Museum of Freemasonry - Masonic Library
The problems of continuity are among the most baffling of those which beset the historian. This is particularly the case in the history of Western Europe in the last 2,000 odd Years. We are accustomed to think that of history within the framework invented for it by the German nineteenth‑century philosopher Friedrich Hegel as falling into three periods, the ancient. the medieval and the modern. A continuity between the ancient and the first part of the medieval period can often be traced, and so can one between the second half of the medieval and the modern. Continuity from the first period to the last, however, is extremely rare. Two outstanding examples of it will strike everyone at once ‑the Christian church and the Latin language. Neither exists today in anything like the original form. As Miss Prism remarked to Canon Chasuble in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest, 'the primitive church has not survived in its original form'. In the same way, no one, with classical Latin in mind, has tried to master either of its chief modern derivatives, church Latin and Italian, will maintain that it has done so either. That there is continuity in each case, however, is' quite clear.

Apart from these two, such examples as there are of this continuity are mainly to be found in the field of folklore, tradition and popular beliefs. It is with one of these that 1 want to deal today: the legend of King Solomon.

1 cannot do better than to begin this lecture at the point where the research it incorporates began, that is, with a quotation from a sentence from a contribution to A QC, xxvii by Bro Chetwode Crawley: 'Between the third and the thirteenth centuries,' he wrote, 'there are not in the whole range of Western Literature a score of references to Solomon or to his Temple, and such as are known to exist are neither complimentary to the Wisdom of the King nor laudatory of the splendour of the edifice.' To my mind this contains two serious mistakes ‑ a misstatement of fact, in that medieval Western literature abounds with complimentary references to Solomon and his Temple, and a mistaken implication that none of the Temple legends existed in written form earlier than AD 1300. All the literature goes to show that Solomon was a great figure in the Middle Ages. In all this material there is, of course, the gap between the first and second Craft degrees on the one side and the third on the other. The origin of the Hiramic legend proper, as Bro Covey‑Crump has demonstrated, is unknown and possibly unknowable; there are no traces of it in medieval literature, and its absence where so much else is present is highly significant. The material in the first and second degrees, on the other hand, is mainly from the Old Testament, and, even when it is not, its origin is, I think. in every case traceable. But medieval literature, in revealing the transmission of this material. reveals also the recurring traditions about Solomon himself, his Temple, and his chief Architect; and 1 do not think anyone can study these traditions without beginning to wonder how old the legends may be in something at least nearly approaching the form in which we have them. The many legends about him fall under three headings: Solomon the magician, Solomon the wise man. Solomon the builder. Of these the third one seems to have been the main one from the start, and 1 propose to pass over the magician and the wise man stories rather rapidly here and concentrate my attention on Solomon the builder.

To begin then, with Solomon the magician. An implication that he was a magician is found in two passages in the Old Testament, while the latest writer on the subject points out that the evidence of Solomon's life, with its dark and disastrous end, were exactly of a kind to encourage such a legend. The legend had grown extensively by the time of Josephus in the first century AD. Here we find the legend's two commonest features ‑ Solomon's power over birds and animals, and the books he had written. It is made quite plain that the books referred to here were books of magic; and thus almost at the start we are introduced to the magical rituals which were to be a constant theme.

The aim of all magic is to acquire human control over non‑human agencies. Magic takes three great forms ‑ astrology, alchemy and ritual. Ritual magic, that is, the repetition of special words and formulae, is incidental to one if not both the other forms as well as to many types of organised religion. Its most important medieval use, and that in which it shows most clearly the aim of all magic, lies in demonology, the study and knowledge of demons with a view to their control for human purposes. It is in the Roman period, especially in the first four or five centuries AD, that we become aware of the full importance of demonology, principally for use in exorcism, that is the casting out of demons; a series of literary sources from the New Testament onwards shows the importance for the Christian as well as for the Jew of exorcism as a means of healing the sick.

