Apocrypha Commentary

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Posts 450
Alexander | Forum Activity | Posted: Sat, Dec 17 2011 3:11 PM

Does anyone know of a solid Protestant commentary on the apocrypha? I find some of the stories there quite interesting. You can see so much of the distilled Jewish traditional text, some very interesting parallels to the Christian tradition, and some very interesting other tidbits. I'd like to see what a conservative or moderate theologian or commentator has to say concerning these books. 

Posts 1880
Philana Crouch | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 3:20 PM

Although not specifically a commentary this might be helpful



Posts 239
Mikko Paavola | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 3:21 PM

The Speakers Commentary series has 2 volumes of OT Apocrypha commentaries. It's Anglican and it's on Community Pricing in Logos:


We need more bidders to get in to production.


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Posts 450
Alexander | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 4:27 PM

Philana - thank you for the recommendation. I'll consider picking that up :) 

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 6:29 PM

Done by both protestant and catholic scholars fantastic. and now on sale pre pub for a great price.



Also Harpers one volume covers all the apocrypha, including the ones not in the Roman catholic bible.



Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 6:35 PM

It appears Harper's is no longer sold by Logos sorry.

 I also should have mentioned Anchor Bible, but it is pretty pricey to just gain access to the eight volumes.



Posts 1523
Josh | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 10:16 PM

Philana Crouch:

Although not specifically a commentary this might be helpful



Yes, it is quite good. Here are some screenshots from Bel and the Dragon.


Posts 5898
DIsciple II | Forum Activity | Replied: Sat, Dec 17 2011 11:29 PM

Dan Francis:
It appears Harper's is no longer sold by Logos sorry.

Harper's Bible Commentary is still available through Logos: www.logos.com/product/203/

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 10:59 AM

Andrew McKenzie:

Dan Francis:
It appears Harper's is no longer sold by Logos sorry.

Harper's Bible Commentary is still available through Logos: www.logos.com/product/203/

Glad to see that… when i searched for it I could not find it.




Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 11:21 AM




They really should be bought together since items covered in the dictionary articles are not dealt with fully in the commentary. They are older but quite well done.






Posts 12143
Forum MVP
NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 11:39 AM

Philana Crouch:

Although not specifically a commentary this might be helpful




Thanks for this recommendation - I looked into the book, checked the Amazon reviews and felt the need to buy this in an instant!

Incidentially, this brings me into the next Christmas credit bracket as well...

Running Logos 9 latest (beta) version on Win 10

Posts 1427
Rick Brannan (Faithlife) | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 11:49 AM

Hi Alexander

In addition to all of the responses here, I thought I'd mention a few more possibilities.

First, Lange's commentary (Lutheran in orientation, I believe) has a volume on the apocrypha.


Further, there are some volumes of the UBS Translator's Handbook on apocryphal books (Tobit and Judith); these are presently included in the UBS OT Handbook series


You might also want to check out R.H. Charles' Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha of the OT in English as there is some commentary included on some of the apocryphal books (namely 1 Esdras, 1, 2, 3 Maccabees, Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, Prayer of Azariah, Susanna, Bel, and the Additions to Esther). These are more like notes and less like a traditional commentary.


Lastly, the Second Temple Period Collection has some guides that might be of use. These aren't necessarily commentaries (I think) but they are introduction and background to some of the apocryphal/deuterocanonical material.


Hope it helps.

Rick Brannan
Data Wrangler, Faithlife
My books in print

Posts 2539
Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 3:09 PM

I just quickly skimmed the thread, so I'm not sure if this has been mentioned or not, but the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges has a few volumes on the Apocryphal books.


Posts 2539
Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 3:14 PM

Here is a link where I asked the same question a few months ago.


Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 7:21 PM

Here is a sample from the NIB on Wisdom 1:1-15 for you to see what it offers.




Link to:  



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This opening exhortation places before the imagination of the reader the lofty value of righteousness. The conclusion to the exhortation buttresses the importance for humans of embracing this value through the bold assertion that righteousness is immortal (v. 15).16 “Righteousness” (dikaiosu"nh dikaiosyne) is a word that aptly describes an aspect of Israelite heritage that highly values ethical conduct. In the Torah and the Prophets, righteousness engulfed an ethical perspective regarding all facets of life: relationships to God, to oneself, and to others. The nuances of this word are colored by the subject, whether God or Israel, and by the specific relationship to which



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it refers.17 It is a value that demands or presumes a conscious choice and a course of action. When God is righteous, human beings are saved through the deliberate actions of God. When humans are said to be righteous, they have made decisions for justice (Abram, Gen 15:6) or carried out righteous conduct as in response to the law (Deut 16:19-20). More than a mere concept, righteousness denotes an entire program of conduct in life that demands commitment and clarity of vision.

The idea of immortality that is introduced at the conclusion of this exhortation is a key concept for the Wisdom author. This is the only occurrence of the adjective “immortal” (ajqa"nato"v athanatos) in the entire book. The noun “immortality” (ajqanasi"a athanasia) is employed on several occasions (3:4 in relation to hope; 4:1 in relation to the memory of virtue; 8:13 in relation to remembrance; 8:17 in relation to wisdom; 15:3 in relation to righteousness). It does not refer to an independent quality of being as much as to an aspect of the enduring relationship between the just and the realm of the divine achieved through virtue. This idea of immortality achieved in relation to God through virtue will constitute the author’s main argument for dismantling the reasoning of the unjust.18

The exhortation itself is reminiscent of the call of personified wisdom in Proverbs who goes about the streets exhorting people to learn (Proverbs 8). All the words of her mouth are said to be righteous; they will help humans find life. In Proverbs the exhortation is directed to all who are willing to hear. With a similar universalistic aim, the Wisdom exhortation is directed to the rulers of the earth.

Opening exhortations on the value of ethical conduct are typical of sapiential writings. A Hebrew wisdom writing from the Cairo Geniza (probably written during the Middle Ages) begins its proverbial type of teaching with an exhortation similar to the Wisdom text: “Seek wisdom and the right path so that you will be great in the eyes of God and people. All those who remove foolishness and haughtiness from their lives will become wise and strong.”19

The addressees are referred to as “the rulers of the earth.” This title is parallel to that in the closing exhortation, where the addressees are called “kings” and “judges of the ends of the earth,” those who “rule over multitudes and boast of many nations” (6:1-2 NRSV). Although it is possible to see in these titles an allusion to Roman or at least to foreign powers, we should not overlook the function of the royal image to denote humanity. Humans are human precisely in their ability to reign over their thoughts and actions. This royal image is not lacking in the Genesis account of creation, in which God generously gives to humanity the command to fill the earth and the task to have dominion and care over the animals (Gen 1:26, 28). The royal image will extend to the reward of the just when they receive the royal gifts of a “glorious crown” and a “beautiful diadem” (5:16 NRSV). In the second major section of the book of Wisdom, we will soon identify the unnamed speaker as the wise Solomon, pre-eminent in judgment. The reader is being addressed as one who reigns over thoughts and actions, words and deeds. The reader, then, is ultimately one who bears kingly responsibility for both just and unjust actions.

Although the exhortation begins and ends on the positive note of the value of righteousness, sets of opposites dominate the body of the exhortation. There is resistance to righteousness. On one side are righteousness, the Lord, God, wisdom, a holy and disciplined spirit, a kindly spirit, the Spirit of the Lord (vv. 1-7). On the other side are perverse thoughts, a deceitful soul, foolish thoughts, unrighteousness, blasphemers, and death (vv. 3-13). These sets of opposites raise the stakes in the exhortation. They are antagonistic to one another. To love righteousness and to seek the Lord with sincerity imply the burden of overcoming resistance to justice.

In setting up these series of opposites, the Wisdom author is delving into the cherished sapiential doctrine of the two ways (Psalm 1). The way of wisdom and virtue leads to life; the way of foolishness and injustice leads to death. And


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there is opposition between the two ways. The sets of opposites exclude each other. Both correct and wrong thinking have serious repercussions on one’s social life. People with perverse thoughts are separated from God. Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul. A disciplined spirit flees from deceit and is ashamed at the very approach of unrighteousness (1:2-5). The opposition that is being described between these two ways of justice and injustice sets the scene for a more dramatic confrontation.

Other sapiential biblical works, such as Job and Ecclesiastes, highlight the incongruity between the doctrine of the two ways and life experiences in which the wicked thrive and the just perish. This was an observation as disturbing in ancient times as it remains today. The book of Wisdom confronts this particular incongruity through the lenses of appearance and reality. What appears to be the case in fact is not. What appears not to be the case in fact is. The focus of the author’s argument is to look beyond appearances to the heart of the matter.

The anticipation of a confrontation between justice and injustice is heightened as the arena for the sets of opposites subtly shifts to that of a trial. Opposition is now expressed in images borrowed from juridical terminology (1:6-11). The kindly spirit will not free blasphemers from the guilt of their words (v. 6). God is a witness, a true observer. Justice will punish. An inquiry or report will be made. The unjust will be convicted of their lawless deeds. Much of the emphasis in these allusions to forensic procedures focuses on the eventual revelation of what is done in secret. Because God pervades the cosmos as a witness and an observer, nothing will remain hidden (cf. Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17: “For there is nothing hidden, except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light” [NRSV]). This metaphor of the trial is strengthened through images relating to the power of speech: “words,” “jealous ear,” “sound of grumbling,” “tongue,” “slander,” “lying mouth.”

Speech is considered a powerful force. Therefore, to speak untruth is understood to have serious consequences for the speaker. There is a consistency between thought and action that is taken for granted and presumed. Bad thinking leads to destructive actions. The ominous warning against “useless grumbling” and against a “lying mouth which destroys the soul” (v. 11) prepares the reader to view critically the speech of the wicked, which will follow the opening exhortation.

What is at stake in loving justice is nothing short of avoiding death (vv. 12-15). What had begun as a positive exhortation is now being transformed into a warning against bringing on death. To find life through justice demands the explicit rejection of all that leads to death. From now on death and its parallel side, injustice, are seen as prime obstacles to the practice of justice and to the life that ensues.

A rather daring statement is made that radically separates God from death: “God did not make death” (v. 13). On the one hand, the fact that God is said not to “delight in the death of the living” (v. 13) is consistent with the parallel phrases in Ezekiel, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from their ways and live” (Ezek 33:11 NRSV; cf. Ezek 18:23). On the other hand, traditionally, God is understood to be the author of both life and death, the one who makes alive and kills (Deut 32:39; Sir 11:14). The question then arises as to which death is radically opposed to God. Is it mortality in general that God did not make? Is it death as punishment for injustice? Is it the ultimate death that signifies an ultimate separation?

In the opening of the next unit, a direct parallel is made between death and the wicked (v. 16). The ungodly are said to summon death, “they consider him a friend,” they “made a covenant with him,” “they are fit to belong to his company.” This parallel would suggest that the death God did not make is not the death of mortality, which applies to the righteous and to all the living; rather, it is the death of an ultimate judgment that signifies a broken relationship with both God and the cosmos.

Creation itself is being drawn into close parallel with God. God is said to have created all things for good. This close parallel between God and the cosmos prepares the reader for the positive role the cosmos will play in helping the cause of the just in the rest of the book. At the same time, the realm of death is being separated from the realm of creation and the cosmos. All that exists



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is described as wholesome. There is no destructive poison in creation, and the power of Hades does not reside on earth (v. 14). The death that the author dissuades the reader from bringing on through injustice is not some destructive power that resides somewhat magically in the forces of the cosmos. Rather, the power to bring on such a death resides in the free decision of human beings.

