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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
Wisdom (the) of Solomon, Book of
Wisdom (the) of Solomon, book of
one of the deutero - canonical portions of the Old Test. which have come down to us by tradition as the production of the son of David. Among the Apocryphal books unusual interest attaches to it on account of its supposed parallelism with some of the genuine writings of Solomon found in the sacred canon, especially the book of Ecclesiastes (q.v.). (See APOCRYPHA).
I. Title and Position. — This book is called Σοφία Σαλωμών or Σαλομῶντος (Alex. Compl.), i.e. the Wisdom of Solomon, in the Sept.; and the Great Wisdom of Solomon in the Syriac version, because it was anciently believed to have been written by Solomon, who therein propounds the lessons of wisdom. It is denominated Πανάρετος Σοφία All-virtuous Wisdom, an appellation which, though also given to Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus, is especially given by Athaiasius and Epiphanius to this book, because it treats more' extensively of wisdom than either of the other so-called Solomonic productions. It is called ἡ θεία Σοφία, Sapientia Dei, by Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 4:16) and Origen (On Romans 7:14). In the Vulg. it is simply called Liber Sapientime, without the name of Solomon, because Jerome disputed the Solomonic authorship of it. The versions of the Reformation are divided between those appellations. Thus, in Luther's,version (1536), the Genevan version (1560), the Bishops' Bible (1568), and the A. V. (1611) this book is called the Wisdom of Solomon, according to the Sept.; while the Zurich version (1531), Coverdale's' Bible (1535), Matthew's Bible (1537), Cromwell's Bible (1539), and, Cranmer's Bible (1540) denominate it The Book of Wisdom, after the Vulg.
The book is placed in the Sept and in the Vulg. after the Song of Songs and before Ecclesiasticus, or, immediately after the canonical productions of Solomon, since it was believed that it, too, proceeded from this monarch. Though all the translations of the Reformation followed the example of Luther's version in separating the deutero-canonical from the canonical books, yet they have deviated from their prototype in the or der of the Apocrypha. Thus, while Luther, in his Bible, places this book between Judith and Tobit, the Zurich version-which as usual, is followed by Coverdale, and he again by Cromwell's Bible, Matthew's Bible, the Bishops' Bible, and Cranmer's Bible, as well as the Geneva version and the A. V. — places it between the additions to Esther and Ecclesiasticus.
II. Design, Division, and Contents. — The object of this book is both parsenetical and apologetical. It comforts and strengthens the faithful who are distracted by the inexplicable difficulties in the moral government of the world, by showing them that whatever sufferings and taunts they have to endure, both from their apostate brethren and their heathen oppressors, and however much the wicked and the idolaters may prosper here, the elect, in following the counsels of divine wisdom, will be able to look forward with joy to a future state of retribution, where the righteous Judge will render to the ungodly according to their deeds, and confer upon the godly a blissful immortality this purpose is developed in three sections the contents of which are as follows:
1. The First Section (1, 1-6, 21), which contains the real problem of the book, opens with an admonition to the magnates of the earth to follow the paths of righteousness, since God only reveals himself to and abides with those who are of an upright heart (1, 1-6), and duly registers the deeds of the wicked, which he will most assuredly bring before the bar of a future judgment (ver. 7-16). For although the wicked deny the immortality of the soul (2, 1-6), indulge in the pleasures of this world (ver. 7-9), and persecute the righteous, defying God to defend them (Romans 7:10-24); and though the case of the godly seems almost forlorn, yet God exercises a special care over his people, whom he allows to be chastised in order to purify them (3, 1-7), and has destined his saints to judge the nations of the earth, and to abide forever with their Lord (ver. 8, 9); while he has laid up condign punishment for the wicked (ver. 10-18). The wicked who have large families are therefore not to be envied, for their children only perpetuate their wickedness (4, 1-7); while the righteous who are suddenly overtaken by death are not to be deplored, since honorable age is not to be measured by length of years, but by holiness of conduct, and since they are sometimes suddenly taken away to escape the snares of the wicked; thus showing that God's mercy is with his saints even in their untimely death because they, having been perfected in their youth, though dead, speak condemnation to the wicked, who shall at last, in the great day of retribution, be constrained to confess it (ver. 8-20). For then the righteous shall triumph, and the wicked who shall witness it will confess with anguish of soul that they have acted foolishly and wickedly, and that those whom they have derided and persecuted in this life are really the children of God, enjoy a glorious immortality, and deal out terrible punishments on the ungodly (5, 1-23). Having shown that this is the doom of the wicked, Solomon reiterates in more earnest tones the warning to the magnates of the earth with which this section commences, seeing that the righteous Judge who invested them with the powers they possess will soon call them to the bar of his judgment, where there is no respect of persons (6, 1-8); and tells them that the most effectual way to obey this warning is to learn divine wisdom, who is always ready to be found of those that seek her (ver. 9-14), who alone is the safest guide in this world and leads to a union with the Creator in the world to comet (ver. 15-21).
