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A gnomic poem (intended for educational purposes for the young) urging practical ethical conduct - particularly warning against sexual immorality (fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality) and greed and envy. It also stresses such universal moral themes as justice, mercy, care for the poor, honesty, modesty, self-control, virtue, moderation, industry, and loyalty to family and friends.

Purpose: Debated:

Probably a Jewish attempt to persuade Hellenized Jews to retain Jewish values, by synthesizing biblical and Greek ethics (as do some NT authors - Paul and 1 Peter, e.g.) Jewish attempt to win sympathy for Judaism from Greeks Attempt by a Gentile "Godfearer" to win pagans to Jewish ethical monotheism


Canonical Status: Old Testament Pseudepigrapha


Written under the pseudonym of Phocylides, highly regarded pagan gnomic poet of 6th century bc Milete Probably an anonymous Jewish Wisdom poet of Alexandria

Date: Second half of the 1st century bc to first half of the 1st century AD


Pentateuch - Decalogue of Exodus 20; Leviticus 18-20 Hellenistic Judaism in the tradition of Philo of Alexandria Greek gnomological traditions and ethical rules of Stoicism, Protagoras, Hesiod, Delphi, etc.


Original Language: Ionic Greek dialect, but using vocabulary of later Hellenistic and Imperial times

Notes prepared by George Lyons (Professor of Biblical Literature)

for the Wesley Center for Applied Theology at Northwest Nazarene University

Copyright 2000 by the Wesley Center for Applied Theology

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