Biblical Studies Wisdom of Solomon
by
Daniel J. Harrington
  • LAST REVIEWED: 21 September 2016
  • LAST MODIFIED: 13 September 2010
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0129

Introduction

The Wisdom of Solomon (known as the Book of Wisdom in the Latin Bible tradition) is a book about wisdom—its benefits, nature, and role in ancient Israel’s history. It is more an exhortation to pursue wisdom than a collection of wise teachings (as in Proverbs, Sirach, and Ecclesiastes). Its implied author is King Solomon, and its implied audience is the rulers of the earth. However, its real author seems to have been a Greek-speaking Jew with some knowledge of Greek rhetoric and philosophy, and its real audience seems to have been young Jews in danger of slipping away from their Jewish heritage into pagan materialism. The use of the Greek language, the influence of Greek philosophy and rhetoric, its Jewish audience, and the links with Philo suggest an origin in Alexandria in Egypt. It is generally dated to the mid-1st century BCE (around 50 BCE), although scholars place it anywhere from the 2nd century BCE to the 1st century CE. The purpose of the Wisdom of Solomon is to demonstrate the superiority of the Jewish religion and its great wisdom. The author knows Greek rhetoric and Greek philosophy, as well as the Bible in its Greek form. He adopts some concepts from Stoicism and Platonism, and opposes the Epicureans and Egyptian paganism. There are three major parts in the book: righteousness and immortality (chapters 1–5), the nature of wisdom (chapters 6–9), and wisdom’s role in the early history of Israel (chapters 10–19). All three parts seem to have been composed by the same author (though perhaps at different times) or at least in the same circle. The transitions between the various parts serve to meld them into a literary unity of some sort, so that it is difficult to decide exactly where one part ends and the next one begins. The Wisdom of Solomon is canonical in the Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions. While not canonical in the Jewish and Protestant traditions, it is generally respected as a witness to the synthesis of Hebrew and Greek worldviews, the development of Jewish beliefs in life after death, the encyclopedic nature of wisdom, and personified Wisdom as God’s agent in creation.

Introductory Works

Substantive treatments of Wisdom may be found in introductions to Jewish wisdom literature (Clifford 1998, Collins 1997, Murphy 1990) or to the Old Testament Apocrypha (deSilva 2002, Harrington 1999). These works are important resources for the study of not only the Book of Wisdom but also all of Israelite wisdom literature.

  • Clifford, Richard J. The Wisdom Literature. Interpreting Biblical Texts. Nashville: Abingdon, 1998.

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    Excellent treatment of the book’s historical setting, structure, genre, content, and meaning in the early 21st century. See pp. 133–156.

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    • Collins, John J. “Wisdom and Immortality.” In Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age. By John J. Collins, 178–221. Old Testament Library. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997.

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      Fine treatment of the book in the context of other Jewish wisdom books of the period.

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      • deSilva, David A. “Wisdom of Solomon: ‘The Righteous Live Forever.’” In Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance. By David A. deSilva, 127–152. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2002.

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        Thorough discussion of the book’s literary, historical, and theological significance, and of the history of its influence.

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        • Harrington, Daniel J. “The Wisdom of Solomon: Immortality, Wisdom, and History.” In Invitation to the Apocrypha. By Daniel J. Harrington, 55–77. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999.

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          Deals with introductory issues and the book’s three great themes of immortality, wisdom, and Israel’s early history.

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          • Murphy, Roland E. “The Wisdom of Solomon: A View from the Diaspora.” In The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature. By Roland E. Murphy, 83–96. Anchor Bible Reference Library. New York: Doubleday, 1990.

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            Treats Wisdom as representative of Hellenistic Diaspora Judaism.

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            Text

            The book was originally composed in Greek. Ziegler 1962, a critical edition of the Greek text, remains the standard. The lexical and grammatical tools provided in Artz-Grabner 1995 and Hübner 1985 are very useful. Bullard and Hatton 2004 offers important advice for translators. The principal English versions include the New American Bible (NAB), the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), and the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). French, German, Italian, Spanish, and many other modern language versions may be accessed through BibleGateway.

            • Artz-Grabner, Peter. Sprachlicher Schlüssel zur Sapientia Salomonis (Weisheit). Salzburg, Austria: Institut für Neutestamentliche Bibelwissenschaft, 1995.