2. The Second Section (6, 22-9, 18) describes the nature of this wisdom, the blessings she secures, and the manner in which she is to be obtained, by the experience of Solomon, who recounts it himself in the first person. He tells us that, though an exalted monarch, he realized his mortality, and therefore prayed for wisdom (6, 22-7, 7). With this precious gift, which he preferred above thrones, riches, health, and beauty, come all other earthly blessings of which she is the mother (ver. 8-12). Through her he became the friend of God, whose she is, and who bestows her as a gift (ver. 13- 16). By her aid he fathomed the mysteries of the changing- seasons, of-the- heavenly bodies, and of the animal and vegetable kingdoms, as she herself is the maker of all things, and pervades all creation. She alone unites us to God with ties of friendship, and no vice can prevail against her (ver. 17- 30). She, too, confers all earthly blessings, all intellectual and moral powers, as well as the ability to govern nations, and she can only be obtained from God in answer to prayer (8, 1-21). Solomon then recites the prayer in answer to which he received this divine gift (9, 1-18).
3. The Third Section (10, 1-19, 22) describes the blessings which wisdom secured to the people of God, and the sore calamities which befell the ungodly who rejected her teaching, from the history of mankind, beginning with Adam and ending, with the conquest of the Promised Land Thus it shows how wisdom guided and protected the pious from Adam to Moses (10, l-11, 4); how the wicked who despised her counsels and afflicted the righteous were punished, as seen in the case of the Egyptians (11, 5-12, 1) and the Canaanites (12, 2-27). As the chief sin of the Canaanites was idolatry, Solomon takes occasion to describe the origin, folly, and abominations, of idolatry (13, 1-15, 19), and then returns to describe the plagues of Egypt, which constitute an essential part of the history in question, thus showing the awful doom of the wicked and the great deliverance of the righteous (16, 1-19, 22).
III. Unity and Integrity. — From the above analysis of its contents, it will be seen that the book forms a complete and harmonious whole; the grand problem discussed in the first section being illustrated in the second section by the experience of Solomon, and- in. the third section by the experience of God's people, detailed in chronological order. Indeed, the unity and integrity of the book were never questioned till the middle of the last century, when Houbigant (Prolegomena in Not. Crit. in Omnes V. T. Libros. 1, p. 216, 221) maintained that it consists of two parts, the first (ch. 1-9) being written by Solomon in Hebrew, and the second (ch. 29) being most probably an addition of the Greek translator of the first part. Eichhorn submits (Einleitung ind. Apokryph. p. 143 sq.) that the two parts, which belong to different authors, are 1-11, 1 and 11:2-19; or, if proceeding from the same author, that he must have written the second part in his younger years, before he divested himself of his national prejudices, and before his notions were enlarged by Greek philosophy. Bretschneider, again (De Libri Sap. Parte Priore), will have it that it consists of four different documents, the first of which (1, l-6, 8) is a fragment of a larger work originally written in Hebrew by a Palestinian Jew connected with the court of Antiochus Epiphanes; the second (6, 9-10) was written in Greek at the time of Christ, by an Alexandrian Jew, who put sentiments of Greek philosophy into the mouth of Solomon in order to vindicate for the Jews the honor of having possessed all philosophic systems and sciences prior to every one else. The third (ch. 12-19) was also written, at the time of Christ, by a common Jew, who possessed ‘ the crudest notions; while the fourth piece (11, 1-26) was added by the compiler of the book to connect the second and third parts. These must suffice as specimens of the opinions entertained by some respecting the unity of this book. They are most ably and elaborately refuted by Grimm (Comment. p. 9-15).
The integrity of the book is not only impugned by those who dispute its unity, but by some who admit that it has a regularly developed plan. Thus Grotins will have it that it is imperfect and unfinished, having been mutilated by some accident of time; while Calmet, who also maintains that the book is unfinished, hesitates to decide whether the end was lost by accident or through the unfavorable circumstances of the times, or whether it was designedly omitted by the author himself. But a conclusion more apposite and more in harmony with the design of the book can hardly be imagined than 19:22, in which the just reflection and moral lesson are enunciated as deduced from the whole treatise, that the righteous are under God's special care, and that he "assists them in every time and place." Equally untenable is the assertion that the book contains interpolations by a Christian hand This assertion was first made by Grotius ("Christiana qusedam commodis locis addidit,"Prcef. in Librun. Sapientice), who in his Comment. specifies 4:7, where he remarks, "Sed haec, ut dixi, Evangelium magis redolent." Gratz (Geschichte der Juden [2d ed. Leips. 1863], 3, 443 sq.), who advocates the same opinion, adduces 2, 24; 3, 13; 4:1; 14:7. But all these passages, when fairly interpreted, are perfectly consistent. with Jewish sentiments; and we are almost sure that if the erudite Gratz had consulted Grimm's masterly commentary on the passages in question when preparing the second edition of the third volume of his History, he would not have reprinted so literally the remarks from the first edition on this subject.