The author may very well be criticizing some contemporary positions among the Hellenists or the native Egyptians that viewed the world in a dualism of forces of good and evil. Such a critique is pointedly aimed at placing the responsibility of injustice squarely on people who make decisions and not on some controlling or deterministic, cosmic power.

The contrast to this death brought about through injustice is the immortality of righteousness (vv. 12-15). Individuals who are free to choose and to reject bear the responsibility for receiving the gift of immortality or for bringing on death. This personal responsibility makes the exhortation to justice so urgent and the need to uncover the masks of injustice so compelling. The effect of the sets of oppositions that have been created in the exhortation is to build up an expectation of resolution.


1. A word in our own contemporary setting that conveys perhaps some of the evocative force that righteousness has for biblical faith is integrity. A person of integrity is one who adheres to given values even in the face of opposition. In one sense, integrity is tested and known only through opposition. We know whether we adhere to the values of honesty, justice, and respect for others and our world by facing the test of resistance to such values.

The opposition that the Wisdom text envisages between justice and injustice is one that permeates life. It is a part of the human situation and predicament that choices be made for the sake of justice and integrity. Failing to make such choices, human beings collapse into the structures of silence, passivity, and injustice, which ultimately lead to death. Not to speak out against injustice is to succumb to its lure. Much of the drama of human greatness and tragedy devolves on the choices human beings make.

2. It is tempting to shirk responsibility in the face of overwhelming social, environmental, and structural problems. What can one person do in the face of massive injustice? What can one person do in the face of years of environmental abuse? But the voice of one person does matter. The Wisdom text refuses to displace the responsibility for injustice onto foreign cosmic powers or onto an inherent determinism. By the “error of our lives” and by the “works of our hands” we invite death into our world (1:12). Responsibility for greatness and for tragedy ultimately resides in the concrete choices of human beings. We do need to take sides in the polarity of justice and injustice.

3. The author presents a profound basis for optimism in the human struggle against injustice. A rather unique emphasis in the book of Wisdom is placed on the “wholesomeness” of the cosmos (1:14). We have here in the forces of nature an ally in the struggle for authenticity and for maintaining integrity.

This positive view of the cosmos is evidently the author’s interpretation of the Priestly account of creation, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen 1:31 NRSV). The idea that the cosmos is an ally to the cause of justice is introduced in the opening exhortation, and it will recur with added force throughout the entire book. The basis for this positive outlook lies in God, the creator. Since God is the creator of all things, the existence of all things ultimately is wholesome. Injustice, though it pervades human existence, essentially remains foreign to human life. As an intruder, it dismantles what is essentially wholesome and good.

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 7:31 PM

Ronald Quick:

I just quickly skimmed the thread, so I'm not sure if this has been mentioned or not, but the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges has a few volumes on the Apocryphal books.


I thought for comparison purposes i would post the same selection from Cambridge since i own it… (note only a couple of the apocryphal books are in Cambridge)




1. The book opens without a preface: neither its author nor its destination are known. The judges of the earth (cp. ch. 6:1) who are addressed in this v. are rulers in general, an address in keeping with the ex hypothesi Solomonic authorship: to none would a king appeal more fitly than to kings. It is hardly conceivable that if (as has been supposed by some commentators) the book was a protest to the Roman authorities against injustices perpetrated upon the Jews at Alexandria, it should be so devoid of feeling and savour so consistently of the study.

Love righteousness] Cp. Ps. 45:7. Righteousness in its widest sense, not merely for purposes of right government, but as conformity of thought and deed to the will of God.

judges of the earth] from Ps. 2:10, and again in ch. 6:1. Judges means rulers, one principal function of rulers being to dispense justice, cp. Ps. 67:4, 1 K. 3:9. Vulg. Diligite iustitiam qui iudicatis terram. Dante (Par. xviii. 91) sees a band of spirits group themselves into the form of the 35 letters, representing them successively.

Think ye of the Lord with a good mind] lit. in goodness. Men’s conceptions of God vary with their characters. “Pectus facit theologum.” Marg. makes the writer’s meaning more clear. Knowledge of God is moral rather than intellectual, cp. Heb. 12:14; for the sense, cp. Dt. 28:47 LXX.

singleness of heart] from 1 Chr. 29:17, where also God is said to “love righteousness.” For the Greek word, see Sanday and Headlam, on Rom. 12:8. Cp. Col. 3:22. The “single-minded” man has no private ends to serve: there is no reservation or arrière-pensée in his allegiance. See Charles, Test xii Patr., note on Iss. iii. 1.

seek ye him] i.e. covet fellowship with God, cp. Dt. 4:29. Grimm quotes Philo (de Mon. § 5) “There is nothing better than to seek the true God, even though it be beyond the power of man to find Him.”

2. he is found] The doctrine of spiritual affinity pervades the book. Cp. ch. 6:12, 16. See Prov. 8:17; St John 6:37, 18:37.

tempt him not] Men tempt God by immoral lives. These words correspond to “with a good mind” in v. 1.

is manifested] Cp. Is. 65:1; St John 14:21.

do not distrust him] i.e. God’s will to bless. This clause answers to “in singleness of heart” in v. 1. The single-minded throw themselves upon God, and (like Browning’s grammarian) “unperplexed, seeking shall find Him.” Cp. James 1:6–8.

3. For] vv. 3–5 stand in contrast with v. 2. God is as inaccessible to the perverse, as He is approachable for the upright.

crooked thoughts separate] Cp. Is. 59:2, 7–9. For crooked, cp. Prov. 21:8; Dt. 32:5.

thoughts] The Gk. word (λογισμοί) has generally a bad sense, cp. ch, 11:15, and James 2:4 (διαλογ.), but cp. 4 Macc. 18:2. For the sense, cp. Philo, Mut. Nom. § 46 “God standeth afar off from sinners, but He walketh within the souls of the upright.”

the supreme Power] R.V. plainly points to God as the power in question. This is no doubt possible, but the power is more likely to be a synonym for Wisdom (cp. a holy spirit, v. 5). Wisdom is seen being “brought to the proof” in vv. 4, 5. Thus she is spoken of in vv. 3, 4, 5, but (for literary reasons) under a different name in each case. Bois (Essai sur les origines de la phil. Jud.-Alex. p. 237) recalls Philo’s use of power, and prefers this interpretation.

brought to the proof] applicable either to God or to Wisdom, when challenged by man’s unbelief, cp. Ps. 95:9 “Your fathers proved me” (ἐδοκίμασαν LXX.).

putteth to confusion] by increasing their blindness (Grimm). The Greek word indicates punishment and final loss rather than the lighter meaning of “convicting and putting to shame.” The writer thinks of the wicked as ungodly by nature, and incapable of restoration: therefore remedial discipline would be futile.

the foolish] Morally foolish. The word is euphemistically used in O.T. to express the practical foolishness of immoral living which ignores God. Cp. Ps. 14:1 “The fool hath said.”

4. Because] v. 4 supports the assertions of v. 3, the truth of which rests on the essential nature of Wisdom.

wisdom] See Introduction § 9, and cp. vv. 3, 5. The question is not whether a soul that devises evil things can ever be wise, but whether it can have affinity with the Wisdom of God.

a soul that deviseth evil] The adj. (κακότεχνος) is poetic, occurring in Homer, Il. xv. 14, and is found again ch. 15:4. Cp. 4 Macc. 6:25. For the friends of Wisdom, see ch. 6:12–16.

Nor dwell] Cp. Philo, Somn. i. 23 “Strive to be a house of God, a holy temple, a fair dwelling-place for Him.”

held in pledge] i.e. wilfully surrendered to sin. The Greek word denotes “one mortgaged to sin.” Cp. Rom. 7:14, and St John 8:34.

In this v. the writer views soul as well as body as liable to sin: elsewhere he traces temptation to the body, cp. ch. 9:15. He is not however a thorough-going dualist like Philo, who writes (Migr. § 2) of “that loathsome prison-house, the body.” On the other hand, like Philo, he regards the human personality as twofold, soul (or spirit) and body, cp. ch. 2:3 and Philo, Mos. iii. 39 “man being twofold, body and soul.” See Introd. § 12.

5. holy spirit of discipline] Bois (op. cit. p. 234) urges that this expression is a paraphrase for Wisdom, see Introd. § 9. For Wisdom as a spirit of discipline, cp. ch. 6:11. She is a spirit, v. 6; there is a holy spirit in her, ch. 7:22. This is the first use of πν. ἅγιον in the Gk. Bible, cp. ch. 9:17.

will flee deceit] Her hatred of deceit may be inferred from the description of her origin in ch. 7:25, 26.

thoughts … without understanding] in a moral sense, see v. 3.

put to confusion] like modesty in the presence of the obscene. Or “will be scared away” (Grimm).





6. wisdom is a spirit] Text follows אB, and is preferable to the reading of A and Vulg. See marg.

that loveth man] lit. philanthropic, cp. ch. 7:23. See Prov. 8 for this humanitarian aspect of Wisdom (Introd. § 9). She is indeed humane, but exacts punishment when deserved, so loving is she towards the souls of men. Cp. Ps. 62:12. Wisdom reflects the mind of God who created all things but loves men best of all, as being the noblest product of Wisdom’s work. Cp. ch. 9:2, 3; Prov. 8:31. φιλάνθρωπος is very frequent in Class. lit, but is not found in O.T. (except Apocr.) or N.T.; N.T. however has its corresponding adv. and subst. Acts 27:3; 28:2.

a blasphemer] Marg. reviler. “Blasphemy” is not confined to words directed against God, but includes all slander and calumny, see Eph. 4:31. The writer probably has in view such utterances as those in ch. 2:1–20.

beareth witness] Cp. Ps. 33:15; 139:1–5. The reins are viewed as the seat of the feelings, and the heart as the source of thoughts and ideas.

Grimm sees in the sequence reins, heart, tongue an inverted climax: God knows men’s feelings, their unexpressed thoughts, their spoken words. For hearts and reins, cp. Ps. 7:9; Jer. 11:20.

a true overseer of his heart] Cp. Job 20:29, LXX.; Ecclus. 42:20.

The Greek word is generally used in LXX. in an official sense, “taskmaster,” or “captain,” but here in the same sense as in Philo, Somn. i. 15 “God is the overseer of all, to whom all things are open, even all that is done invisibly in the depths of the heart.” Cp. Clem. Rom. lix. 3 “Creator and overseer of all spirits.” True, in that God fulfils the highest functions of overseer. He cannot be deceived, or biassed; He cannot forget: there is no human shortcoming in the scrutiny He exercises.

a hearer of his tongue] Cp. Epict. ii. 8 “If an image of your God was in the room, you would not behave as you do, and yet when God is within you and oversees and overhears everything, you are not ashamed to think and act in this way.” Cp. Philo, Jos. § 43.

7. the spirit of the Lord hath filled] The proof of the preceding assertions. Either mediately or in person God fills the universe. It is not clear whether the spirit of the Lord stands for God or the Wisdom of God. Wisdom in ch. 8:1 is given the attributes of omnipresence, while in this book there is no mention of divine omnipresence. The Alexandrine idea was that God acted upon the world through the Logos, while the Wisdom mediated His immanence. And so here, it seems more in keeping with the author’s view of the universal activity of Wisdom, to see in her the medium whereby knowledge of the words of men is brought to God: Wisdom is the “ear of jealousy” (v. 10).

