Thursday, September 12, 2013
In the Days of Solomon by P.E. Kretzmann
P.E. Kretzmann was intensely interested in Christian Education, writing many educational books, especially for children, and books concerning education . To whet your appetite, an interesting work, Education among the Jews from the earliest times to the end of the Talmudic period, 500 A.D., is available online here.
In the Days of Solomon is a not well known book for middle school children. (126 pages) It was published by The Book Concern of Columbus, OH in 1932, probably, but a date is not given. One brief complaint concerning format is that besides the beautiful picture on the cover, there are no pictures, maps, etchings, artwork, etc. at all. The book is a historical novel set in the reign of Solomon during the building of the Temple. While I have some misgivings concerning historical novels set within biblical history, this approach is certainly to be preferred to a "retelling" of the biblical story that mixes the text and interpretation/commentary into a substitution for the real Scriptures. I'm a Biblicist, give the kids the real thing!
In the Days of Solomon, however, is certainly for deeper study and contemplation on the Scriptures since it presupposes basic biblical knowledge and does not presume to supplant the actual words of God. It is told from the point of view of an Israelite family of a man named Nathan in Bethlehem, in particular, the son Samuel. Kretzmann emphasizes that the family's center of existence, according to the Word of The Lord, is their home life. The father models a devoted husband's sense of responsibility and leadership as the head of the household, and the mother's glory is as godly wife and queen of the hearth. The importance of family worship and religious education is stressed throughout the book. The solemnity and reverence of worship at the Tabernacle is highlighted, as well as reverence and obedience to the Lord's Word in the home. Outside of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, there are two trips made, one to Joppa, and one to the Jordan Valley, which provide an opportunity for further geographical survey and historical tie-ins. The culmination of the story is the completion and dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem which the parents and older children attend.
For what it is, it is well done. While there are major potential pitfalls in such an undertaking, Kretzmann is a well-grounded and knowledgeable servant of the Word. Most modern examples of this genre are usually tragic failures, written by folks neither called nor prepared to undertake the challenge of producing godly and faithful materials for the religious education of the young. The common deficiencies of these sorts of books are usually not malicious, but rather spring from the ignorance of the writer who is not sensitive to (or even aware of) what is biblically and confessionally appropriate. Kretzmann, on the other hand, is knowledgeable of his material and sensitive to his goal and purpose--to further educate and develop the faith and life of his readers. He succeeds in his endeavor.
I appreciate In the Days of Solomon, and would confidently give it to my own children (and will!) around the age of 10-12. It is an interesting novel which will help familiarize children with "everyday family life" in ancient Israel and to contemplate how great a gift the Temple was to the O.T. Church, pointing to the Promised Seed, Christ, and His sacrifice and forgiveness.
Need to Get Level: 1/10
It is certainly not a "must-have," but it is a nice book for children who want to know more about life in the undivided kingdom. So, if you are one of the 1 in 10, get one of the three copies I could even track down before they're gone....