IV. Philosophical and Doctrinal Character.
1. Though there are Platonic and Stoical sentiments in this book, yet it is not to be supposed that the author propounds therein a philosophical view of Judaism. The book of Wisdom contains no greater admixture of Greek elements than the post-Babylonian canonical writings contain of Persian elements. It is essentially based upon the truths embodied in the Old Test., whose spirit it breathes, and whose doctrines it sets forth as paramount, while the Greek sentiments are very subordinate, and are such as would almost enter spontaneously into the mind of any educated Jew residing in such a place as Alexandria.
The doctrines of divine and human wisdom (or objective and subjective wisdom, as it is termed) propounded in this book are simply amplifications and bolder personifications of what is to be found in Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus. This may be seen in the conception of divine wisdom being an emanation from, or the Spirit of God present with, the Deity before and during the creation of the world, and brooding over the elements of the unformed world (Wisdom of Solomon 7:22; Wisdom of Solomon 7:25; Wisdom of Solomon 9:9; Wisdom of Solomon 9:17; comp. Proverbs 3:19; Proverbs 8:22-26; Job 33:4; Sirach 21:3); in the view that human wisdom proceeds from the primordial divine wisdom which permeates all finite and pure spirits (Wisdom of Solomon 7:25; comp. Job 32:8; Proverbs 2:6; Sirach 1:1), for which reason, the two not infrequently merge into one another (Wisdom of Solomon 7:12; Wisdom of Solomon 8:6; Wisdom of Solomon 8:10; comp. Proverbs 3:13-20; Proverbs 8); that she is "the universitas litterarum," she teaches us all arts and sciences cosmology, chronology, meteorology, astronomy, zoology, pneumatology, psychology, botany, pharmacy, politics, philosophy of history, parables, and enigmas (Wisdom of Solomon 7:17-21; Wisdom of Solomon 8:8; comp. Exodus 31:3; 1 Kings 3:12; 1 Kings 4:29-34), and the whole range of morals and spiritual virtues (Wisdom of Solomon 1:1-16; Wisdom of Solomon 10:1-15; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 3). See the article preceding.
Not only does the author of this book derive his leading thoughts from the canonical Scriptures of the Old Test. but, as an orthodox Jew, he even espouses the traditions of his fathers. Thus in harmony with these traditions, which tell us that models of both the tabernacle and the temple were shown by God to Moses and Solomon, he speaks of the temple in Jerusalem as having been made after the model of the temple in heaven (comp. μίμημα σκηνῆς ἁγίας ἣν προητοίμασας ἀπ᾿ ἀρχῆς [Wisdom of Solomon 9:8] with כנגד בית המקדש שלמעלה בית המקדש שלמטה מכון : [Melnachoth, 29]; Rashi, On Exodus 25:9; Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5). Ch. 10:19 b, which has occasioned great difficulty to interpreters, and which the Vulgate, Luther, the Zurich Bible, Coverdale's version, Matthew's Bible, Cromwell's Bible, Cranmer's Bible the Geneva version, the Bishops Bible, Grotius, Calmet, etc., take as antithetical to v. 19 a, referring, it to the Israelites; whom wisdom brought forth from, the depth of the sea; thus violating both its connection with the following verse, as indicated by διὰ τοῦτο and the sense of ἀναβράζειν, which is not to bring out, but to spit out, to cast out — is based upon a tradition which tells us that the sea spit out the corpses of the Egyptians- when the Jews despoiled them of their weapon's.
This tradition is given in the Mechilta, the so-called Chaldee paraphrases of Jerusalem, and Jonathan benUzziel, On Exodus 15:12, and Pike de Rabbi Elieze?, sect. 42, and is at the basis of the account in Josephus (Anit. 2, 16, 6). Our author also follows tradition in his remark that it was not the turning to the brazen serpent, as stated in Numbers 21:9, but to God, which saved the Israelites (Wisdom of Solomon 16:7; comp. Rosh hash-Shanah, 26; Jerusalem Targum; and Rashi, On Numbers 21, 9); that the manna (Numbers 11:8) had all manner of pleasant tastes (Wisdom of Solomon 16:20-21; comp. Yonza, 75); that prayers must be offered to God before the sun rises (Wisdom 16 ‘28; comp. Mishna, Berakoth, 2:2); that Sodom was destroyed because its inhabitants were inhospitable to strangers (Wisdom of Solomon 19:17-18; comp. Sanhedrin, 109), etc. With these facts before us, we entirely differ from Gfrorer (Philo, 2, 207 sq.), Dahne (Jü d. — alexandr. Religionsphilos. 2, 153 sq.), and others, who maintain that the author of this book derived his leadcing tenets from Alexandrian, and more especially from Platonic, philosophy, and fully concur with Ewald (4, 549), who remarks "that no one who is intimately acquainted ‘ ith the Old Test, as well as ‘ with our author, will say that he derived the doctrine of immortality from the abovenamed source. The specification of the σωφροσύνη, φρόνησις, δικαιοσύνη, and ἀνδρία : as- the four cardinal virtues, both here (Wisdom of Solomon 8:7) and by Philo (2, 455 sq.; 4 Mace. 1, 18 sq.; 5,'22 sq. [where εὐσέβεια is put for φρόνησις]; 15:7, where there is a similar change) is indeed real Platonic, and is derived entirely from the Platonic school. But even these four virtues appear in 8:7 as merely secondary, and in the whole connection of the treatment of the book as accidental." Welte (Einleitung, p. 163 sq.), indeed, who does not dispute the agreement of the book of Wisdom with Alexandrian philosophy, goes so far as to say that it only refers to such things as are also more or less clearly expressed in the canonical books of the Hebrew Scriptures.
