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The Text and Structure of the Book of Wisdom

  • Patrick W Skehan (a1)


If an apology for renewed textual study of a familiar, fairly well preserved and not extraordinarily difficult book (from the textual point of view) be called for, the writer hopes the following will suffice. It seems evident that we are still a good many years away from a definitive edition of that part of the Septuagint which includes the Book of Wisdom (‘Wisdom of Solomon‘). Yet for no book which has not been published with an exhaustive apparatus do we have a more comprehensive supply of text-critical material than we have for Wisdom;1 and none gives less scope for an expectation that future collations will in any way transform our knowledge or appreciation of the text. It seems, therefore, a suitable time for stock-taking; and the writer has been impelled to submit his results partly because they go somewhat beyond the data currently offered by editors and commentators, and partly as the appropriate foundation for a revised rendering soon to be published.



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1 References in Fichtner, J., Weisheit Salomos (Handbuch zum A. T ed. Eissfeldt, II, 6, Tübingen 1938) 10; also in Skehan, P, Literary Relationship bet. the Book of Wisdom and the Protocanonical Wisdom Books of the O. T (Washington, Catholic Univ. of Amer. 1938) 39–40.

2 The Old Testament in Greek 2 (3d ed. reprinted Cambridge 1930) 604643. Swete is followed because there is no problem regarding the source of his readings. The manual edition of A. Rahlfs (Septuaginta 2, Stuttgart 1935, pp. 345–376) represents an eclectic text which is neither a critically made text using all available material (in fact, the full collations which accompany it are less extensive than those of Swete, and the readings which go beyond these narrow limits are adopted more or less at random), nor the offering of any definite manuscript. Such a text is essentially transitory, and a collation based on it would be equally so.

3 Cf. Swete, H. B., An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, revised by Ottley, R. R. (Cambridge 1914) 349 note 2.

4 Outside the chief uncials there is fair evidence for a round number of 1100 stichoi in Wisdom. The variations in this book (1000 to 1250) do not reach the sometimes fantastic proportions observable elsewhere.

5 If we could dare to suppose a spelling ∑AΛAMΩN for Solomon, that name would give a numerical value of 1122.

6 Rahlfs accepts this, and thus gives 498 stichoi for this first part.

7 BSA agree on the received arrangement in 7:22 as well as in 6:4. For 1–9, S furnishes 501 lines, including in 3:9 one stich which is a gloss from 4:15; but there are other discrepancies.

8 So Rahlfs, , against the main uncials; see below for more important disarrangement of the text at this point.

9 The number of stichoi for this section in Rahlfs is 568. Besides keeping the longer forms of 13:10, 15:7, 17:10 and 18:17, Rahlfs secures his higher total of lines by making two stichoi out of one in each of the following: 11:24, 12:12, 13:12, 18:22. Another point at which a line might plausibly be split in two is the third stich of 12:27. This is very nearly the maximum in the way of possible expansions; not all of them are equally admissible, and their total is still not high enough to overthrow the principle stated above.

10 One other observation about the author may perhaps be offered: It would seem we can safely say not only that he finished his work as an old man, but that he was a lonely old man. Chapters 3–4, despite the fact that their material is traditional, do leave open the possibility that the author was deprived, from whatever reason, of any son of his own. This possibility is heightened by what seems a very revealing suggestion in the language of 12:24–5 and 15:14, that he is not naturally attracted to young children: other people's children and grandchildren, therefore?

11 Rahlfs gives the others; but in 18:20 (and its alternative ) are not present even in the apparatus.

12 The Rahlfs text makes all these transpositions except those in 4:15 and 5:11.

13 So too Rahlfs, , for all cases except 9:10 where he follows B.

14 Up to this point in sec. 3 above, all that has been said is in accord with the text of Rahlfs, , except that he maintains in the last case. (In 11:12, Rahlfs reads )

15 De Bruyne, D., ‘Étude sur le texte latin de la Sagesse,’ Revue bénédictine 41 (1929) 101133; for this text, p. 111.

16 Skehan, P, ‘Notes on the Latin Text of the Book of Wisdom,’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly 4 (1942) 230243; for this text, p. 231.

17 Nestle, Eb., ‘Miscellen (3): Sap. Sal. 2,8.9', Zeitschr f. d. Altt. Wiss. 21 (1901) 334336.

18 l.c. (note 16): pp. 236–7

19 Goodrick, A. R., The Book of Wisdom (Oxford 1913); cf. pp. 145–6, 335.

20 Weisheit Salomos 24.

21 Of the foregoing, Rahlfs follows the B reading in the following places: 2:9, 2:19, 4:12, 5:14, 15:5 15:7 (adding ), 16:3, 16:25, 19:21. In the other cases he has the readings admitted above. The resultant text here, however, is a good deal closer to B on the whole than Rahlfs would permit. In the first half of the book, some 25 departures from B which are adopted by Rahlfs are here rejected (with, of course, varying degrees of assurance). In the second half there are over 35 such cases: making over 60 places in all, in which the writer would prefer to follow B against the choice of Rahlfs.

22 Cf., e.g., the discussion of Heinisch, P, Das Buch der Weisheit (Exeget. Hdbch. z. A.T., Münster i. W 1912) 236–7

23 Specifically, in view of the dependence of Wisd. 1–6 on Isaias 40ff. LXX for some of its fundamental ideas: cf. P Skehan, ‘Isaias and the Teaching of the Book of Wisdom,’ Catholic Biblical Quarterly 2 (1940) 289299.

24 Butin, R., The Ten Nequdoth of the Torah (Baltimore 1906) 100107

The Text and Structure of the Book of Wisdom

  • Patrick W Skehan (a1)


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