A Greek book composed in Alexandria in the latter part of the 1st cent. BCE or the early part of the 1st cent. CE. It contains a warning to the wicked of a future judgment, and an affirmation of the doctrine of immortality as a corollary of the righteousness of God. It derides the cults of idols and suggests that they are made in the likeness of human beings to meet human needs—grieving parents who want to remember their children, and kings who find it convenient to invoke a supernatural authority to support their powers. Possibly the aim of the writer is to urge Jews in Alexandria to be vigilant against the wiles of idolatry. The book is not quoted in the NT, though possible allusions to Wisd. 7: 26 have been detected in Heb. (1: 3), an epistle which has other links with Alexandria, and Paul is often held to be dependent on the book, especially in his letter to the Romans.
The pseudonymous author uses the name Solomon, whose wisdom was renowned, and in 6: 12–10: 21 there is a kind of Solomonic autobiography in which the king praises Wisdom, God’s partner, and prays for her continuing support (9: 10) in terms very different from the ‘Solomonic’ pessimism of Eccles. 1 and 2. It is mystical (8:2); it is Platonic (8: 19); but it is also patriotic (9: 7). The book has mystical elements and appears to be indebted to Plato—which would have been attractive to some readers in Alexandria. Human beings are described in terms of souls who are pre-existent and immortal. The exposition of wisdom in chs. 7 to 10 influenced the Christology of Paul and of Origen, as well as much Christian spirituality: the antiphon O Sapientia (O Wisdom) is still sung in December.