Wisdom of Solomon and idolatry


Maybe you can help me understand the Catholic/nicene intrepration of this passage and why the book is included in the Catholic apocrypha.

“For a father, consumed with grief at an untimely bereavement,
made an image of his child, who had been suddenly
taken from him;
and he now honored as a god what was once a dead human being,
and handed on to his dependents secret rites and initiations.
[16] Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with
time, was kept as a law,
and at the command of monarchs graven images were worshiped.
[17] When men could not honor monarchs in their
presence, since they lived at a distance,
they imagined their appearance far away,
and made a visible image of the king whom they honored,
so that by their zeal they might flatter the
absent one as though present.
[18] Then the ambition of the craftsman impelled
even those who did not know the king to intensify
their worship.
[19] For he, perhaps wishing to please his ruler,
skilfully forced the likeness to take more beautiful form,
[20] and the multitude, attracted by the charm of his work,
now regarded as an object of worship the one
whom shortly before they had honored as a man.
[21] And this became a hidden trap for mankind,
because men, in bondage to misfortune or to royal authority,
bestowed on objects of stone or wood the name
that ought not to be shared.”
Wisdom of Solomon 14:15-21

From what I can tell, Christains seem to think this passage is only referring to idoltary of Solomon’s time and doesn’t apply to the Messiah and is not prophecy.

Yet the whole book isn’t really about Solomon. It’s all about prophecying the messiah (probably why Chrisitians like it) and about the reader striving to emulate the mesaanic king and seek God’s Wisdom. Its a merkabah and essene text so its about personal Illumination thru guided meditation.

The above passage about worshiping the slain son is right after talking about the messiah will be put to an unjust death. The writer clearly links the two. The text also makes it clear that the Wisdom of God isn’t divine but an emanation and that the messiah is a mortal who is endowed with the Spirit of Wisdom.

Is this an example of Christians ignoring parts of the text that doesn’t fit thier theology as they do in vast parts of the bible or am I missing something?


this passage is about idolatry and worshipping false dead gods. and how man always tries to make himself a god, by creating these things to worship

this is not about the Messiah and is not prophecy.

Solomon is saying here that this is a hidden trap, we become pressured and stressed in times of trial and do not turn to God, we think we don’t need God,. we turn to ourselves.

The first real prophecy about the Suffering Messiah in the Old Testament, and the one the disciples turned to when they were trying to work out what the Passion and resurrection was all about was Isaiah 53, the Suffering Servant

The disciples had followed Jesus, thought He was the Messiah, who had come to save them all from oppressive rule and restore the world to a peaceful sinless state, and defeat death, and resurrect the dead.

But instead Jesus went through an horrific passion, He was hung from a tree. He did not resist, He was rejected and scorned by many. He gave up his life without a fight, after all those miracles they saw Him perform. In the Old Testament, being hung from a tree meant a person was accursed by God. Thats in the Old Testament somewhere.
So how could their Messiah really be the true Messiah, was he a false messiah or a fake Messiah?

Then they started looking into the Old Testament and remembered/ re read and discerned Isaiah 53

This developed into the theology of the Suffering Messiah and then into the Catholic doctrine of Substitionary Atonement.
It was the first Bible passage group that had suffering as having a purpose, rather then being a punishment from God


isaiah 53

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.


I’m not addressing your main point here, just a detail.—The Wisdom of Solomon is included in the Catholic Old Testament, not the Apocrypha. It comes after the Song of Songs and before Ecclesiasticus (Sirach). It’s an apocryphal book for Protestants, but not for Catholics. It’s also, incidentally, not in the Jewish canon.


and here is the first few passages of that passage you quoted
note the heading

from http://www.usccb.org/bible/wisdom/14


12For the source of wantonness is the devising of idols;

and their invention, a corruption of life.g

13For in the beginning they were not,

nor can they ever continue;h

14for from human emptiness they came into the world,

and therefore a sudden end is devised for them.

15* For a father, afflicted with untimely mourning,

made an image of the child so quickly taken from him,

And now honored as a god what once was dead

and handed down to his household mysteries and sacrifices.

