Book of Wisdom?


HAs anyone read the book of Wisdom. It seems just fantastic if often ovelooked.



…yeah, it’s one of my favorites!

The content is quite surprising and revealing… take the issue of the resurrection or the Holy Spirit:

[FONT=“Garamond”][size=]16 But the just shall live for evermore: and their reward is with the Lord, and the care of them with the most High. 17 Therefore shall they receive a kingdom of glory, and a crown of beauty at the hand of the Lord: for with his right hand he will cover them, and with his holy arm he will defend them.

(Wisdom 5:16-17)

4 For wisdom will not enter into a malicious soul, nor dwell in a body subject to sins. 5 For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee from the deceitful, and will withdraw himself from thoughts that are without understanding, and he shall not abide when iniquity cometh in. 6 For the spirit of wisdom is benevolent, and will not acquit the evil speaker from his lips: for God is witness of his reins, and he is a true searcher of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue. 7 For the spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole world: and that, which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice. (Wisdom 1:4-7)
…and talk about Christ’s Passion and Crucifixion and man’s relationship with God:

16 We are esteemed by him as triflers, and he abstaineth from our ways as from filthiness, and he preferreth the latter end of the just, and glorieth that he hath God for his father. 17 Let us see then if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen to him, and we shall know what his end shall be. 18 For if he be the true son of God, he will defend him, and will deliver him from the hands of his enemies. 19 Let us examine him by outrages and tortures, that we may know his meekness and try his patience. 20 Let us condemn him to a most shameful death: for there shall be respect had unto him by his words. 21 These things they thought, and were deceived: for their own malice blinded them. 22 And they knew not the secrets of God, nor hoped for the wages of justice, nor esteemed the honour of holy souls. 23 For God created man incorruptible, and to the image of his own likeness he made him.

(Wisdom 2:16-23)
…it is said to have been written in the 2nd to 1st century BC and it is quoted in the New Testament!

Maran atha!




The 2nd chapter is the most clear description (or prophecy) of Christ in the entire Old Testament. And, to think that this was written as close as 50 years* before the Incarnation is even more amazing.

*Inside the Bible by Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.


One of my favorite passages in all the Bible is out of Wisdom – Wisdom 11:23 through 26, a discourse on God’s love of everyone, even sinners:

22 Because the whole world before thee is like a speck that tips the scales, and like a drop of morning dew that falls upon the ground.
23 But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and thou dost overlook men’s sins, that they may repent.
24 For thou lovest all things that exist, and hast loathing for none of the things which thou hast made, for thou wouldst not have made anything if thou hadst hated it.
25 How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?
26 Thou sparest all things, for they are thine, O Lord who lovest the living.


Wisdom of Solomon, of course, is part of the seven books of the Deuterocanon. In a way, I consider them to be anticipatory books of Christ, since all point to Him in some way - some more specifically than others. 2:10 “might” even be seen as describing the Holy Family, since Saint Joseph was believed to be an older man, and Mary certainly a widow, and mother of the “poor, just man.” Just my take on it, although its meaning is far more broad than that.

These books are a delight to read and once familiar with them, it is clear why they were written, read and preserved by pre-Christian Jews, then adopted/assumed, read, copied, and preserved by the early Church, as well as being included in the canon.


This actually came up on another thread and in an evangelical end-times forum I participate in. The topic was the growing number of Jews who were reading the New Testament and the number of rabbinic scholars who were viewing the teachings of Jesus through the lens Torah scholarship.

I mentioned a priest about 10 years ago where, in a post-Easter pre-Pentecost sermon, mentioned his trip through the Holy Land. One of the people on the tour who attended Mass religiously (yes, I went there) turned out to be a rabbi. Apparently there are no surviving rabbinical writings from about 100 years before the birth of Christ (i.e. Wisdom and 1&2 Maccabees) to about 100-150 years after the Crucifixion (after the diaspora, when rabbis were struggling to adapt Judaism to life without the Temple and different writings were assembled into the Talmud.)

In fact, the ONLY place where you can find examples of rabbinical debate and rabbinical thought are in the teachings of Rebe Yeshua and his disciples’ analysis of those teachings, i.e. the New Testament.

