Solomon, Odes of

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SOLOMON, ODES OF , a collection of early Christian poems of the first century c.e. which might have some bearing on Jewish sectarian literature. The poems were discovered by J. Rendel Harris, who published them (1909) and gave them the name Odes of Solomon to distinguish them from the better-known *Psalms of Solomon contained in the same manuscript. The Odes were known to some of the Church Fathers: the combination of Odes and Psalms of Solomon was probably quite common in the early Church, but there is no claim to authorship by Solomon in the text. The extant version is a Syriac translation from the Greek. A Hebrew or Aramaic original is possible, but difficult to prove. Of the 41 Odes, 15 are unmistakably, even sharply, Christian, 11 probably Christian, and 14 not necessarily so; none contains positively Jewish material. They can, however, be classed with the Hodayot (Qumran *Thanksgiving Psalms) in a loose literary genre, by the common features of a highly poetic record of deeply personal religious experience, centered on the themes of election and salvation, a poetic structure of loose parallelismus membrorum, and some figures of style and some unusual metaphors (the firm foundation, the trees planted by God, the lifting to the heights). On the strength of these common metaphors, it has been suggested that some Odes are of Jewish sectarian origin, but this is not likely. However, the doctrinal type of the Christianity expressed by the Odes is not easy to classify (there are some affinities to gnosticism); it is certainly early and, therefore, the possibility that the Odes represent some group of Christians which was influenced by the Dead Sea sect (or some similar Jewish sect) cannot be denied. Even so, the influence of the Dead Sea sect is less pronounced than in other Christian writings. Fragments of the Greek version were published in M. Testuz, Papyrus Bodmer xxii (1959).


J.R. Harris, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon (1909); idem and A. Mingana, The Odes and Psalms of Solomon (1916–20; facsimile ed., fuller treatment of text); M. Philonenko, Les Odes de Salomon (Dissert., 1960); A. Adam, in: znw, 52 (1961), 141–56; J. Carmignac, in: Revue de Qumran, 3 (1961), 71–102; 4 (1963), 429–32.

[Jacob Licht]

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Solomon, Odes of

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