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              A helpful grammatical analysis of the Greek text.

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              • Bullard, Roger A., and H. A. Hatton. A Handbook on the Wisdom of Solomon. 2d ed. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 2004.

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                Addresses historical, literary, and linguistic issues that affect the translation of the book.

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                • Hübner, Hans. Wörterbuch zur Sapientia Salomonis mit dem Text der Göttinger Septuagint (Joseph Ziegler). Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1985.

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                  After providing Ziegler’s Greek text, this booklet lists difficult Greek words and phrases as they occur along with German translations by Hübner and other commentators.

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                  • Ziegler, Joseph, ed. Sapientia Salomonis. Septuaginta 12/1. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1962.

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                    The critical edition of the Greek text, with an extensive introduction and a full critical apparatus. A second edition was published in 1980.

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                    Annotated Study Bibles

                    The modern translations contained in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and New American Bible (NAB) are greatly enhanced by introductions and comments made by distinguished scholars. The treatment in Winston 2006 is especially helpful, whereas Bergant 2006, Enns 2003, and Wilson 2007 also provide good entry points

                    • Bergant, Diane. “Reader’s Guide” and “The Book of Wisdom.” In Catholic Study Bible. 2d ed. Edited by Donald Senior and John J. Collins, 272–276, 844–868. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

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                      Treats the NAB version, and provides Bergant’s exposition and the textual notes that accompany the NAB text.

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                      • Enns, Peter. “The Wisdom of Solomon.” In The New Interpreter’s Study Bible. Edited by Walter Harrelson, 1419–1449. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003.

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                        Introduction to and notes on the NRSV text in an excellent study Bible.

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                        • Wilson, Walter T. “The Wisdom of Solomon.” In The New Oxford Annotated Bible: New Revised Version with the Apocrypha. Aug. 3d ed. Edited by Michael D. Coogan, 70–99. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

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                          Introduction and concise notes on the NRSV text, along with a brief introduction, in a widely used textbook.

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                          • Winston, David, revised by Thomas H. Tobin. “Wisdom of Solomon.” In The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Rev. ed. Edited by Harold W. Attridge, 1348–1377. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2006.

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                            Introduction and notes by two distinguished scholars, in a version sponsored by the Society of Biblical Literature.

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                            Dictionary Treatments

                            Murphy 2000 and Winston 1992, found in two Bible dictionaries edited by David Noel Freedman, offer overviews pertaining to various literary, historical, and theological aspects of the book. Murphy covers the basic dimensions, whereas Winston treats introductory matters in greater depth and length.

                            • Murphy, Roland E. “Wisdom of Solomon.” In Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 1382–1384. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2000.

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                              Concise treatment by a premier scholar of biblical wisdom texts.

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                              • Winston, David. “Solomon, Wisdom of.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 6. Edited by David Noel Freedman, 120–127. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

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                                Excellent discussion by a distinguished commentator on the book.

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                                Surveys of Scholarship

                                Grabbe 1997 gives a good overview of Wisdom and the scholarship on it, whereas Winston 2005 brings the discussion up to date and raises the critical question about the book’s intellectual background and coherence.

                                • Grabbe, Lester L. Wisdom of Solomon. Guides to the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.

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                                  Examines how scholars have treated introductory issues, literary and rhetorical techniques, message, the figure of Wisdom, and historical context.

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                                  • Winston, David. “A Century of Research on the Book of Wisdom.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research. Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 1–18. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                    Addresses the “real issue”: how the author could adapt an apocalyptic worldview to his own philosophically sophisticated perception of reality.

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                                    Commentaries

                                    The technical commentaries demand knowledge of ancient and modern languages beyond English, but there are other commentaries accessible for general readers.

                                    Technical Commentaries

                                    The combination of the philological approach in Reider 1957 and the catalogue of Jewish and Greco-Roman parallels in Winston 1979 is foundational, although the book’s theology tends to be ignored. Larcher 1983–1985 and Scarpat 1989–1999 are by far the most comprehensive, whereas Hübner 1999 combines philology and theology.

                                    • Hübner, Hans. Die Weisheit Salomos. Liber Sapientiae Salomonis. Das Alte Testament Deutsch Apokryphen 4. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1999.