2. In its religious doctrines the book of Wisdom is one of the most important and interesting contributions to the literature of the Jewish theology before the advent of Christ. It' shows how the tenets of the Jews were preparing them for the teachings of the New Test. Thus it tells us that God is not the author of death, but made both man and all creatures in the image of his own eternity, and delighted in the whole of his creation (1, 13.14; 11:24), which he made for perpetual duration (2, 14; comp. Romans 8:20-21). Death entered into the world through the envy of the devil (Wisd. 2, 24). We have here the first instance on record where the serpent which tempted the protoplasts in Paradise is identified with the devil (Wisd. 2, 24:24), thus confirming the explanation given of Genesis 3, 1-15 in John 8:44; Revelation 12:9; Revelation 20:2. Gratz (Gesch. 3, 443 sq.), who cannot brook so striking a confirmation on the part of the Jews before Christ to the correctness of the teachings of the New Test. will have it that this is one of the passages interpolated by a Christian hand But there is very little doubt that the Jews believed in the identity of the serpent and Satan long before the advent of Christ (comp. Ginsburg, The Kabbalah [Lond. 1865], p. 29), and that. this notion has even passed over into the Persic religion (comp. Hengstenberg, Christology, 1, 7 sq., Engl. transl.). The book of Wisdom, moreover, shows that the doctrine of immortality and a future judgment was most emphatically believed and was generally current among the Jews (1, 15; 3, 4; 6:18,19; 8:17); that the Israelites believed that the wicked attract death by their painful deeds (1, 16); that the saints, who are the children of. God (2, 13, 16, 18), will ultimately judge the world and rule over the nations thereof (3, 8; comp. Matthew 19:28; 1 Corinthians 6:2; Rev. is 26; 3, 21; 20:4-6). The author of this book also propounds the doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul (8, 20). This, however, he did not derive direct from, Platonism both ‘ because the manner in which he enunciates it is different from the mode in which it is represented by Plato and Philo, and because this doctrine was held by the Essenes in Palestine and is to be found in the Talmud -(comp. Josephus, War, 2, 8, 11; the Talmud, Chagiga, 12 b; Yebamoth, 62; Aboda Sara, 5; Ginsburg, The Kabballah, p. 31 sq.). The body is regarded as the seat of sin (1, 4; 8:20) and as a mere hindrance and prison of the soul (9, 15; comp. 2 Corinthians 5, 1-4; Josephus, War, 2, 8, 11). No trace, however, is to be found in this book of a resurrection of the body or of a personal Messiah.
V. Author and Date. —
1. As the book itself ascribes the words therein contained to Solomon, and represents him as narrating his personal experience (ch.7-19), the book of Wisdom has come down to us by tradition as the production of this great monarch. Thus it is not only expressly described as the work of this wise king in the inscriptions of the most ancient versions (viz. Sept., Syriac, Arabicetc.), but it is quoted as such by the most ancient fathers of the Church, such as Clement of Alexandria (Straom. 6), Tertullian (De Praescr. Haeres. c. 7; Adv. Valent. c. 2), Hippolytus (p. 66, ed. Lagarde), Cyprian (Exhortatf. Alart., 12), etc. The Solomonic authorship has also been maintained by some very learned Jews, viz. De Rossi (Meor Enajim [ed. Vienna, 1829], p. 281 b), Wessely (Introduction to his Comment. on Wisdom), and by some Protestants. With the exception of Schmid. Dus Buch d. Weisheit ü bersetzt nunderkldat [Vienna, 1858J), and one or two. others, critics of the present day .have entirely discarded this view, for the following reasons:
(1.) The book was written in Greek, and in the later style of this language.
(2.) Its author exhibits a Greek culture which no Palestinian Jew possessed even at the time of Greek ascendancy over Judaea, as is evident from the later Palestinian writings, and from the express declaration of Josephus (Ant. 20:11,2) that his brethren had an aversion to Greek education. The Greek culture of the author of the book of Wisdom is seen in his notions of what constitutes knowledge (7, 17-20; 8:8); in his acquaintance with the Epicurean doctrine of fate and the philosophico-materialistic view of nature and the future destiny of the soul (2, 2); in the distinction which he makes between the nobler and educated features of heathenism and its grosser forms (13, 1-15); in his view of the origin of image-worship (14, 14 sq.), etc. Comp. Grimm, Comment. p. 19, etc. (3.) It contains unquestionable quotations from the Sept. This is not only evident from ordinary passages, as 6:7; 11:4; 12:8; 16:22; 19:21: but from extraordinary instances where the Sept. differs from the Hebrew, and where the words of the former are inwrought into the text itself; e.g. Wisdom 2, 12 puts into the mouth of skeptics the words of Isaiah 3, 10, ἐνεδρεύσωμεν τὸν ὅτι δύσχρηστος ἡμῖν ἐστι, according to the Sept., which essentially differ from the Hebrew text; and Wisdom of Solomon 15:10, σποδὸς ἡ καρδία αὐτοῦ ), which, again, is an important variation of the Sept. on Isaiah 44, 20 from, the Hebrew. (4.) It refers to matters of history (Wisdom 2, 1-6, 8; Wisdom of Solomon 15:4), which are inapplicable to Solomon's period (Grimm, Comment. p. 17).