Magical books ascribed to Solomon were widespread; Origen in the third century refers to the exorcistic formulae contained in them, and now for the first time we hear of the Seal of Solomon, which cast out demons because it contained the Holy Name of God ‑ an idea which appears in two passages in the Book of Revelation. Amulets of this period invoke Solomon's aid against a variety of ills: as the magician who knew all the demons by their names, and what ailments were caused by which, he was the obvious person to call on.

It is in the Testament of Solomon that the King's power and position appear most clearly; and the Testament, a Jewish work probably of the fourth century AD, was to colour all European magical rituals for twelve hundred years. The Testament is hung on the thread of an autobiographical story of Solomon's life and reign, with stress on the building of the Temple. It is actually little more than a hand‑list of demons, giving their names. the mischief they cause, and how they are to be exorcised. The demonology is far more developed than any other feature of the work, and shows signs of various foreign influences, notably Egyptian and

Iranian. acting on its Jewish foundation. There are Christian influences, too; indeed. its importance partly lies in showing how close to each other Christianity and demonology were.

But the Testament has a wider importance. The first stage of demonology paramount in the Testament ‑ was a matter of exorcism and medicine. The next, which parts of the work foreshadow, was a change to demonology as a means of obtaining special benefits. To this end there was produced the series of manuals of demonology, which goes on into the sixteenth century, if not later. The most famous of these are the two Keys of Solomon; nearly all are attributed to him as a matter of course. It is here, perhaps, that it becomes most clear how great a figure Solomon the Magician was in the Middle Ages, and apart from the Manuals he reappears constantly in medieval literature. Most of the legends in the vast Solomon‑Magician corpus probably date from this time, and in any estimate of the mental atmosphere of the later Middle Ages he is a figure to reckon with. It was only with a further change in the character of demonology, and the rise of the new type of magician embodied in Faust, that Solomon lost ground.

The second strand in the tradition is that of Solomon the Wise Man. To a great extent, of course, the 'Magician' element presupposes this, and in the earlier centuries the two are very hard to distinguish. In the earliest evidence, other than the Old Testament itself, Josephus mentions three points referable strictly to this idea ‑books' Solomon had written (apart, that is, from the purely magical books already mentioned) ‑ a development from the generalised 'Wisdom' which alone is attributed to him by the Old Testament; the riddles he exchanged with Hiram of Tyre, or his servant Abdemonus, which are the occasion for a disquisition on the wisdom of Solomon itself; and the Queen of Sheba's visit to test and hear his wisdom.

In the Christian centuries the idea of Solomon's wisdom seems to have gradually separated itself from that of his magic, and stress is increasingly laid on the idea of him as the receptory of the Divine Wisdom ‑ the Hagia Sophia itself; he appears in this light in at least one fresco with Biblical figures, a twelfth‑century example in S. Demetrius at V1adimir. There are glimpses of the idea of wisdom in general, both in the Testament and in other sources, in the ascription to him of all medical knowledge, indeed of the whole art of healing, without the implication of exorcism. The books appear again in the sixth century in Cosmas‑Solornon again wrote his own works, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. For though he had received the gift of wisdom from God . . . he did not receive the gift of prophecy'; the riddling with Hiram and his servant, who here appears as Abdimus, in Jacques de Vitry's History of Jerusalem (thirteenth century). The Anglo‑Saxon Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn is a separate manifestation of this general idea; another, entirely separate and showing how widely prolific the idea was. is the Arab legend that the original strain of all Arab horses derives from the stallion Zad‑er‑Rakib, given by Solomon to an embassy of Azdites.

It is in the encyclopaedic age of the thirteenth century that the specific idea of Solomon as the repository of all Wisdom comes to its full flowering. The medieval notion of the Old and New Testament as complementary parts of one whole, the Old a prefiguration of the New, derives in its later form mainly from the 'Allegoriae quaedam Scripturae' of Isidore of Seville. though it is by no means original to him. It was not worked out in detail for some hundreds of years after Isidore, but when it was, we find Solomon as the symbol of Divine Wisdom, and as such the direct prefiguration of Christ Himself. This appears most clearly in the thirteenth century MSS of the Bible Moralisee, where miniatures of the 'various events in the history of Solomon are accompanied by both the Old Testament text and a statement of the precise event in the life and ministry of Christ which is prefigured.

