This is a sincere question, not one of those sneering ones that try to make the one being questioned look bad.

The church fathers unanimously considered the Book of Wisdom to be inspired and Dei Verbum (official teaching of the church) states that all inspired scripture is infallible. But when you read it, the author clearly pretends to be King Solomon even though the book was written many hundreds of years after Solomon was dead.

You told me to build a temple on your sacred mountain, an altar in Jerusalem, the city you chose as your home. It is a copy of that temple in heaven, which you prepared at the beginning. (Wisdom 9:8)

  • Do you have any evidence that the book was written much later? While I'm sure there is, you should edit that into the question. Also it would be nice if you can add specific reference to a Catholic source that mentions the status of the book. – disciple Oct 27 '18 at 20:17
  • Can you substantiate or prove the "was written hundreds of years after Solomon was dead" part? – Sola Gratia Oct 27 '18 at 21:39
  • 1
    'Generally dated to' and 'since it's definitely later than' are two very different things. – Sola Gratia Oct 28 '18 at 16:45
  • 1
    Very few scholars if any believe Solomon as we know Solomon even existed. – Sola Gratia Oct 28 '18 at 22:58
  • 1
    How does Wisdom 9:8 show that King Solomon was not the author? – Geremia Oct 29 '18 at 18:54

The question has several underlying premises.

  1. The Catholic Church considers the Book of Wisdom to be canonical, i.e. it belongs to the Scripture.

  2. For Catholicism, infallibility of Scripture means "every part of Scripture is literally true".

  3. In Wisdom 9:8 (or else) the author claims to be Solomon.

Premise 1 is of course true. Yet, notice that premises 2. and 3. imply that Catholicism must consider Solomon to be the author of the book. However, this clearly contradicts the "scholarly consensus" that Solomon did not authored the book (consensus which is actually the case, see below). Hence, one of the three above premises must be wrong. The OP seems to hold the idea (by the tone of the answer) that premise 1 the problem, i.e. that the Book of Wisdom should not be considered canonical, as many protestant denominations do.

The problem however is with premise 2. The Catholic Church does not ascribe to fundamentalism. The Catholic Church has never declared the Bible to be inerrant (a la Protestantism). In fact, this position is openly criticised. For instance, this 1993 document by the Pontifical Biblical Commission states:

The basic problem with fundamentalist interpretation of this kind is that, refusing to take into account the historical character of biblical revelation, it makes itself incapable of accepting the full truth of the incarnation itself. As regards relationships with God, fundamentalism seeks to escape any closeness of the divine and the human. It refuses to admit that the inspired word of God has been expressed in human language and that this word has been expressed, under divine inspiration, by human authors possessed of limited capacities and resources. For this reason, it tends to treat the biblical text as if it had been dictated word for word by the Spirit. It fails to recognize that the word of God has been formulated in language and expression conditioned by various periods. It pays no attention to the literary forms and to the human ways of thinking to be found in the biblical texts, many of which are the result of a process extending over long periods of time and bearing the mark of very diverse historical situations.

Fundamentalism also places undue stress upon the inerrancy of certain details in the biblical texts, especially in what concerns historical events or supposedly scientific truth. It often historicizes material which from the start never claimed to be historical. It considers historical everything that is reported or recounted with verbs in the past tense, failing to take the necessary account of the possibility of symbolic or figurative meaning.

In effect, the Catholic Church does not adhere and has never adhere to such "literalness" interpretation. In fact, another very important implied assumption of the question is that the Catholic Church does assert Solomon to be the author of the Book of Wisdom. This is also false.

Regarding the "scholarly consensus", in effect, the Book of Wisdom is considered to be written between in late 1st century B.C., and definitely not in the time of Solomon. This is for instance, expounded in this 2011's book (see section 2.3). The Catholic Church does not oppose this position. E.g. already in 1912 the Catholic Encyclopedia stated:

