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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Character.

The special contribution of Wisdom to Jewish sapiential literature and the Christian sacred library is highlighted by its contrasts with the often comparable book of Sirach. Sirach is scribal wisdom in mainly proverbial form, but its author gives his name in accord with Greek convention; Wisdom is hortatory and expository rather than proverbial, but is anonymously presented as royal wisdom from the mouth of Solomon, in the manner of post-biblical prophecy like Enoch (WIS B.4). Sirach is not unaffected by the Greek world, but sticks to ancestral Jewish modes of expression; Wisdom shows equal pride in Jewish tradition, but manifestly incorporates Greek terminology and thought (WIS A.4–9). Sirach is a Judean book translated for Egypt, Wisdom probably arose in Egypt but in contact with Judea (WIS C.2). Sirach depicts the social round of a wise scribe, but Wisdom looks with royal and prophetic eye on scenes of martyrdom, divine judgement, and biblical story (WIS A.2). Sirach in Hebrew sounds mainly sceptical of afterlife, Wisdom preaches immortality (WIS A.9; c.2). In Sirach biblical knowledge subserves proverbs and poems, in Wisdom expanded biblical narrative shapes the structure of the book (WIS A.2). In Sirach wisdom takes root in the people and is identified with the law (ch. 24 ), in Wisdom she is known to the king, and not identified with the law (WIS A.9); she is seen above all as a world-soul bringing individual souls to God. In Sirach wisdom herself speaks (ch. 24 ), in Wisdom her ardent disciple (chs. 6–9 ). Both books present her as loving and beloved, but only Wisdom clearly links this mystical theme with afterlife and the divine and human spirit.

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