WISDOM - Introduction
THE BOOK OF WISDOM.
This book is so called, because it treats of the excellence of Wisdom,
the means to obtain it, and the happy fruits it produces. It is written in the person of Solomon, and contains his sentiments.
But it is uncertain who was the writer. It abounds with instructions and exhortations to kings and magistrates to administer
justice in the commonwealth, teaching all kinds of virtues under the general names of justice and wisdom. It contains also
many prophecies of Christ's coming, passion, resurrection, and other Christian mysteries. The whole may be divided into three
parts: [1.] In the six first chapters, the author admonishes all superiors to love and exercise justice and wisdom.
[2.] In the next three, he teacheth that wisdom proceedeth only from God, and is procured by prayer, and a good life.
[3.] In the other ten chapters, he sheweth the excellent effects, and utility of wisdom and justice. (Challoner) ---
Their authority is surely greater than that of the Jews, (Calmet) whom Protestants choose to follow. (Haydock) --- Before
they attack us, they must, however, answer this prescription. (Calmet) --- St. Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, St.
Athanasius, &c., attribute this book to Solomon; and, though St. Jerome and St. Augustine call this in question, they
maintain its divine authority. Sometimes the Fathers abstain from urging it against the Jews, because they[the Jews] reject
it, for the same reason as our Saviour proved the immortality of the soul, against the Sadducees, from the books of Moses
alone, though other texts might have been adduced. The Councils of Carthage, 419, Florence, Trent, &c., declare this book
canonical, (Worthington) agreeably to the ancient Fathers. (St. Augustine, Præd. xiv., and City of God xvii. 20., &c.)
--- Philo (St. Jerome) the elder, (Worthington; Menochius) one of the Septuagint (Genebrard) might compile this work from
the sentences of Solomon, preserved by tradition, as Sirach's son did that of Ecclesiasticus; (Worthington) or it is styled
"Solomon's Wisdom," (Septuagint; Haydock) on account of its resembling his works, in like manner as the Second of Kings is
called Samuel's, though he wrote none of that book. (Worthington) --- Sixtus (Bib. viii. hær. ix.) and others, maintain,
that this was written originally in Hebrew, and some think by Solomon; being translated by the Septuagint. But these go too
far. (Calmet) --- The nine first chapters seem, however, to be the production of Solomon, though the latter may have been
added by the Greek translator, (Houbigant) who must, therefore, have been divinely inspired. (Haydock) --- The sentiments
are very grand, (Calmet) and contain a prediction of the sufferings of the just one, whence we may infer, that the
name of the author was originally in the title, like that of all other prophets. The arguments which Calmet adduces, to prove
that Solomon was not the author of the first part of this work, may easily be refuted. In the New Testament, that part is
frequently quoted, whence we may gather, that it was allowed to be the work of Solomon. (Houbigant, præf. p. 176.) --- Some
style this work Panaretos, as being an exhortation to all virtues. (Calmet) --- All the five sapiential books (Proverbs,
&c.) are cited under the title of Wisdom in the mass-book. Superiors are here admonished to act with justice, and taught
that wisdom is to be obtained by prayer, and by a good life, chap. ix. Its effect and utility (Worthington) form the subject
of the latter part. See Apocrypha, vol. i. p. 597. (Haydock)