The same idea inspires the late medieval version of the story of the Queen of Sheba. The story is Biblical in origin, and appears in Josephus; but with the passage of time its character changes. In the earlier Middle Ages. as well as in Byzantine tradition throughout, the Queen speaks in dark language, and most resembles one of the Roman Sibyls, whereas Jewish and Aramaic writers see her essentially as the riddle giver. In twelfth‑century Europe, she was, so to speak, Christianised, and accepted into Western Christian legend, where she has remained ever since. Solomon is the Divine Wisdom; the Queen of Sheba is the Church coming from the ends of the earth to hear the words of Christ, as she appears in the twelfth‑century stained glass at Canterbury. Alternatively Solomon on the throne represents the Divine Wisdom on the knees of Mary, and the Queen of Sheba's visit, the Adoration of the Magi. The latter version is shown above the Central West Porch of Strasbourg Cathedral, in a relief carving of Solomon on the throne with the Virgin and Child above. The former is illustrated in the Bible Moralisee and in the series of pairs of sculptured figures at Amiens, Chartres, Reims and elsewhere, which were the subject of a fierce argument in AQC xix. The older Sibyl‑Prophetess idea did not die out completely: it reappears in the Nuremberg Liber Cronicarum of 1493; and on a German 'Old Testament' Gothic tapestry of about 1500, are two figures with the names 'Salaman' and 'Sibilla'.

The other favourite scene of the wisdom of Solomon ‑ the Judgment ‑ has a longer specifically Christian history. What may be a caricature of it is on a Pompeian fresco (ie before the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79) in the Naples Museum; what is probably the earliest Christian representation is on the lid of a silver casket in the Church of San Nazaro in Milan, attributed to the late fourth century. There are other early medieval examples; and the judgment story, too, is drawn into the encyclopaedic explanation of the Bible. The Bible Moralisee makes the living child prefigure the Church, the dead ‑ the Synagogue.

The first, or Magician element in the tradition seems to fade about the time of the Renaissance. Not, indeed, that the belief in magic itself fades then; it was, in fact, the great age of Alchemy, and the Philosopher's Stone was often taken to be identical with the Seal of Solomon. But Solomon as a Magician was dying with the Magician conceived as a heroic figure. Solomon as a Wise Man was by no means dead, and with the beginning of serious Old Testament study he takes on a new lease of life. The idea reaches its height. perhaps, in a story told by Bayle in his Dictionary; that Joshua Barnes, Cambridge Professor Greek, in 1710 wrote an epic poem of 10,000 lines to prove that Solomon was the author of the Iliad and Odyssey, attributed to Homer. It is only fair to add that Bayle admits a doubt whether this feat was not performed to please the Professor's wife, and so induce her to pay for his edition of Homer.

These two first strands in the Solomon tradition may at first sight appear to have little to do with the masonic legends, but 1 suggest that they are important, both as disposing of the suggestion that Solomon was an unknown figure in the Middle Ages and as giving a background to the Temple story. They provide evidence of those general ideas on Solomon which the Middle Ages had, and which the Temple legends do, in fact, presuppose.

For the Temple is the centre of the Solomon tradition from the start. In the Old Testament books it is already the main event; and as Solomon himself and the personalities of his reign passed first into memory and then into legend ‑ and especially after the first destruction of Jerusalem, as witness Psalm 137 ‑ the Temple became to an ever‑increasing degree the symbol of past ‑ and lost greatness. Josephus tells the whole story at great length, and comparison of his account with those of the Old Testament reveals the accretion of legendary and marvellous details to the original. In all later sources the influence of Josephus can be traced, occasionally with acknowledgement, more often not; 'almost every person.'writes William of Malmesbury in the twelfth century, 'is acquainted with what Josephus, Eucherius and Bede have said' (sc, about the Temple), and in the late medieval romance of 'Titus and Vespasian', Josephus is not only a main authority for the events, but appears as one of the chief actors in the drama.

