Book of Wisdom

Also known as

  • The Book of the Great Wisdom of Solomon
  • Sapientia Salomonis


Part of the Septuagint; an inspired book of the Old Testament placed in the Vulgate and derived editions between the Canticle of Canticles and Ecclesiasticus; called deuterocanonical, because being found in Greek and not in Hebrew it was not placed in the Palestinian or Protocanon. In the Syriac translation, the title is: “The Book of the Great Wisdom of Solomon,” and in the Old Latin Version the heading reads, “Sapientia Salomonis.” Its title indicates its theme, viz., the inculcation of a proper regard for Wisdom or Divine Direction on the part of rulers. The addition of the name Solomon does not indicate authorship but rather the fact that the doctrine is presented as the personified utterance of the Wise Ruler of Israel, and according to some of his traditional teaching. The examples adduced belong to a later age than that of the son of David. It is probably the work of one man (Divinely inspired) an Alexandrian Jew, living during the period of Ptolemy IV Philopator, 204 B.C., or Euergetes II Physcon, 117 B.C.

Composed of 19 chapters the Book may be aptly divided into two parts separated by a beautiful prayer for wisdom (9). (1) Exhortation to rulers to observe justice and wisdom (1-8); (2) The advantages of Wisdom evidenced by God’s dealings with His chosen people in contrast with the condition of idolatrous nations, particularly Egypt and Chanaan (10-19). Its Divine authority is vouched for by the use made of the Book by the Apostles and the early Church (Romans 1), a compendium of Wisdom (13-16). Wisdom means knowledge so perfect that it directs the will towards perfect action (6), a gift of God bestowed on suppliants enabling them to triumph over evil. In God it dwells identified with the Word (9), and immanent with the Holy Spirit. This is regarded as foreshadowing the Revelation of the Blessed Trinity. Though Greek philosophic terms are used it is clear from the context that the author was not imbued with Platonic errors concerning creation, matter, or the existence of the soul. Selections from the Book of Wisdom occur frequently in the Mass and Breviary; Introits on Ash Wednesday (11); Thursday after Easter (10); Pentecost (1); 3rd Epistle for Many Martyrs (3 and 5); Saint Philip Neri (7). In the liturgical works of the Church the title of Wisdom is also given to Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Ecclesiasticus.

MLA Citation

  • “Book of Wisdom”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 11 November 2019. Web. 2 March 2021. <>