The book is called Wisdom. and as Bartholomew says, its part of the Bible, part of the Old Testament. It is what we catholics call Hebrew Scripture.


The reason why the Book of Wisdom is not in the Jewish Bible is because it was removed from their canon of Scripture in the year 90Ad by the Pharisees long after the resurrection of Christ and the spread of Christianity, as Wisdom 2:12 was a clear prophecy of the suffering messiah and clearly identified by the early Church. The Book of Wisdom was part of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament used by Hellenic Jews long before the coming of Christ.

Of the approximately 300 Old Testament quotes in the New Testament used by Jesus and the apostles, the vast majority of them came from the Septuagint, which included the deuterocanonical books that the Protestants later removed. incidentally, the reason why Protestant Bibles do not include the Book of Wisdom and the other Deuterocanonical books in their Bible is because Martin Luther simply followed what the 16th century Jews had in their Jewish Bible in Germany, not realizing that these books were rejected by the same lot of religious authorities who rejected Christ. Here is the prophecy of the suffering messiah from Wisdom 2:12-20

Let us lie in wait for the righteous one,
because he is annoying to us;
he opposes our actions,
Reproaches us for transgressions of the law
and charges us with violations of our training.
13 He professes to have knowledge of God
and styles himself a child of the Lord.

14 To us he is the censure of our thoughts;
merely to see him is a hardship for us,
15 Because his life is not like that of others,
and different are his ways.
16 He judges us debased;
he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure.
He calls blest the destiny of the righteous
and boasts that God is his Father.

17 Let us see whether his words be true;
let us find out what will happen to him in the end.
18 For if the righteous one is the son of God, God will help him
and deliver him from the hand of his foes.
19 With violence and torture let us put him to the test
that we may have proof of his gentleness
and try his patience.

20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death;
for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”


Is this a known historical fact? Or is it, rather, a hypothesis or conjecture? The usual reason given is that this book, like Sirach and 2 Maccabees, was originally written in Greek, not Hebrew, and for that reason alone it would never have been considered for inclusion in the rabbis’ canon.


Thanks for the clarification. I like the book for it’s merkabah (chariot) mystical character and has alot of simmilarities with the Books of Enoch, Jubilees, Testiment of Abraham and John’s Revelation.
There also seems to be a lot of this text echoed in the gospels particularly Matthew. Maybe this is prophecy maybe it was Jesus’ followers trying to meet the messanic expectation.
Wisdom comes before Philo of Alexanderia who I still need to read and who I would probably like.
I’m really interested in the essence/merkabah/desert fathers/some gnostics that I feel sort of blur the boundary between Christianity and Judaism.


Well if Christainity is idolatry it is nothing new. Mankind has always made for himself idols of his imagination.
I think the writer of Wisdom would see Christanity as one pagan faith of many. He might be slightly upset about stealing of his Jewish faith. Thats the view of most Jews.
I say “if” Christanity is idolatry because I’m not only not certain but don’t know how I could be certain. The view of a mortal endowed with the Spirit of Revelation or with God’s wisdom certainly makes much more sense to me than an incarnate God but that’s my kabbalistic and neo-platonist bias. It’s impossible to really judge these things objectively and claims of special revelation are by nature not objective.
I do think Christains are not evil idolatprs for their faith in Christ though, I’ve had that answered in prayer. Doesn’t mean they aren’t simply mistake though. But again who I am to know?


Do you understand that Gnostics believe Jesus was a gnostic teacher, a teacher who could show them the secret knowledge to enable them to escape the evil material world of matter. They believe our spirit is imprisoned in this evil matter. And secret knowledge would help them escape, but it required being taught by a gnosis,
They did not believe Jesus was any more then human. A human gnosis
They also don’t believe the world is a creation of the True God


That’s the point. It’s not idolatry.
And in fact, idolatry is a sin. The first and second Commandments teach us that.

Christianity was not around when Wisdom was written.
Christianity began with the Gospels and the Resurrection.