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                                      Full introduction and commentary by a German scholar well versed in the book as well as the Pauline and other New Testament writings.

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                                      • Larcher, Chrysostome. Le Livre de la Sagesse ou la Sagesse de Salomon. Vols. 1–3. Études Bibliques. Paris: Gabalda, 1983–1985.

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                                        The most complete technical commentary in any language, edited and published after the author’s death.

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                                        • Reider, Joseph. The Book of Wisdom. New York: Harper, 1957.

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                                          An excellent resource for the book’s language and philosophical terminology.

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                                          • Scarpat, Giuseppe. Libro della Sapientia. Biblica—Testi e studi 6. Brescia, Italy: Paideia Editrice, 1989–1999.

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                                            A rich three-volume textual and philological commentary on Wisdom 1–6 (vol. 1), 7–12 (vol. 2), and 13–19 (vol. 3).

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                                            • Winston, David. The Wisdom of Solomon. Anchor Bible 43. New York: Doubleday, 1979.

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                                              Especially valuable for drawing attention to significant parallels with other Jewish and Greek philosophical writings.

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                                              General Commentaries

                                              Both Kolarcik and Reese wrote important doctoral dissertations and published widely on Wisdom, and so their commentaries (Kolarcik 1997 and Reese 1983) make available to a wider audience the results of their extensive research. In addition to these, there are also one-volume commentaries on the whole Bible that contain concise expositions by experts on the book. Wright 1990 makes important and influential proposals about the book’s structure. Holmes 1913 represents a classic philological approach, whereas Hayman 2003, Horbury 2001, and Reese 1988 focus more on the book’s historical-cultural settings and its theology.

                                              • Kolarcik, Michael. “The Book of Wisdom.” In New Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 5. Edited by Leander E. Keck, 435–600. Nashville: Abingdon, 1997.

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                                                Perhaps the best and most accessible modern exposition for nonspecialists.

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                                                • Hayman, A. Peter. “The Wisdom of Solomon.” In Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible. Edited by James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, 763–778. Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2003.

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                                                  Solid exposition of the text for a general audience.

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                                                  • Holmes, Samuel. “The Wisdom of Solomon.” In The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English. Vol. 1. Edited by R. H. Charles, 518–568. Oxford: Clarendon, 1913.

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                                                    Part of a classic project representing the best of British scholarship in the early 20th century.

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                                                    • Horbury, William. “The Wisdom of Solomon.” In The Oxford Bible Commentary. Edited by John Barton and John Muddiman, 650–667. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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                                                      Fine exposition by a scholar well versed in Wisdom and other Jewish texts.

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                                                      • Reese, James M. The Book of Wisdom, Song of Songs. Old Testament Message 20. Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, 1983.

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                                                        Excellent popular introduction and exposition by a learned scholar. See pp. 13–202.

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                                                        • Reese, James M. “Wisdom of Solomon.” In Harper’s Bible Commentary. Edited by James L. Mays, 820–835. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1988.

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                                                          Concise treatment by one of the best experts on the book.

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                                                          • Wright, Addison G. “Wisdom.” In The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Edited by Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, 510–522. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

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                                                            Important and often quoted commentary, especially for its approach to the book’s structure.

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                                                            Essay Collections

                                                            Passaro and Bellia 2005 gives an excellent picture of the modern study of Wisdom. The essays in Larcher 1969 are important as background to his three-volume commentary, and the collection in Hübner 1993 places the book in its various intellectual contexts. Calduch-Benages and Vermeylen 1999 contains original essays by first-class scholars.

                                                            • Calduch-Benages, Nuria, and Jacques Vermeylen, eds. Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Ben Sira and the Book of Wisdom: Festschrift M. Gilbert. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Loveniensium 143. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press, 1999.

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                                                              Of the thirty-two essays honoring Professor Maurice Gilbert, twelve deal with various aspects of the Book of Wisdom.

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                                                              • Hübner, Hans, ed. Die Weisheit Salomos im Horizont Biblischer Theologie. Biblisch-Theologische Studien 22. Neukirchen-Vluyn, Germany: Neukirchener, 1993.

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                                                                Three essays on the Book of Wisdom in relation to the Old Testament, ancient philosophy, and Paul, respectively.

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                                                                • Larcher, Chrysostome. Études sur le livre de la Sagesse. Études Bibliques. Paris: Gabalda, 1969.

