Paul: Inspired by Solomon or God?


Posted by Kris (with a "K")

I came across a couple verses in the Wisdom of Solomon today that sounded a lot like something else I’ve read in the New Testament. It made me wonder: Was Paul influenced by this work?

If so, what’s it matter? Does that mean either of the two works—in their totality or in their parts—are any more, or any less, inspired?

Do you find it troubling that NT writers quote (or are influenced by) other texts that are not found in your canonical tradition?

Does it mean that those texts quoted are now stamped with “inspiration”—or that they already were, we just didn’t know it yet?

I hope you'll agree that it’s important to entertain these questions, to talk about them with your friends, rather than sidestep such issues and be default for default's sake (i.e. dogmatic) about a particular stance.

For fun, compare Wisdom of Solomon (13.2–9) to Romans (1.18–22).

  1     For all people who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature;

and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know the one who exists,

nor did they recognize the artisan while paying heed to his works;

2     but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air,

or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water,

or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.

3     If through delight in the beauty of these things people assumed them to be gods,

let them know how much better than these is their Lord,

for the author of beauty created them.

4     And if people were amazed at their power and working,

let them perceive from them

how much more powerful is the one who formed them.

5     For from the greatness and beauty of created things

comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.

6     Yet these people are little to be blamed,

for perhaps they go astray

while seeking God and desiring to find him.

7     For while they live among his works, they keep searching,

and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.

8     Yet again, not even they are to be excused;

9     for if they had the power to know so much

that they could investigate the world,

how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things? (NRSV)

And here's Romans...

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (NIV)