Himes, Paul A. “Wisdom and the Sojourning Saints or Christ and the Wandering Sinners? The Wilderness Wandering Motif in Hebrews as a Reaction to Wisdom of Solomon.” In Getting Into the Text: New Testament Essays in Honor of David Alan Black. Eds. Daniel L. Akin and Thomas W. Hudgins. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2017.
The exact relationship between the New Testament and Jewish-Hellenistic Wisdom literature is highly debated and has, no doubt, been often over-stated. Nevertheless, interesting similarities between Wisdom of Solomon and the Epistle to the Hebrews have long been acknowledged. This essay proposes to take the standard analysis one step further with the following thesis: The author of Hebrews has been heavily influenced by Wisdom of Solomon, yet at the same time reacts against its theology. On the one hand, the lexical, structural, and thematic parallels between Hebrews and Wisdom are too strong to ignore. Yet while the latter raises the Wilderness Wandering generation as a paradigm of superior wisdom, the former takes the same motif and portrays the Wanderers as turning their back on the Messiah. Thus, while Wisdom consistently paints a picture of “the ungodly versus the Wilderness Generation,” Hebrews declares in response, “The ungodly are the Wilderness Generation.”
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