International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
3. Religious Basis
5. Teaching of Christ
6. Remainder of the New Testament
In the Revised Version (British and American) the noun "wisdom" and its corresponding adjective and verb ("be wise," "act wisely," etc.) represent a variety of Hebrew words: bin (binah, and in the English Revised Version tebunah), sakhal (sekhel, sekhel), lebh (and in the English Revised Version labhabh), tushiyah (and in the English Revised Version Te`em, `ormah, piqqach. None of these, however, is of very frequent occurrence and by far the most common group is the verb chakham, with the adjective chakham, and the nouns chokhmah, chokhmoth, with something over 300 occurrences in the Old Testament (of which rather more than half are in Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes). Cokhmah, accordingly, may be treated as the Hebrew equivalent for the English "wisdom," but none the less the two words do not quite correspond. For chokhmah may be used of simple technical skill (Exodus 28:3; Exodus 35:25, etc.; compare The Wisdom of Solomon 14:2; Sirach 38:31; note that the English Versions of the Bible gives a false impression in such passages), of military ability (Isaiah 10:13), of the intelligence of the lower animals (Proverbs 30:24), of shrewdness applied to vicious (2 Samuel 13:3) or cruel (1 Kings 2:9 Hebrew) ends, etc. Obviously no one English word will cover all these different uses, but the general meaning is clear enough-"the art of reaching one's end by the use of the right means" (Smend). Predominantly the "wisdom" thought of is that which comes through experience, and the "wise man" is at his best in old age (Job 12:12; Job 15:10 Proverbs 16:31; Sirach 6:34; 8:09; 25:3-6, etc.; contrast Job 32:9; Ec 4:13; The Wisdom of Solomon 4:9; Sirach 25:2). And in religion the "wise man" is he who gives to the things of God the same acuteness that other men give to worldly affairs (Luke 16:8). He is distinguished from the prophets as not having personal inspiration, from the priestly school as not laying primary stress on the cult, and from the scribes as not devoted simply to the study of the sacred writings. But, in the word by itself, a "wise man" need not in any way be a religious man.
In the Revised Version (British and American) Apocrypha and New Testament the words "wisdom," "wise," "act wisely," etc., are always translations of phronimos, or of their cognates. For "wisdom," however, sophia is in almost every case the original word, the sole exception in the New Testament being Luke 1:17 (phronesis).
See also PRUDENCE.
(1) In the prophetic period, indeed, "wise" generally has an irreligious connotation. Israel was fully sensible that her culture was beneath that of the surrounding nations, but thought of this as the reverse of defect. Intellectual power without moral control was the very fruit of the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:5), and "wisdom" was essentially a heathen quality (Isaiah 10:13; Isaiah 19:12; Isaiah 47:10 Ezekiel 28:3-5 Zechariah 9:2; specifically Edomite in Jeremiah 49:7; Ob 1:8; contrast Baruch 3:22, 23) that deserved only denunciation (Isaiah 5:21; Isaiah 29:14 Jeremiah 4:22; Jeremiah 9:23; Jeremiah 18:18, etc.). Certainly at this time Israel was endeavoring to acquire a culture of her own, and there is no reason to question that Solomon had given it a powerful stimulus (1 Kings 4:29-34). But the times were too distracted and the moral problems too imperative to allow the more spiritually-minded any opportunity to cultivate secular learning, so that "wisdom" in Israel took on the unpleasant connotation of the quality of the shrewd court counselors, with their half-heathen advice (Isaiah 28:14-22, etc.). And the associations of the word with true religion are very few (Deuteronomy 4:6 Jeremiah 8:8), while Deuteronomy 32:6 Jeremiah 4:22; Jeremiah 8:9 have a satirical sound-`what men call "wisdom" is really folly!' So, no matter how much material may have gathered during this period (see PROVERBS), it is to the post-exilic community that we are to look for the formation of body of Wisdom literature really associated with Israel's religion.
(2) The factors that produced it were partly the same as those that produced scribism (see SCRIBES). Life in Palestine was lived only on the sufferance of foreigners and must have been dreary in the extreme. Under the firm hand of Persia there were no political questions, and in later times the nation was too weak to play any part in the conflicts between Antioch and Alexandria. Prophecy had about disappeared, fulfillment of the Messianic hope seemed too far off to affect thought deeply, and the conditions were not yet ripe that produced the later flame of apocalyptic enthusiasm. Nor were there vital religious problems within the nation, now that the fight against idolatry had been won and the ritual reforms established. Artistic pursuits were forbidden (compare especially The Wisdom of Solomon 15:4-6), and the Jewish temperament was not of a kind that could produce a speculative philosophy (note the sharp polemic against metaphysics, etc., in Sirach 3:21-24). It was in this period, to be sure, that Jewish commercial genius began to assert itself, but there was no satisfaction in this for the more spiritually-minded (Sirach 26:29). So, on the one hand, men were thrown back on the records of the past (scribism), while on the other the problems of religion and life were studied through sharp observation of Nature and of mankind. And the recorded results of the latter method form the Wisdom literature.
(3) In this are included Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, with certain psalms (notably Psalms 19; 37; 104; 107; 147; 148); in the Apocrypha must be added Sirach and Wisdom, with part of Baruch; while of the other writings of the period parts of Philo, 4 Maccabees, and the Abikar legend belong here also. How far foreign influence was at work it is hard to say. Egypt had a Wisdom literature of her own (see EGYPT) that must have been known to some degree in Palestine, while Babylonia and Persia could" not have been entirely without effect-but no specific dependence can be shown in any of these cases. For Greece the case is clearer, and Greek influence is obvious in Wisdom, despite the particularistic smugness of the author. But there was vitality enough in Judaism to explain the whole movement without recourse to outside influences, and, in any case, it is most arbitrary and untrue to attribute all the Wisdom speculation to Greek forces (as, e.g., does Siegfried, HDB).
3. Religious Basis:
The following characteristics are typical of the group:
(1) The premises are universal. The writers draw from life wherever found, admitting that in some things Israel may learn from other nations. The Proverbs of Lemuel are referred explicitly to a non-Jewish author (Proverbs 31:1 the Revised Version margin), and Sirach recommends foreign travel to his students (34:10, 11; 39:4). Indeed, all the princes of the earth rule through wisdom (Proverbs 8:16; compare Ecclesiastes 9:15). And even some real knowledge of God can be obtained by all men through the study of natural phenomena (Psalm 19:1; Sirach 16:29-17:14; 42:15-43:33; The Wisdom of Solomon 13:2, 9; compare Romans 1:20).