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                                                                  Essays on the book’s cultural background preliminary to the author’s extensive commentary.

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                                                                  • Passaro, Angelo, and Giuseppe Bellia, eds. The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research. Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                    With its fourteen essays by leading international scholars on various aspects of the book, this is the most important recent resource on the study of Wisdom.

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                                                                    Old Testament Influences

                                                                    To a large extent Wisdom represents the rewriting and adaptation of material found in the Old Testament. Clifford 2005 and Skehan 1971 cover the parallels and influences from the book of Proverbs, Schaberg 1982 notes various biblical and extrabiblical influences on the first part of the book, whereas Cheon 1997 and Enns 1997 investigate how and why the author rewrote the biblical account of the exodus in chapters 11–19.

                                                                    • Cheon, Samuel. The Exodus Story in the Wisdom of Solomon: A Study in Biblical Interpretation. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha Supplement Series 23. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.

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                                                                      Explores the interpretive techniques, theological tendencies, and hermeneutics involved in the book’s retelling of the exodus story.

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                                                                      • Clifford, Richard J. “Proverbs as a Source for Wisdom of Solomon.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research. Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 255–263. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                        Argues that Wisdom drew from Proverbs not only for its outline, pace of presentation, and some sayings, but also for several important themes.

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                                                                        • Enns, Peter. Exodus Retold: Ancient Exegesis of the Departure from Egypt in Wis 10:15–21 and 19:1–9. Harvard Semitics Monographs 57. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1997.

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                                                                          Considers the author’s use of the Bible in dealing with Exodus as primarily exegetical, that is, motivated by factors in the biblical text.

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                                                                          • Schaberg, Jane. “Major Midrashic Traditions in Wisdom 1,1–6,25.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 13 (1982): 75–101.

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                                                                            Suggests influences from Daniel 7–12, Psalm 2, Isaiah, and Enoch traditions in the first major part of Wisdom.

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                                                                            • Skehan, Patrick W. “The Literary Relationship of the Book of Wisdom to Earlier Wisdom Writings.” In Israelite Poetry and Wisdom, 172–236. Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 1. Washington, DC: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1971.

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                                                                              Examines textual resemblances, borrowings, and allusions that exist between Wisdom and Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes.

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                                                                              Historical Setting

                                                                              Wisdom is generally understood as an early representative of the trend in Alexandrian Judaism toward integrating Jewish and Greek ideas, a trend that reached its highpoint with the writings of Philo. Reese 1970 provides a thorough overview of the Hellenistic influences, and Kipper 1998 treats them in light of recent scholarship. Baslez 2005 and Kolarcik 2008 focus on the author’s ambivalence toward his complex cultural setting. Perdue 2008 places the book in its multiple cultural settings: Diaspora Judaism, cosmopolitan Alexandria, and the Roman Empire.

                                                                              • Baslez, Marie-Françoise. “The Author of Wisdom and the Cultural Environment of Alexandria.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research. Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 33–52. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                                Places the book in the context of the Alexandrian Jewish community facing the attractions and threats of pagan society there.

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                                                                                • Kipper, Martina. Hellenistische Bildung im Buch der Weisheit. Studien zur Sprachgestalt und Theologie der Sapientia Salomonis. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 280. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 1998.

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                                                                                  Examines the influence of Hellenism on the book’s language and style, and its encounters with Greek philosophical views.

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                                                                                  • Kolarcik, Michael. “The Sage behind the Wisdom of Solomon.” In Scribes, Sages, and Seers. Edited by Leo G. Perdue, 245–257. Forschungen zur Religion und Literatur des Alten und Neues Testament 219. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 2008.

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                                                                                    Explains how the author responded through sapiential argumentation to events impinging on the Jewish community in Alexandria.

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                                                                                    • Perdue, Leo G. The Sword and Stylus: An Introduction to Wisdom in the Age of Empires, 292–355. Grand Rapids, MI, and Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2008.

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                                                                                      Places the book in the context of the early Roman Empire and its Greco-Roman literary and religious culture.

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                                                                                      • Reese, James, M. Hellenistic Influences on the Book of Wisdom and Its Consequences. Analecta Biblica 41. Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1970.

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                                                                                        Demonstrates that the presence of Hellenistic influence on the vocabulary, style, subject matter, and literary forms is very significant for understanding the book.

