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Abstract

Scholars have long noted the mixed traditions in Wisdom of Solomon: wisdom, apocalypticism, and Greek philosophy—both Platonic and Stoic motifs. But in addition, among the three sections of the text (1:1–6:21, 6:22–11:1, 11:2–19:22), there is also a discrepancy in the psychological tone. In Wisdom 1–6, and more specifically 2–5, the protagonist, the “righteous one” (dikaios), is persecuted by the many ungodly (asebeis). The modern reader often misses the fact that the righteous one never speaks; he is described, rather, by the ungodly. The fact that the righteous one never speaks, and is described as a passive figure who is ineffectual in the world but awaits God’s granting of immortality, is striking. Some Jewish texts feature a somewhat passive protagonist—Daniel 1—or even a very passive protagonist—Testament of Joseph—and Wisdom of Solomon 2–5 fits on this very passive end of the spectrum. In traditional wisdom texts, one of God’s rewards for wisdom is many children, but here the narrator—but not the righteous one—emphasizes that the childless woman and the eunuch lack children. Their honor will come in God’s affirmation of them in immortality, while the children of the ungodly will come to naught. A possible social setting for this unexpected development lies in the context of eunuch-scribes. Far from being unusual, eunuchs were common in ancient administrative contexts, marginalized by many authors, including Ben Sira. The passive righteous protagonist may represent the position of the eunuch-scribe, this section perhaps originally composed for eunuch-scribes.

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