(2) But some of the writers dissent here (Job 28:28; Job 11:7 Ecclesiastes 2:11; Ecclesiastes 8:16, 17; 11:05; The Wisdom of Solomon 9:13(?)). And in any case this wisdom needs God's explicit grace for its cultivation (Sirach 51:13-22; The Wisdom of Solomon 7:7; 8:21), and when man trusts simply to his own attainments he is bound to go wrong (Proverbs 3:5-7; Proverbs 19:21; Proverbs 21:30; Proverbs 28:11; Sirach 3:24; 5:2, 3; 6:02; 10:12; Baruch 3:15-28). True wisdom must center about God (Proverbs 15:33; Proverbs 19:20), starting from Him (Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10 Psalm 111:10; Sirach 21:11; Job 28:28) and ending in Him (Proverbs 2:5); compare especially the beautiful passage Sirach 1:14-20. But the religious attitude is far from being the whole of Wisdom. The course is very difficult (Proverbs 2:4; 4:07; Sirach 4:17; 14:22, 23; The Wisdom of Solomon 1:5; 17:1); continual attention must be given every department of life, and man is never done learning (Proverbs 9:9; Sirach 6:18; Ecclesiastes 4:13).
(3) The attitude toward the written Law varies. In Ecclesiastes, Job and Proverbs it is hardly mentioned (Proverbs 28:7-9; Proverbs 29:18 (?)). Wisdom, as a special pamphlet against idolatry, has little occasion for specific reference, but its high estimate of the Law is clear enough (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:12-15; 18:9). Sirach, especially, can find no terms high enough for the praise of the Law (especially Sirach 24; 36; compare 9:15; 21:11, etc.), and he identifies the Law with Wisdom (24:23-25) and claims the prophets as Wisdom teachers (44:3, 4). Yet this perverse identification betrays the fact that Sirach's interest is not derived from a real study of the Law; the Wisdom that was so precious to him must be in the sacred books! Compare Baruch 4:1 (rather more sincere).
(4) The attitude toward the temple-worship is much the same. The rites are approved (Proverbs 3:9; Sirach 35:4-8; 38:11:00; Sirach seems to have an especial interest in the priesthood, 7:29-33; 50:5-21), but the writers clearly have no theory of sacrifice that they can utilize for practical purposes. And for sacrifice (and even prayer, Proverbs 28:9) as a substitute for righteousness no condemnation is too strong (Proverbs 7:14; Proverbs 15:8; Proverbs 20:25; Proverbs 21:3, 17; Sirach 34:18-26; 35:1-3, 12; Ec (5:1).
(5) An outlook on life beyond the grave is notably absent in the Wisdom literature. Wisdom is the only exception (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1, etc.), but Greek influence in Wisdom is perfectly certain. In Job there are expressions of confidence (14:13-15; 19:25-29), but these do not determine the main argument of the book. Proverbs does not raise the question, while Ecclesiastes and Sirach categorically deny immortality (Ecclesiastes 9:2-10; Sirach 14:16; 17:27, 28; 30:04:00; note that the Revised Version (British and American) in Sirach 7:17; 48:11 is based on a glossed text; compare the Hebrew). Even the Messianic hope of the nation is in the background in Pr (2:21, 22 (?)), and it is altogether absent in Job and Ecclesiastes. To Sirach (35:19; 36:11-14; 47:22) and Wisdom (3:8; 5:16-23) it is important, however, but not even these works have anything to say of a personal Messiah (Sirach 47:22 (?)).
(6) That in all the literature the individual is the center of interest need not be said. But this individualism, when combined with the weak eschatology, brought dire confusion into the doctrine of retribution (see SIN). Sirach stands squarely by the old doctrine of retribution in this life: if at no other time, a man's sins will be punished on his deathbed (1:13; 11:26). Neither Job nor Ecclesiastes, however, are content with this solution. The latter leaves the problem entirely unsolved (8:14, etc.), while the former commends it to God's unsearchable ways.
The basis of the Wisdom method may be described then as that of a "natural" religion respecting revelation, but not making much use of it. So the ideal is a man who believes in God and who endeavors to live according to a prudence taught by observation of this world's laws, with due respect, however, to Israel's traditional observances.
(1) From many standpoints the resulting character is worthy of admiration. The man was intelligent, earnest, and hard-working (Proverbs has a particular contempt for the "sluggard"; and compare Ecclesiastes 9:10). Lying and injustice are denounced on almost every page of the literature, and unceasing emphasis is laid on the necessity for benevolence (Psalm 37:21; Psalm 112:5, 9 Job 22:7; Job 31:16-20 Proverbs 3:27, 28; Proverbs 14:31; Proverbs 21:13; Proverbs 22:9 Ecclesiastes 11:1; Sirach 4:16; 7:34, 35; 29:11-13; 40:24, etc.). All of the writers feel that life is worth the living-at their most pessimistic moments the writers of Job and Ecclesiastes find attraction in the contemplation of the world. In Proverbs and Sirach the outlook is even buoyant, Sirach in especial being far from indifferent to the good things of life (30:23-25; 31:27:00; compare Ecclesiastes 2:24 and contrast The Wisdom of Solomon 2:6-9).
(2) The faults of the Wisdom ideal are the faults of the postulates. The man is always self-conscious and self-centered. All intense enthusiasms are repressed, as likely to prove entangling (Ecclesiastes 7:16, 17 is the most extreme case), and the individual is always calculating (Sirach 38:17), even among his friends (Sirach 6:13; Proverbs 25:17) and in his family (Sirach 33:19-23). Benevolence itself is to be exercised circumspectly (Proverbs 6:1-5; Proverbs 20:16; Sirach 12:5-7; 29:18), and Sirach, in particular, is very far from feeling an obligation to love all men (25:7; 27:24:00; 30:06:00; 50:25, 26). So "right" and "wrong" become confused with "advantage" and "disadvantage." Not only is adultery wrong (Proverbs 2:17; Sirach 23:23), but the injured husband is a dangerous enemy (Proverbs 5:9-11, 14; Proverbs 6:34, 35; Sirach 23:21). As a resuit the "moral perspective" is affected. With some of the finest moral observations in Proverbs and Sirach are combined instructions as to table manners (Proverbs 23:1-3; Sirach 31:12-18) and merely humorous observations (Proverbs 20:14), while such passages as Proverbs 22:22-28 and Sirach 41:17-24 contain extraordinary conglomerations of disparate motives.