Next in point of antiquity is the theory that Philo is the author of this book, as is seen from the remark of Jerome, "Nonnulli scriptorum veterum. hunc esse Philonis Judaei affirmant" (Prief. in Libn. Sal.). This view was also adopted by De Lyra, Luther, Rainold, Calovius, bishop Cosin and others. But against it is to be urged that the whole complexion of the book, as well as its historical theological, and philosophical elements, is at variance with this hypothesis. Thus
(1.) The formation of the fetus in the mother's womb is at variance with Philo's notions upon the same subject (Wisdom of Solomon 7:2; comp. Philo, De Mundi Opif. in Opp. 2-15).
(2.) The two kinds of pre-existent souls-viz. good and bad-are described in this book as destined- alike to inhabit human bodies, whereas Philo only lets the sinfully disposed souls occupy human bodies, and says that the good souls aid the Deity in the administration of human affairs (Wisdom of Solomon 8:19; comp. Philo, De Giganti, in Opp. 1, 263).
(3.) In this book it is distinctly declared that the Egyptians were punished with serpents which Philo as distinctly denies (Wisdom of Solomon 11:15; Wisdom of Solomon 17:9; comp. Philo, De Vit. Mos. in Opp.2, 97 sq.).
(4.) The darkness with which the Egyptians were visited is described in this book as having proceeded from the infernal regions, while Philo affirms that it was occasioned by an unusual eclipse of the sun (Wisdom of Solomon 17:14; comp. Philo, De. Vit. Mos. 1, 21).
(5.) The view that the serpent which tempted our first parents is the devil is diametrically opposed to that of. Philo, who does not recognize such an evil power in-the world, and regards the serpent as a symbol of pleasure (Wisd. 2,24; comp. Philo, De Mundi Opif. in Opp. 1, 38).
(6.) The description of the origin of idolatry in this book is totally different from that of Philo (Wisdom of Solomon 12:13; comp. Philo, De Monarch. § 1-3, in Opp. 2, 213 sq;).
(7.) The idea of divine wisdom, which in the center of this book is different from that of Philo. The author of the book of Wisdom manifests no acquaintance whatever with the trichotomy of human-knowledge, nor even with the doctrine of ideas, which forms a most essential and organic part of Philo's system, as is evident from the fact that he makes no allusion thereunto in such passages as 1, 3; 8:19 sq.; 9, 15; and especially 7:22 sq., where it would have been most appropriate, and where it would' undoubtedly have been found, had the writer known the points in question.
The force of these arguments against Philo Judaeus, and yet the unwillingness to relinquish the traditional name; have led many Roman Catholics and, some Protestant scholars (viz. Lorinus, Bellarmine, Huetius, Drusius, Wernsdorf, Bliddeus, etc.) to resort to the theory that it was not the well-known philosopher, but an older Philo, who either composed the book of Wisdom or put, it into its present form. But the fatal objection to this is that the elder Philo was, according to the express testimony of Josephus (Contra Apion. 1, 23), a heathen, and could not therefore have written this book. Still more far-fetched is the theory of Dr. Tregelles, that it was written by an unknown. Christian of the name of Philo, basing it upon the passage "et Sapientia ab amicis Salomonis in honorem ipsius scripta" in the Muratorian cainon, which he imagines to be a mistranslation of the Greelk original, that may have read, καὶ ἡ Σοφία Σαλομῶντος ὑπὸ Φίλωνος , instead of ὑπὸ Φίλων (Journal of Philol. 1855; p. .37 sq.). Being thus compelled to relinquish the name of Philo in whatsoever form, Augustine would at first have it that Jesus, son of Sirach, was the author of this book (De Doctr.; Chr:2, 8), but afterwards retracted his opinion (Retract. 2,4; De Civ. Dei, 17:20, 1). Fabier, again, maintained (Prolusiones de Libro Snap. [Afispach, 1776-77], 6, pt. 5), that it was written by Zerubbabel, who might justly call himself the second Solomon, because he restored the Solomonic temple. But as all the arguments against the Solomonic authorship are equally to be urged against this theory; and, moreover, as 9:3 can only be applied to Solomon, and as the whole tone of the book shows that this monarch is meant, Faber's conjecture has not been espoused by any one else.
