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WHEN I turned my attention many years ago to the Book of Wisdom, there was no Commentary in the English language that treated fully of this work, save that of Arnald. This was copious indeed, but cumbersome and often speculative and uncritical. I felt also the want of some better revision of the text than was offered by the editions of the Septuagint usually met with in England. Even Tischendorf, who had sung the praises of his Sinaitic Codex far and wide, had made scarcely any use of this MS. in his own editions of the Septuagint, contenting himself with noting the variations of the Alexandrian and the Codex Ephraemi rescriptus. Taking the Vatican text as a basis therefore, I collated it with the Sinaitic and the other uncial MSS., and with the cursives given in Holmes and Parsons' work, with occasional reference to the Complutensian and Aldine editions. It was not till my own collation was just completed that I became acquainted with Fritzsche's Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti, a work of the utmost value, though not quite free from mistakes in recording the readings both of the Vatican and Sinaitic MSS. These errors have been noted by E. Nestle in an appendix to the last (eighth) edition of Tischendorf. In confirming the text by reference to the Fathers, I have derived great assistance from Observationes Criticae in Libr. Sap. by F. H. Reusch, who has carefully noted the passages of the Book quoted by early writers. Walton's Polyglot has provided me with the Armenian, Syriac, and Arabic versions. For the sake of comparison I have printed the Latin Vulgate, and the so-called authorised English Version, in parallel columns with the Greek. The former is particularly interesting as containing many unusual words or forms, which are duly noted in the Commentary. In elucidating the text I have endeavoured to give the plain grammatical and historical meaning of each passage, illustrating it by reference to the writings of Philo, Josephus, the Alexandrian writers, and early Fathers; but I have been sparing of quotations from Christian authors, not from want of materials, but because I did not wish my work to assume an homiletical form, or to be burdened by reflections which an educated reader is able to make for himself.
The importance of the Septuagint in the study of the New Testament cannot be overrated; and I trust it will be found that I have not often omitted to note passages and words in the Book of Wisdom which illustrate the writings of the later Covenant. Many statements and allusions in the Book are confirmed by traditions found in the Targums: these have been gathered from the works of Dr. Ginsburg and Etheridge. In preparing the Commentary great use has been made of the works of C. L. W. Grimm and Gutberlet; the former is too well known and appreciated to need commendation; the latter is useful, and the writer's judgment can be trusted where it is uninfluenced by the desire to condone the mistakes and interpolations of the Latin Vulgate. The great Commentary of Cornelius a Lapide has of course been constantly consulted. The Rev. Canon Churton kindly permitted me to inspect his MS. when my own notes were almost completed; and I have availed myself of his paraphrase in some few passages. Dr. Bissell's work reached me only as my own pages were passing through the press; but it does not afford any new light on obscure passages, and seems to be chiefly a compilation from German sources.
Viewing the Book of Wisdom as an important product of Jewish-Alexandrine thought, it seemed desirable to offer a brief sketch of the course taken by Greek philosophy in discussing the momentous questions with which it attempted to cope. An effort is made to define the position occupied by our Book in the Jewish-Alexandrian school, and some notion is given of the influence exercised by that phase of thought on the language, though not on the doctrine, of Christianity. The later development of this school, which led to many fatal errors, is barely noticed, as being beyond the scope of this work, which aims only at affording a help to the student of the period immediately antecedent to Christianity.