On the other hand for O.T. writers, the spirit of God denotes God in His activity in the world, and we have in Ps. 139:7 and Jer. 23:24 the more characteristically Jewish conception of God’s immediate presence, which is to be found also in Philo, Leg. All. iii. 2 “God hath rilled all things, and hath passed through all things, and hath left nothing void or unoccupied by Himself.” Cp. ibid. 1:14, Sacr. 18, Moses ii. 31. Farrar quotes Pope:—

      “All are but parts of one stupendous whole

      Whose body nature is and God the soul;

      That …

      Lives through all life, extends through all extent,

      Spreads undivided, operates unspent.”

the world] οἰκουμένη (see marg.) cp. Prov. 8:31; no limitation of the sphere of Wisdom is intended, but her activity in this passage is directed towards human objects.

holdeth all things together] Cp. Ecclus. 43:26 “By his word all things consist”; Col. 1:17; Heb. 1:3; and ch. 7:17 “the constitution (lit. consistence) of the world.” The idea of a world-principle holding the sum of things together appears in Aristotle (de Mundo 6) “the all containing cause.” The author is employing what is a Stoic and by no means a Jewish conception, which was adopted by the Alexandrian Jews, and appears constantly in Philo, cp. Q. R. D. H. § 38 “The Logos is the universal chain, who has filled all things with his being”; id. plant. § 2; Clem. Rom. § 27.

Cicero (de Nat. Deor. i. 15, 39) writes of the Stoic deity “holding together nature and all things.” The Stoic God was soul, spirit, reason of the world, providence, destiny, universal law.

8. Therefore no man] Cp. Jer. 23:24 of false prophets, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?” and Job 34:21–23.

Neither shall] Text follows אA (οὐδὲ μὴ).

Justice] Personified, cp. Acts 28:4 R.V. In ch. 14:31 occurs “the Justice of them that sin,” which answers to the inner law of moral compensation which cannot be evaded even by successful sin. Philo, Post. C. § 4 tells of the Justice that punishes the ungodly waiting for Cain, cp. id. de conf. l. § 24 “an avenging and incorruptible Justice.”

pass him by] Justice is no casual wayfarer: she is the inevitable reaction upon wrong-doing.

9. his counsels] The Gk. word (διαβούλια), cp. v. 3, is used in a bad sense, implying craftiness. Cp. Ps. 10:2; Hos. 4:9. For the sense, cp. Epict. ii. 14 “Philosophers say that men should learn before anything else that God exists and governs the world, and that it is impossible to hide from Him our deeds or even our thoughts.”

Perhaps the rendering of this line should be “There shall be examination into the counsels of the ungodly.” Cp. forensic use of ἐξέτασις in 3 Macc. 7:5.

To bring to conviction his lawless deeds] rather lawlessnesses, cp. Dt. 15:9, i.e. the counsels and the words referred to in the preceding lines. Philo, Dec. § 17 writes “the conviction that is innate in and inhabits each man, at once his accuser and his judge, wages a truceless war with the disobedient.”

Although the writer has in mind an exposure of the sinner by Wisdom, and Philo rather the stings of conscience, psychologically the inner reality is one and the same.

10. an ear of jealousy] Philo, evidently recalling the teaching of Zeno (cp. Diog. Laert. Zeno § 79) writes de Somn. i. § 22 “the highest and purest spirits do not enter into human bodies, but act as eyes and ears of the great King, overseeing and hearing everything.” For the genitive of quality, cp. Num. 5:14 LXX. “a spirit of jealousy.”

God’s jealousy is shown in O.T. (1) on behalf of the chosen people, (2) for His own honour. It is in the latter sense that God is spoken of here as jealous, as He watches the words and thoughts of men.

noise of murmurings] An intentional resemblance in the Gk. between ous (ear) and throus (noise). Even the unspoken murmurings of the heart are overheard. Cp. Ex. 16:7, 8, 9, 12, where God hears the murmuring of the people.

11. unprofitable murmuring] “unprofitable” is a softened expression for soul-destroying. For murmurers, cp. Jude vv. 14–16.

backbiting] Better blasphemy. The Gk. word (καταλαλιὰ) has in N.T. the same sense of speaking evil of men. But the corresp. vb. is used in LXX. to denote speaking against God (Numb. 21:5; Ps. 78:19); and this is the meaning here. There may be a reference to those apostate or wavering Jews of Alexandria who did not hesitate to express their despair of the theocracy openly.

go on its way void] For this use of void (κενόν), cp. Is. 55:11, where Cod. Marchal. has “So shall my word be; it shall not return to me void.” The whispered word may be physically unsubstantial, but it has concrete moral effects.

a mouth that belieth] lit. that speaketh falsely against (God). Philo, fuga § 15 writes “It leaves an incurable stain upon the soul when one says that God is the author of evil.”

destroyeth a soul] This expression is used of physical death in Ecclus. 21:2. Here it refers to the loss of spiritual life (Introd. § 13). Physical death as the penalty of sin is not in question: the writer is thinking of that soulless existence of the wicked (present and future) which, metaphorically speaking, is death.





12. Court not death] The last words of v. 11 introduce the subject of vv. 12–15. For courting death cp. next l., and v. 16. The persistence of the wicked in their evil ways seems explicable on no other hypothesis than that they desire spiritual death. Cp. Prov. 8:36, 21:6.

in the error of your life] Generally, for “any ways of life that go astray.” Your life supplies a rhetorical antithesis to court not death.

neither draw upon yourselves] Both court and drag are strong words, the former implying violent desire and the latter violent effort. LXX. uses the same Gk. word in Is. 5:18, cp. ch. 19:3.

works of your hands] Philo (det. pot. § 32) writes “Moses says it is not God who is the author of our evils, but our own hands, by which he intends the voluntary preference of our minds for the worse course.” Cp. Enoch xcviii. 4 “Sin has not been sent upon the earth, but man of himself has created it.”

13. Because God made not death] Nothing evil can have its origin in God, who is altogether good. Such is the doctrine of Philo, reiterated consistently through his writings, and anticipated here. Philo’s inference is interesting, if not (on account of its somewhat unworthy view of God’s motives) convincing. Cp. de mut. § 4, and especially de conf. ling. § 35, 36. “ ‘Let us make man.’ Why is the plural used? In order that men’s successes may be attributed to God, but their failures may be laid upon others. For it did not seem right to God to fashion with His own hand the downward inclination in man, wherefore He entrusted this portion of the work to His subordinate agents. God is the author of good things alone, and of nothing at all that is evil, since He is Himself the highest of all things that exist and the most perfect good.”

There is no solution here of the problem of evil and death. If Philo refuses to charge God with being Creator of evil, he takes away with one hand what he gives with the other. For his position is essentially dualistic, and he makes evil to be something standing over against God and independent of Him. An evil that is co-eternal with God is a more terrible problem than an evil permitted by God.

Neither delighteth he] Cp. Ezek. 33:11 “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” The living may be either living men or things that have life.

The passage seems to contain a reminiscence of Is. 54:16 LXX. “But I created thee not for destruction, to cause thee to perish.”

14. created all things … being] “All things” includes the irrational part of creation, and the various stages of growth and decay through which the brutes and the plants pass. God created all things to partake in some real degree of His own nature, which is fundamentally Being. Cp. Ex. 3:14 (LXX.) “I am He that is.” Epict. iii. 24 writes “God created all men for happiness, for stability.” Cp. Philo, Moses ii. 8 “For seeing that God alone hath existence of a truth, He is Maker, since he bringeth into existence things that are not.”

The gift of positive being to the creation by the Creator here suggested, involves something of the same intimateness of relation as was perhaps expressed in St John 1:3, 4, “That which hath been made was life in him.”

and the generative powers] Marg. “all the races of creatures in the world.” The rendering of text is hardly possible. The alternative rendering in marg. indicates a doubt in the mind of the translators whether the Gk. word can have an active sense. There are four uses of γένεσις in LXX. and Apocrypha: (a) birth, (b) the process of coming into being, (c) a generation, (d) a tribe, or species. If the author meant generative powers, a subst. with a different termination would be demanded. The “process of coming into being” passes readily into the “things which have come to be,” but not into “that which brings things into being.” Marg. must accordingly be followed, which has the support of Vulg. nationes terrae, i.e. the products of the earth. The meaning is that herbs are not by nature poisonous, nor wild beasts destructive, but human sin has caused a general marring of the divine scheme. Gk. might be rendered natural processes, in which case there would be an antithesis between this line and the preceding, the originating decree of the Creator being distinguished from those subsequent processes whereby things seem to make themselves. With γενέσεις cp. the designations of God in ch. 13:3, 5, γενεσιάρχης, γενεσιουργός.

healthsome] The Gk. word is frequently found in Philo in an active sense, cp. cbr. § 3, Moses i. § 17.

poison of destruction] Vulg. medicamentum exterminii. The soundness of the physical world in which men are placed is contrasted with the moral evil that works within them. It is not from God’s world that men derive the poison that inflames their souls.

Nor hath Hades royal dominion] Marg. a royal house. Text gives the better sense, though both renderings are permissible. If the Gk. word βασίλειον be translated as in marg., ‘a royal house’ stands for the external symbol of the royal dominion, the part for the whole. But text is simpler, and presents a more solid antithesis to God made not … neither delighteth he … for he created, etc. Emphasis is laid on the rival sovereignties. For Gk. in the sense of dominion see 1 K. 14:8; 2 Macc. 2:17; and of palace Prov. 18:19. In ch. 5:16 it means royal crown. Hades is here personified, and practically corresponds to the Greek Pluto, the God of the lower regions.

15. righteousness is immortal] Either righteousness leads its followers to immortality, or (abstr. for concr., in contrast with ungodly men, v. 16) the righteous are immortal, i.e. possess the life spiritual.

Righteousness is introduced somewhat abruptly. We should expect a link between vv. 14 and 15, such as “For [God destined His creation for righteousness, and] righteousness is …” The nature of God as revealed in O.T. points to a fundamental identity between the Good and the Existent. Contrast with Philo’s “Folly is an undying evil” (det. pot. § 48). Vulg. supplies a new line iniustitia autem mortis acquisitio est: no Greek MSS. have this line, which was probably introduced to complete the parallelism. Grimm however is in favour of it. For the life giving power of Wisdom, cp. Prov. 3:18. Philo, plant. § 27 has “The nature of the Good is incorruptible.” Cp. Antisthenes in Diog. Laert. vi. 1, 4 “Those who would be immortal must live piously and righteously.”



Gregg, J. A. F. (1922). The Wisdom of Solomon in the Revised Version with Introduction and Notes. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges (1–9). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 7:37 PM

Rick Brannan:

First, Lange's commentary (Lutheran in orientation, I believe) has a volume on the apocrypha.


Lange never did them….and the quality of that volume is not the same as the rest of the work... (It has been deemed timely to issue, as a supplementary volume to Lange’s Bible-work (which is confined to the canonical books), a revised version of the Apocrypha, with critical and historical introductions and explanations. Homiletical hints would, of course, be superfluous for Protestant ministers and students.