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                                                                                        Literary Analysis

                                                                                        The author of Wisdom seems to have had a Greek rhetorical education, and many scholars find his work to be intricately structured. Reese 1965 and Wright 1965 offer good treatments of the book’s intricate structure, whereas Gilbert 2005 correctly notes the problem of the transitions in chapters 6 and 10–11. Reymond 2002 offers an exemplary structural analysis of the opening poem in 1:1–15. Cheon 1998 deals with the author’s practice of not naming biblical figures, and Cheon 2001 also clarifies the structure in chapters 3–4. Niccacci 2008 offers still another proposal about the book’s structure. Perdue 2009 takes up the problem of pseudonymity, while Jones 2009 considers the role of Wisdom 19:18–22 in the book.

                                                                                        • Cheon, Samuel. “Anonymity in the Wisdom of Solomon.” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 18 (1998): 111–119.

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                                                                                          Suggests that Wisdom’s avoidance of proper names from the Bible and substitution of pronouns, generic terms, and other allusions for them may reflect the crisis for Alexandrian Jews in Caligula’s time.

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                                                                                          • Cheon, Samuel. “Three Characters in the Wisdom of Solomon 3–4.” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 21 (2001): 105–113.

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                                                                                            Examines the antitheses of the sterile woman (3:13) versus the wives of the wicked, the eunuch (3:14) versus the husband, and the youth who died young (4:7) versus the progeny of the wicked.

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                                                                                            • Gilbert, Maurice. “The Literary Structure of the Book of Wisdom: A Study of Various Views.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research: Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 19–32. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                                              After surveying past proposals, the essay focuses on the question of where the central section (“Praise of Wisdom”) begins and ends.

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                                                                                              • Jones, Ivor H. “The Finale of the Wisdom of Solomon: Its Context, Translation, and Significance.” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 19 (2009): 3–43.

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                                                                                                Reflects on in what sense Wisdom 19:18–22 is (and is not) the finale of the Book of Wisdom.

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                                                                                                • Niccacci, Alviero. “The Structure of the Book of Wisdom: Two Instructions (Chs. 1–5, 6–19) in Line with Old Testament Wisdom Tradition.” Studium Biblicum Franciscanum Liber Annuus 58 (2008): 31–72.

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                                                                                                  Views Wisdom as consisting of a direct appeal and exhortation (chapters 1 and 6–9), followed by the contents of the instructions (chapters 2–5, 10–19).

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                                                                                                  • Perdue, Leo G. “Pseudonymity and Graeco-Roman Rhetoric: Mimesis and the Wisdom of Solomon.” In Pseudepigraphie und Verfasserfiktion in frühchristlichen Briefen—Pseudepigraphy and Author Fiction in Early Christian Letters. Edited by Jörg Frey, et al., 27–59. Wisssenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 246. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck. 2009.

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                                                                                                    By adopting the persona of Solomon, the author allowed the dead king and sage to address an audience of Jews in a new context.

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                                                                                                    • Reese, James M. “Plan and Structure of the Book of Wisdom.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 27 (1965): 391–399.

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                                                                                                      Suggests that some paragraph divisions in Joseph Ziegler’s edition of the Greek text should be modified.

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                                                                                                      • Reymond, Eric D. “The Poetry of the Wisdom of Solomon Reconsidered.” Vetus Testamentum 52 (2002): 385–399.

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                                                                                                        Shows that Wisdom 1:1–15 is both similar to and different from Hebrew wisdom poetry.

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                                                                                                        • Wright, Addison. “The Structure of Wisdom 11–19.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 27 (1965): 28–34.

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                                                                                                          Takes the “homily” in Wisdom 11–19 as a midrash on the blessings of Israel in the exodus event, with 11:4 serving as its “text.”

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                                                                                                          Theology

                                                                                                          While drawing on terms and concepts from Greek philosophy, the author’s theology is fundamentally biblical and Jewish. He also makes use of Jewish apocalyptic ideas. Di Lella’s comparison between Sirach and Wisdom (Di Lella 1966) remains a classic study. Collins 1998 highlights the distinctive character of biblical revelation in Wisdom, whereas Burkes 2002 emphasizes the influence of Jewish apocalyptic in the work. Kolarcik 1999 and Leproux 2007 explore how the author viewed relationships to God, other persons, and the universe. Chesnutt 2003 shows how covenantal and cosmological themes dominate in the second half. The figure of the righteous person as a “son of God” treated in Giménez González 2009 and the personification of Wisdom discussed in Neher 2004 are important not only for the Book of Wisdom but also for the development of early Christian beliefs about Jesus as the Son of God and the Wisdom of God.