(3) So hope of earthly recompense becomes a very explicit motive (Proverbs 3:10; Proverbs 11:25, etc.; The Wisdom of Solomon 7:8-12 is the best statement on the other side). Even though riches are nothing in themselves (Proverbs 10:2; Proverbs 11:28; Proverbs 23:4, 5; 28:11 Ecclesiastes 5:13; Sirach 11:19; 31:5-7; all the literature denounces the unrighteous rich), yet Wisdom is to be desired as bringing not only righteousness but riches also (Proverbs 8:21; Proverbs 11:25; Proverbs 13:18; Sirach 4:15; 20:27, 28; The Wisdom of Solomon 6:21). This same desire for advantage gives an unpleasant turn to many of the precepts which otherwise would touch the highest point; perhaps Proverbs 24:17, 18 is the most extreme case: "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth,.... lest Yahweh.... turn away his wrath from him" (!)
(4) But probably the most serious fault was that the Wisdom method tended to produce a religious aristocracy (Sirach 6:22, etc.). It was not enough that the heart and will should be right, for a long course of almost technical training was needed (the "house of instruction" in Sirach 51:23 is probably the school; compare Proverbs 9:4). The uninstructed or "simple" (Proverbs 1:22, etc.) were grouped quite simply with the "sinners"; knowledge was virtue and ignorance was vice. Doubtless Wisdom cried in the streets (Proverbs 1:20, 21; Proverbs 8:1-13; 9:1-6, almost certainly a reference to the canvassing efforts of the teachers for pupils), but only men of ability and leisure could obey the call to learn. And despite all that is said in praise of manual labor (Proverbs 12:11; Proverbs 24:27; Proverbs 28:19; Sirach 7:15; 38:31, 32, 34), Sirach is merely frank when he says explicitly (38:25-34) that Wisdom cannot be for artisans (a carpenter as Messiah evidently would have been unthinkable to Sirach; Mark 6:3). Scribism was at work along the same lines of development, and the final union of the Wisdom method with the scribal produced a class who called the common people accursed (John 7:49).
5. Teaching of Christ:
The statement of the methods and ideals of the Wisdom school is also virtually a statement of our Lord's attitude toward it and an explanation of why much of His teaching took the form it did. As to the universality of the premises He was at one with the Wisdom writers, one great reason for the universality of the appeal of His teaching. Almost everything in the life of the time, from the lily of the field to the king on his throne, contributed its quota to His illustrations. And from the Wisdom method also the form of His teaching-the concise, antithetical saying that sticks in the memory-was derived to some degree. (Of all the sayings of Christ, perhaps Luke 14:8-10 Proverbs 25:6, 7 -comes nearest to the pure Wisdom type.) In common with the Wisdom writers, also, is the cheerful outlook, despite the continual prospect of the Passion, and we must never forget that all morbid asceticism was entirely foreign to Him (Luke 7:34 parallel Matthew 11:19). With the self-conscious, calculating product of the Wisdom method, however, He had no patience. Give freely, give as the Father giveth, without regard to self, in no way seeking a reward, is the burden of His teaching, and such a passage as Luke 6:27-38 seems to have been aimed at the head of such writers as Sirach. The attack on the religious aristocracy is too familiar to need recapitulation. Men by continual exercise of worldly prudence could make themselves as impervious to His teaching as by obstinate adherence to a scribal tradition, while His message was for all men on the sole basis of a desire for righteousness on their part. This was the true Wisdom, fully justified of her children (Luke 7:35; compare Matthew 11:19), while, as touching the other "Wisdom," Christ could give thanks that God had seen fit to hide His mysteries from the wise and prudent and reveal them unto "babes" (Luke 10:21 parallel Matthew 11:25).
6. Remainder of the New Testament:
The remainder of the New Testament, despite many occurrences of the words "wise," "wisdom," etc., contains very little that is really relevant to the technical sense of the words. The one notable exception is James, which has even been classed as "Wisdom literature," and with some justice. For James has the same appeal to observation of Nature (1:11; 3:3-6, 11, 12; 5:7, etc.), the same observation of human life (2:2, 3, 15, 16; 4:13, etc.), the same antithetical form, and even the same technical use of the word "wisdom" (1:5; 3:15-17). The fiery moral zeal, however, is far above that of the other Wisdom books, even above that of Job.
Paul, on the other hand, belongs to an entirely different class, that of intense religious experience, seeking its premises in revelation. So the Wisdom method is foreign to him and the absence of Nature illustrations from his pages is notorious (even Romans 11:17 is an artificially constructed figure). Only one passage calls for special comment. The "wisdom" against which he inveighs in 1 Corinthians 1-3 is not Jewish but Greek-speculation in philosophy, with studied elegance in rhetoric. Still, Jewish or Greek, the moral difficulty was the same. God's message was obscured through an overvaluation of human attainments, and so Paul's use of such Old Testament passages as Isaiah 29:14 Job 5:13 Psalm 94:11 (in 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 3:19, 20) is entirely lust. Against this "wisdom" Paul sets the doctrine of the Cross, something that outraged every human system but which, all the more, taught man his entire dependence on God.
Yet Paul had a "wisdom" of his own (1 Corinthians 2:6), that he taught to Christians of mature moral (not intellectual: 1 Corinthians 3:1-3) progress. Some commentators would treat this wisdom as doctrinal and find it in (say) Romans; more probably it is to be connected with the mystical experiences of the Christian whose life has become fully controlled by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10-13). For religious progress is always accompanied by a higher insight that can never be described satisfactorily to persons without the same experience (1 Corinthians 2:14).
(1) One characteristic of the Wisdom writers that proved of immense significance for later (especially Christian) theology was a love of rhetorical personification of Wisdom (Proverbs 1:20-33; Proverbs 8:1-9:6; Sirach 4:11-19; 6:23-31; 14:20-15:10; 24; 51:13-21; The Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-9:18; Baruch 3:29-32). Such personifications in themselves are not, of course, remarkable (compare e.g. the treatment of "love" in 1 Corinthians 13), but the studied, somewhat artificial style of the Wisdom writers carries out the personification with a curious elaboration of details: Wisdom builds her house, marries her disciple, mingles wine, etc. The most famous passage is Proverbs 8:22-31, however. The Wisdom that is so useful to man was created before man, before, indeed, the creation of the world. When the world was formed she was in her childhood, and while God formed the world she engaged in childish play, under His shelter and to His delight. So Proverbs 8:30 should be rendered, as the context makes clear that 'mwn should be pointed 'amun, "sheltered," and not 'amon, "as a master-workman." And "Wisdom" is a quality of man (Proverbs 8:31-36), not a quality of God.