What really annoyed the Evangelicals in that one forum is that these Rabbinical writings I cited are all in the Septuagint (i.e. Catholic, i.e. Deuterocanonical) bible, which EVERYONE knows was totally made up between the years of 400 and 1400.

(When a group of rabbis were informed of this historical truth by a group of evangelicals, reportedly they all looked at the evangelicals over the tops of their glasses and in one voice said “Nu?”)


Mt27:41 In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him now deliver him if he will have him; for he said: I am the Son of God.] DRA


Mt27:41 In like manner also the chief priests, with the scribes and ancients, mocking, said: 42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the king of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. 43 He trusted in God; let him now deliver him if he will have him; for he said: I am the Son of God.] DRA


Not to derail, but the Jews celebrate Hanukkah to this day. The festival of lights, of the re-dedication of the purified temple in pre-Christian times once the Maccabean revolt had expelled the pagan Seleucid empire and restored control of Jerusalem to the Hebrews. It is the cause of the Menorah being lit for eight days. The irony of all this is that nowhere in Jewish scripture (it is, however, in the Talmud) is there any record of the establishment of Hanukkah - that would be only in 1 Maccabees, which the Pharisees rejected. There is no record in the Masoretic text. Since the ‘reformation’, neither do Protestants have any record of it. Only Catholic and Orthodox have the book which records that historic event in the Jewish faith.


Hi, J!


I do not understand how people could reject God’s Word even when the New Testament’s Sacred Writting points to it!

It is as though man has the final word on God’s Word–how vain is that? :banghead::banghead::banghead:

Maran atha!




…I think that this goes, amongst other things, to the descriptions of prayer for the dead and the battles taking place during the Sabbath–since they could not separate themselves from legalism they made themselves blind (removed the responsibility) by denying Inspiration.

Maran atha!



FWIW the reason the Catholic and Orthodox Churches accept the Septuagint translations (which include the additional books) into Greek over the Masoretic Greek translations, has to do with the Peshita.

The Peshita is the original Aramaic source for the Gospels, i.e. they were all written down in the local language, Aramaic, which was then used to make the Greek translations that were spread throughout the Empire. It’s in the original Aramaic that we hae Jesus telling Peter, “You are Cephas (the Aramaic word for “rock”, a large rock used for a foundation stone as well as Peter’s name) and upon this cephas I will build my Church.” There was none of this gendered “petra – petros” stuff in Greek that the Protestants use to deny both the role of Peter and the Catholic Church as the foundation Church of Christianity.

When the Gospels were translated from Aramaic into Greek (and the Epistles, which were originally written in Greek, since they were destined for the Greek-speaking world), whenever Jesus was quoting from the Old Testament, the writers and translators invariably had Jesus using the Greek from the Septuagint NOT the Temple-approved Masoretic text.

That is why when the Church was finalizing the biblical canon the decision was made to include the Septuagint translation instead of the Masoretic, which is why Catholic and Orthodox Churches include those extra books as inspired scripture.


Hi, Muzhik!

Does the Peshita (or any of these Writings) survives?

Maran atha!



Here’s a link to an online version of the Peshita:


That is why when the Church was finalizing the biblical canon the decision was made to include the Septuagint translation instead of the Masoretic, which is why Catholic and Orthodox Churches include those extra books as inspired scripture.

What today we call the Masoretic texts came many centuries later than the Septuagint.

When the Church was finalizing the biblical canon, the masoretic texts were very recent Judaic compilations. It was well known that they were hostile to Christianity, and the texts reflected that reality.



Strictly speaking, what we call the ‘Masoretic text’ refers to the Hebrew text which has vowel markings or niqqud (remember that Hebrew was originally - and still is, to an extent - is an abjad, a writing system that only represented consonants) and marginal notes added to the text. These ‘additions’, which was fixed from the 6th to the 10th centuries, are collectively known as masorah (the “transmission” of a tradition), and the Rabbis who developed these are known as the Masoretes.