                                                                                                          • Burkes, Shannon. “Wisdom and Apocalypticism in the Wisdom of Solomon.” Harvard Theological Review 95 (2002): 21–44.

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                                                                                                            Explores the book first as a vehicle for an apocalyptic worldview (death, appearances and reality, the cosmos, etc.) and then as a sapiential work.

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                                                                                                            • Chesnutt, Randall D. “Covenant and Cosmos in the Wisdom of Solomon 10–19.” In The Concept of the Covenant in Second Temple Judaism. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Jacqueline C. R. de Roo, 223–250. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 71. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2003.

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                                                                                                              In the second half of this essay, the author focuses on covenantal and cosmological concerns.

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                                                                                                              • Collins, John J. “Natural Theology and Biblical Tradition: The Case of Hellenistic Judaism.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60 (1998): 1–15.

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                                                                                                                Contends that although natural theology and biblical revelation have much in common, they rest on different presuppositions and can never be fully reconciled.

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                                                                                                                • Di Lella, Alexander A. “Conservative and Progressive Theology: Sirach and Wisdom.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 28 (1966): 139–154.

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                                                                                                                  Compares the “progressive” theology of Wisdom with the “conservative” approach of Ben Sira to Hellenistic learning and philosophy, anthropology, and retribution.

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                                                                                                                  • Giménez González, Augustín. “Si el justo es hijo de Dios, le socorrerá” (Sab 2,18): Acercamiento canonico a la filiación divina del justo perseguido en Sab 1–6. Asociación Bíblica Española 48. Estella, Spain: Verbo Divino, 2009.

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                                                                                                                    Investigates the characterization of the persecuted just person as a “son” or “child” of God in 2:12–3:9 and 5:1–16 from a canonical perspective.

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                                                                                                                    • Kolarcik, Michael. “Universalism and Justice in the Wisdom of Solomon.” In Treasures of Wisdom: Studies in Ben Sira and the Book of Wisdom: Festschrift M. Gilbert. Edited by Nuria Calduch-Benages and Jacques Vermeylen, 289–301. Bibliotheca Ephermeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 143. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 1999.

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                                                                                                                      Argues that while the universalistic spirit abounds in Wisdom 1–10, in chapters 11–19 it is expressed through an adherence to the value of justice.

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                                                                                                                      • Leproux, Alexis. Un discours de Sagesse. Étude exégètique de Sg 7–8. Analecta Biblica 167. Rome: Editrice Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 2007.

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                                                                                                                        Interprets Wisdom in chapters 7–8 as expressing the relationship between God and the universe, and between God and humankind.

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                                                                                                                        • Neher, Martin. Wesen und Wirken der Weisheit in der Sapientia Salomonis. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 333. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2004.

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                                                                                                                          Views the figure of Wisdom in the book as a poetic personification and merely a preliminary stage in its becoming a hypostasis.

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                                                                                                                          God

                                                                                                                          In his statements about God, the author of Wisdom is primarily influenced by the Old Testament, though he sometimes uses Greek philosophical terms. He is adamantly opposed to traditional Egyptian religion, which he considered to be idolatry (see chapters 13–15). Bartolomé 2008 and Vogels 1991 show how the author of Wisdom develops the biblical view of God as both creator and savior, whereas McGlynn 2001 explores how the author balances the mercy and justice of God. Gilbert 1973 provides a detailed literary and theological study of the author’s negative attitude toward Egyptian religion and pagan religion in general.

                                                                                                                          • Bartolomé, Juan José. “‘Señor, amigo de la vida…’ (Sb 11,26): El amor, paciente y pedagógico, del Dios creador.” Salesianum 50 (2008): 29–54.

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                                                                                                                            Notes that the expression “O Lord, you who love the living” in Wisdom 11:26 refers to God as one who loves by creating, sustaining, and testing his creatures; and as one who instructs his people, loves everything he has created, is patient with sinners, and loves them even when he punishes them.