(2) Indeed, "Wisdom" is an attribute rarely predicated of God in the Old Testament (1 Kings 3:28 Isaiah 10:13; 1 Kings 31:2 Jeremiah 10:12; Jeremiah 51:15; compare Daniel 5:11), even in the Wisdom writers (Job 5:12; 9:4 Psalm 104:24 Proverbs 3:19). Partly this reticence seems to be due to a feeling that God's knowledge is hardly to be compared in kind to man's, partly to the fact that to the earlier writers "Wisdom" had a profane sound. Later works, however, have less hesitation in this regard (e.g., Sirach 42:21; Baruch 3:32, the Massoretic Text pointing and the Septuagint of Proverbs 8:30), so that the personifications became personifications of a quality of God. The result was one of the factors that operated to produce the doctrine of the "Word" as it appeared in the Palestinian form.
(3) In the Apocrypha, however, the most advanced step is taken in Wisdom. Wisdom is the only-begotten of God (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:22), the effulgence of eternal light (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:26; compare Hebrews 1:3), living with God (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:3) and sharing (?) His throne (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:4). She is the origin (or "mother") of all creatures (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:12; compare 8:6), continualiar active in penetrating (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:24), ordering (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:1), and renewing (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:27) all things, while carrying inspiration to all holy souls (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:23), especially to Israel (The Wisdom of Solomon 10:17, 18). Here there is no doubt that the personification has ceased to be rhetorical and has become real. Wisdom is thought of as a heavenly being, not so distinctively personal, perhaps, as an angel, but none the less far more than a mere rhetorical term; i.e. she is a "hypostasis."
(4) Most of Wisdom's description is simply an expansion of earlier Palestinian concepts, but it is evident that other influence has been at work also and that that influence was Greek. The writer of Wisdom was touched genuinely by the Greek philosophy, and in The Wisdom of Solomon 7:24, at any rate, his "Wisdom" is the logos spermatikos of the Stoics, with more than suspicions of Greek influence elsewhere in the descriptions. This combination of Jewish and Greek thought was still further elaborated by Philo-and still further confused. For Philo endeavored to operate with the Wisdom doctrine in its Palestinian form, the Wisdom doctrine into which Wisdom had already infused some Loges doctrine, and the Logos doctrine by itself, without thoroughly understanding the discordant character of his terms. The result is one of the most obscure passages in Philo's system. Sometimes, as in DeFug. section 109, chapter xx, Wisdom is the mother of the Logos, as God is its Father (compare Cherubim, sections 49, 50, chapter xiv), while, again, the relation can be inverted almost in the same context and the Logos appears as the source of Wisdom (De Fug. section 97, chapter xviii).
(5) Philo's influence was incalculable, and Wisdom, as a heavenly power, plays an almost incredible role in the Gnostic speculations of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, the Gnostic work, Pistis Sophia, probably attaining the climax of unreality. The orthodox Fathers, however, naturally sought Wisdom within the Trinity, and Irenaeus made an identification with the Holy Spirit (iv. 20, 3). Tertullian, on the other hand, identified Wisdom with the Son (probably following earlier precedent) in Adv. Prax., 7, and this identification attained general acceptation. So Proverbs 8:22-30 became a locus classicus in the Christological controversies (an elaborate exposition in Athanaslus, Orat. ii. 16-22), and persisted as a dogmatic proof-text until a very modern period.
The Old Testament Theologies, particularly those of Smend, edition 2 (1899), and Bertholet (1911). For the intermediate period, GJV, III, edition 4 (1909), and Boasset, Die Religion des Judentums, edition 2 (1906). Special works: Toy, "Wisdom Literature," EB, IV (1903); Meinhold, Die Weisheit Israels (1908); Friedlander, Griechische Philosophie im Altes Testament (1904, to be used cautiously). On Philo, compare especially Drummond, Philo Judaeus, II, 201-13 (1888).
See also the articles on the various books and compare LOGOS; PHILO, JUDAEUS.
Burton Scott Easton
WISDOM OF GOD
(sophia): Luke 11:49 reads: "Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send unto them prophets and apostles; and some of them they shall kill and persecute." The patristic and many later commentators, on the basis of the parallel in Matthew 23:34, took "wisdom of God" here to be a self-designation of Christ-an interpretation, however, that is obviously impossible. Somewhat similar is the view (Meyer) that treats the words as a Lukan designation of Christ, with the assumption that Luke here reintroduces Christ as the speaker in order to give solemnity to the judgment pronounced. But this is incredibly awkward and has no parallel in the Lukan use for even more solemn passages. Much simpler is the interpretation (Hofmann, B. Weiss, Plummer) that regards Christ as announcing here a decree formed by God in the past. But it is the behavior of the present generation that is in point (compare Luke 13:8, 9; Luke 20:13; altogether different is Luke 10:21). And the circumstantial wording of what follows is inappropriate for such a decree, is without parallel in Christ's teaching, and implies rather a written source. In the Old Testament, however, no passage exists that resembles this (Proverbs 1:20-31 (so Godet) is quite out of the question). So many exegetes (Holtzmann, J. Weiss, Loisy, Harnack) find here a quotation from some lost source that our Lord approved and that was familiar to His hearers. This is certainly the most natural explanation. Nor can it be said to be impossible that Christ recognized genuine prophetic inspiration in some writing that was meant to have transitory value only and not to be preserved for future generations. Perhaps this bore the title "Wisdom of God" or represented "Wisdom" as speaking, as in Proverbs 1:22-33.
Burton Scott Easton
WISDOM OF SOLOMON, THE
" I. NAME
1. The Wisdom Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:14
2. The Historical Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22
IV. LITERARY FORM
V. UNITY AND INTEGRITY
X. ORIGINAL LANGUAGE
XI. USE OF WISDOM BY CHRISTIAN WRITERS
XII. TEXT AND VERSIONS
In the Greek manuscripts (Codex Vaticanus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Sinaiticus, etc.) the book is called "The Wisdom of Solomon" Sophia Salomonos, the form of the latter word varying in the best manuscripts). In the Syriac (Peshitta) its title is "The Book of the Great Wisdom of Solomon." Solomon was among the Jews and the early Christians the patron of didactic, as David was of lyrical, and Moses of religious-legal, literature, and their names came to be associated with literary compositions with which they had nothing to do. We read in the Old Testament of the wisdom of Solomon (1 Kings 3:7-14; compare Sirach 47:12-18 (14-19)), and the whole of the Book of Proverbs is called by his name, though he is at most the author of but a part. Solomon speaks in the first person in this book (The Wisdom of Solomon 6-9), as he does in Ecclesiastes 1:12;, for that he is made the speaker until the close of The Wisdom of Solomon 9 is made certain by 7:1;; 9:2;. As long as he was thought to be the composer of this book it continued to be called "The Wisdom of Solomon" among the Jews and the early Christians.
