I am putting on the love of the Lord...
I have been united to Him, because the lover has found the Beloved.
Because I love Him that is the Son, I shall become a son.
Indeed, whoever is joined to Him who is immortal, shall truly be immortal.
These striking words come from what has been hailed as the earliest Christian hymn book. Prior to 1909, nothing was known of the Odes of Solomon except one quotation by Lactantius (†320). Then a Syriac manuscript was found containing, among other writings, 40 odes. Subsequent finds have shown that there were originally 42, though because of the fragmentary nature of the papyri, Ode 2 and part of Ode 3 have not survived.
I remember from my youth the odes read by comedian Frankie Howerd in the TV series Up Pompeii ("titter ye not!"). I later discovered that an ode is simply a piece of lyrical poetry written for a particular occasion, which in Greek at least had a fixed form. Scholars quickly established, however, that the Odes of Solomon, are not from a Greek stable but a Jewish one. Dating evidence suggests late 1st - early 2nd century, at any event before the Bar-Kokhba Revolt of 132-135, when Christian Jews were evicted from synagogues.
These verses are not odes other than in a general sense, then, and there is nothing to link them to Solomon except by analogy of phrasing with the Song of Solomon in the Bible. For these Odes are clearly Christian (at one time scholars thought Gnostic, but the consensus today is that they are orthodox) and praise the person and attributes of Jesus Christ. Was the titular use of Solomon's name a way of safeguarding the documents in a highly volatile political time when radical Jews were highly suspicious of Jewish followers of Christ?
What makes the Odes particularly exciting is that they clearly emanate from a community of Jewish disciples of Jesus, almost certainly from Syria. Church history from earliest times has majored on Gentile Christianity to the extent that the average reader can forget that Jewish believers continued at all beyond the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. I hope, in a few further posts, to explore these matters more and give some more quotations from this amazing early Christian resource.