Did Paul Read “Wisdom”? Food for Thought

There are some striking resemblances of Wisdom and Romans. This does not “prove” that Paul read Wisdom, but it may suggest it.

FIRST: The Bible does say that belief in God is so correct and available that one is a “fool” who does not believe in him. But only in two places does the Bible teach that God’s existence can be known from the things he has created. Those two places are Wis 13 and Rom 1.

Wis 13: “All men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works; but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars … were the gods that rule the world…. If me were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them. For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator…. Even they are not to be excused.”

Rom 1: “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse…. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

SECOND: Wisdom speaks of God’s mercy sparing all, so that they may repent: “You overlook men’s sins, that they may repent” (Wis 12:23).

Rom 2: “Do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

THIRD: Wisdom 12 offers a theodicy for God’s judgment against the nations. Each nation was offered the chance to repent, yet they did not. God is not to blame. Only those deserving of punishment are condemned. Romans 2 offers a similar theodicy, with less detail but broader (indeed, global) scope.

FOURTH: The themes of excuse, judgment, condemnation and reward, death being deserved, are present in each text (Rom 2 and Wis 6 and 12).