Neither can the more plausible theory of Lutterbeck (Die neutestamenztl. Lehrbegr.ffe [Mayence, 1852], 1, 407 sq.) be sustained, that Aristobulns (flourished B.C. 150) wrote it. Because
(1.) He was a favorite of Ptolemy VI Philometor, and would therefore not have inveighed against kings (comp. 6:1 sq.).
(2.) The Jews in Egypt enjoyed the greatest distinctions under this monarch, and were treated with the highest confidence, so much so that Philometor and Cleopatra entrusted the government and the army to Jews (Josephus, Contra Apion. 2, 5), whereas the Jews in Egypt suffered under the most grinding oppression when this book was written (11, 5 sq.; 12:23, q.; 16-19; Grimm, Comment. p. 21). For these reasons modern writers have given up all attempts to discover the author's name. 2. Equally divergent are the opinions of commentators and historians respecting the date of the book, as will be seen from the following table:
Sept., the Syriac and Arabic versions, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, etc.
Gutman, Lutterbeck, Davidson
Some ancient fathers, De Lyra, Luther, bishop Cosin, Grä tz, etc.
All, however, that can be deduced from internal evidence upon this subject is that (1) the author of the book was an Alexandrian Jew, or that he resided in Egypt and wrote for his coreligionists in the land of their former bondage, as is evident from the details of the Egyptian animal-worship (11, 15; 12:24; 15:18 sq.); from the involuntary adoption of certain Alexandrian notions and phrases as shown above; from the allusion to the events in the lives of sundry. Jewish worthies without specifying the names of these patriarchs-viz. to the directing of tie course of the righteous in a piece of wood of small value (i e. Noah and his family in the ark; comp. Wisdom of Solomon 10:4 with Genesis 7:1 sq.); to the preservation of the righteous man blameless unto God (i.e. Noah); to the saving of the righteous man (i.e. Lot) from the burning of the cities (Wisdom of Solomon 10:5 sq.; comp. Genesis 19:15 sq.), which could only be made by a Jew, and only be understood by Jews; and from the exalted terms in which he speaks of the Jewish nation, of the permanent obligations of the Mosaic law, and of Palestine (Wisdom 2, 12; Wisdom 3, 8; Wisdom of Solomon 12:7); and from the Haggadic embellishments of the Old-Test. narratives, as has been shown inthe preceding.part of this article. These facts, therefore, completely set aside the opinion of Kirschbaum (Der jü d. Alexandrinismus [Leips. 1841], p.52), Weisse (Ueber die Zukunft d. evangel. Kirche [ibid. 1849], p. 233), Noak (Der Ursprung des Christenthums [ibid. 1837], 222 sq.), etc., that this book is the work of a Christian hand; and that (2) he wrote after the Sept. (i.e. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, B.C. 284-246), for, as we have seen, he quotes the Pentateuch and Isaiah according to this version. He, however, composed it some time before Philo' (B.C. cir. 140-50), since it required a considerable period for the degree of development which the religious philosophy of Alexandria had attained among the Jews in the interval between the author of Wisdom and the writings of Philo.. The sufferings referred to in this book (11, 5 sq.; 12:23 sq.; 16-19) are most probably those which Ptolemy VII Physcon (B.C. 145-117) heaped upon the Jews in Alexandria (comp. Josephus, Contra Apion. 2, 5; see Gratz, Geschichte der Juden' [2d ed.], 3, 66).. The hypothesis of Dr. Rainold (Cens. Libr. Apocr.), that "it was written in the time of the emperor Caius, who would have his statue set up and adored in the temple of Jerusalem (Suetonius Vit. Calig. § 22), and that 14:16-20 deprecates his blasphemous attempt at self-deification," which is followed.by Noak (Der Usprung des Christenthums, 1, 222 sq.) and Gratz (Geschichte der Juden, 3, 442), is based upon precarious interpretation of this passage. Grimm (Commnent. p. 33) has conclusively shown that it gives the writer's opinion respecting idolatry, which he, in common with many learned heathen of his day, traces to the deification of man, as is evident from the fact that several Seleucideans adopted the epithet ῎αρΕγ (2 Maccabees 11:25), and that Ptolemy Lagi and Berenice, his consort, were apotheosized by their successors and subjects giving them the title 2 Εοι αοωρρςπε , and erecting to them altars and temples (Pauly, Real-Encyklop. d. class. Alterthunmswissen. s.v. "Ptolemiaus,"VI, 1, 190).
