Wisdom

At least some law acquired an authoritative status before the Exile; and the Deuteronomistic History was in some sense 'Scripture' by the time the Chronicler began his work. But the authority of wisdom literature, which never claimed a divine origin, seems to have been accepted later than that of either law or narrative. We do not know when Proverbs came to seem unalterable and divinely inspired. We may guess that the attribution to Solomon helped in this, as it probably did also for Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs. Books ostensibly so ancient, and written by so revered a figure, did in due course come to seem of divine origin. It is interesting that none of these books appears to be a conscious imitation of any other, and the same is true of Job. Pastiche did perhaps eventually occur, for Ecclesiasticus is clearly a Proverbs-type book. But here it may be simply that the tradition of wisdom writings continued to exist and to develop, rather than that Ben Sira deliberately modelled his work on the earlier book. The Hellenistic book called The Wisdom of Solomon, produced in the first century BCE in Alexandria, and written in Greek, owes little to biblical models. So in wisdom, probably a late arrival in canonical Scripture, we have little of the 'contamination' of new writings by old ones which is so marked a feature in other genres.

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