Loading
Wisdom

Author: An Unknown Jew in Alexandria

Date Written: 200-50 BC       

 

The Book Wisdom does not name its author.  The Septuagint titled the book, "The Wisdom of Solomon," but early Latin editions labelled it the "Book of Wisdom."  The book was originally written in Greek by a Hellenistic Jew probably living in Alexandria in Egypt.  The fact that it was written in Greek rules out the possibility that Solomon wrote it.  Solomon's name is not mentioned in the book, but the author does impersonate him for rhetorical purposes (7-9).

 

The book is written as one continuous argument rather than as abbreviated proverbs.  The first section (1:1-6:21) discusses the nature of righteousness and its relation to man's eternal destiny.

 

The middle of the book praises and describes wisdom.  In ch. 7-9 the author impersonates Solomon (though he does not name him) and describes his love of wisdom and his quest for it.  The author personifies wisdom as a woman (7), similar to the Book of Proverbs.  Ch. 9 presents Solomon's prayer for wisdom.  Ch. 10 gives a synopsis of wisdom's "history" from Adam to the Exodus.  The whole book is written in stylized Greek poetry which uses many Hebrew conventions and expressions.  If the first half of the book can be said to outline the theory of wisdom, the second half of the book applies this theory to a case-study.

 

Ch. 11-19 describe the fates of the righteous and the wicked using the case history of the Exodus.  The section can be a little confusing because the author addresses it to God as a prayer and he uses no proper nouns to describe the Israelites and the Egyptians.  Rather he uses them as illustrations for all righteous people, represented by Israel, and for all wicked people, represented by the Egyptians.  He recounts the stories to show how the same events that served as curses to the wicked and became blessings to the righteous.  For example, water became blood for the Egyptians, but water flowed from the rock for the Israelites (11:6-14).  Manna fell from heaven on the righteous, but hailstorms fell on the wicked (16:16-29).  The author digresses into an exposition of God's mercy toward the Gentile nations (11-12) and a mockery of pagan idol worship (13-15).

 

The message of the book is quite clear from the beginning.  The author urges us to seek righteousness (1:1) and wisdom (1:6) because they are matters of life and death (1:12).  By rejecting righteousness, the wicked reject life (2).  By their actions, the righteous and the unrighteous gain different rewards (3).  The author emphasizes that even if a righteous person dies young and childless, his life was worthwhile (4:1; 4:6).  A couple times the author parodies the speech of the wicked, so the reader must carefully note when this occurs (2:1-20; 5:3-13).

 

Like other biblical wisdom literature, the Book of Wisdom urges us to live according to God's word, to seek wisdom, to gain righteousness.  Yet the author of Wisdom lived in a world in which the fullness of God's mercy had not yet been revealed.  Only through the grace of Jesus' death and resurrection are we fully able to live up to the calling of God in the Book of Wisdom. 

 

By Mark Giszczak

Ads by Google
(What's this?)

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
16

Liturgical Calendar

April 16, 2014

Wednesday of Holy Week

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Gospel
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Is 50:4-9a
Gospel:: Mt 26:14-25

Homily of the Day

Mt 26:14-25

Homily
Date
04/16/14
04/14/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: