The Makers and Teachers of Judaism eBook

Charles Foster Kent
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 462 pages of information about The Makers and Teachers of Judaism.
learning and his conception of immortality indicate that he lived some time after the beginning of the Maccabean struggle.  His reference in 3:1-4 is probably to the persecutions through which the Jews of Egypt passed during the reign of Ptolemy Psycon (140-117 B.C.).  On the other hand the book clearly antedates the writings of the Jewish philosopher Philo, who lived during the latter part of the first century B.C.  The Wisdom of Solomon, therefore, may be dated somewhere between 100 and 50 B.C.

VII.  Its Important Teachings.  The author of the Wisdom of Solomon aimed, first, to commend Israel’s faith to the heathen by showing that it was in substantial accord with the noblest doctrines of the Greek philosophers, and second, to furnish the Jews of the dispersion, who were conversant with Hellenic thought and yet trained in the religion of their race, a working basis for their thought and practice.  From the first it appears to have been highly esteemed by the Jews outside Palestine, although it never found a place in the Palestinian canon.  Like most wisdom books, it describes at length the beauty and value of wisdom.  The figure of Proverbs 8 and 9 is still further developed under the influence of the Greek tendency to personify abstract qualities.  In the mind of the author, however, wisdom is simply an attribute of the Deity which he shares in common with men.  The book is unique in two respects:  (1) it contains the earliest references in Jewish literature to a personal devil and identifies him with the serpent that tempted the woman in the garden (2:24, cf.  Gen. 3) Elsewhere, however, the author traces sin and evil to men’s voluntary acts (e.g., 1:16). (2) It teaches the immortality of righteousness and hence, by implication, the immortality of the individual.  “God created man for incorruption,” and “the souls of the righteous are in his hand.”  The doctrine here presented is ethical and spiritual rather than the belief in a bodily resurrection already formulated in the twelfth chapter of Daniel.  It also teaches that both the good and bad will be rewarded according to their deeds.  Its conceptions of God are exalted.  He is the incorruptible spirit in all things, just and yet merciful, the lover of men.  The book also places side by side with the Jewish teachings regarding men’s duties to God and their fellow-men the Greek virtues of moderation, good sense, justice, and courage or fortitude.  It also teaches that, like God, each of his children should be a lover of men.  Thus the book unites most effectively that which is best in the thought of Judaism and Hellenism and is an earnest of that still nobler union that was later realized in the thought and teachings of Christianity.


[Sidenote:  Jos.  War, I, 4:1] After Aristobulus died, his wife Salome, who by the Greeks was called Alexandra, released his brothers from prison (for Aristobulus had kept them in confinement), and made Alexander Janneus, who was the oldest, king.

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The Makers and Teachers of Judaism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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