The Gospels were the culmination of Jesus story. But the start of the story of the Church.


It’s fact. Again, the Hellenistic Jews used the Septuagint long before the coming of Christ, and was heavily quoted by Jesus. It was long after the Church was established by Christ that the Jews at the small “council” of Jamnia in AD 90 rejected the Septuagint, by the way, with an authority they no longer had. The excuse used was that it was not in Hebrew


Yes. In fact the gnostic Christ doesn’t need to be associated with the historical Jesus at all. Even if Jesus never lived, gnosticism would still exist. It’s the spirtual/archetypal Christ that saves, not the earthly man. That’s a deeper discussion, but is basically what I think the messiah is here in Wisdom, not necessarily a literal person.
In the merkabah tradition, I suspect the Messiah is less one person who will come in the future but it is messanic prophets like Enoch or Solomon that the individual practioner follows in their stead. We are supposed to see ourselves in the place of Enoch during his visions, in the place of Solomon with his marriage to Wisdom.


This is what I’ve found to be true in prayer. That Christanity isn’t sinful as the idoltary is discussed in the Torah. So either the trinity isn’t idolatry or simple theologocal mistakes isn’t what God is addressing when he discusses idolatry.
Neither though are non-christains in darkness as John says.

I really don’t think our doctrinal stances matter much in the end. Love God, love neighbor.


The rabbis who agreed on the definitive Jewish canon, as it exists to this day, didn’t “reject the Septuagint.” All the books now accepted in the Hebrew Bible were already present in the Septuagint. The rabbis rejected some of those books, including the Wisdom of Solomon. I suspect it may not be true, by the way, that the passage you quoted in your earlier post about the “righteous” or “just” man who “styles himself as the Son of God” and dies a “shameful” or “disgraceful” death, is the reason why the rabbis opted to omit Wisdom from their canon. Do you have a source for that assertion?



The New Testament was written in Greek, and as mentioned earlier, the majority of scriptural passages of the Old Testament that Jesus quoted was specifically from the Greek Septuagint; most of the early Christian movement flourished as a Greek-speaking movement thus it was natural for Christians to adopt the Greek Jewish scriptures because these Scriptures had always been used as inspired by a God, as evidenced by Christ Himself who quoted them. The fact that the Jewish authorities rejected Christ, and that the Talmud itself was written by rabbis over centuries with a great emphasis to discredit Christianity and Christ Himself, it is no surprise that they would discredit the Greek Septuagint. That passage of the suffering just man is pointing loud and clear to Jesus Christ, who on the road to Emmaus explained the Scriptures on how the messiah was to be rejected. Do realize that Jamnia was not some big council representing all of Judaism, but rather a small pocket of rabbis that acted independently. Here is Catholic Answers explaining Jamnia:


That video is no use to me, I regret to say, because of my deafness. Do you have a transcript?


Here is an explanation from EWTN by Catholic Answers senior apologist Jimmy Akin:


In this text, “Defending the Deuterocanonicals,” Jimmy Akin nowhere states, nor even suggests, nor even hints, that the rabbis’ reason for omitting Wisdom from their canon was their objection to the passage you quoted, Wisd. 2:12-20. My assertion in my post #7 that the probable reason was that – like 2 Maccabees – Wisdom was originally written in Greek, not in Hebrew, is fully consistent with everything Jimmy Akin writes in this text.

Akin’s primary purpose here is to refute the Protestant claim that the deuterocanonicals are “apocryphal.” He never even addresses the question of the rabbis’ motives for acting as they did.


So I’m confused because I was raised Protestant (not my fault!!! Haha)
Are books like Tobit and Wisdom of equal weight and equally scripture as let’s says 1st and 2nd Kings? Or were the Protestants right to say only useful for inspiration not doctrine?
What about books that almost made it like the books of enoch? Is there a clear line between scriptue and not scripture? Is this a line drawn because God inspired the bishops who voted for it and didn’t inspire the other bishops (aryans or gnostics for example)?

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