The Odes of Solmon


by Paul Jarratt

[Paul Jarratt is a third-year undergraduate at St. Mary’s College in the University of St. Andrews.–JRD]

The Odes of Solomon consist of 42 psalms. They are believed to have originated in either Antioch or Edessa and were originally written in Syriac. All scholars believe the Odes to be Christian; for example Charlesworth believes them to be the “earliest Christian hymn- book.” (Charlesworth, The Odes of Solomon, p. vii).

Parallels with Johannine Theology:

The two most convincing parallels are their references to the “Word” and “Living Water”. Third, the salvation as knowing and loving God. Fourth, ‘knowing God’ without developing that knowledge ethically. Fifth, they seem to emphasise the docetic nature of the redeemer rather than his humanity. Sixth, the saving significance of the incarnation. Seventh, they both share some notion of the Paraclete.

Where do the dissimilarities arise between the Odes and John ?

They seem to differ in terms of their theology.

Possible parallels between the Odes of Solomon and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Dead Sea Scrolls antedate both John and the Odes and therefore it is possible that they are related.

What is the relationship between the Odes and John’s dualism ? They both seem to inherit a modified cosmic dualism of two worlds.

The Odes, more than likely came from the same community as John but were influenced more by the Essenes than John was. It has also been suggested by a number of scholars that the Odist was a converted Essene. If this is true it would explain the bias of the Odes towards the Qumran Scrolls.


J.H. Charlesworth, John and Qumran (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1972) pp. 107-137

J.H. Charlesworth, The Odes of Solomon (Oxford: Clarendon, 1973)

R.A. Culpepper, “The Odes of Solomon and the Gospel of John,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 35 (1973) 298-322

J.Brownson, ” The Odes of Solomon and Johannine Tradition”, Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 2 (1988) pp.49-69

(c) 1997
Reproduction beyond fair use only on permission of the author.

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