The wisdom of Solomon.
Counted among the apocrypha.
None on site.
Swete LXX (Greek only).
HTML Bible: Wisdom of Solomon
(Latin Vulgate only).
Humanities Text Initiative:
Wisdom of Solomon (English only).
Kata Pi LXX: Wisdom of Solomon (Greek and English).
Sacred Texts: Wisdom of Solomon (polyglot).
Wisdom of Solomon in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).
Wisdom of Solomon and the
apocryphal books in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
Wisdom of Solomon at Kata Pi (Oesterly and Robinson).
The wisdom of Solomon is counted among the apocryphal books
of the Old Testament.
The book is not extant among the Hebrew scriptures, but rather in
the Septuagint, abbreviated LXX.
Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).
Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on the book of the wisdom
Daniel J. Harrington writes: "Several factors point to Alexandria in Egypt
as the place of composition: the use of Greek, the philosophical concepts, the
focus on the exodus, the polemic against Egyptian animal-worship, and so on.
A date in the first century B.C.E. seems most likely, though any time from the
second century B.C.E. to the first century C.E. is possible. Efforts to link
it with a specific crisis in the history of the Jewish community at Alexandria
such as the threat posed by the cult of the Roman emperor Caligula (37-41 C.E.;
see 14:17) have not won much support." (Invitation to the Apocrypha,
David A. deSilva writes: "There is wider debate concerning the date of
Wisdom, which has been placed anywhere between 220 B.C.E. and 100 C.E. The terminus
a quo is set by the author's use of the Greek translation of Isaiah, Job,
and Proverbs, the first of which was probably available by 200 B.C.E. (Reider
1957: 14; Holmes 1913: 520). The terminus ad quem is set by the evident
use of the work by several New Testament authors (Holmes 1913: 521; Reider 1957:
14). A date within the early period of Roman domination of Egypt, especially
the early Roman Principate (or Empire), seems most likely. First, the description
of the development of the ruler cult in 14:16-20 best describes not the cult
of the Ptolemaic kings of Egypt, a cult that was organised and promoted from
the center, but the spontaneous, decentralized development of the imperial cult
under Augustus, who was also Egypt's first 'remote' ruler since Alexander (Holmes
1913: 521; Oesterley 1935: 207; Winston 1979: 21-22; Collins 2000: 195). Second,
the author uses some thirty-five terms or phrases unattested in secular Greek
before the first century C.E. (Winston 1979: 22-23 and n. 33). Further, Gilbert
(1984: 312; 1973: 172) has detected a critique of the pax romanain 14:22,
'through living in great strife due to ignorance, they call such great evils
peace' (cf. Tacitus Agricola 30), and considers the author's address
in 6:1-2 to the 'judges of the ends of the earth' who 'rule over multitudes,
and boast of many nations' to fit the Roman imperial period better than its
predecessors." (Introducing the Apocrypha, pp. 132-133)
J. Alberto Soggin writes: "At least in the view of those who attributed
the work to Solomon (who certainly did not write in Greek), the original language
of Wisdom would seem to have been the Hebrew of the classical period. On the
other hand, traditions handed down by the Muratorian canon and by Origen, Jerome
and Augustine among the church fathers, contrast with the theory of an original
Hebrew text. Jerome in particular insisted on the Hellenistic character of the
work, especially as regards the book's oratory. In passing, we might point out
that this is probably the first case of the application to a biblical book of
the method of the history of literary genres. Practically all scholars, even
in conservative circles, agree that the book should not be attributed to Solomon,
while a linguistic examination of the work also rules out with a reasonable
margin of certainty that its original language might have been Hebrew or Aramaic.
There are too many technical terms and expressions typical of the world of Hellenistic
philosophy for one to be able to conjecture that Wisdom was originally written
in a Semitic language. It might be conceded that in ch. 1 we still have the
relics of a translation of some kind, but the treatment has been so free that
the final result is very far removed from the archetype." (Introduction
to the Old Testament, pp. 444-445)
Addison G. Wright writes: "Many scholars have proposed that Wis is the
work of more than one author, and they distinguish two independent sections
(1:1-11:1; 11:2-19:22 or 1-5; 6-19); some point out even three or four sections.
Arguments in favor of composite authorship follow: the difference in style and
tone between the first and last parts of the book; the absence of references
in chs 11-19 to wisdom (save for 14:2, 5) and immortality; a number of striking
linguistic differences, especially in the use of particles and in the choice
of words (see Holmes, op. cit., 522-23). However, the majority of critics
since Grimm defends the unity of authorship, finding that the factors mentioned
are far outweighed by the homogeneity of vocabulary and of outlook throughout,
as well as by the mutual cohesion of the parts. The differences between the
sections are accounted for by postulating that some interval of time elapsed
between their composition, the artistically and theologically inferior chs.
11-19 perhaps being written in the author's old age (P. W. Skehan, Traditio
3  5)." (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, p. 557)
James M. Reese writes: "As a unified whole the Wisdom of Solomon belongs
to the literary genre of protreptic, a genre of rhetorical exhortation in Greek
philosophy. The sprawling genre of protreptic met the author's needs, namely,
to justify God's actions toward the Israelites, to encourage Jewish readers
to love their revealed tradition, to display encyclopedic knowledge capable
of impressing sophisticated readers, and to portray biblical morals as superior
to Hellenistic. The case is argued with great skill by a creative use of figurative
language and literary allusions. The author's skill at coining new compound
words compares favorably with that of the ancient Greek playwright Aeschylus."
(Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 820)
James King West writes: "Among the characteristics of Wisdom, two are
of particular interest. First, the afterlife is described in terms of the Hellenistic
dualism which debases matter in contrast to the immortality of the soul, rather
than the Judaic concept of the resurrection of the body (cf. the remarkably
beautiful passage in 3:1-9, also such vss. as 8:13). Second, the personification
of wisdom, introduced, for eaxmple, in Proverbs 1-9, is here carried much farther
than in any parallel Judaic literature. In Proverbs the personification is symbolic,
but in this book wisdom is described in terms intended to be taken quite seriously
as: 'a kindly spirit' (1:6); 'radiant and unfading' (6:12); 'the fashioner of
all things,' whose twenty-one attributes include intelligence, holiness, mobility,
omnipotence, interpenetration, and the like (7:22); 'breath of the power of
God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty' (7:25); 'spotless mirror
of the working of God, and an image of his goodness' (7:26; cf. 10:1, 5, 6,
9; 11:1; 12:1). These descriptions of wisdom, especially the crucial passage
in 7:22-8:21, reflect the increasing emphasis on the transcendence of God characteristic
of later Judaism, combined with an unmistakable influence from Hellenism. How
far the author intended his definition of Wisdom as an intermediary between
God and the world is impossible to say. Viewing his words from the perspective
of Greek thought, it would probably be easy to read too much into them. Whether
consciously or not, he nevertheless spoke a language that during the next two
centuries and later was to play a profound role in religious development."
(Introduction to the Old Testament, pp. 464-465)