#28 Wisdom Literature of the Bible

The Israelites have a very ancient tradition of wisdom literature that goes back at least to the time of King Solomon who became king in 970 BC.  In comparison Ancient Greece and Athens only started to rise to power after 478 BC.  Greek philosophy only took root with Socrates (470-399 BC), Plato (428-348 BC) and Aristotle (384-322 BC).  Thus, while Biblical wisdom goes back to the 10th century BC,  Greek philosophy only goes back to the 5th and 4th century BC.

The Greek philosophers were Theists who believed in One God, although not necessarily in a personal way.  None-the-less light seems to have gone out of Judaism to pagans, rather than from pagans to Judaism.

The wisdom books of the Bible include Ecclesiastes and Proverbs written by King Solomon.  He probably wrote these books of wisdom later in life as a reflection, while he wrote the poetry of love in Song of Songs when younger.

The Apocryphal book Sirach or Ecclesiasticus is mainly a book of wisdom.  It was written by Yeshua ben Sira, the grandson of Eleazar a great teacher of the Law who was martyred aged 90.  The wisdom part of it dates to about 180-175 BC, while the historical part dates to after 134 BC. 

The book of Sirach affirms that wisdom comes from God.  It gives sound advice on how to live an upright life.  It speaks of the creation of wisdom by God.  It speaks of the marvelous works of God’s wisdom.  The author explains that all things have a purpose, and both good and evil serve a purpose and can be used by God.

Sirach was originally written in Hebrew.

The Wisdom of Solomon is the final book of the Apocrypha possibly written by Aristobulus teacher of King Ptolemy in Egypt after 116 BC.

The Wisdom of Solomon attempts to summarize the wisdom of King Solomon but was written nearly a thousand years after Solomon lived.  It attempts to express faith in a way adapted to Greek culture, for Hellenized Jews.  Some have said the text is based on Plato.  The book of Wisdom is like Sirach, but not the same.  The reader is encouraged to seek ‘lady wisdom’.

Published by clarevmerry

Christian - Bible - Catholic belief reassessment website. How does Catholic belief relate to the Bible? An even-handed approach by the author who has been a Catholic as long as she has been an Evangelical.

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