Sunday, May 15, 2011

King Solomon was a fallen scholar

Previously I have posted about fallen scholars: people who had great intellects and produced seminal and influential scholarly works, but had their own personal moral failures. Should we dismiss their ideas? Or should we overlook their personal failings and focus on the relative merits of their ideas? Is such a separation of the person and their ideas really possible?

Only today I realised there is actually a significant precedent in the Bible: King Solomon. He was a wise man who was one of the leading scholars of his time (see 1 Kings 4:29-34). Yet he had many wives, worshiped idols, exploited his people, and failed as a parent. The Bible does not endorse his behaviour but does endorse his teachings.


  1. Is this post not really about the ad hominem attack in the end?

  2. Thanks for that idea, Bernie. I think sometimes people use the ad hominem to attach people whose ideas they don't like. e.g. because Luther made anti-semitic comments in old age we should dismiss his theological ideas.
    However, some of the "fallen scholar" posts have been about a more subtle issues of people, concerning people such as Heidigger. Did his ideas lead naturally to his sympathy and identification with the Nazi party or was that more a reflection of his poor judgement and political naivity?