Influenced by the Greek thought and style of the book, Jerome came to the conclusion that Solomon was not its author and he accordingly altered its title to "The Book of Wisdom" (Liber sapientiae), and it is this designation that the book bears in the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) and the versions made from it, though in the Protestant translations (German, English, Welsh, etc.) the title "The Wisdom of Solomon" is continued, as these, follow the Greek version and not the Latin Luther's title is The Wisdom of Solomon to Tyrants". (Die Weisheit Salamos an die Tyrannen). Epiphanius and Athanasius quote the book under the name "All-Virtuous Wisdom" (Panaretos Sophia), a title by which Proverbs and Sirach are also known in the writings of some of the Fathers.
In the manuscripts and odd of the Greek Bible and in the Vulgate, English Versions of the Bible, etc., Wisdom follows Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles, and is followed by Sirach. Some of the Fathers, believing the book to be by Solomon, thought it divinely-inspired and therefore canonical; so Hippolytus, Cyprian, Ambrose, etc. Other Fathers, though denying the Solomonian authorship of the book, yet accorded it canonical rank; so Origen, Eusebius, Augustine, etc. On the other hand there were some in the early church who refused to acknowledge the book as in any way authoritative in matters of doctrine. The Council of Trent included it with the rest of the Protestant Apocrypha (except 1 and 2 Esdras and Pr Man) in the Canon, so that the Romanist Bible includes it, but the Protestant Bible excludes it.
The book is made up of two main parts so different as to suggest difference of authorship.
(1) The wisdom section (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:4): In this part the writer describes and commends Wisdom, warning his readers against neglecting it.
(2) The historical section (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22).
1. The Wisdom Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:14:
Righteousness (i.e. Wisdom in operation) leads to immortality, unrighteousness to death (The Wisdom of Solomon 1).
(2) Contrasted Fortunes of the Wise (Righteous) and Unwise (Ungodly) (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:1-6:21).
(a) Sensual pleasures issue in death while God intended all men to live spiritually (The Wisdom of Solomon 2);
(b) the lot of the wise (righteous) is a happy one. Their sufferings are disciplinary and remedial; they shall live forever and reign hereafter over the nations (Gentiles) (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1-9);
(c) but the lot of the wicked and of their children is a miserable one; the wise (righteous) shall be happy though childless (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:10-19);
(d) virtuous childlessness secures immortality before guilty parenthood (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:1-6);
(e) though the wise (righteous) die early, yet they have rest in their death, and accomplish their life mission in the allotted time (of Enoch) (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:7-14);
(f) the ungodly (unwise) shall come to a wretched end: then they shall see and envy the prosperity of the righteous. Though they shall pass tracelessly away, the righteous shall rejoice in a life that is endless (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:15-5:23);
(g) kings ought therefore to rule according to Wisdom and thus attain to immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-21).
Speaking in the name of Solomon, the writer praises Wisdom and commends it to kings ("judges"= "rulers" in The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1, is but a synonym) (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-11:4).
(a) All men come into the world with the same universal need of Wisdom which leads to true kingship and immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-25);
(b) I (Solomon) sought Wisdom as the main thing and in obtaining it had along with it every good thing, including knowledge of every kind (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:1-8:21);
(c) the prayer which Solomon offered for Wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-18);
(d) how Wisdom defended the heroes of Hebrew history, from the first man, Adam, to the Israelites at the Red Sea and in the wilderness (The Wisdom of Solomon 10:1-11:4).
2. The Historical Section, The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22:
In this second part of the book Solomon no longer speaks in the first person (as in The Wisdom of Solomon 6-9), nor is Wisdom once mentioned or for certain referred to, though most writers see in this part the attempt of the author of The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:4 to exemplify in concrete instances the working of that Wisdom of which in the first part he describes the nature and issues.
(1) Contrasted treatment by God (not Wisdom) of the Israelites and their foes (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-12). By what things their foes were punished they were benefited (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5).
(a) The Egyptians (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-12:2): Water a boon to Israel, a bane to Egypt (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:6-14). The Egyptians punished by the animals they worshipped (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:15-20), though there was a relenting on God's part that sinners might repent (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:21-12:2).
(b) The Canaanites (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:3-27): The abominations of the worship and the divine punishment with the lessons this last teaches.
(2) Idolatry described and condemned (The Wisdom of Solomon 13-15). These chapters form a unity in themselves, a digression from the historical survey closed with The Wisdom of Solomon 12:27 and continued in 16:1-19. The digression may of course be due to the allusion in 11:5-12 to the sins of the Egyptians and Canaanites. Kinds of idolatry:
(a) Nature-worship (fire, wind, air, water, heavenly bodies), due often to sincere desire to find out God (13:1-9);
(b) worship of idols in animal form, a much grosset sin (13:10-19);
(c) God's indignation against all forms of idolatry (14:1-11);
(d) origin of image-worship (14:15-21); the father mourning for his deceased son makes an image of him and then worships it (14:15); rulers are often flattered and then deified (14:16); artists often make images so attractive as to tempt men to regard them as gods (14:18-21);
(e) immoral results of idolatry: "The worship of idols.... a beginning and cause and end of every evil" (14:27) (14:22-31);
(f) Israel was free from idolatry and in consequence enjoyed the divine favor (15:1-5);
(g) the folly of idolatry: the image man made less capable than man its maker and worshipper; the Egyptians the worst offenders (15:6-19).
(3) In five different respects the fortunes of Egypt and Israel in the past are contrasted, Nature using similar means to punish the Egyptians and to reward the Israelites (The Wisdom of Solomon 16-19:22), namely, in respect of the following:
(a) animals, quail (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:1-4) and fiery serpents (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:5-14) (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:1-14);
(b) fire and water, heat and cold (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:15-29);
(c) light and darkness (The Wisdom of Solomon 17:1-18:4);
(d) death (The Wisdom of Solomon 18:5-25);
(e) passage of the Red Sea (The Wisdom of Solomon 19:1-22).
