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 f); 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; 4:2; 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 f), etc. See for 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 BC) 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 f), 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; 15:1; 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; 18:8; 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 f 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 BC); 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 f), 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; 12:9; 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 f), and the Devil who is, however, but once referred to as identical with the serpent of Ge 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 f) 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 f). 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 f 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 BC, 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.
(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 BC. 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 Psalms 31:5(6); and also The Wisdom of Solomon 15:15 f and Psalms 115:4-7 (= Psalms 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 BC, 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 BC. 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 BC, 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 BC agrees with all the facts.
The Wisdom of Solomon 3:1; 5:1; 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 BC) 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 BC would admirably suit the situation of the author at the time of composition.
The teaching of the book (see above, VI) belongs to that stage in the development of Alexandrian Judaism which existed about 100 BC. We have not in this book the allegorization characteristic of Philo (born 20 BC, died 40 AD), nor had his Logos doctrine as yet become a part of the creed of Alexandrian Jews.
X. Original Languages.
Scholars are practically agreed that the book was composed in Greek D. S. Margoliouth attempted to prove a Hebrew original (Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1890, 263-97; see reply by Freudenthal, JQR, III, 722-53), but the evidence he offers has convinced nobody.
(1) The Greek of Wisdom is free, spontaneous and idiomatic. There are a few Hebraisms, but only such as characterize Hellenistic Greek in general; Wisdom is very different in this from Sirach which abounds with Hebraisms, due no doubt to translation from a Hebrew original.
(2) The rhetorical devices so common in the Greek of the book can be due only to the original text; they could hardly occur in such profusion in a translation. In addition to those mentioned above in IV, note the Greek rhetorical figures chiasmus (The Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-4:8; 3:15) and sorites (The Wisdom of Solomon 6:7-20).
(3) The translation of Sirach into Hebrew before the discovery of the Hebrew fragments had been often attempted and found comparatively easy; but it is very difficult to put Wisdom into Hebrew because the style is so thoroughly Greek.
(4) No trace of a Hebrew original has thus far been found. What Nachmanides saw was not the original Hebrew, but a translation in Hebrew from the original text. Jerome (Praef. in lib. Sol.) says that though he had himself seen Sirach in Hebrew, a Hebrew text of Wisdom was not to be found.
XI. Use of Wisdom by Christian Writers.
It has been thought that the following parts of the New Testament have been influenced by Wisdom:
Luke 2:7 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 7:4); Luke 12:20 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 15:8); Luke 9:31 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 3:2); Luke 19:44 (compare The Wisdom of Solomon 3:7). The Logos doctrine of John (see John 1:1, etc.) has certainly a connection with the doctrine of Wisdom in Wisdom (see Gregg, Commentary, liv). Grafe (Theologische Abhandlungen, Freiburg in B., 1892) endeavors to prove that Paul made large use of Wisdom (see also Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 51, 267-69); but this has been denied; see further Dearie (Commentary, 15). The book was certainly known to Clement of Rome, Tatian, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria and Hippolytus. The Muratorian Fragment states the work to have been "composed by the friends of Solomon in his honor" (ll. 69-71). Zahn (Gesch. Kan., II, 101, following a suggestion of Tregelles) prefers to read "composed by Philo in Solomon's honor"--an easy change in the Greek (philonos for philon). Origen (Contra Celsus, v.29) calls it "the work entitled Wisdom of Solomon," so intimating doubt as to the authorship.
XII. Text and Versions.
The text in Codex Vaticanus pointed with collations in Swete's Old Testament in Greek, is on the whole the best, though both Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Ephraemi (which is incomplete) have good texts, Codex Alexandrinus being fairly trustworthy. The text is found also in fair preservation in many cursives.
The Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) is identical with, but has slight variations from, the Old Latin Lagarde (Mittheilungen, 243-86) gives the Latin version of Sirach and Wisdom found in Codex Amiaut. This last is a literal rendering from the Greek.
The Syriac (Peshitta) version found in the London Polyglot and in Lagarde (Lib. Apocrypha Syr) was made immediately from the Greek, but apparently from the text in Codex Alexandrinus or in one like it.
Besides the works cited in the course of the foregoing article and the general works (commentaries, etc.) on the Apocrypha mentioned under APOCRYPHA (which see), the following are to be noted:
Bauermeister, Commentary in Sap. Sol. libr., 1828; Grimm, Komm. uber das Buch der Weisheit, 1857, also his excellent commentary in the Kurzgefasstes exegetisches Handbuch, series 1860; J.H. Schmid, Das Buch der Welsheit: Uebersetzt und erklart, 1857; Gutberlet, Das Buch der Weisheit, 1874; W. J. Deane, The Book of Wisdom, Greek Vulgate and the King James Version with "Commentary." (1881, full and fairly scholarly); Speaker's Apocrypha (Farrar) is interesting and often helpful; Siegfried's "Introduction" and "Commentary" in Kautzsch's Die Apocrypha is slight, but also often helpful; The Wisdom of Solomon by J. A. E. Gregg (the Revised Version (British and American) with "Introduction" and "Commentary," Cambridge Bible) is brief and popular, but trustworthy; A. T. S. Goodrick, The Book of Wisdom, 1913 (admirable); S. Holmes (in the Oxford Apocrypha, with Introduction and Comm.).
(2) Of the dict. arts., that in Encyclopedia Biblica (by C. H. Toy) is perhaps the best; that in HDB (Siegfried) is fair but defective.
(3) In addition to the works by Gfrorer and Dahne discussing the philosophy of the book, the following works may be mentioned:
Bruch, Weisheits-Lehre der Hebraer, 1851 (322-78); Zeller, Die Philosophic der Griechen (1881), III, part 2, 271-74, 4th edition, 272-96; Kubel, "Die ethischen Grundanschauungen der Weisheit Salomos," in Theologische Studien und Kritiken, 1865, 690-722; Menzel, Der griechische Einfluss auf Prediger und Weisheit Salomos, 1889, 39-70; Bois, Essai sur les origines de la philosophic judeo-alexandrine, 1890, 211-309, 337-412. The work by Drummond, often quoted, has been carefully done and is interestingly written (Philo Judaeus, 1888, 2 volumes; see I, 177-229).
For detailed bibliography see Schurer, GJV4, 1909, III, 508; HJP, 1886, II, 3, pp. 236, is necessarily very defective.
T. Witton Davies
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