This work has been intrusted to the Rev. Dr. Edwin Cone Bissell, who is well known as the author of a work on “The Historic Origin of the Bible” (New York, 1873), and who has for several years devoted special attention to the Apocrypha, in Germany and in this country. Fritzsche’s Greek text (Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti, Lipsiæ, 1871) has been used as the basis, and carefully collated with the Vatican Codex (II.) in the new edition of Cozza, as well as with other important publications.)


Here is a look at Wisdom 1:1-15, 



Ver. 1. Judges. Rulers in general are meant, to whom, according to Oriental ideas, the right of judgment also appertained. Cf. 6:4; 9:7. They are here addressed naturally from the point of view of the writer, who is represented as such himself.

Ver. 2. Tempt him not. The meaning is: God will be found of such as do not by unrighteous dealing show that they doubt whether there be a righteous God, and so in effect challenge him to do his worst against them. Cf. Deut. 6:16; Acts 5:9, 15:10; 1 Cor. 10:9.—Ἀπιστεῖν. This word is only found here, at 10:7; 12:17; 18:1, 3; and 2 Macc. 8:13, in the Old Testament Greek. But cf. Mark 16:16, and Sophocles’ Lex., ad voc.

Ver. 3. Σκολιοί means crooked, bent, and as here applied to thoughts refers to those which do not take the right direction, i.e., towards God.—Ἐλέγχει, convinces, convicts, through correction.—Δοκιμαζομένη is used, as it would seem, in the same sense as πειράζουφιν in the preceding verse. Cf. 2:17, 19, 3:5 f., 11:9 f.; 2 Cor. 13:5; Heb. 3:9,—where these words are also employed as essentially synonymous.

Ver. 4. Malicious, κακότεχνον. Lit., using evil arts. Cf. 15:4 f.; Hom., Il., 15:14.—Κατάχρεος, involved in debt. The word is used by Polybius to denote what is pawned, mortgaged. Cf. also Sophocles’ Lex., ad voc. The idea seems to be that the body has come wholly into the power of sin; is “sold” under sin, as πεπραμένος is rendered at Rom. 7:14. The entire being of man is doubtless here meant to be comprehended, according to the usage of the Old Testament, in the expressions “soul” and “body.” Cf. also 2 Macc. 7:37; 14:38; 15:30. Grimm sees in these statements a recognition of one of the fundamental dogmas of Philo, that the body is the source and seat of moral evil, although it does not seem to us necessarily to follow from the language used. Moreover, such an idea would appear to be opposed to what the author teaches just below, verse 14, and at 8:20; 11:18 f. The κατάχρεος ἁμαρτίας might refer to the body as now found, rather than as originally created.

Ver. 5. Ἅγιον .… πνεῦμα. This expression first occurs here and at 9:17 in the Greek Bible. It often lacks the article, also, in the New Testament, as well as πνεῦμα Θεοῦ, the latter more seldom.—Of discipline, i.e., of education. The Holy Spirit is represented as the Spirit that educates man in the highest sense, although the idea of chastisement may be also included. Grotius falsely understands by πνεῦμα here the human spirit: “ipsa constitutio animi, quœ sapientia dicitur.”—Will be frightened away. This meaning of the word ἐλεγχθήσεται, which according to Grimm is historically well supported, seems to be at this place more appropriate than the one given in the A. V., inasmuch as the parallelism with the preceding φεύξεται, ἀπαναστήσεται is thereby more clearly brought out. In the preceding verses the author, like Philo (cf. Dähne, 1:42 ff., 368 ff.), lays it down as a fundamental principle that moral purity is a necessary subjective condition to the attainment of a knowledge of the divine.

Ver. 6. Γάρ seems to refer to the entire preceding section. The very fact that wisdom is a philanthropic spirit would make it impossible for it to leave sin unnoticed and unpunished in the man that seeks it; and because it is such a spirit, therefore it would not be so difficult as one might suppose to attain to it.

Ver. 7. Filleth the world. The perfect tense (III. 157. have the aorist) denotes an existing state of things. Cf. Winer, 272 f.—Οἰκουμένη. Properly, the inhabited earth; then the earth in general. Here the word is used antithetically to the τὰ πάντα of the following clause. The same idea of the spirit of the universe is found in Plato. Grimm cites parallel passages, also, from Aristeas and Philo, Gutberlet, on the other hand (Com., ad loc.), remarks that the omnipresence, all-pervading omniscience of God is so clearly set forth in the Old Testament (Ps. 139.), that it is strange that so many see in this verse the Stoic or Platonic doctrine of the soul of the world. But the truth as taught in the Old Testament never takes on this precise and characteristic form, which plainly shows that it had already passed out of the domain of revelation into that of philosophy. What is here said of the Spirit of God is also said elsewhere (3:24; 8:1) of wisdom, which would make them, according to the teaching of our book, identical. Cf. also verse 2 with 6:12, 16, and Prov. 8:17.—Holdeth together the All, i.e., sustains it, keeps it from going to pieces. This thought, which is the primary one of the verb συνέχειν, is not uncommon in its present application in classical and ecclesiastical Greek. Cf. Xen., Anab., 7:2, 8; Plato, Gorg., 508 A; Iren., 5:2, 3.—Ἡ δίκη. It denotes right as established usage or custom, and personified by the Greeks, is daughter of Zeus and Themis. See Acts 28:4, where this personification seems to be referred to, as also in the present passage. See Schmidt, Syn. d. Griech. Sprache, 1. p. 352.

Ver. 9. Διαςούλιον. A late Greek word, in use only since the Macedonian period. Cf. LXX. at Ps. 9:23; Hos. 4:9; Polyb. 2:26, 3, 3:9.

Ver. 10. A noise of murmurings. Θροῦς γογγυσμῶν, for γογγυσμός. A case of onomatopœia. One of these words would have been enough to express the idea and the former was probably suggested by the word οὖς occurring just before.

Ver. 11. Καταλαλιά. A word only found in Bib. and eccles. Greek. Cf. 2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Pet. 2:1; and Clem. of Rome, 1:30.—Πορεύσεται. As the usual meaning attached to this word in this place by commentators, go away, escape, is not otherwise found, Grimm would refer it to utterance,—what goes out of the month.—Κενόν, without result. Here without evil result, i.e., punishment.—Slayeth the soul. In what the slaying of the soul consists is shown in verses 4–6, 8, above. Schmid (Das Buck d. Weisheit, p. 134) holds that here is to be found a justification (?) of the expression “mortal sin,” “peccatum mortale,” in use among Roman Catholics. But cf. Ecclus. 21:2.

Ver. 13. Grimm has brought together at this point our author’s teaching on the subject of death. (1) God is not its author, verses 13, 14; he made man immortal, 2:23; death came into the world through the envy of Satan, 2:24; through virtue and wisdom death may be escaped, 1:15; 2:22; 6:18; 8:17; 15:3; and a blessed life with God in heaven attained, 3:1, 14; 4:2, 7, 10; 5:2, 15; 6:19: only the godless are visited with the punishment of death, 1:12, 16; 2:24; they have no hope, 3:11, 18; 5:14; 15:6, 10; thick darkness will cover them, 17:21; yes, they will be utterly destroyed by God, 4:19, and their souls perish, 1:11. Still, they are represented as suffering pain after death (ἔσονται ἐν ὀδύνῃ, 4:19), while having a knowledge of the blessed condition of the good, 5:1 f. The apparent inconsistency of representing death as utter and yet speaking of lost souls as being in torment, some critics formerly explained by supposing that the writer held to an intermediate state, in which (if not all) the souls of the godless remained until the day of final judgment, when they were annihilated. This view has, however, according to Grimm, been generally abandoned; since it is scarcely possible to suppose that, if the author held it, he would not have more directly taught it, that is, otherwise than by simple implication. Such a view was never held by the Jews, and the author could not have left his readers, therefore, to infer that such was his teaching in the present case. It is probable, therefore, that he did not use the word θάνατος as meaning total annihilation, but much as it is used in Apoc. 2:11, 21:8, as referring to the second death; that is, negatively, the loss of heavenly blessedness, and, positively, the everlasting and painful consciousness of guilt. It was an essential tenet of Alexandrian Judaism, according to Grimm, brought about (as he supposes) by the influence of Platonism, that immediately after the death of the body the soul entered upon its retribution in the future world.

Ver. 14. Αἱ γενέσεις, the productions. The word has been used in this sense since the time of Plato. Cf. 16:26; 19:11; and 13:3, 5,—where God is called γενεσίαρχης and γενεσιουργός.

Ver. 15. Fritzsche supplies (as above with Grimm) from the Vulgate the part of verse 15 (the second clause) which has apparently been lost. That the verse is incomplete seems plain from the construction. The usual parallelism is wanting, and there is otherwise nothing to which αὐτόν in verse 16 could properly refer.



Lange, J. P., Schaff, P., & Bissell, E. C. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures : Apocrypha (234–235). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Posts 5318
Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 7:49 PM

Anchor Bible on Wisdom 1:1-15





      1      1 Love justice, you who rule the earth;

      be mindful of the Lord in goodness,

      and seek him in singleness of heart.

      2 For he is found by those who do not test him,

      and reveals himself to those who have full trust in him.

      3 Devious thoughts cut men off from God,

      and the divine power, when made trial of,

      exposes the foolish.

      4 For Wisdom will not enter a fraudulent mind,

      nor make her home in a body mortgaged to sin.

      5 The holy spirit, that divine tutor, will fly from cunning stratagem;

      she will withdraw from unintelligent thoughts

      and will take umbrage at the approach of injustice.

      6 Wisdom is a benevolent spirit

      and she will not hold a blasphemer immune from his own utterances;

      because God is a witness of his thoughts,

      the real guardian of his mind,

      who hears his every word.

      7 For the spirit of the Lord fills the world,

      and that which holds all things together has knowledge of all articulate sound.

      8 No one, therefore, who celebrates injustice will escape notice,

      nor will justice the accuser pass him by.

      9 The schemings of the godless man will be scrutinized,

      and a report of his words will come before the Lord

      for the conviction of his lawless acts.

      10 For an impassioned ear overhears all,

      and the murmur of his muttering does not go undetected.

      11 Beware, then, of futile grumbling

      and refrain from slanderous speech;

      for no secret utterance will go unheeded,

      and lying speech spells self-destruction.

      12 Do not court death through a deviant way of life,

      nor draw down destruction by your own actions.

      13 For God did not make death,

      nor does he take delight in the destruction of the living;

      14 he created all things that they might endure.

      All that has come into existence preserves its being,

      and there is no deadly poison in it.

      Death’s rulership is not on earth,

      15 for justice is immortal.





1:1–15. The author begins with an exhortation to the pagan rulers of the earth to love justice and seek God with single-minded devotion and trust. The terms ‘justice,’ ‘goodness,’ ‘wisdom,’ ‘spirit of the Lord,’ ‘holy spirit,’ and ‘power,’ are here employed synonymously (cf. 9:17), personified as a divine entity which cannot abide fraudulence and injustice and swiftly withdraws from their presence. Like the Stoic pneuma, an intelligent ‘gas’ composed of fire and air, the divine spirit is described as pervading all things and thus holding the world together. (The materialistic Stoic terminology was undoubtedly understood figuratively by the author, as it had been by Philo.) Inasmuch as it also constitutes the reasoning element in man, no human thought or sentiment, however fleeting or unarticulated, may escape its scrutiny, and the godless should therefore be forewarned. Cf. Test.Naphtali 2:4: “For there is no inclination of thought which the Lord knoweth not, for He created every man after His own image.”