Early Christian writers are, in the main, content to report the story much as Josephus tells it. Clement of Alexandria, in the Stromateis (second century), gives the story of Solomon's reign in some detail, opening with the statements that he reigned for forty years, and that Nathan the Prophet lived in his time and inspired the building of the Temple, of which Sadok was the first High Priest, being the eighth in the line from Aaron. Later come the marriage of Solomon to the daughter of Hiram of Tyre, at the time when Menelaus came to Phoenicia from Troy ‑ a good example of Clement's historical method of synthesising classical and Jewish history ‑ and the 'Letters' of Solomon ‑ cited here from a lost work, Alexander on the Jews, and not from Josephus ‑ which brought him 80,000 workmen for the Temple from 'Hophra', King of Egypt, and another 80,000 from Hiram of Tyre, together with an architect named Hyperon, of a Jewish mother of the family of David; Eusebius, in the Praeparatio Evangelica (fourth century), tells much the same story, quoting the lost author Eupolemos, and adding a long description of the building, with particular reference to the two brass pillars gilded with pure gold. John Chrysostom devotes part of a sermon to an argument on whether its plan and design derived from Egypt, concluding in the negative. The Testament is contemporary with these, and, as its latest editor has pointed out, the Temple is the Leitmotif of the whole work ‑ a good example of the essential unity of the three strands in the Solomon tradition: it is in order to build the Temple that Solomon seeks and acquires the power over demons which forms the real subject of the book.

With Gregory of Tours (sixth century) we are approaching the Middle Ages. Gregory mentions the Temple twice. In his History it is the subject of the sole reference to Solomon, and is described as of such magnificence and splendour that the world has never seen its equal; in the de cursa Stellarum it is cited as one of the Seven Wonders of the World. In the lengthy de templo Solomonis of Bede (625‑735), we first meet the allegorical interpretation of the Temple story which has been a feature of the Western approach to it ever since; Bede, like Josephus, is a source on which many later writers draw. Bede states the basis of the allegorical approach in his first chapter:

The House of God, which King Solomon built in Jerusalem, m as made in the model of the universal church. which from the first of the elect to the last m who shall be born at the end of the world, is built daily by,' the grace of the peaceful King. her Redeamer.

His method is to start each section with the quotation of a sentence from the Old Testament describing some feature of the Temple. and to give a long allegorical explanation of it. Considerations of time and space make it impossible to cite examples; besides, much of it is intensely dull. Bede quotes some half-a-dozen times from Josephus, and twice from Cassiodorus' Commentary ' v on the Pslams; his own influence is clear to see in the three other most important medieval works on this class, Rhabanus Maurus' Commentary on the Books of Samuel and Kings (ninth century) ‑ a great deal of which is taken word for word from Bede ‑ Richard of Saint Victor's de Tavernaculo Tractatus Secundus (twelfth century), and the Historica Scholastica of Petrus Comestor (twelfth century). Of these, the first two give full importance to the allegorical approach of Bede; in the third it is much less to the fore. Comestor, whose work is an abridged and simplified Bible, is in general satisfied to tell a plain, but very detailed, story of the building and magnificence of the Temple; he relies mainly on the Old Testament and Josephus. Besides these writers, who are essentially ecclesiastical in approach, there are a number of others. Alcuin, for instance. refers to Charlemagne in the ninth century both as David and as Solomon, and, in reference to the new building, speaks of 'that Temple of Aachen which is being constructed by the art of the most wise Solomon'. Both the Golden Legend (twelfth century) and Ranulf Higelen's Polychronicon (fourteenth century) trace the whole history of Solomon, incorporating many of the later legendary additions, and Higden describes the Temple in considerable detail. From a far distant source – Palestine itself ‑ comes a legend of unknown age, though it is medieval, to the effect that Solomon himself was a stonemason.