The ancestor of the Masoretic text had already existed during the time of Jesus, known as the ‘proto-Masoretic’ and the ‘proto-rabbinic’ text, alongside the version which underlies the Greek translations of the OT(the ‘proto-Septuagintal’ text), and a third one which is closer to the Samaritan version of text (the ‘proto-Samaritan’ text). (When we identify a text as ‘proto-Masoretic’ it really means that text is nearly identical to the consonantal text - i.e. the letters only, without the vowels or the marginalia - found in the MT and which could well be the ancestor of the MT’s consonantal text.) In fact, it was (going by the numbers) the most-represented form of the biblical text in manuscripts found in the Judaean desert, so we can assume that it was the most-commonly used version in the Holy Land before and during Jesus’ day. That explains why it became the later standard: it’s not like whoever chose it picked a version at random; they chose what was by then the most common version, at least in Palestine.

The whole ‘hostile to Christianity’ bit was essentially an old accusation by Christians - who used Greek translations of OT books, which in many cases were translated from versions of the text which were not proto-MT - against Jews. Some Christians noticed that there were differences between the Greek text that they were using and the proto-MT that Jews were using, which led to them accusing the Jews of ‘removing Jesus from the Scriptures’.

It is partly based on fact, but the bulk of the accusation is actually a red herring. It’s true that there were some versions of the Greek OT where the text was ‘corrected’ by bringing it closer to proto-MT. But this phenomenon had nothing to do with Jesus or Christianity; it was already being done by Jews who noticed discrepancies between the proto-MT version that they were reading and the Greek versions long before Jesus or Christians came into the scene. (Heck, this was also what Origen did when he produced the Hexapla: he also ‘corrected’ the Greek text using the proto-MT version that was available to him!)

One could argue that this process of ‘correcting’ could be misguided in some cases, since many these Greek translations were not based on the proto-MT version anyway but a different recension.


I could think of a number of reasons why both books of Maccabees didn’t make the cut. In the case of 2 Maccabees, there’s the fact that it’s a Greek work. Unlike books such as Tobit or Sirach (which were originally composed in Hebrew/Aramaic), Jewish literature in Greek like say, 2 Maccabees or Wisdom of Solomon apparently didn’t become popular in Palestine as they did in the Jewish diaspora, which was where they became big.

Even within Palestine, the Maccabees are very polarizing figures. Most people praised them as heroes of course because they managed to liberate Jews from the Seleucid yoke. In fact, this is what the author of 1 Maccabees was doing: he portrayed them as God-sent deliverers fighting against the evil oppressor who was trying to eradicate the traditional Jewish way of life in the style of ancient biblical narratives.

That being said, there were Jews who didn’t like them at all, mostly because of some of the tactics they used to fight against the Seleucids as well as the dynasty of high priests-slash-kings they subsequently founded (the Hasmonean dynasty). For instance, you have the Community at Qumran, sometimes identified as Essenes. The fact that the books of Maccabees are not among the Dead Sea Scrolls has been taken to be a confirmation of what the Community claimed: that their founding members (particularly the so-called ‘Teacher of Righteousness’) were originally priests from the high priestly Zadokite line who were usurped from their positions by the Hasmoneans. (The Maccabees were priests, but only priests of the line of Zadok could become high priests.)

That’s really what’s controversial. For some Jews, the Maccabees, in their struggle against Antiochus, seemed to go overboard: the Jewish rebels decided to break the Sabbath in self-defense (1 Maccabees 2:39-42), something which would have seemed to be an arrogant, even sacrilegious decision for the more pious, conservative types, plus when they finally drove the Seleucids out they claimed both the kingship and the high priesthood - something which (if we go by the biblical promises) properly belonged respectively to the houses of David and Zadok - with Roman backing no less.

There’s probably also the fact that Judah Maccabee made a treaty with Rome against the Seleucids (1 Maccabees 8:17-20) - which wouldn’t have sat down well to Jews, especially after all the events of the late 1st-early 2nd century. The author of 1 Maccabees even goes on to great lengths praising the Romans. Not exactly the type of thing you’d want to hear after the same people conquered your country, condemned all your freedom fighters as terrorists and burnt your Temple to the ground.

And that’s what also may have contributed to Maccabees not being accepted into the Jewish canon: the works have a positive view of the idea of holy war, of nationalistic and religiously-motivated uprising against the foreign oppressor, which the Jews (especially after the failed Bar Kochba revolt of AD 120) were trying to distance themselves from.