1:1. Love justice. Cf. Ps 45:7–8.

who rule the earth. For ‘judge’ in the sense of ‘ruler,’ see Amos 2:3; Micah 4:14; Ps 2:10; Wisd 6:1. Similarly, in the Ugaritic Baal cycle, ‘judge’ (ṯpṭ) seems to be synonymous with ‘prince’: “Strike the back of Prince Yamm, / Between the arms of Judge Nahar” (ANET:131 lines 14–15). So distinctive of the royal office was the function of justice, that in the Aqht text Dn’el’s resumption of his normal routine after his ceremonial seclusion is described as follows: “He rises to take his seat at the opening of the gate.… He decides the case of the widow, he judges the suit of the orphan.” (Gray 1965:221; ANET:151.) The author is clearly addressing the pagan world-rulers. The fiction of Solomonic authorship requires that that renowned monarch address his pagan colleagues; cf. 1 Kings 5:14, 10:23–24. Reese would take the royal address figuratively. Such an address was characteristic of the Hellenistic tracts on Kingship (e.g. Dio of Prusa’s four orations on Kingship which appear to have been delivered in the presence of the Emperor Trajan; Plutarch’s To an Uneducated Ruler). “The author was showing that true kingly dignity is a life of justice and wisdom, for God fashioned men to rule his creation ‘in piety and justice’ (9:3) and destined them to share in his eternal kingship (5:16; 6:21)” (1970:149–150).

goodness. Cf. Philo LA 1.59: “Now the tree of life is virtue in the most comprehensive sense, which some term goodness. From it the particular virtues derive their existence.”

singleness of heart. Cf. 1 Chron 29:17, LXX; 1 Macc 2:37; Test.Reuben 4:1; Test.Levi 13:1; Eph 6:5. The opposite is “with a double heart,” i.e. with duplicity: Ps 12:3 (bĕlēb walēb); cf. 1 Chron 12:33; Sir 1:28; I Enoch 91:4; James 1:8; Euripides Hippolytus 612: “My tongue has sworn, but my heart is unsworn”; Aristophanes Thesmophoriazusae 275; Ranae 101, 1471; SVF 2. 132; 3.554; BT Meg. 14a; Tanḥ. Buber, Ki Tavo 3. See Lieberman 1942:142–143. The fundamental virtue in Test. XII is haplotēs (see R. Eppel. Le piétisme juif dans les Testaments des douze Patriarches [Paris, 1930]:148ff; Jaubert 1963:274ff). “In the same way, says Otzen, the parallel concepts to this wholeheartedness tom and yošer are central in the Dead Sea Scrolls” (Ringgren 1963:136); cf., however, H. C. Kee, “The Ethical Dimensions of the Testament of the XII as a Clue to Provenance,” NTS 24:2 (1978):259–270. See also J. Amstutz, Haplotēs: Eine begriffsgeschichtliche Studie zum jüdisch-christlichen Griechisch (Bonn, 1968). Among the Stoics, Marcus Aurelius is apparently the only one to refer to haplotēs as an ethical ideal. Cf. 6:30; 4:26 (haplōson seauton, “study to be simple”); 4.37: ‘A moment and thou wilt be dead; and not even yet are thou simple (haplous), nor unperturbed”; 9.37; 7.31. Cf. also Philo Op. 156: “prompted by a mind devoid of steadfastness and firm foundation, Eve gave her consent and ate of the fruit, and gave some of it to her husband; this instantly brought them out of a state of simplicity and innocence into one of wickedness”; Op. 170; LA 3.44; Plotinus

Love … be mindful … seek. The Aorist imperatives here are ingressive, expressing “the coming about of conduct which contrasts with prior conduct” (BDF 337.1).

2. test him. Cf. Deut 6:16; Mal 3:15; Pss 78:18; 95:8–9; Isa 7:12 (see also Lieberman 1950:177; F. Rosenzweig, The Star of Redemption [New York, 1970–71], 265–267).

3. Devious thoughts. Cf. Theognis 1.1147: adikōn andrōn skolion logon.

full trust. Cf. 6:12; Jer 29:13–14, Isa 55:6; Prov 8:17.

cut men off. Cf. Isa 59:2; Test.Reuben 4:6 (chōrizousa theou); Test.Simeon 5:3; Philo Mut. 265: “God is the season which departs far away from all the impious.”

4. fraudulent. kakotechnos, a poetic word. Cf. ILIAD 15.14; AP 5.129 (where it refers to lascivious postures); IV Macc 6:25. Philo refers to the intellectually uprooted apostates as kakotechnountes or malicious critics of the law (Agr. 157; cf. Sacr. 32; 3 Macc 7:9).

nor make her home. We have here a favorite conception of the Late Stoa, which was frequently used by Philo: “Be zealous therefore, O soul, to become a house of God (theou oikos), a holy temple, a most beauteous abiding-place, for perchance, perchance the Master of the whole world’s household shall be thine too and keep thee under his care as his special house, to preserve thee evermore strongly guarded and unharmed” (Somn. 1.149); cf. QE 2.51; Virt. 188; Sob. 62; Somn. 2.251; Fug. 117; Praem. 123; Plato Tim. 90C; Epictetus Discourses 2.8.14: “It is within yourself that you bear Him, and do not perceive that you are defiling Him with impure thoughts and filthy actions. Yet in the presence of even an image of God you would not dare do anything of the things you are now doing. But when God Himself is present within you, seeing and hearing everything, are you not ashamed to be thinking and doing such things as these, O insensible of your own nature, and object of God’s wrath!” id.1.14.13; Seneca Ep. 83: “Nothing is shut off from the sight of God. He is witness of our souls, and he comes into the very midst of our thoughts—comes into them, I say, as one who may at any time depart”; Ep. 87.21; Porphyry Ad Marcellam 11 and 19; 1 Cor 3:16; Theophilus Ad Autolycum 1.2: “As a burnished mirror, so ought man to have his soul pure. When there is rust on the mirror, it is not possible that a man’s face be seen in the mirror, so also when there is sin in a man, such a man cannot behold God.” For the non-Platonic body-soul distinction, cf. 2 Macc 7:37; 15:30; 14:38; Ps 84:3.

mortgaged. katachreos is first attested in Polybius 13.1.1, and used metaphorically only here. Cf. 2 Kings 17:17; Jub 7:23; 1 Macc 1:15; Rom 7:14.

5. The holy spirit. The LXX uses the same expression (to pneuma to hagion) at Isa 63:10 and Ps 51:13. For the association of Wisdom and Spirit, cf. Isa 11:2, “where every attribute assigned to the Spirit of the Lord is connected with wisdom,” and I Enoch 49:3, where the spirit which dwells in the Elect One is the “spirit of wisdom, insight, understanding, and might” (Suggs 1970:54).

will take umbrage. The word elengchthēsetai has baffled all the commentators. Grimm translates: ‘frightened or driven off’ (citing late Greek usage, especially Chrysostom); Fichtner (1938): ‘insulted’; RV: ‘will be put to confusion’; JB: ‘is taken aback’; NEB: ‘will throw up her case.’ The idea is clearly that the holy spirit is unable to abide the presence of evil, and is virtually driven away by it. Cf. BT Kid. 31a: “R. Isaac said: He who transgresses in secret is as though he pressed the feet of the Shekhinah, for it is written, ‘Thus saith the Lord, the heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool’ (Isa 66:1)”; BR 19.7: “The main dwelling of the Shekhinah was originally below, but after the sin of Adam, she took off to the first heaven”; I Enoch 42:2: “Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men, and found no dwelling-place. Wisdom returned to her place, and took her seat among the angels”; 44:5; 4 Ezra 5:10: “Then shall intelligence hide herself and wisdom withdraw to its chamber”; II Bar 48:36; CH, Asclepius 24: “Godhead will go back from earth to heaven”; Philo QG 1.40: “For wisdom is most common, most equal and most helpful. But when it sees them perversely increase in the opposite direction and being altogether uncontrolled and willful, it returns to its own place.” (For wisdom’s dwelling in heaven, see 1 Bar 3:29; Sir 24:4–5.) We find the same notion in Greek literature: Theognis 1.1135: “Hope is the one good God yet left among mankind; the rest have forsaken us and gone to Olympus. Gone ere this was the great Goddess Honesty (Pistis), gone from the world was Self-Control (Sōphrosyneō)”; Hesiod Op. 197: “And then Aidōs and Nemesis, with their sweet forms wrapped in white robes, will go from the wide-pathed earth and forsake mankind to join the company of the deathless gods”; Aratus Phaenomena 96–136; Virgil Ecl. 4.6. Similarly, in Egyptian literature, we find that in the era of the primordial gods “Maat came down from heaven and joined those who lived on earth. At that time there was no injustice, no pain, no hunger” (Theban Temple, 95K, from the Greek and Roman period. This text clearly implies the return of Maat to heaven. See K. Sethe, Amun und die acht Urgötter von Hermopolis [Berlin, 1929]:125). It was on the basis of some of this data that Bultmann had suggested that Matt 23:34–39 (Luke 11:49–51; 13:34–35) was based on a speech by Sophia cited from some lost wisdom document which recounted the myth of a searching and disappointed Wisdom, whose conclusion “you will not see me again until …” was explained in terms of “the myth of the divine wisdom who, after tarrying in vain on earth, and calling men to herself takes departure from earth, so that one now seeks her in vain (cf. Prov 1:28; Gospel of Thomas, Saying 38; I Clement 57.3ff).” (R. Bultmann, “Der religionsgeschichtliche Hintergrund des Prologs Johannesevangelium,” in Eucharisterion, Festschrift H. Gunkel [Göttingen, 1923]:II. 1–26; Die Geschichte der synoptischen Tradition [Göttingen, 1964]:120–121); J. M. Robinson and H. Koester, Trajectories Through Early Christianity (Philadelphia, 1971): 103–104. A critique of Bultmann’s theory may be found in E. S. Fiorenza 1975:17–41.

6. benevolent. For philanthrōpon cf. Philo Op. 81 and see NOTE on 7:23.

from his own utterances. Cf. Sir 1:29: “keep guard over your lips.”

thoughts. Literally, reins. Cf. Greek phrenes (R. B. Onians, The Origins of European Thought [rep. New York, 1973] 23ff, identifies the phrenes with the lungs); Pss 16:7; 73:21; Prov 23:16; Jer 11:20; 17:11; 12:2; Rev 2:23; BT Ber. 61a: “Our Rabbis taught: Man has two kidneys, one of which prompts him to good, the other to evil” BR 61.1, Th-Alb:657: “The Holy One blessed be He made his [Abraham’s] two kidneys serve like two teachers, and these welled forth truth and taught him wisdom.”

witness … guardian. For the collocution martys kai episkopos, cf. Iliad 22.254; Sib Or Frag. 1:3–4; Philo LA 3.43; Herodian Historiae 7.10.3. See also Job 20:29, LXX; Ps 94:9; Philo Virt. 219; Deus 9; Jos. 265; Mig. 135, 115, 81; Somn. 1.91; Mut. 216, 39; Sir 17:19–20; 23:18–20; 42:18–20; Ps-Aristeas 133: “He showed that even if a man but think of compassing evil, and not alone if he actually do it, he could not escape notice”; Test.Judah 20:5: “And the spirit of truth testifieth all things, and accuseth all, and the sinner is burnt up by his own heart and cannot raise his face to the judge.” Cf. also Xenophanes of Colophon: “God is all eye, all mind, all ear” (DK, B.24).

hears his every word. Cf. Ps 139:4.