This mention of Palestine leads on to the third class of medieval sources on the Temple ‑the tales brought back by the Pilgrims. The building they saw was. in fact, the Mosque of Omar, but by no means all of them appear to have realised that – though as early as about AD 700 Bishop Arculf says firmly, On the spot where the Temple once stood, near the Eastern gate, the Saracens have erected a house of prayer' ‑and even some who do realise it write of the whole area as though the Temple were still standing. William of Malmesbury writes, 'Here is the Church of Our Lord and the Temple which they call Solomon's, by whom built is unknown, but religiously reverenced by the Turks', and in the middle of the fifteenth century the Spanish traveller, Pero Tafur, 'bargained with a renegade . . . and offered him two ducats if he would get me into the Temple of Solomon'.

The esteem in which the Temple was held is clear in all the pilgrim accounts. 'It exceeded all the mountains around in height,' writes Saewulf (AD 1102), 'and all walls and buildings in brilliancy and glory,'and 60 years later Benjamin of Tudela reported seeing the two great pillars, each with the' name 'Solomon, son of David' engraved upon it, in the Church of S. Giovanni a Porta Latina in Rome. It is in line with these conceptions that in the rebuilding of Jerusalem after its capture by the Crusaders there was a'Templum Domini', a'Templum Salomonis' and a 'Domus Regia', and Jacques de Vitry writes:

There is also at Jerusalem another temple of vast size and extent, after which the militant friars of the temple are called Templars. This is called Solomon's Temple, perhaps to distinguish it from the other, which is called the Lord's Temple.

The later period of the Temple literature was covered in Professor Swift Johnson's paper in A QC, xii; the facts he brings forward substantiate the theory of the permanence of western Temple traditions at this late period, and it would serve no purpose to cite them in detail here. It is interesting, however, to note the persistence of the tradition in Palestine, as shown, for instance, in the diary of Henry Maundrell, who went from Aleppo to Jerusalem and back in 1697, and refers to local legends of Solomon at Tyre (connected with the building of the Temple), Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The important point about almost all the later literature is the influence on it of the study of Ezekiel. This appears in both Richard of Saint‑Victor, who wrote a Commentary on Ezekiel's Temple, with accompanying plans, and Comestor; it led directly to the conclusion that the Temple of Solomon and the Temple described by Ezekiel were one and the same building. This is stated most explicitly late in the seventeenth century by the brothers Villalpandus; it is obviously present to the minds of many of the later writers, and to the makers of Temple models. Many of our own ideas of the magnificence of the building are probably to be traced back to it.

The Temple building appears more than any other feature of the Solomon tradition in works of art. It is, indeed, altogether absent during the first 12 Christian centuries in the West, but this absence is in line with the general dearth of Old Testament subjects at that time. Early in the thirteenth century, Solomon is shown kneeling and facing a Gothic building, with a pillared porch, in one of the quatrefoil panels by the south‑western door of Amiens Cathedral; he appears again, seated and watching the building of the Temple, in a Hamburg Bible of 1255 in the Royal Library at Copenhagen. It cannot be accidental that these earliest representations date from the didactic age of the Bible Moralisee of Richard of Saint‑ victor, and of Comestor. T he fourteenth century, so tar as my researches have gone, is almost a blank period for Temple pictures, but with the fifteenth, and the generations following the first wave of vernacular translations of, and commentaries on, the Bible, figures of Solomon become ever more common, and we are able to see the importance attached to the Temple in the Solomon story of the time. The famous manuscript, Les Tres Riches Heures de Jean Duc de Berr ' y, now in the Musee Con& at Chantilly, devotes a page to a scene similar to that in the Copenhagen Bible ‑ the Figure of Solomon facing a partially completed Temple. About the middle of the century this is again repeated in the Josephus manuscript illustrated by the French miniaturist. Jean Foucquet, and now in the Bibliotheque Nationale; the Temple is here an exceedingly elaborate French Gothic building. The earlier English representations are figures in Tree of Jesse designs, with one exception ‑ the fourteenth‑century Queen Mary's Psalter. This has a series of illustrations of the history of Solomon, including the Temple building, a scene similar to that in the Copenhagen Bible. The development of the Tree of Jesse in medieval art is a very large subject, and it must be enough to say that the choice of figures in the earliest representations varies considerably. Solomon is by no means always one of them, and when he is present, he carries a plain sceptre. In later years he appears regularly as one of the Standard' Ancestors of Christ, and at this time, too, the emblems carried by the figures come to be adapted more closely to the individual. David carries a harp, and Solomon either a sword of justice or a model Temple. Of the examples of the latter known to me, two are English and one Welsh, and the date of the earliest is also significant. This is the Jesse Window in Margaretting Church, in Essex, dated to about 1460; the others, also in glass, are at Thornhill, Yorkshire, dated 1499, and Llanrhaiadr, Denbighshire, dated 1533. The Margaretting temple is a Gothic building with a spire; of the other two, both taken from the artist Jean Pigonchet's illustrations to a French Book of Hours dated 1498, that at Thornhill is hexagonal, and that at Llarirhaiadr cruciform, with a tower and apparently a minaret. Another figure of Solomon is contemporary with Margaretting. It is a roof boss in the nave of Norwich Cathedral, carved under Bishop Lyhart. 1446‑72, and shows Solomon with a small Temple in the right hand and a sword in the left.