IV. Literary Form.
There is not so much manifest poetry in this book as in Sirach, though there is large amount of genuine poetry characterized by parallelism, but not by meter in the ordinary sense of the term. In parts of the book, which must be pronounced prose, parallelism is nevertheless often found (see The Wisdom of Solomon 10:1;). There are far fewer epigrammatic sentences in Wisdom than in Sirach, but on the other hand there is a far greater number of other rhetorical devices, assonances (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:10; 4:02; 5:15; 7:13), alliterations (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23; 5:12, 18; 6:11; 12:15), antitheses (The Wisdom of Solomon 13:18), etc. Seefor details Speaker's Apocrypha (Farrar), I, 404;.
V. Unity and Integrity.
Nearly all writers on the book believe it to be one homogeneous whole, the work of one mind. They point for proof to the fact that the whole book is a consistent whole directed against the two evils, apostasy and idolatry; that the language is from beginning to end uniform, such as one writer would be likely to employ.
For a statement of contrary views and a reply to them see the Commentary of Grimm, pp. 9-15. Until about the middle of the 18th century no doubt had been expressed as regards the unity of the book.
(1) Houbigant (Notae criticae in universos New Testament libros, 1777, 169) divided the book into two parts: The Wisdom of Solomon 1-9 written by Solomon in Hebrew, The Wisdom of Solomon 10-19 composed in Greek at a later time, perhaps by the translation into Greek of chapters 1-9. Against the Solomonian authorship see VIII, below, and against a Hebrew original see X, below. Doederlein adopted Houbigant's division of the book, denying, however, the authorship by Solomon.
(2) Eichhorn (Einleitung in das New Testament, 142;) divided the book also into two parts: The Wisdom of Solomon 1-11 and 11:2-19. He held that the whole was composed in Greek by two different writers or by the same writer at different times.
(3) Nachtigal (Das Buch der Welshelf, 1799) went much farther, holding that the book is nothing more than anthology, but he has had no followers in this.
(4) Bretschneider (De lib. Sap., 1804) ascribes the book to three principal authors and to a final editor.
The Wisdom of Solomon 1-6:8 was composed in Hebrew in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (died 164 B.C.) by a Palestinian Jew, though it is an excerpt from a larger work; 6:9-10 is the work of an Alexandrian Jew, a contemporary of our Lord; The Wisdom of Solomon 11 was inserted by the final editor as seemingly necessary to connect parts 2 and 3; The Wisdom of Solomon 12-19 were written about the same time by a Jewish partisan of slender education and narrow sympathies.
Perhaps, on the whole, the arguments in favor of the unity of the book outweigh those against it. But the evidence is by no means decisive. The Wisdom section (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-11:4) is a much finer bit of writing than the rest of the book, and it bears the general characteristics of the Wisdom literature. Yet even within this larger unity The Wisdom of Solomon 6-9 stand out from the rest, since only in them is Solomon made to speak in the first person (compare Ecclesiastes 1:12;); but these four chapters agree with the rest of the Wisdom section in other respects. Within the historical section (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5-19:22) The Wisdom of Solomon 13-15 stand together as if a separate treatise on idolatry (see III, above), though if originally independent an editor has logically joined chapter 15 to chapter 12; compare "for" (gar), "etc." (13:1). Indeed the book in its present form is made at least externally one, though it is not absolutely certain whether or not this external unity is due to editorial revision. Some scholars have maintained that the book as it stands is a torso (so Eichhorn, etc.). Calmer infers this from the fact that the historical sketch closes with the entrance of the Israelites into Canaan. Others say that the writer's sketch was cut short by some unforeseen event (Grotius, Eichhorn), or that the remainder of the once complete work has been lost in transmission (Heydenreich). But on the other hand it must be remembered that the writer's record is limited by his purpose, and that the history of the Egyptians supplies an admirable and adequate illustration of the wickedness and calamitous results of unfaithfulness to God and His law.
In the treatment of this section it is assumed with some hesitation that the book is throughout the work of one man. The following is a brief statement of the teaching of this book concerning theology, anthropology, deontology, martiology, soteriology, and eschatology.
Theology in the strict sense, i.e. the doctrine about God: God is incomparably powerful (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:21), omni-present (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:7; 12:1) and all-loving (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:24). He made the world out of formless matter (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:17, the doctrine of the Alexandrian Judaism). He did not create the world out of nothing as the Old Testament (Genesis 1:1) and even Sirach teach (see SIRACH, BOOK OF, IV, 1). The author's highest conception of creation is the conversion of chaos into cosmos. It is the order and beauty of the universe that amaze the writer, not the stupendous power required to make such a universe out of nothing (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:20; 13:3). Though God is said to be just (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:15), kind (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:13; 11:17-26; 12:13-16; 15:01; 16:7), and is even addressed as Father (The Wisdom of Solomon 14:3), yet He is in a unique sense the Favorer and Protector of Israel (The Wisdom of Solomon 16:2; 18:08; 19:22); yet according to The Wisdom of Solomon 12:2-20 even the calamities He heaps up upon the foes of Israel were designed to lead them to repentance (12:2-20), though in The Wisdom of Solomon 11 we are clearly taught that while the sufferings of the Israelites were remedial, those of their enemies were purely penal. The conception of God in Wisdom agrees on the whole with that of Alexandrian Judaism (circa 100 B.C.); i.e. it lays principal stress on His transcendence, His infinite aloofness from man and the material world. We have therefore in this book the beginning of the doctrine of intermediaries which issued in Philo's Powers, the media through which the Absolute One comes into definite relation with men.
(1) Spirit of the Lord.
In Wisdom as in the later books of the Old Testament (exilic and post-exilic), the expression "the Spirit of the Lord" denotes the person of God. What God does is done by the Spirit. Thus, it is His Spirit that fills and sustains the world, that observes all human actions (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:7), that is present everywhere (The Wisdom of Solomon 12:1). Wisdom does not hypostatize "the Spirit of the Lord," making it an intermediary between God and His creatures, but the way is prepared for this step.
Much that is said of the Spirit of the Lord in this book is said of Wisdom, but much more, and there is a much closer approach to hypostatization in the case of Wisdom. At the creation of the world Wisdom was with God (compare Proverbs 8:22-31), sat by His throne, knew His thoughts and was His associate (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:3; 9:4, 9), made all things, taught Solomon the Wisdom for which he prayed (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:22); all powerful, seeing all things (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:23), pervading all things (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:24), an effluence of the glory of the Almighty (The Wisdom of Solomon 7:25); she teaches sobriety, understanding, righteousness and courage (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:7, the four cardinal virtues of the Stoic philosophy). For detailed account of the conception of Wisdom in this book see WISDOM.