You’d notice that the books of Maccabees and the later Rabbis (who really helped develop the modern Jewish perception of Hanukkah) emphasize different aspects of a single event (the retaking and the rededication of the Temple): the books celebate the divinely-assisted victory of the small Judaean forces over the more powerful pagan enemy, while the Rabbinic sources choose to ignore the military side of the event and focuses instead on an entirely different aspect (which does not appear in both 1 and 2 Maccabees), the miracle of the oil that never ran out.


I should add:

The Pharisees, or rather, a forerunner, the Hasideans (Ḥasidim) actually supported the Maccabees. They pretty much gave up resisting when the Temple was restored, but the Maccabees continued to fight much longer for land and position.

They finally withdrew their support when Simon Maccabee became “high priest forever, until a faithful prophet should arise.” Because after all, shouldn’t the high priest be of the line of Zadok? (Hey, that’s what the Bible says. ;)) And here are the Maccabees taking both the position of high priest and king over Israel for themselves! (All this while there was a perfectly fine Zadokite heir waiting in the wings. When it became clear that he will not be high priest anytime soon, this Zadokite - Onias IV - went to Egypt, controlled by the Seleucids’ enemies, the Ptolemies, and built his own temple there.)



First off, about the Peshitta:

Yes, the Peshitta is in Aramaic, but it’s not in any dialect of Aramaic Jews in 1st century Palestine would have spoken. It was written in Classical Syriac, a dialect of Aramaic used in the kingdom-province of Osroene (aka Edessa, after its capital city), in what is now the Turkey and Syria.

Now, Aramaic has two main branches: Eastern and Western. ‘Eastern’ refers to the varieties of Aramaic that developed in and around ancient Mesopotamia (modern Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq), while Western Aramaic refers to varieties spoken in the Levant. Syriac was an Eastern Aramaic language, while the dialects spoken in Palestine were Western Aramaic. In fact, most Aramaic dialects that survive nowadays belong to the Eastern Aramaic family; there is only one dialect of Western Aramaic still being used today, and it is only spoken in three villages in rural Syria.

Here’s the thing:

[LIST=1]*]Classical Syriac, the language the Peshitta was written in, was not a thing during the time of Jesus. The form of Syriac used in those days is known as Old Syriac, attested in about 80 inscriptions, and there are differences in grammar between Old Syriac and Classical Syriac. The Peshitta, at the earliest, represents 3rd-4th century Syriac, way after the time of Jesus.
*]Old Syriac was foreign in the Galilee and Jerusalem. As mentioned, it was the language of Osroene (Edessa), some 350 miles to the north of Galilee and 400 miles from Jerusalem. So essentially it would have literally been a foreign tongue for Jews in the Holy Land: aside from the geographical distance, Syriac and the Palestinian dialects as mentioned belong to different branches of the same family - Eastern vs. Western - and so would have exhibited some differences in grammar and vocabulary. Not to mention, Syriac was written using a different kind of script.
*]While Syriac is good on picking up some of the puns and wordplay that exist in the Aramaic under-layers of the New Testament, it doesn’t pick up all of them. Again, because Syriac was an Eastern Aramaic dialect while Jesus et al. spoke Western Aramaic dialects. So, the Peshitta picks up the possible wordplay between “You are Kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church,” but not the one thought to be behind “He who lives by the saiyp (‘sword’) shall die b-saiyp (‘by the sword’ or ‘in the end’).”
*]There are other Aramaic versions of the New Testament aside from the Peshitta. In fact, the Peshitta NT itself is thought to be simply the revision of an earlier tradition. There are for instance what is called the ‘Old Syriac’ Gospels: the Curetonian Gospels and the Sinaitic Palimpsest. They are called that, not because they are in Old Syriac (they are actually in an early form of Classical Syriac), but because they are older than the Peshitta. (These two versions were made around the 4th century; the Peshitta is thought to have reached its present form after that.) In fact, there is a version of the NT made during the 5th century in Palestine written in a Western dialect of Aramaic that is closer to what Jesus would have spoken five centuries ago compared to the Peshitta’s dialect.[/LIST]

I recommend Steve Caruso:

Problems With Peshitta Primacy
Differences in Dialect
What is Galilean Aramaic?


Hi, Muzhik!

Thanks for the link!

Maran atha!


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