Of course the fact that the entire Book of Wisdom was composed in Greek rules out its Solomonic authorship. It is indeed true that ecclesiastical writers of the first centuries commonly assumed this authorship on the basis of the title of the book, apparently confirmed by those passages (ix, 7, 8, 12; cf. vii, 1, 5; viii, 13, 14, etc.) where the one speaking is clearly King Solomon. But this view of the matter never was unanimous in the Early Christian Church, and in the course of time a middle position between its total affirmation and its total rejection was suggested. The Book of Wisdom, it was said, is Solomon's inasmuch as it is based on Solomonic works which are now lost, but which were known to and utilized by a hellenistic Jew centuries after Solomon's death. This middle view is but a weak attempt at saving something of the full Solomonic authorship affirmed in earlier ages. "It is a supposition which has no positive arguments in its favour, and which, in itself, is improbable, since it assumes the existence of Solomonic writings of which there is no trace, and which would have been known only to the writer of the Book of Wisdom" (Cornely-Hagen, "Introd. in Libros Sacros, Compendium," Paris, 1909, p. 361). At the present day, it is freely admitted that Solomon is not the writer of the Book of Wisdom, "which has been ascribed to him because its author, through a literary fiction, speaks as if he were the Son of David" (Vigouroux, "Manuel Biblique", II, n. 868. See also the notice prefixed to the Book of Wisdom in the current editions of the Douai Version). [...] All these variations as to authorship prove that the author's name is really unknown (cf. the notice prefixed to Wisdom in the Douay Version).

The "freely admitted" can be understood, in the dogmatic sense, as being permitted within the boundaries of the Magisterium (i.e. not being a heresy).

  • Inerrancy does not imply fundamentalism, the dictation theory of inspiration, or literalism. All of that first quote is misleading. But it's not necessary either, the second quote by itself perfectly answers the question. – curiousdannii Nov 5 '18 at 16:00
  • @curiousdannii Well, fundamentalism is a made up term, that can mean different things to different people. In my answer I am assuming it implies inerrancy (in the sense that every part of the bible which in its literal sense refers or implies a fact, is a fact, i.e. it happened). Maybe someone might disagree. Still, that is a vital point because if 2 is not true, then there is no need for the Catholic Church to assert that Solomon is the author of the book in question (if premise 3 is true). That is actually the case. – luchonacho Nov 5 '18 at 16:22
  • The way the quote is written and presented makes it seem like most Protestants support the dictation theory, when only a miniscule sliver of them do. That's why I think it's misleading. You could rephrase it so that it doesn't sound like you're saying the more common Protestant views of inerrancy are being criticized by that quote. – curiousdannii Nov 5 '18 at 16:25
  • @curiousdannii I must confess I'm ignorant of the distinctions. Could you please point me out to a reference to them, so I can instruct myself on that issue? That might help me clarifying the answer. – luchonacho Nov 5 '18 at 16:27
  • Inerrancy just means there are no errors (excluding transmission errors). It doesn't normally deny human agency or voice as the dictation model does. It doesn't lead to literalistic exegesis. Those are independent doctrines. – curiousdannii Nov 5 '18 at 16:38

Pseudonymity wasn't considered deceptive in that day. Daniel, 2nd Peter and Jude are also considered pseudonymous works.

Even though scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, it is still delivered by by human agents and as such reflects the customs of the time.

There is some evidence that Wisdom is inspired. Wisdom 2 12-20, is fairly clearly a prophecy of the death of Jesus.

  • What's your references for saying it wasn't considered deceptive? Many scholars dispute the authorship of Daniel, 2 Peter, and Jude, but Wisdom is arguably far less likely to be authentic on account of its language. – curiousdannii Nov 5 '18 at 12:58
  • It's incorrect to say pseudepigrapha wasn't considered deceptive in that day. Lying about your identity was considered a fraudulent act even in ancient times. – Joseph Hinkle Nov 7 '18 at 16:11

The book of Wisdom is inspired because the One Holy and Apostolic Church declares it to be so. What's more, the Catholic Church declares that the Book of Wisdom is in the Cannon and can and should be used in the Mass.

The two categories, being inspired by God and being in the Cannon are not Mutually inclusive. There are writings that are inspired by God that are not in the Cannon of Scripture. Many in fact.

The Question could easily be asked, "How can Genisis be inspired", The answer is the same, The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, declares that it is part of the Canon of scripture and by virtue of its inclusion in the Bible, it is Inspired.

  • 1
    I don't think this really answers the spirit of the question. It seems to me the question wants to know this - "The Church seems to have said that all inspired literature is infallible. This implies that it is free of error. But the Book of Wisdom implies that it is by Solomon, while it is generally agreed that it is not. Since the book is thus not free from error in this respect, it does not seem infallible - how does this happen, if it is inspired? " – Matt Gutting Oct 29 '18 at 21:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.