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                                                                                                                            • Gilbert, Maurice. La critique des dieux dans le livre de la Sagesse (Sg 13–15). Analecta Biblica 53. Rome: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1973.

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                                                                                                                              Detailed literary and theological analysis of the author’s critique of pagan worship in chapters 13–15 by one of the best scholars on this and other wisdom books.

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                                                                                                                              • McGlynn, Moyna. Divine Judgment and Divine Benevolence in the Book of Wisdom. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2/139. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                Observes that the dialogue between judgment and benevolence links each section of Wisdom and is the means by which Wisdom as the divine agent affects the design of creation for humankind to share in the immortal nature of God.

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                                                                                                                                • Vogels, Walter. “The God Who Creates Is the God Who Saves: The Book of Wisdom’s Reversal of the Biblical Pattern.” Église et Théologie 22 (1991): 315–335.

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                                                                                                                                  Contends that in Wisdom God’s creative activity gets priority over salvation history.

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                                                                                                                                  Eschatology and Afterlife

                                                                                                                                  The strong affirmations about life after death and about rewards and punishments after the last judgment make Wisdom a very important text in Jewish and Christian theology. Blischke 2007, Collins 2005, and Gilbert 2003 demonstrate the presence of Jewish apocalyptic language and ideas in the book. Burkes 2003 and Nickelsburg 2006 focus on the theme of life after death in Wisdom and other Jewish works. Kolarcik 1991 clarifies both the author’s attitude toward death and the literary structure of chapters 1–6. Hogan 1999 explores further the biblical background, and Miller 1996 examines the place of the persecuted righteous person in chapters 2–5.

                                                                                                                                  • Blischke, Mareike Verena. Die Eschatologie in der Sapientia Salomonis. Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2/26. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                    Maintains that in Wisdom eschatology is related to love for righteousness, and its concern for the individual’s destiny provides a bridge to the New Testament’s concepts of death and judgment.

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                                                                                                                                    • Burkes, Shannon. God, Self, and Death. The Shape of Religious Transformation in the Second Temple Period. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 79. Leiden, The Netherlands, and Boston: Brill, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                      Traces the emerging Jewish interest in the afterlife in Wisdom and other books during the Second Temple period in relation to developing views about the deity, the self, and death.

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                                                                                                                                      • Collins, John J. “The Reinterpretation of Apocalyptic Traditions in the Wisdom of Solomon.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research: Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 143–157. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                        Contends that apocalyptic influence is most readily seen in the judgment scenes in chapters 1–5, in the motif of the Divine Warrior in 5:17–23 and 3, and in the transformation of the cosmos in the exodus account in chapters 16–19.

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                                                                                                                                        • Gilbert, Maurice. “Sagesse 3,7–9; 5,15–23 et l’apocalyptique.” In Wisdom and Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Biblical Tradition. Edited by Florentino García Martínez, 307–322. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 168. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                          Explores the impact of Jewish apocalyptic imagery in the portrayals of life after death for the righteous in Wisdom 3:7–9 and 5:15–23.

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                                                                                                                                          • Hogan, Karina Martin. “The Exegetical Background of the ‘Ambiguity of Death’ in the Wisdom of Solomon.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 30 (1999): 1–24.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1163/157006399X00118Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            Suggests that the idea of spiritual death was adopted by Alexandrian Jews to deal with two exegetical problems in Genesis 1–4: why Adam and Eve did not die immediately, and why Cain was barely punished for killing Abel.

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                                                                                                                                            • Kolarcik, Michael. The Ambiguity of Death in the Book of Wisdom 1–6. A Study of Literary Structure and Interpretation. Analecta Biblica 127. Rome: Pontificio Biblico Istituto, 1991.

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                                                                                                                                              Excellent analysis of the literary structure and argumentation in Wisdom 1–6, with particular attention to the author’s distinction between physical death and spiritual or ultimate death.

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                                                                                                                                              • Miller, Robert J. “Immortality and Religious Identity in Wisdom 2–5.” In Reimagining Christian Origins: A Colloquium Honoring Burton L. Mack. Edited by Elizabeth Castelli and Hal Taussig, 199–213. Valley Forge, PA: Trinity, 1996.

