For the next two weeks we shall be reading from the Book of Wisdom at Morning Prayer. There is an alternative because the Book of Wisdom, or simply, “Wisdom” is a book of the Apocrypha, and the lectionary always gives a reading from the Old Testament for us to choose between. The alternative for us in the 1st Book of Chronicles, but Wisdom is the likely choice of those leading each day.
The readings from Wisdom began yesterday. They include some familiar words tomorrow in chapter 3: 1-9, that begin, “But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.” And end, “Those who trust in him will understand truth, and the faithful will abide with him in love, because grace and mercy are upon his elect, and he watches over his holy ones.”
So what is this book about and how do we have it? It is frequently referred to as, “The Wisdom of Solomon” and indicates within its text that this may be the case as two later sections of the work appear to mirror Solomon’s prayer in the temple for wisdom from the 1st Book of Kings. However, evidence suggests that Wisdom is a much later book, that has assimilated traditional Hebrew material within it.
Accepting that this is the case, and that it was written during the period between the books of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ, it nonetheless brings numerous contemporary questions to the fore. Today in verses that can appear to be depressing in their fatalistic acceptance, prepare the way for a more robust understanding of human existence later. The work moves from one passage of questioning to another, as many in our own day cannot see beyond their own problems. It is here that the high place accorded to Wisdom makes its claim to be in a unique potion to bring about the kind of recognition and success that Solomon experienced to be seen.