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Odes of Solomon

A series of hymns, forty-two in number, preserved as a whole (Ode 2 is completely missing) only in Syriac, which version appends the eighteen Psalms of Solomon. Five are known in the Coptic Gnostic Pistis Sophia. One has recently come to light in Greek. Many scholars consider Greek the original language, others argue for Syriac origin. They were known only by reference until 1905, when J.R. Harris discovered them. They present in allusive language an early Syriac Christianity akin to John's gospel and Ignatius's letters, and with much common to the Acts of Thomas.* While most are general praises of God, with an emphasis upon mystical communion with Him, some more-developed theological themes are found: a Logos Christology akin to Jewish Wisdom thought; the notion of a miraculous birth, without pains of labor for His mother; the passion of Christ described with much reminiscence of the Psalms; the resurrection linked to the notion of the “harrowing of hell.” The specific date and milieu of the Odes has not been determined with precision. Within the church a setting as baptismal hymns has been proposed, while recently a hinterground in the Jewish circles of Qumran has been investigated, but not certainly established.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Apocalyptic Literature, sec. B, III, 2.

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  • Apocalyptic Literature
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