Another tradition is represented by Raphael's Fresco in the Vatican Stanza afterwards engraved and copied very widely ‑ a building scene with nothing in particular to distinguish the Temple, but with Solomon and other figures standing in the foreground. Going from the sublime to the ridiculous, a similar, but not certainly the same, scene is shown in a stained‑glass window of Flemish early sixteenth‑century origin, brought to this country from Rouen at the time of the French Revolution and erected in Prittlewell Church, Essex. It is one of a set of twelve, some of them copies from Dilrer, and shows masons at work on a building, watched by two overseers in the background; an angel carrying a square flies above them. The Temple itself, together with the Pillars, the sea of brass and the chariot with the urn, appears among a great variety of other scenes from the history of Solomon in the series of small books of Bible illustrations produced in many European countries during the sixteenth century, with designs by contemporary engravers. The general character of these illustrations is shown in that reproduced in A QC, Ixi, 1, (opp p 132) from the Geneva Bible. With reference to the late Bro Poole's remarks, it may be mentioned that the idea of Bible illustrations of this kind and in this form appears first (to my knowledge) in a book published at Antwerp in 1528. The pillars, with their 'bowls', appear in a separate illustration there, and in many others of the series, most of which seem to be contemporary with, or somewhat later than. the Geneva Bible. In the series as a whole we see the results of the earlier vernacular Bible versions. Later in the sixteenth and during the following century, a Temple building scene was commonly included in tapestry sets of the History of Solomon. The finest of these is the Brussels tapestry in the Imperial Collections at Vienna; at least one English example i's existant, an eighteen th‑century piece belonging to Lord Newton (Grand Lodge also possesses an example of the seventeenth century: it formerly belonged to Lord Charnwood and was acquired in c. 1952). It may be said of all these later Temple pictures that they bear out the substantial truth of Bro J. H. Rylands dictum. that with the passage of time the Temple bears an everincreasing resemblance to a railway station hotel.

So much on the Temple generally; but before 1 conclude there are one or two points of special interest. The first concerns the two pillars. In the Greek translation of the Biblical manuscript known as the Septuagint, the two Hebrew names are transliterated as we know them today in Kings, but in Chronicles are rendered by the Greek words meaning 'strength' and 'right'. Josephus gives the Hebrew words only. and the early Christian writers, where they mention them at all, do so without translation. The Vulgate does the same, and it is only in comparatively modern editions of it ‑ the earliest 1 have been able to trace is the Paris edition of I 552 ‑ that a Glossary translates the words as 'In fortitudine aut in Hirco' ('in strength or' with a second meaningless word) and 'Praeparans sive praeparatio, vel firmitas' (preparing or preparation, or firmness).

