The Apocrypha: The Wisdom of Solomon

This  is generally understood not to have been written by Solomon, despite sections in Chapters 7 & 8 which imply this.  Rather, it is likely written by a Jewish person, perhaps from Alexandria, familiar with the political upheavals in Egypt as a result of the conquest of Alexander the Great and the generals who divided his kingdom up after his death.  Some of these political upheavals had very negative effects for the people of Judea.  Jerome credited Philo of Alexandria, who was an older contemporary of Jesus, with producing this work but there is no objective evidence by which to ascertain this is true.  It was written originally in Greek, not Hebrew, and owes a great deal to Hellenistic literary techniques and forms.  Luther didn’t see it as canonical but viewed it as worthwhile reading.

I have no doubt saying this work does not belong in the Biblical canon.   Frankly, it reads to me a lot like the Qur’an does – a whole lot of time spent telling you why you have to listen carefully to what it says, but very little substance communicated.  Warnings and threats to those who don’t heed, but then no real directives.  Much of it has nothing to do with wisdom at all, and rather is an extensive retelling of the Exodus from Egypt under Moses.

There are some things of note in this book.  It clearly teaches the immortality of the soul and the resurrection of the body (3:1-9).  Chapter 5 has echoes of Ephesians 6 and the armor of God.  There are also sections that echo Isaiah 44 and ridicule of those who make idols from the same materials they fashion plates out of.  There is an interesting reference to a Babylonian rabbinic tradition which stated the manna in the desert tasted different to each of the Israelites, depending on their particular tastes, so thorough was the love and provision of God (16:21).

Overall, this book doesn’t add anything to Scripture, and it repeats at length quite a bit of it.  It’s not necessarily a bad book, but I certainly don’t see it on par with the book of Proverbs or other wisdom literature within the canonical Old Testament.  I’d much sooner recommend someone read those books than this one.

 

 

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