7. fills the world. Cf. Jer 23:24; Isa 6:3; Ps 139:7ff; Philo Her. 188.

that which holds all things together. The phrase is Stoic. Cf. SVF 2.439 (to synechon, i.e. pneumatic being, contrasted with to synechomenon, i.e. hylic being); 2.448 (hen ti synechei ton te synolon kosmon); D.L. 7.148. Although not found in the extant works of Plato, the formula is already employed by Xenophon Mem. 4.3.13 (ho ton holon kosmon synechōn); Cyropaedia 8.7.22. It is also found in Philo Conf. 136 (hypo de tou theou peplērōtai ta panta, periechontos, ou periechomenou); Somn. 1.63–64 (for periechō cf. Anaximines, DK, B.2; Anaximander, DK, A.11; Epiphanius Haereses 31.5); LA 3.6; Mos. 2.133; Ps-Aristotle De Mundo 398b 20–25; CH 11.5.13; Col 1:17.

8. escape notice. Cf. Job 34:21–3; Sir 16:17; 17:19; Ps-Aristeas 210: outhen an lathoi adikon poiēsas. In a fragment from a Greek satyr-play variously ascribed to Euripides or Critias, Sisyphus gives an atheistic account of the origins of ‘The Divine.’ The gods, he says, are the invention of a wise and clever man who introduced them as the official watchdogs of public morality: “Hence he introduced the Divine, saying that there is a God flourishing with immortal life, hearing and seeing with his mind, and thinking of everything and caring about these things, and having divine nature, who will hear everything said among mortals, and will be able to see all that is done. And even if you plan anything evil in secret, you will not escape the gods in this (tout’ ouchi lēsei tous theous), for they have surpassing intelligence” (Critias, TrGF 43F 19.16ff).

justice the accuser. elengchō occurs sixty-four times in the LXX, and elengchos is used thirty-one times for Hebrew tokaḥat. (See TDNT 7. 913.) Dikē was personified in Greek literature. One of the Horae (Hesiod Theogonia 902), she reports to Zeus the wrongdoings of men: “And there is a virgin Justice, the daughter of Zeus … and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander (skoliōs onotazōn), she sits beside her father Zeus, the son of Kronos, and tells him of men’s wicked heart …” (Hesiod Op. 256–264). In Aratus (Phaenomena 96ff), she is the constellation Virgo, who finally left the earth when the Bronze Age began (Cf. NOTE on v. 5 above); some (as Ovid Met. 1:149–150) call her Astraea in this connection. For justice as avenger, see Plato Laws 715E (where he is following Orphic tradition); 872E; Epinomis 988E; Sophocles Electra 475, 528; Aeschylus Agamemnon 1432; Ps-Demosthenes (-Kern, Orphicorum Fragmenta 23) 25:11: “each juryman must reflect that he is being watched by hallowed and inexorable Justice, who, as Orpheus, that prophet of our most sacred mysteries, tells us, sits beside the throne of Zeus and oversees all the works of men”; SIG 1176; Jos. J.W. 1.3.6; Wisd 11:20; 4 Macc 4:13, 21; 9:9. Philo adapts the old tradition of Dikē as “assessor” of Zeus (Dios paredros: Pindar Olympia 8.22); Mut. 194; Jos. 48, 170; Conf. 118; Decal. 95. See TDNT 2. 178ff; E. Goodenough 1969:59ff; E. Bréhier, Les Idées philosophiques et religieuses de Philon d’Alexandrie (Paris, 1950):149ff: R. Hirzel, Themis, Dike und Verwandtes (Leipzig, 1907):138ff, 412ff.

pass him by. parodeuein is used five times by our author (here, and in 2:7; 5:14; 6:22; 10:8), and in its transitive sense is found only in late Greek prose. Cf. Diodorus Siculus 32.27; Plutarch Moralia 973D; Lucian Nigrinus 36.

9. schemings. For diaboulion cf. Ps 10:2, LXX (Hebrew mĕzimôt); Sir 15:14; 44:4; Ezek 11:5, LXX; Hosea 4:9, LXX.

10. an impassioned ear. ous zelōseōs, an imitation of Hebrew adjectival genitive. Cf. Num 5:14, LXX; Xenophon Cyropaedia 8.2.10; Philo Somn. 1.140 (the ‘ears’ and ‘eyes’ of the great king).

murmur of his muttering. Cf. Eccles 5:1; II Enoch 61:5: “And if his words made it [the gift for God], but his heart murmur   .   he has not any advantage”; 63:2: “But if his heart murmur, he commits a double evil, ruin of himself and of that which he gives”; III Bar 8:5; 13:4. Tempting God (above, v. 2) and murmuring are connected by Paul (1 Cor 10:9–10), working backwards through Numbers 21 and 14. For the murmuring motif, see G. W. Coats, Rebellion in the Wilderness (Nashville, 1968); B. S. Childs, The Book of Exodus (Philadelphia, 1974): 256–264.

muttering. For gongusmos. Cf. Exod 16:8; Num 17:5–10, LXX.

ous … throus. Play on words. Grimm reproduces it in German: Lauschen und Rauschen.

11. grumbling. katalalia is first attested here and Test.Gad 3:3; cf. II Enoch 52:2; III Bar 8:5; 13:4; 2 Cor 12:30; 1 Peter 2:1. The corresponding verb, however, is frequent in the LXX (in Num 21:5, 12:8; Pss 77:19; 49:20; Hosea 7:13, it is used in the sense of speaking evil of God).

spells self-destruction. Through sin the soul forfeits its ‘true’ life. “The writer is thinking of that soulless existence of the wicked which, metaphorically speaking, is death” (Gregg). Cf. BT Ber. 18b: “The wicked even when alive are called dead”; Philo Det. 49; Fug. 55; Spec. 1.345: “For in very truth the godless are dead in soul.”

12. The sentiment expressed here is already found in the beautiful poem in Proverbs 8. In vv. 32–36 we have in effect “a summons in the form of an ultimatum, to listen to wisdom, for on this depends life or death” (von Rad); in vv. 35–36: “For he who finds me finds life … all who hate me love death.” Cf. CH 1.28: “Why, earth-born men, have you surrendered yourselves unto death, since you have the power to partake of immortality? Repent, you who travel in the company of error and who have fellowship with ignorance.” In the Gnostic cosmogonies Sophia is intimately linked with Zoe the celestial counterpart of Eve. In the Hypostasis of the Archons and On the Origin of the World, Zoe is usually the daughter of Sophia, but in some passages of the latter we find Sophia called Sophia Zoe. (Robinson 1977:158, 172). See G. W. MacRae, “The Jewish Background of the Gnostic Sophia Myth,” in Essays on the Coptic Gnostic Library (Leiden, 1970):93.

draw down destruction. Cf. Isa 5:18, LXX.

by your own actions. The notion that man is responsible for his evil actions in spite of the fact that everything takes place in accordance with Divine Providence was widespread in ancient literature. Thus Ben Sira emphatically states: “Say not: ‘From God is my transgression,’ for that which He hateth made He not (15:11).” We find virtually the same words in an Egyptian text: “Beware lest thou say: Every man is according to his own character; ignorant and learned are all alike; Fate and upbringing are graven on the character in the writing of God himself.” (A. Gardiner, Hieratic Papyri in the British Musem, 3d ser. [London, 1935]:43). Similarly, we read in the Egyptian Coffin Texts: “I did not command [men] that they do evil, (but) it was their hearts which violated what I had said.” (ANET:8). J. Crenshaw has pointed out that the simple prohibition formula ʿal-tōmʾar can be traced back as far as the Egyptian Instruction of Ani and continues in use as late as the Instructions of Onchsheshonqy (“The Problem of Theodicy in Sirach: On Human Bondage,” JBL 94:1 [1975]:48–49). The negative formula ‘Do not’ is already found in the Sumerian Instructions of Šuruppak. Cf. I Enoch 103:9; 104:7; 2 Macc 7:16, 19. For a detailed discussion of the problem of freedom and determinism, see Introduction VII.8, and also Note on 1:16 below. Cf. I Enoch 98:4: “Sin has not been sent upon the earth, / But man of himself has created it”; Ps Sol 3:5: “The righteous stumbleth and holdeth the Lord righteous”; Philo Det. 122: “For Moses does not say, as some impious people do, that God is the author of ills. Nay, he says that ‘our own hands’ cause them, figuratively describing in this way our own undertakings, and the voluntary movement of our minds to what is wrong.”

13. God did not make death. A bold statement which, without further interpretation, sounds like an echo of Zoroastrian teaching, although the author certainly did not mean to go that far. (For other Zoroastrian echoes in the book, see NOTES on 2:24; 7:22; 15:19.) Cf. Ezek 33:11: “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live”; I Enoch 69:11: “Man was created exactly like the angels to the intent that he should continue righteous and pure, and death which destroys everything could not have taken hold of him”; II Bar 17:3; 19:8; 23:4; 4 Ezra 8:60: “For the Most High willed not that men should come to destruction; but they have themselves defiled the name of him who made them, and have proved themselves ungrateful to him who prepared life for them.” In the light of the author of Wisd’s Platonist view of the relationship of body and soul revealed in 9:15, it is likely that he is here referring to spiritual rather than to physical death. The rabbis, too, refer to God’s original intention that man should not be subject to death, but, unlike our author, it is physical death which they have in mind. See Pes.R., Piska 48 (Shor o Keseb) Braude: 813: “The words ‘that which hath been is now’ (Ecc 3:15) allude to the fact that when the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He created him with the intention of having him live and endure for ever like the ministering angels, for ‘the Lord God said: Behold, the man is become as one of us’ (Gen 3:22).… Indeed, R. Judah, the son of R. Simon, carried the explication of this verse still further to an idea difficult to grasp, for he takes the verse to be saying, ‘The man is become as the One of us’—that is, become like the Unique One of the world, who lives and endures for ever and ever.… But God’s intentions for Adam came to nought when Adam did not abide by the command given him, and forthwith mortality was decreed for him.” Cf. also The Teaching of Silvanus 91: “For death did not exist, nor will it exist at the end” (Robinson 1977:350; ShR 32.1: “Said the Holy One blessed be He: ‘I had taken you for divine beings’ (Ps 82:6), but you followed in Adam’s footsteps, ‘indeed you shall die as men do’ ”; Wayyik.R. 18.3; 27.4; BR 9.5, Th-Alb:70. See Urbach 1969:371–380. That God is altogether good and cannot be the direct cause of evil was a cardinal doctrine of Plato (Rep. 379B; Tim. 69C), the Stoics (SVF 2.1168–1186), and Philo (Mut. 30; Conf. 179). The rabbis held a similar view. Cf. Sifra, Beḥukkōtai 4: “ ‘It has been of your own doing’ (Mal 1:9); evil never proceeds from me, and so it is written, ‘It is not at the word of the Most High, that weal and woe befall’ [following the reading of the Gaon] (Lament 3:38)”; Lament.R. on 3:38: “R. Eleazar expounded the verse ‘It is not at the word of the Most High that weal and woe befall’ thus: From the moment that the Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘See, I set before you this day life and prosperity, death and adversity’ (Deut 30:15), good has not gone forth to him who does evil nor evil to him who does good, but only good to the doer of good and evil to the doer of evil, as it is written, ‘the Lord reward the evildoer according to his wickedness’ (1 Sam 3:79)”; Test. Orpheus (Aristobulus’ version), line 9: “He from His store of goods never prescribes evil for men” (FPG 1:65).

destruction. “Apōleia is common in the LXX sense of ‘perishing,’ ‘destruction.’ The concepts thanatos, hadēs, and apōleia are all used together for it, being often personified as man’s worst enemy (Job 26:6; 28:22; Prov 15:11). In the Synoptics, and especially in Paul and John, apōleia is used for eternal destruction (Matt 7:13; Rom 9:22; Philip 1:28; 1 Tim 6:9; John 17:12. It is also a favorite word in II Peter (2:1, 3, 3:7, 16). What is meant here is not a simple extinction of existence, but an everlasting state of torment and death” (TDNT 1. 396–397). R. J. Taylor thinks that apōleia here bears its technical New Testament meaning, and S. Rosik suggests that its usage here marks the beginning of a process of development from the meaning of earthly destruction to that beyond physical death.