VI. Original Language and Style. — Believing it to be the work of Solomon, many of the ancient fathers, and several modern writers, both Jews and Protestants, as a matter of course, maintained that the original language of Wisdom was Hebrew. Even Grotius, though not regarding it as the production of Solomon, believed it to have been originally written in Hebrew, while Houbigant advocated a Hebrew original for the first nine chapters and Bretschneider and Engelbrecht restricted it to the first five chapters. The erudite Azariah le Rossi again would have it that Solomon wrote it in Aramaic in order to send it to-.some king in the extreme East (Meor Enajim [ed. Vienna, 1829], 281 b). But Jerome had already declared that there was no Hebrew original extant of this book, and that it was originally written in Greek, as is evident from its style ("Secundus [qui Sapieitia Salomonis inscribitur] apud Hebrieos nusquam est, quin et ipse stylus Graecam eloquentiam redolet"[Praef. in Libr. Sal.]). This remark is fully borne out by
(1.) The numerous compound expressions, especially adjectives (e.g. κακότεχνον , 1, 4; 15:4; πρωτόπλαστος, 7:1; 10:1; ὑπερμαχος , 10:20; 16:17; comp. also 1, 6; 2, 10; 4:8; 5, 22; 7:1, 3; 9:5, 15; 10:3; 11:17; 12:5, 19; and for ἃπαξ λεγόμενα, 11:7; 13:3; 14:25; 15:8, 9; 16:3, 21), which have no corresponding terms in the Hebrew.
(2.) The technical expressions-as πνεῦμα νοερόν , 7:22; διήκειν καὶ χωρεῖν διὰ πάντὠν, 7:24; ὕγη ἄμορφος , 11:17; πρὸνοια, 14:3; — 17:2- which are derived from Platonic and Stoical philosophy.
(3.) The alliterations, paronomasias, and oxymora which pervade the book (comp. ἀγαπήσατε - φρονήσατε - ζητήσατε; ἐν ἀγαθότητι - ἀπλότητι , 1, 1; οὐς - θροῦς, 1, 10; παροδεύσσωσυνοδεύσω , 6:22; ἀδόλως - ἀφθόνως, 7:13; ἀργὰεργα , 14:5;' ἄδικα - δικη, 1, 8; ἰδιας ἰδιοτητος , 2, 23; ατραπον τρόπιος, 5, 10; δυνατοι δὲ δυνατῶς , 6:6; δσιως τὰ ὅσια ὁσιωθήσονται, 6:10, κ . τ . λ .; see Grimm, p. 7), showing beyond doubt that the book was originally written in Greek. As to the Hebrew coloring of the language, the lexical Hebraisms (e.g. ἁπλότης καρδίας 1, 1; μερίς, κλῆρος, 2, 9; τρίβοι , 2, 15; λογιζεσθαι εἴς τι 2, 16; πληροῦν χοόνον , 4:13; ὅσιοι τοῦ θεοῦ, 4:15), the numerous Hebrew parallelisms, etc., these are to be expected from so thorough an Israelite as the writer of this book manifestly was, especially when it is borne in mind that the author breathes throughout the whole of his work the spirit of the Old Test.; that the book of Wisdom is a Hellenistic version of the same tradition wherein Solomon is represented as having philosophically refuted skepticism and tyranny, of which traces appear elsewhere in the later Jewish literature; and that the author took the ancient Hebrew poetry for his model. The style of the book is very uneven. Some portions of it are truly sublime, and will bear comparison with any passages in the best classics; as, for instance, the delineation of the sensualist (2, 1 sq.), the picture of future judgment (5, 15 sq.), and the description of wisdom (7, 22-8, 1); while in other passages the author, as bishop Lowth remarks, "is often pompous and turgid as well as tedious and diffuse, and abounds in epithets, directly contrary to the practice of the Hebrews" (Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, Praelect. p. 24).
VII. Canonicity and Authority. — Though the book of Wisdom, like the other deutero-canonical books, was never included in the canon of the synagogue, as is evident from the list of the Hebrew Scriptures given in the Talmud (Baba Bathra, § 14); and though it is not found in the catalogues of Origen, Jerome, Epiphanius, Athanasius, Cyril, etc., yet there can be but little doubt that it was held in great respect among the Jews, and that the apostle Paul was familiar with its language, as may be seen from the striking parallels in .Romans 9:21 to Wisdom of Solomon 15:7; in Romans 9:22 to Wisdom of Solomon 12:20; in Ephesians 6:1317 to Wisdom of Solomon 5:17-19. The next allusion to it, though also not by name, is to be found in the epistle of St. Clement to the Corinthians (1:27; comp. Wisdom of Solomon 11:22; Wisdom of Solomon 12:12); and Eusebius tells us (Hist. Eccles. 5, 26) that Irenaeus made: use of it in a lost book. ‘ Clement of Alexandria quotes it as the inspired work of Solomon with the introductory phrase) ἡ θεία σοφία λέγει (Straom. 4:16, p. 609, ed. Potter). It is also quoted as such by Origen (Contra Celsum, 3, 72), Tertulliali (Advers. Valent. c. 2), Cyprian (Exhiortat. Martyr. 12), Cyril ((Catech. 9:127), etc. Hence it was declared as canonical by the third Council of Carthage ‘(A.D. 397), in the councils of Sardis (A.D. 347), Constantinople in Trullo (A.D. 692), Toledo (A.D. 675), Florence (1438), -and in the fourth session of the Council of Trent (1546). With other deutero-canonical writings, it remained in the canon till the time of the Reformation, when Luther first separated it and put it together-with the rest of the Apocrypha at the end of the Old Test.. Still Luther spoke of it with great respect (Vorrede aufdie Weisheit Salomonis in his translation of the Bible, ed. 1534). In the Anglican Church the book of Wisdom is looked upon with still greater favor. Thus chapters 13:14 are quoted in the Homilies as the writing of Solomon (Serm non against Peril of Idolatry, pt. 3); 7:11, 16; 9:13; 13:1; 16:8, are cited as the work of the same wise man (Sermons for Rogation Week, pt. 1-3); 3, 1;' 13-15, are quoted as Scripture (Sermon against the Fear of Death, pt. 3; Against Idolatries, pt. 1 and 3); and ch. 5 is referred to as Holy Scripture (Against Willful Rebellion, pt. 6). (See DUTERO-CANONICAL).
