At times, when you read things written in the past, as part of your getting into their message, you will find it helpful to form a picture of the person or persons who wrote it. We could try doing that with today’s beautiful First Reading.
In 150 B.C. Egypt’s Alexandria possessed a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts on both religious and secular learning. Seventy Jewish Scripture scholars had made their homes at that library, setting themselves to the task of turning a loose mass of Hebrew and Aramaic Scripture segments into a single text in Greek. With the Latin for seventy being septuaginta, and their having been seventy scholars working on the project, that first complete Bible was called the Septuagint.
Our six First Readings this week, grouped under the title of the “Book of Wisdom,” were compiled by those same scholars who were laboring away in Alexandria’s great library. Among their neighbors on Alexandria’s narrow lanes there were some who worshipped the stars or the winds as their gods. These Jewish scholars pitied those neighbors. They said such people “were foolish for being in ignorance of God, who from the good things seen did not discern their artisan.”