The Wisdom of Solomon -
The Wisdom of Solomon was originally composed in Greek by a Hellenized * Jew who almost certainly lived in Alexandria, Egypt, somewhere around the turn of the first century CE. The pseudonymous * ascription of the work to King Solomon derives from the text's first-person perspective, in which the king describes his own passionate pursuit of wisdom (chs. 7–9 ). Many works of wisdom literature * are ascribed to Solomon, including Proverbs and the Song of Solomon, as well as later noncanonical collections of Jewish and Christian religious poetry. Indeed, the Wisdom of Solomon, like most wisdom literature, is written in poetic form and reflects a high degree of stylistic sophistication. Numerous rhetorical * devices offer clues to the reader regarding both the structure and the meaning of the work. Furthermore, the text reveals an assimilated knowledge of many Greek philosophical concepts. The Wisdom of Solomon, whose topics include the problem of theodicy, * immortality of the soul, and the perils of idolatry, * assumes a philosophical understanding of the world that is characteristic of Platonism, * particularly its middle period (first century BCE through the second century CE), which was heavily informed by Stoicism. The author does not engage in the sort of philosophical analysis characteristic of that other well-known Alexandrian Jewish writer, Philo, * with whom he shares many ideas. Rather than argue a point, this author attempts to exhort and inspire his readers to embrace wisdom through his rhetorical flair and homiletical * use of examples from biblical history.
The Jewish community of ancient Alexandria experienced some of the greatest successes of any Diaspora * community, as well as some of the most serious persecutions. Because the text's latter chapters, which elaborate upon the Exodus story, reflect profound animosity toward the Egyptians—far exceeding their negative role in the book of Exodus—Wisdom must have been composed in the wake of persecution. Although there is no consensus among scholars regarding the date, the language and style suggest the late first century BCE or early first century CE, during which time Alexandrian Jews faced several social and political challenges. Some have suggested that the anti-Jewish rioting that occurred during the reign of Emperor Caligula (37–41 CE) constitutes the most likely context for the work.