VIII. Text. — The book of Wisdom is preserved in Greek and Latin texts, and in subsidiary translations into Syriac, Arabic and Armenian. Of these latter, the Armenian is said to be the most important; the Syriac and Arabic versions being paraphrastic and inaccurate (Grimm, Einleit. § 10). The Greek text, which, as appears above, is undoubtedly the original, offers no remarkable features. The variations in the MSS. are confined within narrow limits, and are not such as to suggest the idea of distinct early recension; nor is there any appearance of serious corruptions anterior to existing Greek authorities. — The Old Latin version, which was left untouched by Jerome (Preef. in Libr. Sal., "In eo libro qui a plerisque Sapientia- Salomaonis inscribitur... calamo temperavi; tantummodo, canonicas Scripturas emendare desiderans, et studium meum certis magis quam dubiis commendare"), is, in the refrain, a close and faithful rendering of the Greek, though it contains some additions to the original text, such as are characteristic of the old version generally. Examples of these additions are found: 1. 15, Injustitia autem mortis est acquisitio; 2, 8. Nullum pratuni sit quod non pertranseat luxuria nostra; Eccles. 5, 26:17, et sciemus quaerunt novissima illius; 6; 1, Melior est sapientia quam vires, et vir prudens quamfortis. And the construction of the parallelism in the two first cases suggests the belief that there, at least, the Latin reading may be correct. But other additions point to a different conclusion: 6:23, dilijite lumen sapientice oimnes qui praeestis populis; 8:11, et fitcies principum mirabuntur me; 9:19, quicunque placuerunt tibi domine a principio; 11:5. a defectione potus sui, et in eis cum abundarent filii Israel Icetati sunt.
The chief Greek MSS. in which the book is contained are the Codex Sinaiticus (א ), the Cod. Alexandrinrus (A), the Cod. Vaticanus (B), and the Cod. Ephraemzi rescr. (C). The entire text is preserved in the three former; in the latter, only considerable fragments: 8:5-11, 10; 14:19-17, 18; 18:24-19, 22.
Sabatier used four Latin MSS. of the higher class for his edition: "Corbeienses duos, unum Sangermanensem, et alium S. Thleodorici ad Remos," of which he professes to give almost a complete (but certainly not a literal) collation. The variations are not generally important, but patristic quotations show that in early times very considerable differences of text existed. An important MS. of the book in the British Museum (Egerton, 1046, Saec. 8) has not yet been examined.
IX. Literature. — The earliest commentary which remains is that of Rabanus Maurus (died 856). Roman Catholic commentaries are those of Nannius (1552), Jansen (1557,1614), Osorius (1580), Lorinus (1607, 1624), De Castro (1613), Corn. a Lapide (1638), Maldonatus (1643), Gorse (1655), Menochius (1678), Du Hamel (1703), Calmet (1757),Dereser (Frankf. 2d ed. 1825), and J. A. Schmid (Wien, 1858). Among Protestants separate commentaries are those of Strigel (Lips. 1569, 1571, 1575), Raynold (1618), Fabricius (Frcf. et Lips. 1691), Selnecker (Lips. 1575); Brochmanin (Hafil. 1656), all in Latin; Petersen, Erklr. (Biiding. 1727); Schubaud, Amerk. (Magdeb. 1733); Steinmetz, Amerk. (Leips. 1747); Kleuker, Erklut. (Riga, 1785); Hasse, Amerk. (Jen. eod.); Wallenius, Anmarkniingan (Griefsw. 1786, also in Latin); Kelle, Amerk. (Freib. 1815); Engelbroth, Interpretation [ch. 1-4] (Havvn. 1816); Bauermeister, Commentarius (Gö tting. 1828); and especially W. Grimm, Commentar (Leips. 1837; also in the Kurzgef. Exeg. Handb. ibid. 1868). To these may be added the Hebrew commentary by Wessely (Berl. 1780, and later). See also Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel (Gö ttingen, 1852), 4:548 sq.; Gratz, Geschichte der Juden (2d ed. Leips. 1863), 3, 292 sq., 242 sq.; and the Introductions to the Old Test. by Bertholdt (Erlangen, 1815), 5, 225 sq.; De Wette, § 312-315; Keil (ibid. 1859), § 244-246; and Davidson (Lond. 1863), 3, 396 -410. (See COMMENTARY).
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Wisdom (the) of Solomon, Book of'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/w/wisdom-the-of-solomon-book-of.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.