14. All that has come into existence. geneseis refers to all things created or generated; cf. Plato Phaedrus 245E: “Thus that which moves itself must be the beginning of motion. And this can be neither destroyed nor generated, otherwise all the heavens and all creation (pāsan te genesin) must fall in ruin and stop.”

preserves its being. For sōtērioi, cf. Ps-Aristotle De Mundo: “For God is indeed the preserver (sōtēr) of all things” (397b.20); Philo Mos. 1.96: “the same elements which He shaped for their preservation (sōteriōs) to create the universe (epi genesei tōn holōn) He turned into instruments for the perdition (apōleian) of the impious whenever He would”; Prov. 2.63 (106): sōtērias de pothos. The principle of self-preservation was a cardinal doctrine of Stoicism; cf. D.L. 7.85: “The prime impulse of an animal is towards self-preservation, because Nature makes it well-disposed to itself (oikeiousēs hautō) from the outset, as Chrysippus says in the first book of his work On Ends.… And Nature, they say, made no difference originally between plants and animals, for she regulates the life of plants too, in their case without impulse and sensation, just as also certain processes go on of a vegetative kind in us.” Cf. Philo Aet. 35ff: “Nature in each case strives to maintain and conserve (diatērein kai diasōzein) the thing of which it is the nature and if it were possible to render it immortal. Tree nature acts so in trees, animal nature in each kind of animal, but the nature of any particular part if necessarily too feeble to carry it into a perpetual existence. For privation or scorching or chilling or the vast multitude of other circumstances which ordinarily affect it descend to shake it violently and loosen and finally break the bond which holds it together, though if no such external force were lying ready to attack it, so far as itself was concerned, it would preserve all things small or great proof against age. The nature of the world then must necessarily desire the conservation of the All. For it is not inferior to the nature of particular parts that it should take to its heels and leave its post and try to manufacture sickness rather than health, destruction rather than complete preservation (sōtērias pantelous).… But if this is true the world will not be susceptible to destruction. Why so? Because the nature which holds it together (hē synechousa physis) fortified by its great fund of strength is invincible and prevails over everything which could injure it.” Elsewhere (Op. 44), Philo argues that nothing in the world is really perishable, inasmuch as the species to which every individual thing belongs is eternal: “For God willed that nature should run a course that brings it back to its starting-point, endowing the species with immortality, and making them sharers of eternal existence (aidiotētos).” In explaining the perpetuity of the species Philo employs the Stoic term ‘seminal essences’: spermatikai ousiai. Cf. QG 2.12: “in order that the divine purpose which was formed at the creation of the world might forever remain inextinguishable by that saving of the genus.”) (The precise meaning of this phrase seems to have eluded most previous translators. RSV: “and the generative forces of the world are wholesome”; NEB: “The creative forces of the world make for life”; JB: “the world’s created things have health in them.”)

no deadly poison. This almost sounds like an anti-Gnostic polemic. We read, for example, in a Nag Hammadi tractate on the Soul (the so-called Authoritative Teaching): “The adversary who spies on us lies in wait for us like a fisherman.… For he casts many foods before our eyes, which are the things of this world. He wishes to make us desire one of them and to taste only a small thing, so that he may seize us with his hidden poison and bring us out of freedom and take us into glory.” (See G. W. MacRae, “A Nag Hammadi Tractate on the Soul,” in Ex Orbe Religionum [Leiden, 1972]: 1. 471–479. MacRae is uncertain, however, whether this tractate should properly be called Gnostic.) Similarly, in his attack on the material creation, Ahriman fills it with deadly poison: “And upon the earth he let loose reptiles in corporeal form … reptiles biting and poisonous—serpent and scorpion, venomous lizard, tortoise and frog, so that not so much as a needle’s point on [the whole] earth remained free from creeping things.… And upon the plants he brought so much poison that in a moment they dried up.” (Greater Bundahishn 42.14–43.8; see Zaehner 1961:262.)

Death’s rulership. This phrase is laden with mythical connotations. The Ugaritic Baal texts provide a graphic description of the underground realm of Death: “Descend to the House of the Corruption of the earth, And be numbered with those who go down into the earth. Then, indeed, shall ye set face towards his city Ruin. Dilapidation is the throne on which he sits, most ruthless of the gods; Come not near to Mot the son of El, Lest he make you like a sheep in his mouth, And ye be carried off in his jaws” (Gray 1965:55–56). Cf. the destruction of Death as an eschatological enemy in Isa 25:7 and Rev 30:14. (For a similar notion in Zoroastrianism and in Qumran, see Winston 1966:206–207.) See also N. J. Tromp, Primitive Conceptions of Death and the Nether World (Rome, 1969):125. For basileion in the sense of ‘kingdom,’ cf. 1 Kings 14:8, LXX, A. In Polybius 3.15.3 it means ‘seat of empire,’ ‘capital.’

15. Goodrick writes: “The A.V. [KJV] places this sentence in a parenthesis, and indeed it seems to break the thread of the argument. If, however, we accept the supplementary line given in the Sixtine Vulgate and the Complutensian—‘But injustice is the very attainment of death’—we have a connection with what follows and what precedes. Against the genuineness of this addition, which is accepted by Fritzche and Grimm [Reuss, Zenner, Siegfried, and Cornely], it may be urged that it occurs in no Greek MSS. at all, and according to Deane is found in very few Latin ones of weight.” (It is rejected by Bauermeister, Reusch, Gutberlet, Deane, Feldmann, Gregg, Heinisch, and Fichtner.) Cf. Ps-Aristeas 212: “Injustice is the deprivation of life.”



Winston, D. (2008). The Wisdom of Solomon: A new translation with introduction and commentary (99–110). New Haven; London: Yale University Press.

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Dan Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Dec 19 2011 7:53 PM

Dan Francis:

Here is the Harper treatment along with the articles it recommends from the dictionary.


1:1-15 Exhortation to Walk in Righteousness

Serving as an introduction to the entire book is an ardent appeal to “you judges of the earth,” a phrase taken from the Septuagint (lxx) translation of Ps. 2:10. They are to seek righteousness (in the sense of holiness), for “righteousness is eternal” (1:15). This exhortation sets the mood in three ways: by its poetic style, by its appeal to biblical themes, and by its ethical demands. An examination of these three features will illustrate characteristics common to the entire Wisdom of Solomon.

The poetic style imitates the parallelism of Hebrew poetry, in which each line contains a complete clause ( Poetry). The language employs figurative speech, e.g., calling God “Power” (1:3) and “Ear of Jealousy” (1:10). Biblical themes are pervasive. One searches for God “in simplicity of heart” (1:1), an expression alluding to the words of the aged David as he prayed before the assembly of Israel in 1 Chron. 29:17. And worshipers must avoid “murmuring” (1:10, 11), almost a technical term in Exodus 15-17 for scorning the God of the covenant. Failure to trust in God’s care is a way to call divine punishment upon one’s life (1:12-14).

By far the greatest preoccupation of this introduction is attention to ethics; it insists that God refuses worship from those who are malicious (1:3). The text does not resolve the dilemma whether ignorance opens the way to malice or whether malice is the underlying cause of ignorance (1:4-5). The introduction begins with ethical goals but then shifts attention to the pursuit of wisdom, enemy of all kinds of sin. What wisdom achieves, God accomplishes. Both search human hearts and bring secret motives to light (1:6-11).

The final verses of this opening exhortation make clear the orientation of all its parts (1:12-15). Moral integrity and righteousness are not ethical matters limited only to this life; rather, they primarily concern future life. Never does the Wisdom of Solomon isolate human destiny from God’s care for creation. “For God did not make death nor does he delight in the destruction of living beings” (1:13). God’s care to maintain the varieties of living species offers an insight into his loving nature.

When this divine care is directed to humans, it is not limited to protecting the species as such but offers immortality to each person. Obviously God did not “make death” (1:13), an allusion to the result of human sin described in Gen. 3:19. Thus immortality is not simply a natural quality of human souls but a dimension of “righteousness” (1:15). How God overcomes death and communicates the gift of immortality will be explained as the book unfolds ( Immortality; Soul).


poetry, evocative compositions that communicate more by connotation than denotation. Songs, prayers, proverbs, speeches, and other lofty pronouncements in the Hebrew Bible are usually written in a particular style, one that has traditionally been equated with the ‘poetry’ of the Bible. 

Form: The characteristic feature of this style is a brief, two-part sentence whose second part typically reasserts, strengthens, or otherwise completes what was said in the first: ‘Happy the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments’ (Ps. 112:1). The effect of this sentence form is to provide the whole with a feeling of closure and completeness: just as, in poetry, a rhyme can pull things together and give a couplet a final ‘click,’ so the second part of such a sentence, strengthening and finishing off the first, marks it as complete and polished. The sentence gains an elegant and sometimes emphatic or epigrammatic quality. 

While speaking or writing in this sentence form is certainly less demanding than, say, composing rhymed couplets in English or dactyllic hexameter in Latin, there is nonetheless much room for artistry and skill in meeting its requirements. Great variety is observable in the relationship between the two (or, rarely, three) parts of these sentences. Sometimes the second part seems little more than saying the same thing twice in different words, an emphatic restatement (‘let me praise the Lord in my life, let me sing of my God while I live,’ Ps. 146:2); more often, it carries the first part further, completes it, supplies some grammatically or semantically necessary conclusion (‘Since X…then Y…’ ‘By day…by night…’), or otherwise seems to polish things off. Especially in wise sayings such as those in the book of Proverbs, this two-part sentence can function almost like a riddle: the listener is invited to figure out the relation between the first and second parts. Such, for example, is the statement in Eccles. 7:1: ‘Better a name than precious oil, and the day of death, than the day of one’s birth.’ Everyone would agree that a person’s good name is a more precious commodity than any actual possession, even precious oil; but the day of birth is almost always a happy occasion, and death almost always a time for mourning—so in what sense is the latter ‘better’? The point of this saying seems to be that the human body, like precious oil, is perishable; eventually it must spoil and die. A good name, however, is quite the opposite: it takes a lifetime to build, but once completed, i.e., on the day of a person’s death, it is immutable, imperishable. Thus, the proverb seems to be arguing, just as a name is better than precious oil, so is the day of one’s death, when the building of a name is finally complete, better than the day of one’s birth, when that process is only beginning. 

