Question:

Regarding the article on the Apocrypha, I find the criticism on the Wisdom of Solomon out of order and quotes "Wisdom" out of context by failing to quote the verses in full. For example, Wisdom 11:20 "But even without these, they could have dropped dead at a single breath, pursued by your justice, whirled away by the breath of your power. But no, you ordered all things by measure, number, weight." It seems Wisdom 11:18-20 is supported by the following: Romans 1:21; Job 41:10-11; Jeremiah 2:5; Ephesians 4:17-18; Job 4:9; Isaiah 11:4; and Job 28:25. When read in context, it seems there is no conflict with Hebrews 11:3.

I than you very much for your references to Apocryphal books. For the most part I find them very good. If you have any other opinions on Wisdom, I would be grateful to have them.


Answer:

In the article titled, "Extra Catholic Books" Donald Ames quotes from Wisdom of Solomon 11:17-20:

For thy almighty hand, which made the world of matter without form, was not unable to send upon them a multitude of bears, or fierce lions, or unknown beasts of new kind, full of rage: either breathing out a fiery vapour, or sending forth a stinking smoke, or shooting horrible sparks out of their eyes: whereof not only the hurt might be able to destroy them, but also the very sight might kill them through fear.

The quotation comes from the Catholic's Douay-Rheims translation. The quotation is both complete and accurate. You object to it as misleading, out of order, and incomplete. To "prove" your point, you give a portion of verse 20 from the Jerusalem Bible. The actual quote should have read, if given in full:

And indeed your all-powerful hand did not lack means -- the hand that from formless matter created the world -- to unleash a horde of bears or savage lions on them or unknown beasts, newly created, full of rage, exhaling fiery breath, ejecting swirls of stinking smoke or flashing fearful sparks from their eyes, beasts not only able to crush them with a blow, but also able to destroy them by their terrifying appearance. But even without these, they could have dropped dead at a single breath, pursued by your justice, whirled away by the breath of your power. But no, you ordered all things by measure, number, and weight.

Just because a different translation was used, it doesn't follow anything was left out or distorted.

Yet, you never addressed the points brought out by the author:

  • The imaginative description of fire breathing unknown beasts.
  • The teaching that the world was made from existing matter instead of from nothing as the Bible teaches.

To the first point, I would point out the contrast of Genesis's description of a world made very good and in which all creatures were vegetarians until sin enter the world with the violence and savagery portrayed by Wisdom in its view of the creation.

Romans 1:21 talks of the rejection of the Creator by man, not the Creator sending beasts to destroy. Job 41:10-11 speaks of the fierceness of the leviathan, but it doesn't claim God sends leviathans to destroy. Jeremiah 2:5 speaks of Israelites turning to idolatry, this is not mentioned in this selection from Wisdom. Ephesians 4:17-18 talks of the sinful practices of the Gentiles, not about God sending beasts against the wicked. Job 4:9 is a statement by Eliphaz which Job proves wrong and which God condemns near the end of Job. Isaiah 11:4 talks of God upholding justice for the poor and punishing the wicked who exploit the poor. Job 28:25 states that God created physical properties, such as the weight of the air and volume of the waters.

Hebrews 11:3 states, "By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible." This starkly contrasts to "the hand that from formless matter created the world" in Wisdom 11:17.

Wisdom is not an inspired book of God.