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                                                                                                                                                Explores the portrait of the persecuted righteous person in Wisdom 2–5, with regard to the crisis, solution, and significance.

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                                                                                                                                                • Nickelsburg, George W. E. Resurrection, Immortality, and Eternal Life in Intertestamental Judaism and Early Christianity. 2d ed. Harvard Theological Studies 56. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006.

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                                                                                                                                                  Gives special attention to the persecution and exaltation of the righteous person in Wisdom 2–5, and its biblical roots and subsequent influence.

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                                                                                                                                                  Relationship to the Dead Sea Scrolls

                                                                                                                                                  Both Wisdom and some of the Qumran scrolls look forward to a form of eternal life, though they express their hopes in different vocabularies: Greek philosophical (Wisdom), and Jewish apocalyptic (Dead Sea texts). No text of Wisdom has been discovered at Qumran. Puech 2003, Puech 2005, and Tantlevskij 2003 focus on the theme of life after death as an important link between Wisdom and the Dead Sea scrolls, although both emphasize the differences in language about it. Collins 2003 finds the links more in the realm of the mix of apocalyptic and sapiential themes such as “mystery.”

                                                                                                                                                  • Collins, John J. “The Mysteries of God: Creation and Eschatology in 4QInstruction and the Wisdom of Solomon.” In Wisdom and Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Biblical Tradition. Edited by Florentino García Martínez, 287–305. Bibliotheca Ephemeridum Theologicarum Lovaniensium 168. Louvain, Belgium: Peeters, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                    Notes that although both the Qumran texts and Wisdom share the concept of mystery, in Wisdom the mystery is available to all who reason rightly.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Puech, Émile. “La conception de la vie future dans le livre de la Sagesse et les manuscripts de la mer Morte: un aperçu.” Revue de Qumran 21 (2003): 209–232.

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                                                                                                                                                      Argues that on life after death, Wisdom and the Dead Sea scrolls do not differ in substance, but they express their beliefs in different ways.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Puech, Émile. “The Book of Wisdom and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research: Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 117–141. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                        Maintains that the author knew the convictions of his Palestinian Jewish contemporaries and translated them in his own words.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Tantlevskij, Igor R. “The Wisdom of Solomon, the Therapeutae, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.” Qumran Chronicle 11 (2003): 107–115.

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                                                                                                                                                          Finds that many parallels exist between Wisdom and the Qumran scrolls, and there is nothing in it that would have been unacceptable to the Essenes.

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                                                                                                                                                          Relationship to Early Christianity

                                                                                                                                                          There are interesting parallels between Wisdom and Paul’s Letter to the Romans, although it is not certain if Paul had read it directly. Also, the early list of canonical books known as the Muratorian Fragment refers to the Wisdom of Solomon alongside the New Testament books. Dodson 2008 and Iovino 2005 focus on the theological connections between Wisdom and Romans, whereas Horbury 1994 and Horbury 1995 point to the interest of early Christians in the book.

                                                                                                                                                          • Dodson, Joseph R. The “Powers” of Personification: Rhetorical Purpose in the Book of Wisdom and the Letter to the Romans. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 161. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                            Argues that both Wisdom and Paul in Romans use the “powers” as a way of exonerating God and explaining Israel’s history of suffering.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Horbury, William. “The Wisdom of Solomon in the Muratorian Fragment.” Journal of Theological Studies 45 (1994): 149–159.

                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/jts/45.1.149Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                              Explains the mention of the book in lines 68–78 of the Canon Muratori, its ascription to “Solomon’s friends,” its relationship to the New Testament books, and so forth.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Horbury, William. “The Christian Use and Jewish Origins of the Wisdom of Solomon.” In Wisdom in Ancient Israel: Essays in Honour of J. A. Emerton. Edited by John Day, et al., 182–196. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                Suggests that clues to Wisdom’s Jewish origin and role are best sought in the Christian witness to the book and in Jewish inscriptions from Egypt.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Iovino, Paolo. “‘The Only Wise God’ in the Letter to the Romans: Connections with the Book of Wisdom.” In The Book of Wisdom in Modern Research: Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology. Edited by Angelo Passaro and Giuseppe Bellia, 283–305. Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Yearbook 2005. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                                  Explores the relationship between Wisdom and Romans with regard to terms such as “wisdom,” “mystery,” and “revelation.”

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