Wisdom

Introduction

In the last centuries before Christ, Greek culture, spread by Alexander, penetrated into the countries of the Middle East (see introduction to Maccabees). The Greeks had a new way of viewing the freedom of the individual and nobility of spirit. They promoted scientific research and esteemed highly physical beauty, etc.
The Jews had to be open to this new way of thinking: when a people encloses itself in its national culture, without looking beyond it, it ends up being asphyxiated. Their culture was intimately linked to the words of God they had received for centuries, but the revelation of God was not finished and could no longer enclose itself within the molds of Hebraic culture.
The Book of Wisdom is the first important effort to express the faith and wisdom of Israel, not only in Greek, but also in a form adapted to Greek culture.
It gives an answer to the crucial questions of evil, pain and death; it sketches a proof of the existence of God that will inspire Paul and shows that God’s mercy extends to all beings without exception.
Note especially the magnificent chapters 3–5 concerning the death of the just and hope in eternal life and also the hymn to wisdom in chapter 7.
The Book of Wisdom was written in Egypt between 80 and 50 before Christ by one of the many Jews who were living in the Greek world. It is one of the deuterocanonical books: see p. 887.

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