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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 4: Portrait of the Wicked

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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 4: Portrait of the Wicked

The Wisdom of Solomon is timeless. Its portrayal of the wicked is probably much more relevant today than when it was written.

In our last presentation of this commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, we already began to introduce the second chapter of the work, and discussed aspects of its opening verses, as they provide a conclusion to ideas which were introduced in chapter 1, as well as an introduction to what is described throughout this chapter. I had also presented and briefly discussed this second chapter of the Wisdom of Solomon in Part 45 of my commentary on the Gospel of John, which was titled Gods and Emperors. That is because this chapter, as a whole, may be seen as a Messianic prophecy, and this first half draws a portrait of the wicked which also very well describes the attitudes and behavior of the men who had opposed Christ during the time of His ministry, and also mentions some of the same sentiments or practices of the wicked for which Christ had rebuked them. Then the later half of this chapter draws a portrait of a just man whom the wicked would persecute for his righteousness, and that also very well describes Christ Himself. Being wrapped in passages which discuss death and resurrection at the beginning of the chapter, and professing that God created man to be immortal at the end of the chapter, it is manifest that the whole of this chapter is indeed a Messianic prophecy.

On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 3: The Remedy for Sin and Death

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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 3: The Remedy for Sin and Death

In the first two presentations of this commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon we hope to have refuted many of the criticisms of the work, which set out to prove by its language and vocabulary that it was not written until the first century before Christ, or according to some claims, even later. Those same critics usually repeat the unfounded claim that it must have been written by some Alexandrian Jew. However as we discuss the actual content of the work, we hope to make it evident that such claims are also false.

One avenue of investigation in our answering the critics of Wisdom was left open where earlier we had described a source which claimed that fragments of the Wisdom of Solomon were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. In an article found at an internet ministry this claim was made and a book was cited, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by one Gleason Archer, which was first published in 1974. We ordered a used copy of that book, which we expected to be the same 1985 edition of the work as was quoted by the article in question, but it was not. Instead we received a “revised and expanded” 1994 printing. This newer printing does not mention the Wisdom of Solomon, and we surmise that the article was citing an appendix to the book, because the pagination is different, which is a catalog of books found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. We may further pursue this, but Wisdom is not listed in the 1994 version of the catalog.

On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 2, The Introduction of Wisdom

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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 2, the Introduction of Wisdom

In the opening presentation of our commentary on the Wisdom of Solomon, we provided and refuted many of the popular academic opinions of the work and the frequently-repeated criticisms concerning the nature of its text, by which the provenance and veracity of the work have long been challenged. So although we have already provided commentary on the opening verse of the text, which we also hope to continue here, we realized that some of the newer material discussing the Wisdom of Solomon had further-developed criticisms which must also be addressed. So before continuing, we shall do that here.

In the introduction to its own presentation of the Wisdom of Solomon, the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) claims under the subtitle “Character of the Greek” that “There is widespread recognition that the [Wisdom of Solomon] was composed in Greek… The book is an example of a protreptic work (προτρεπτικὸς λόγος), an exhortation to adopt a particular philosophy, and it deploys literary genres familiar from Hellenistic rhetorical texts including the diatribe… the ‘problem’ genre… and the comparison (σύγκρισις…) Correspondingly… the book is written in a good Greek style and shows none of the characteristics of translation Greek.”

Yet it is commonly exhibited that the Book of Proverbs is also “an example of a protreptic work… an exhortation to adopt a particular philosophy”, and further, that the literary diatribe is a common feature of the writings of the Hebrew prophets. Some examples of Classical Greek literature have been recognized as having the attributes of the genre more recently identified as the Problem Play, such as the 5th century work of Euripides titled Alcestis, as are other early works, as well as the Book of Job which is found in the Bible, which we can certainly esteem to date to as early as the 12th or 13th centuries BC, however it definitely predates the Classical Greek period. Lastly, the σύγκρισις, or synkrisis, is a literary form of comparison, and it has been identified as a feature of both the gospel of John and some of the epistles of Paul, especially in the epistle to the Hebrews. But forms of the so-called σύγκρισις are also found in the Hebrew Old Testament. So none of these features of grammar are exclusive to Hellenistic writings, and these charges against the Wisdom of Solomon are meaningless because these things do not prove it to be a product of the Hellenistic period.

On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 1: Addressing the Critics

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On the Wisdom of Solomon, Part 1: Addressing the Critics

Here we are going to examine an apocryphal book of Scripture which I have often cited in my commentaries on various books of the New Testament, and especially in the recently-completed commentary On the Gospel of John. This book I have always accepted as being canonical in spite of the fact that evidence of its great antiquity is very scant, and no original Hebrew version of the work is known to have existed. But rather than judging the book according to the words and deeds of the world, I have chosen to judge it based on its contents.

This book is the Wisdom of Solomon, which I will often identify simply as Wisdom here. It was accepted as canon in the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches, but it was rejected and relegated to apocryphal status by Protestants, who certainly seem to have followed the Jews in this regard. The Wisdom of Solomon was included alongside the other books of Wisdom of the Old Testament in the 4th century Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Vaticanus (B) and in the 5th century Codex Alexandrinus (A), but it is not found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

At least one source, an online denominational ministry, has published an article on the Scrolls which claims that fragments of the Wisdom of Solomon were found among the scrolls, citing A Survey of Old Testament Introduction by one Gleason Archer, which was first published in 1974. But I have not yet been able to verify this claim, since it is not supported by the first edition of Archer’s work. In the author’s Appendix 4 there is an Inventory of Biblical Manuscripts from the Dead Sea Caves, as he titled it, which has no reference to Wisdom. But the book was revised and updated in 1996, and I have not yet been able to access that edition, as this information is new to me. [I have already ordered a copy of the book.]

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