(3) The Logos.
In Philo the Logos is the intermediary power next to Deity, but in Wisdom the term keeps to the Old Testament sense, "word," that by which God addresses men. It never means more, though some hold (Gfrorer, Philo, etc., I 225;) that in The Wisdom of Solomon 9:1; 12:09; 16:12; 18:22, Logos has the technical sense which it bears in Philo; but a careful examination of the passages shows that nothing more than "word" is meant (see LOGOS). The only other superhuman beings mentioned in the book are the gods of the Gentiles which are distinctly declared to be nonentities, the product of man's folly (14:13), and the Devil who is, however, but once referred to as identical with the serpent of Genesis 3. The book does not once speak of a Canon of Scripture or of any divine revelation to man in written form, though it often quotes from the Pentateuch and occasionally from Isaiah and Psalms, never, however, naming them. Wisdom is thus much more universalistic and in harmony with Wisdom literature than Sirach, which identifies Wisdom with the Law and the Prophets and has other distinctly Jewish features.
In its psychology Wisdom follows the dichotomy of Platonism. Man has but two parts, soul and body (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:4; 8:19; 9:15), the word soul (psuche) including the reason (nous) and the spirit (pneuma). The Wisdom of Solomon 15:11 is the only passage which seems to teach the doctrine of the trichotomy of man, but in reality it does nothing of the kind, for the parallelism shows that by "soul" and "spirit" the same thing is meant. Philo teaches the same doctrine (see Drummond, Philo, etc., I, 316;). Man's soul is breathed into the body (15:11; compare Genesis 2:7) and taken back again by God (15:8). The writer adopts the Platonic theory of the pre-existence of souls (8:20; compare 15:8, 11, 16), which involves the belief in a kind of predestination, for the previous doings of the soul determine the kind of body into which it enters. Solomon's soul, being good, entered an undefiled body (8:20). R. H. Charles (Eschatology, etc., 254) is hardly correct when he says that according to Wisdom (1:4; 9:15, etc.) matter is inherently sinful. This doctrine was definitely taught by Philo, who accepted Heraclitus' epigram, soma sema, "The body is a tomb." So it is said (12:10; 13:1) that man is by nature evil, his wickedness being inborn. But if he sins it is his own affair, for he is free (1:16; 5:6, 13). The writer borrows two words from Greek poetry and philosophy which appear to involve a negation of human freedom, namely, anake, "necessity" and dike "justice" "avenging justice". The first blinds the eyes of the ungodly (17:17), but the blindness is judicial, the result of a course of evil (see 19:1-5). The second term is used in Greek philosophy in the sense of nemesis, and it has that sense in The Wisdom of Solomon 1:8, etc. But throughout this book it is assumed that punishment for sin is deserved, since man is free. The author of Wisdom believes in a twofold division into good (wise) and bad (ungodly), and, unlike the writers of the later parts of the Old Testament, he holds it possible for a person to pass from one class into another. But does not God, according to parts of Wisdom, as of the Old Testament, appear to show undue favoritism to Israel and neglect of other people? Thus Israel is "God's Son" (18:13), His children (sons, 12:19, 21; 16:10, 26), His sons and daughters (9:7). They are His holy and elect ones (3:9; 4:15; and especially 10:17; 18:1, 5). But the Israelites were treated as they were, not because they were Israelites, but because they were morally better than the nations around (see Drummond, op. cit., II, 207;).
Under the term "deontology" here, religious and ethical practice is included.
(1) As might be expected in a Wisdom book, little importance is attached to the Law of Moses and its requirements. Though historical allusions are made to the offering of sacrifices, the singing of psalms and the taking upon themselves of the obligation of the covenant of the Law (The Wisdom of Solomon 18:9); though, moreover, reference is made to the offering of incense by Aaron (The Wisdom of Solomon 18:21), and Solomon is made to utter the words "temple," "altar," "tabernacle" (The Wisdom of Solomon 9:8), yet in other respects nothing is said of the temple and its feasts, of the priesthood, of sacrifice, or of the laws of clean and unclean. Yet the duty of worshipping the one true God and Him only and the evil results of worshipping idols are strongly and constantly insisted upon, especially in the second or historical part of the book (The Wisdom of Solomon 11:5 to end).
(2) The cardinal virtues inculcated are those of the Stoic philosophy, namely, prudence (sophrosune), common-sense (phronesis), justice dikaiosune) and courage (andreia), showing that the writer was influenced by the philosophy of the Greeks.
As a historical fact, the writer adopts the account in Genesis 3 of the entrance of sin into the world. "By the envy of the Devil, death (i.e. as the connection proves, spiritual death) entered into the world" (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:24). In The Wisdom of Solomon 14:27, however, sin is made to have its root in idolatry, meaning perhaps that all sin consists in not giving-proper heed to the one true God, and that the moral monstrosities of his time were outgrowths of idolatrous worship. The freedom of the will is taught explicitly or implicitly throughout the book (see above VI, 2).
The book is silent as to a Messiah who shall deliver his people. It is Wisdom that saves man: "Because of her I shall have immortality" (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:13); immortality lies in kinship to Wisdom (The Wisdom of Solomon 8:17); all who give heed to the commands of Wisdom have the assurance of incorruption, and incorruption brings men near to God (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:18). The knowledge of God's power is the root of immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 15:2).
The doctrine of individual immortality is explicitly taught in this book. Man (= all men) was created for incorruption (The Wisdom of Solomon 2:23; 6:19; 12:1). The righteous have the full hope of immortality (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:4) and shall live forever (The Wisdom of Solomon 5:15). When the wicked die they have no hope (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:18), since they suffer for their sins in this present world as well as in that which is to come (The Wisdom of Solomon 3:16, 18). The doctrine of a resurrection of the body is not taught. If the author accepted Philo's doctrine of the inherent sinfulness of matter (see above VI, 2), as R. H. Charles holds, he could not believe in a bodily resurrection. After death there is to be a day of decision (diagnosis, the word used in Acts 25:21; see The Wisdom of Solomon 3:18); there will be an examination (exetasis) into the counsels of the ungodly. The sins of the wicked shall be reckoned up (The Wisdom of Solomon 4:20), but the righteous man shall stand in great boldness before the face of them that afflicted him (The Wisdom of Solomon 5:1). The teaching of the book as to the future of the righteous does not seem to be consistent. According to The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1;, the righteous pass at death immediately into the bliss of God; but the teaching of 4:20 is that the wicked and the righteous shall be assembled in one place to receive their sentence.
The writer's purpose appears to have been to recommend to his fellow-countrymen in Alexandria the claims of religion under the names of Wisdom, Righteousness, etc., and to warn them against falling into the idolatry of the Egyptians. In addition to glorifying Wisdom, he gives an ironical account of the rise of idolatry, and he uses strong language in pointing out the disastrous consequences in this world and the next of a life away from the true God (see above, III). The book is ostensibly addressed to rulers, but they are mentioned only in The Wisdom of Solomon 6:1-11, 20-25, and the appeal of the book is to men as such. In addressing rulers the author uses a rhetorical device. It might be argued that if rulers with their superior advantages need such exhortations and warnings, how much more ordinary men!
Plumptre (Ecclesiastes, 70) and Siegfried (HDB, iV, 928) contend that the Solomon of this book is made to answer the Solomon of Ecclesiastes. But the author does not show any acquaintance with Ecclesiastes, and it is hardly likely that this last book was known at the time in Alexandria, for though composed about 200 B.C., it was not put into Greek for a long time afterward. Besides, there is nothing about idolatry in Ecclesiastes. The conclusion reached in the genuine parts of this last book is a counsel of despair: "All is vanity." A reply to that book would seek to show that life is worth living for the sake of the present and the future. The Book of Wisdom denounces idolatry in the most scathing language: how can this and the like be a polemic against Ecclesiastes?
The author was an Alexandrian Jew, well read in the Septuagint whose phrases he often uses, fairly acquainted with Greek philosophy as taught at Alexandria and also with physical science as known at the time (see The Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-20; 8:8). He was beyond all doubt a Jew, for the views he advocates are those of an enlightened but strong Judaism; his interests are even narrowly Jewish (note the fiercely anti-Gentile sentiments of The Wisdom of Solomon 11:10-13, 17-23), and his style is largely tinged by the vocabulary and the phraseology of the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures. That he was an Alexandrian or at least an Egyptian Jew is equally probable. No Palestinian could have written the language of this work with its rhetorical devices (see above, IV), or have displayed the acquaintance which the book reveals with Greek philosophy as modified by Jewish-Alexandrian thought.
These include: (1) that Solomon is the author: see above, II. No modern scholar takes this view seriously, though singularly enough it has been revived by D. S. Margoliouth;
(2) that Zerubbabel is the author (J. M. Faber);
(3) that the author was one of the translators of the Septuagint;
(4) that the author belonged to the Therapeutae: so Gfrorer (Philo, II, 265), Dahne (Philo, II, 270); compare Jost (Geschichte des Judaismus, I, 378). This has been inferred from The Wisdom of Solomon 16:28, the Therapeutae being, it is said, a Jewish sect which, like the Zarathustrians, worshipped toward the rising sun. But we know very little about this sect, and there is no decisive evidence that it ever existed. If, however, Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, II, 17) is right in saying that Philo's Therapeutae were Christians (the earliest Christian sect of Alexandria), it is clear that no member of this sect wrote Wisdom, for the book is wholly free from Christian influence;
(5) that Ben Sira is the author (Augustine);
(6) that Apollos is the author: so Noack (Der Ursprung des Christenthums, I, 222); Plumptre (Expositor, I, 329;, 409;); see summary of grounds in Speaker's Apocrypha (Farrar), I, 413;; but the author must have been a Jew and he wrote too early to allow of this hypothesis;
(7) that Philo is the author: thus Jerome writes (Praef. in lib. Sol.): Nonnulli scriptorum hunt ease Judaei Philonis affirmant. This view was supported by Luther and other scholars; compare the Muratorian Fragment (in Zahn's text) in XI, below. But the teaching of this book represents an earlier stage of Alexandrian Jewish speculation than that found in Philo's works, and the allegorical method of interpretation so rampant in the latter is almost wholly absent from Wisdom.
(8) It has been held by some (Kirschbaum, Weisse, etc.) that whoever the author was he must have been a Christian, but the whole trend and spirit of the book prove the contrary.
The book was probably composed about 120-100 B.C. The evidence is literary, historical and philosophical. The book must have been written after the Septuagint version of the Pentateuch and Isaiah had been made, since the author has evidently used this version of both books and perhaps of the Psalms as well (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1 and Psalm 31:5 (6); and also The Wisdom of Solomon 15:15 and Psalm 115:4-7 (= Psalm 135:15-18)). Now we know from Sirach (Prolegomena) that the Septuagint of the Pentateuch, the Prophets and of at least a portion of the Writings (Hagiographa) was completed by 132 B.C., when the younger Siracide finished his translation of Sirach (see SIRACH, BOOK OF, VIII). It may therefore be inferred that Wisdom was written after 132 B.C. Moreover, in The Wisdom of Solomon 4:1 the author shows an acquaintance with Sirach 16:1-4 in Greek, for the pseudo-Solomon does not seem to have known Hebrew, or he would sometimes at least have quoted from the Hebrew text. This confirms the conclusion drawn from the use of the Septuagint that this book is at least as late as, say, 130 B.C., and almost certainly later. The book was composed earlier than any of the New Testament writings, or some of the latter would have been quoted or referred to. Moreover, it may be assumed that the Greek Canon was complete in the time of our Lord, and thus included Wisdom as well as the rest of the Old Testament Apocrypha. But see International Journal of Apocrypha, October, 1913, p. 77, article by the present writer. It must have taken a long time after writing for the book to gain the respect which secured its canonization. A date 100 B.C. agrees with all the facts.
The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1; 5:01; 6:5-9 imply that at the time of writing the Jews addressed were suffering under the lash of persecution, and we have the resulting feeling of, animosity against the Egyptians, the persecuting power, expressed in 11:16-19. Now we know that the early Ptolemies treated the Jews with consideration, and Ptolemy VII (Physcon, 145-117 B.C.) was the first to adopt a contrary policy toward the Jews of Egypt, owing to the support they had given to Cleopatra. Josephus (Apion, II, 5) gives an account of the vengeance which this king wreaked upon the Jews of Alexandria at this time. Nevertheless, the literary manner and the restrained spirit with which these matters are referred to show that the writer is describing a state of things which belongs to the past, though to a recent past. A date about 100 B.C. would admirably suit the situation of the author at the time of composition.
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SOLOMON, WISDOM OF
See WISDOM OF SOLOMON.
lit'-er-a-tur. See preceding article.
WISDOM OF JESUS