos 7 118 18 18 etc Further. on Solomon s ring within a broader cultural context Preisendanz Salomo pp. 670 676 Duling The Eleazar Miracle pp 21 22 and on the Islamic development. of the legend of Solomon s ring s Walker Sulayrnh p 823 Further on magical. rings see also Versnel Polycrates pp 35 36 with note 77 for bibliography. Jackson Notes rightly recognises and emphasises that one manuscript of the. Testament MS L from the British Library includes interpolations made by a. medieval reader who used it as a practical grimoire for performing exorcisms the. interpolations are intended to improve and expand the Testament s usefulness in this. field Jackson s work not only clears up some supposed textual problems but under. scores how important the Testament was to the development of later magical theory. and practice The article also provides ancient and medieval parallels for some of the. Testament s magical and demonological features that are not found elsewhere. Duling The Testament 1983 pp 940 943 reviews the arguments and previous. scholars opinions his own opinion is given on pp 941 942 See also McCown The. Testament pp 105 106,38 SARAH ILES JOHNSTON, original language of the document was the Koine Greek in which it has. been transmitted to us although Moses Gaster earlier had argued that the. existing Testament was a translation from a lost Hebrew original. Fifteen manuscripts of the Testament and a fragment of a sixteenth are. now known C C McCown s 1922 edition drew on ten manuscripts to. create a composite on which Duling s translation of the Testament was. based McCown also commented on three other manuscripts that were re. cognised at the time of his publication g A Delatte subsequently published. another shorter version of the Testament and K Preisendanz a papyrus. fragment from the fifth or sixth century AD Duling discusses a fmal. Arabic manuscript dating to the seventeenth century. Hypotheses regarding the place of composition vary and include Syria. Palestine Babylonia Asia Minor especially Ephesus and Egypt Duling. reaffirms McCown s judgment that we cannot assign a place with certainty. but adduces good reasons to favor Babylonia or Egypt The religious orien. tation and cultural background of the composer have also been much deba. ted proposals include Christian Palestinian Jew with awareness of Chris. tian ideas of the time Essene and Egyptian Gnostic but current consensus. is that the author was a Greek speaking Christian The backgrounds of the. rituals and beliefs represented in the Testament are diverse Some passages. find their closest parallels in the Greek and Demotic magical papyri of ap. proximately the same date which in turn draw on Egyptian Greek Roman. and Jewish ideas others seem borrowed from haggadic i e traditional. Jewish lore There are also passages that bear close resemblances to pas. sages in the Old and New biblical Testaments most scholars suggest that. the Testaments and the Testament drew on common older sources however. Duling The Testament 1983 p 939 and Gaster The Sword pp 294 309. See list and description at Duling The Testament 1983 pp 937 939 with. particular attention to the notes cf McCown The Testament pp 10 28 and Duling. Testament 1992 p 119, Preceding McCown The Testament the only edition available was that of Fleck. Wissenschaftliche Reise repr in Patrologia Graeca vol 122 1315 1358. l o Delatte Anecdofa pp 21 1 227 Preisendanz Ein Wiener Papyrusfragment and. see now Daniel The Testament Duling Testament 1992 p 119 See also. McCown The Testament pp 82 87 for a discussion of how the manuscripts differ. from one another The most recent translation into English is that of Duling The. Testament 1983 see also Conybeare The Testament whose translation how. ever draws upon Fleck s edition which used only the Paris codex. Duling The Testament 1983 pp 943 944 for a summary of earlier views and. arguments in favor of Babylonia Duling Testament 1992 for arguments that. favor Egypt Another thorough discussion although outdated is that of McCown. The Testament pp 88 90,T H E TESTAMENT OF SOLOMON 39. rather than that the Testament drew directly on the Testaments In short we. are dealing with a document that is like so many other religious documents. fi om the late antique Mediterranean it is a well mixed bricolage to which. we can hardly assign an ethnic or religious background in any useful. Solomonic traditions that preceded the Testament, The basis for Solomon s reputation as a controller of demons and later a.
worker of all sorts of magic goes back to I Kings 4 29 34 5 9 14 in. Hebrew which describes him as being extremely wise as having com. posed 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs translated as Gidai in the Septuagint. and as knowing a great deal about plants and animals Over the centuries. these statements were interpreted to mean that he wrote incantations epGi. dai 13 and knew the magical uses of plants and animals These claims were. joined by others that credited him with the knowledge of astrology and. forces of spirits as well by at least the second century BC A key text. for our understanding of how Solomon s reputation developed is Josephus. Antiquitates Judaicae 8 2 5 which makes him among other things an ex. pert exorcist whose name could be used by later exorcists to chase demons. out of those whom they possessed Josephus clearly alludes to I Kings 4 29. 34 at several points which supports the idea that it is here that the tradition. of Solomon as an exorcist and magician finds its root The Dead Sea. Scrolls contain a fragmentary recension of Psalm 91 known to the Rabbis. as an exorcistic text which mentions Solomon s name just before the term. d e m n s and, the Targum Sheni to Esther describes him as ruling over. not only animals but also devils and spirits of the night Thus by the first. century AD Solomon s reputation as a controller of demons seems to have. been well on its way towards becoming a central part of his legend if it. were not so already Solomon s identity as the son of David whom texts of. l 2 The most thorough survey of these topics is that of McCown The Testament pp. 51 90 although somewhat outdated now it still is a starting point for further work. Preisendanz s thorough review of Solomon s reputation in Antiquity is also impor. tant Salomo See also Duling s various publications as listed in the bibliography. On Jewish magic more broadly including traditions . FROM LATE ANTIQUITY TO THE RENAISSANCE Sarah Iles Johnston Introduction To work on the Testament of Solomon properly a scholar must acquire something like one of Solomon s legendary magical rings not the ring that he used to imprison demons which the Testament itself describes but the one that enabled him to understand and speak the languages of all earth s creatures The Testament drew

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