Effects of the Two-Part Form: Although scholars have long been aware of the feeling of regularity and heightened eloquence created by this style, they have had some difficulty in describing its workings. In antiquity, Josephus, and later Eusebius, Jerome, and others, asserted that biblical songs were written in quantitative meters, just like Greek or Latin verse—in fact, in the same meters as these! It was not until the Renaissance that Western scholars began to realize that this assertion was false (and of apologetic intent); yet even afterward, scholars have intermittently continued to search for some other sort of metrical system underlying these sentences—accentual, syllabic, ‘word rhythm,’ and so forth. In truth none of the systems proposed can be made to work consistently, for the regularity is only approximate—they are usually two or three or four words per part, but there is some room for exceptions. It seems that an approximate and intermittent regularity was all that this style demanded. 

One contributing factor to the regularity is the extraordinary terseness and compression characteristic of this style. Utterances framed in it frequently dispense with such features as the Hebrew definite article ha-, the relative asher (‘which’ or ‘that’), and other common signposts of ordinary discourse. More generally, it is this same principle of terseness that holds clauses down to three or four words, allowing complex thoughts and images to develop only within the confines of these brief, two-part assertions strung one after the next. Thus, where an English-speaking orator might have said, ‘Listen, O Heaven and Earth, as I speak words which, like the rain and dew sent from above to nourish fertile fields, may prove fructifying to those whom I hereby admonish. . , .’ Moses begins his farewell in Deut. 32 in these balancing clauses: 

Give ear, Heaven, as I speak, and let the Earth hear my words. Let my speech flow down like rain, my discourse distil like dew—like showers upon grain-fields, or raindrops on the grass. 

Parallelism: The attempt to pin down the workings of this style eventually led the eighteenth-century biblical scholar Robert Lowth to coin the term parallelismus membrorum (‘the parallelism of the clauses’), and since then ‘parallelism’ generally has enjoyed wide popularity as an explanation of the principle underlying this style. Of late, however, this approach has been seriously questioned. For while some form of paralleling, in meaning or syntax, can be shown to characterize quite a few of the two-part sentences involved, far too many exceptions exist to allow paralleling to be accepted as the generative force behind all such sentences. Moreover, it is clear that the term ‘parallelism’ has been used extremely loosely by biblical scholars. Almost no series of consecutive sentences (in the Bible or anywhere else) can be shown to be utterly devoid of some form of parallelism, so that finding instances of parallelism in this style, in whatever muted or obscure form, proves very little. Moreover, the notion of ‘parallelism’ has occasionally served to group together various very different features and thus cover over important distinctions. Surprisingly, ‘parallelism’ has been used to label such phenomena as actual repetition, for example, or numerical (‘Three things…four things…’) or other sequences. 

Contemporary scholars have shown that the ‘principle of parallelism’ is really a bit of shorthand for a complex of phenomena: various forms of ellipsis, especially of subject or verb in the second part (called ‘gapping’ by one writer), and a whole range of semantic equivalences and associations. The basic principle underlying this style might thus better be described simply as ‘seconding’ or ‘extending,’ the process of following up the typically short, spare assertion of Part A with another, subjoined one in Part B: ‘A is so, and what’s more, B’; ‘Not only A, but B’; ‘Not A, and certainly not B’; ‘First A happened, then B’; ‘If A…, then B…’; and so forth. This form, so frequently emphatic (as many of the above examples imply), was sometimes abstracted to include almost any sequence of two or three short clauses. The basic requirement seems only to have been that parts A and B be (syntactically) separated, so that the pause between them be maintained; and that B identify itself, semantically and/or syntactically, as A’s completion rather than the start of a wholly new thought. It is the necessity of maintaining this delicate balance, i.e., of keeping A and B divided yet related, that generates the frequent recourse to repetition, apposition, ellipsis of subject or verb, word pairs, and other manifestations of ‘parallelism.’ 

Poetry Versus Prose: A particularly vexing problem for scholars has been that of distinguishing biblical ‘poetry’ from ‘prose.’ Neither of these terms, derived from other literary traditions, has an equivalent in biblical Hebrew, and there is no evidence that ancient Israelites divided their literary corpus into these two camps. Obviously, these terse, two-part sentences were favored for some types of compositions (songs, proverbs, etc.), where they were used with great consistency; but the same sentence form can frequently be found here and there in ordinary narratives, particularly in dialogue, as well as in legal material, blessings and curses, oracles and prayers. Moreover, in various prophetic books, this terse, binary style seems now and again to slip into a looser and less easily identified idiom; it is often hard to say where ‘poetry’ ends and ‘prose’ begins. Even in the Psalms, the contrast between the clipped, binary style of, say, Psalm 94 and the looser style of Psalms 23, 35, and 122 is striking. Some scholars have used statistical analyses (of, for example, the relative presence or absence of the definite article and other signs of a lack of terseness) in order to help distinguish poetry from prose in the Bible. But at present this remains a crude tool (the Song of Solomon, for example, ends up in the ‘prose’ camp by such a measurement!), perhaps inevitably so. As one recent writer remarked, ‘the distinction is often quantitative rather than qualitative, and in terms of degree rather than kind.’ 

Historically, this distinction between biblical poetry and prose was at first wholly dependent on literary genre: those compositions that, if they had been written in Latin or Greek, would have been composed in verse were declared by early biblical commentators to be the Bible’s ‘poetry’—the Psalms, for example, or various songs such as the hymn of the Israelites at the Red Sea (Exod. 15), or the songs of Moses (Deut. 32), Deborah (Judg. 5), and David (2 Sam. 22), as well as Job, Lamentations, and other books. Prophetic books were held to be ‘prose,’ at least until the scholar Robert Lowth forcefully argued their structural similarity to psalms and songs on the basis of their ‘parallelism.’ Nowadays the term ‘poetry’ is still used to refer to those parts of the Bible in which the terse, ‘seconding’ style is most apparent (especially Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, much of the prophetic corpus, and individual songs, oracles, etc., found in biblical narrative); but there is an increasing awareness that in biblical Hebrew even more than in other languages, the precise distinction between poetry and prose is difficult to draw. 

The only formal poetry in the nt consists of fragments of poetic lines quoted by various authors (Acts 17:28, from Aratus, Phaenomena 5; 1 Cor. 15:33, perhaps from Menander, Thais; Titus 1:12, from Callimachus, Hymn to Zeus). Poetic intention, if not formal expression, however, is evidenced in such nt passages as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the prophecy of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79), the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32), and some other passages which may reflect early Christian hymns (e.g., Phil. 2:6-11; 1 Tim. 3:16).


immortality, immunity to death, endless existence. Two Greek words express the idea of immortality. One (athanasia) is translated literally as deathlessness (1 Cor. 15:53); the other (aphtharsia) as imperishability (Rom. 2:7). It is significant that the only passages in the Greek version of the Jewish Bible that contain these words are in writings originally composed in Greek, the Wisdom of Solomon and the fourth book of the Maccabees. The notion of immortality is a Hellenistic idea. The Hebrews accepted death as a limit ordained by God (Gen. 3:19). Blessedness consisted in a peaceful death at an old age and in having posterity to carry on in one’s place (Gen. 15). 

Certain elements, however, in the Jewish Bible press beyond the notion of death as a limit. For example, the song of Hannah proclaims, ‘The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up’ (1 Sam. 2:6). Bringing to life probably refers to conception and birth rather than to raising from the dead. ‘Bringing down to Sheol’ and ‘raising up’ are probably not meant literally. These phrases are images for experiences of catastrophe and well being, respectively. The vivid language of overcoming death in such ot passages, however, may have played a role in the later development of the idea of resurrection (see also Pss. 16:10-11; 49:15; 73:24). 

The people of Israel and the Jews at a later time were familiar with myths in neighboring cultures of dying and rising gods, such as Baal and Osiris. These myths reflect the rhythms of night and day, summer and winter, dormancy and fertility. The Israelites did not conceive of God as dying and rising but apparently made use of these myths to understand their own destiny as a people (Hos. 6:1-3; Ezek. 37:1-14). This language about the people rising from death to life as a nation may have influenced the emergence of the notion of individual resurrection. 

The idea of individual resurrection appears first in Dan. 12:2-3, written about 167 b.c. According to Daniel, many, but not all, people will rise from the dead. The wise will rise, not to bodily existence on earth, but to a new form of life, ‘like the stars.’ Many ancients believed that the stars were divine beings. Resurrection in Daniel for the wise means a kind of angelic existence. The wicked will rise to shame and everlasting contempt. 

In the Hellenistic and early Roman periods (325 b.c.-a.d. 325) some Jews held to the old idea of death as a limit (Ecclus. 30:4-6; 1 Macc. 2:49-70). Some looked forward to the resurrection (Pss. Sol. 3:16; 2 Macc. 7:9). Others believed in the immortality of the soul (Jub. 23:31; Wisd. of Sol. 3:1-4). 

As Jesus is pictured in the Gospels, he shares the Hebrew notion of resurrection, rather than the notion of an immortal soul (e.g., John 11:23-25; cf. Mark 12:18-27). Indeed, the word ‘immortal’ does not appear in the Gospels. In the Fourth Gospel, eternal life also describes the quality of life in the new age, rather than exclusively a future, unending life, since such eternal life can be enjoyed prior to death (e.g., 3:16). 

In a few passages Paul appears to speak of a personal afterlife apart from and prior to resurrection (2 Cor. 5:1-15; Phil. 1:23). Resurrection is a more common image in his letters, however. Immortality for Paul is not the continuing existence of the soul apart from the body, but is rather the new heavenly existence of those who, clothed in ‘spiritual bodies,’ share in Jesus’ resurrection in the new age (1 Cor. 15:42-50, 53-54). 


soul, a word in the Hebrew Bible with a wide range of meanings. God ‘breathed the breath of life’ into Adam and he became a ‘living soul’ (Gen. 2:7); Adam is living clay, as opposed to ordinary clay (Gen. 3:19). This life principle can ebb and flow; one may fear for one’s soul (Ezek. 32:10), risk one’s soul (Judg. 5:18), or take one’s soul (1 Kings 19:4). ‘Soul’ may refer to an individual person: Leah bore sixteen ‘souls’ (children) to Jacob (Gen. 46:18). For a Hebrew, ‘soul’ indicated the unity of a human person; Hebrews were living bodies, they did not have bodies. This Hebrew field of meaning is breached in the Wisdom of Solomon by explicit introduction of Greek ideas of soul. A dualism of soul and body is present: ‘a perishable body weighs down the soul’ (9:15). This perishable body is opposed by an immortal soul (3:1-3). Such dualism might imply that soul is superior to body. 

In the nt, ‘soul’ retains its basic Hebrew field of meaning. Soul refers to one’s life: Herod sought Jesus’ soul (Matt. 2:20); one might save a soul or take it (Mark 3:4). Death occurs when God ‘requires your soul’ (Luke 12:20). ‘Soul’ may refer to the whole person, the self: ‘three thousand souls’ were converted in Acts 2:41 (see Acts 3:23). Although the Greek idea of an immortal soul different in kind from the mortal body is not evident, ‘soul’ denotes the existence of a person after death (see Luke 9:25; 12:4; 21:19); yet Greek influence may be found in 1 Peter’s remark about ‘the salvation of souls’ (1:9). A moderate dualism exists in the contrast of spirit with body and even soul, where ‘soul’ means life that is not yet caught up in grace.






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