The same Glossary, it is interesting to note, refers to a priest named J, of uncertain date, mentioned in 1 Chronicles ix, 10, and to a tribe of J.ites in Numbers xxvi, 12; the first of these appears to be the only ground for the legend attached to the name. Long before this, however, the significations almost as we have them had been attached to the pillars. Bede refers to them as 'J., that is, firmness', and 'B_ that is, in strength', being followed word for word in this by both Rhabanus Maurus and Comestor. Medieval Jewish traditions about the pillars appear in Benjamin of Tudela, whose account of seeing them in Rome in 1160 has already been mentioned; and in the porch added to Wurzburg Cathedral by Bishop Hermann of Lobdeburg, between 1222 and 1254, the two main pillars at the entrance are carved respectively with the letters B. and J_ to which the full names, both rather curiously spelled, have been added. That any of this carving is of the same date as the porch itself, is, 1 fear, unproven and unprovable. The Authorised Version of 1611 has 'In it is strength' and 'He shall establish', and the discrepancy between this and the older traditional signification of J. is interesting, considering the date.

Medieval sources have much to say about Hiram, though on the legend proper they are completely silent. The existence of two Hirams, implied in Kings and stated definitely in Chronicles, is accepted from the start, but there is some discrepancy between the accounts of Hiram the commoner's parentage, and even of his name; Clement calls him Hyperon. As to the name 'Abif', the introduction of which in Europe is generally attributed to Luther's Bible in the early sixteenth century, it is worthy of note that it is mentioned in Rhabanus Maurus' twelfthcentury Commentary of the Books of Chronicles. Hiram is mentioned as an architect rather than a bronzecaster by both Clement and Eusebius, both writing in the fourth century, but not by any of the later authors. The allegorical interpretation is stated most clearly by Bede, and in view of Bro Covey‑Crump's suggestion of a confusion between Hiram (sometimes spelled 'lram') and Adoniram, it may be said that the former is allegorised as the Teacher of the Church (the widow of the tribe of Israel) to the Gentiles, the latter, mentioned constantly as an overseer. as the Saviour Himself.

The medieval sources mention other points connected with Solomon and the Temple which there is no time to mention. One of them, after considering the legend that no metal tools were used to build the Temple, gives up the difficulty involved with the comment 'it is no cause for wonder that in works of Solomon we find what can rather be marvelled at than usefully examined'. With this sentence we return to the basic conception of Solomon as a Wonder worker from which we started. 1 am aware that far from all the ground 1 have covered can be described as being immediately masonic research, if by that term is necessarily meant something connected with the Order we know today. MY aim, within the restricted field 1 have tried to cover, has been to suggest a background of tradition and legend. 1 do not want to imply that all or much of this tradition ‑ if it was a tradition ‑ was, so to speak, masonic but if, as the late Bro Knoop and his colleague stress in The Genesis, masonic tenets and principles are slow to grow, legends are even slower. Unlike tenets and principles, they are liable to change in their application; but even where this change may be suspected (and in no relevant case can it be proved), a useful purpose may be served by showing their age and development. Our knowledge of the extent of Old Testament learning at any given time before, say, the late fifteenth century is very incomplete. 1 believe myself that even the scanty material presented here justifies the phrase 'background of tradition' behind the particular form of many of our legends; and furthermore that though the gaps in time between the appearances of the various factors are sometimes long, it is more convincing to assume a tradition than an indefinite number of written sources, all repeating the same story and almost all now lost.

The vernacular translations of the Bible which begin in the later fourteenth century (in England with Wyclif), make the general tradition of Solomon, as then known, likely to be more popular than before. Their effect is to be traced in what may fairly be called the 'Old Testament Revival', which has greatly affected the character of all the Reformed Churches, and in the growth of the iconography of Solomon. The medieval repertoire ‑ the Judgment, the visit of the Queen of Sheba, the various figures of the King, generally part of a Tree of Jesse ‑ is extended to include the Temple, the Idolatry, views of the Palace, Throne and details of buildings, and many small and fanciful scenes. But by the same token the effect of the vernacular Bible must have been to make the formation of entirely new legends, not directly dependent on the Old Testament, increasingly unlikely with the passage of time. The problem of the masonic legends is not how early their origin can be, but how late.

The Prestonian Lecture For 1961
Gerard Brett