Thursday, February 07, 2008

"The Wisdom of Solomon"

"Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ's persecution by the Jews in Wisdom 2 in your inspiration theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent."

Why don’t we begin by quoting some scholarly observations by the author of the standard modern commentary on this particular book of the OT apocrypha:

“Thus the author of Wisd is quite capable of constructing sentences in true period style (12:27; 13:11-15), and his fondness for compound words is almost Aeschylean. His manner at times has the light tough of Greek lyric poetry (17:17-19; 2:6-9; 5:9-13), and occasionally his words fall into an iambic or hexameter rhythm. He employs…Greek philosophical terminology,” D. Winston, the Wisdom of Solomon: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Doubleday 1979), 15-16.

“These characteristics, in addition to the author’s many favorite ‘theme words and expressions which recur throughout the work, argue for unity of authorship, and make the hypothesis that Wisd is a translation of a Hebrew original virtually untenable,” ibid. 16-17.

Now the book clearly intimates Solomonic authorship. But I don’t think one can seriously contend that Solomon wrote in Greek—especially the kind of Greek we encounter in Wisdom.

So that would make the work of forgery. My theory of inspiration does not extend to inspired forgeries. But Dyer may beg to differ.

“No consensus has thus far emerged regarding the date of Wisd, and various scholars have place it anywhere between 220 BCE and 50 CE,” ibid 20.

“There are further considerations, however, which point to the reign of Gaius ‘Caligula’ (37:41 CE) as the likeliest setting for Wisd,” ibid. 23.

1.But didn’t Dyer assure us that “all admit” it was written prior to the first advent of Christ?

Either he hasn’t consulted the standard commentary on Wisdom, where the commentator not only offers his own date for the work, but reviews the dating scheme of other scholars—dates which sometimes postdate birth and death of Christ, or else he has read this commentary, and is dissembling about a scholarly consensus on the pre-adventual date of the book.

I suppose a third option is that he read it, but is too forgetful to remember what he read.

The most plausible and charitable explanation is that Dyer is an ignoramus—and a pretty hypocritical ignoramus at that. He berates the Protestants for their failure to include the OT apocrypha in their canon while he himself is too lazy to acquaint himself with the standard exegetical literature on a book which he himself puts forward as a test-case for the inspiration and canonicity of the OT apocrypha.

2.While we’re on the subject, does Dyer think that Solomon was a contemporary of Caligula? That would require a rather creative reconstruction of standard chronology.

Or is Dyer of the opinion that Solomon outlived Jesus? That would be pretty impressive for a man who was born around 971 BC. It’s even more impressive considering the fact that the OT records the death of Solomon.

Of course, Dyer is at liberty to challenge Winston’s dating scheme. If so, then we look forward to his erudite interaction with Winston’s evidence.

“For the Greek Church, the Synod of Jerusalem in 1672 introduced Wisd and other Deuterocanonical books to a place in Holy Scripture. ‘There appears to be no unanimity, however, on the subject of the canon in the Greek Orthodox Church today. Catechisms directly at variance with each other on this subject have received the Imprimatur of the Greek Ecclesiastical authorities and the Greek clergy may hold and teach what they please about it (Metzger: 195),” ibid. 67.

Oh, dear! And here I was led to believe that the Orthodox church is a beachhead of religious certainty amidst the shifting sands of Protestant scholarship. I’m so disillusioned.

“The author’s treatment of the suffering and vindication of the child of God [2:13ff] is a homily based chiefly on the fourth Servant Song in Isa 52:12 with some help from earlier and later passages in that book,” ibid. 119-20.

So even assuming that we credit Dyer’s Messianic interpretation of this chapter, that would be derivative of OT prophecy, on which Wisdom is literarily dependent.

I could quote other examples from Winston’s commentary on this passage to underscore the same point.

Dyer presumably cited Wisdom 2 because he believes that this chapter of this book furnishes an especially impressive case for the inspiration and canonicity of the OT apocrypha. If that’s the best he can offer, then it’s downhill from there.


  1. "Oh, dear! And here I was led to believe that the Orthodox church is a beachhead of religious certainty amidst the shifting sands of Protestant scholarship. I’m so disillusioned."

    This is truly hysterical - I can't stop laughing.

  2. I know this is an old posting, but i came across looking for info on this book, and thought it would be a good place to provide some info (from a Catholic source.) is impossible that the work was composed by Solomon , largely because the Hellenistic thought and culture that permeate it are grossly an achronistic for Palestine of the early first millennium B. C. In fact, Solomonic authorship was doubted even in premodern times. Thus, the Wisdom of Solomon is clearly a pseudepigraphica l work, with the author trying to gain authority for his sapiential composition by attributing it to the traditionally wise King Solomon. As a result, I shall follow the lead of most scholars and henceforth refer to the author as Pseudo-Solomon. Although it is impossible to be certain of Pseudo-Solomon's identity, he was most likely a Hellenized Jew who composed his sapiential work in Greek. the majority of scholars now believe that the entire book was originally composed in Greek...

    In modern critical study of the Wisdom of Solomon, there has been a great range for the dating of the book, from the late third century B. C. to the middle of the first century A.D. However, recent scholarship has narrowed the terminus a quo for composition to the late first century B.C, around the time of the Roman conquest of Egypt under Octavian (later called Augustus).

    Some scholars have pointed out that there are many words in the Wisdom of Solomon which indicate that the book was composed in the ea rly Roman era. For example, David Winston presents a list of 35 terms in the book that are not extant in Greek literature before the Imperial period [first century A.D.], and C. Larcher presents a similar, albeit shorter (24 words), list with some variations. ...significant evidence that the Wisdom of Solomon was probably not written before Augustus's reign.

    Against this Augustan dating are a large group of s cholars who believe that the Wisdom of Solomon was most likely composed during t he reign of the Roman emperor Gaius Caesar (A.D. 37-41), better known as Caligula.

    Given the aforementioned linguistic and historical evidence, the Wisdom of Solomon may be dated to the early Imperial period. The cumulative evidence from the book's vocabulary shows that it was probably not written before the Augustan age. While the arguments adduced by those who believe that the book was most likely composed during Caligula's reign are possible, they remain inconclu sive. Therefore, I see no reason to limit the book's composition to such a precise dating without additional evidence. In the end, I believe that the book was most likely composed some time during or between the reigns of Augustus and Caligula (probably before the letter i ssued by Claudius in A . D . 41). 69 However, even this range of dating cannot be known with certainty. Andrew T. Glicksman, Wisdom of Solomon 10: A Jewish Hellenistic Reinterp retation of Early Israelite History through Sapiential Lenses, THE CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA 2010 pp. 8,13,18,22,23,27,31;

    If it was written before the Lord's death (33-34 AD), Wisdom 3:12-22 would be a significant prophecy, yet the evidence almost conclusively makes it a pseudo-graphical works, if falsely attributed to Solomon.

    And it seems inconceivable that none of the NT refers to it, though some see Matthew's structuring patterned after it, while it much parallels Is. 53, and v. 18 is similar to Ps 22:8 which Mt 27:43 best corresponds to.

    It is also true that a part a book that expresses truth does not make the whole of it inspired of God and true, as Jude's reference to the book of Enoch shows (and even a demon testified in favor of an apostle: Acts 16:17) But by their fruits ye shall know them.