Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Book of the Odes -- What it is

The Book of the Odes -- What it is

By James Bean

The Book of the Odes has nothing to do with the Solomon figure of the Hebrew Bible but is an example of a misnamed or pseudepigraphacal book. It appears that someone in early Christianity combined the Odes with another apocryphal book called the Psalms of Solomon with the intent of creating a larger hymnbook. As the decades and centuries passed by the Odes were eventually perceived to be "of Solomon" as well, even though they had nothing to do with Solomon. The Book of the Odes is one of my favorite apocryphal books. The Odes are at the crossroads of Essenic Judaism, Christianity including Gnostic Christianity. In fact, it's hard to really tell which group originally composed and first used this scripture. Perhaps it was the "John Community" of Antioch, those that first used the Gospel of John, Letters of John and Acts of John. Some of the Odes remind me of Rumi poetry. The Book of the Odes and the Gospel of Thomas "once were considered inspired scripture in Syria", according to the scholar Bently Layton in his book, The Gnostic Scriptures. Out of all the apocryphal writings I've collected, I think the Odes of Solomon is the most beautiful. It is the would-be book of New Testament psalms. The Book of the Odes has been described as the first known hymn-book of early Christianity. One scholar said of the Odes, "Here are some of the most beautiful songs of peace and joy that the world possesses." Bentley Layton says that the Odes were considered to be inspired scripture and were chanted by Christians who lived in Syria/Mesopotamia about 2, 000 years ago.

Who can understand love
But he who is loved?
I love the Beloved and my soul loves Him:
And where His rest is, there also am I.
(Book of the Odes)

The Odes Online

J. Rendel Harris Translation:

James Charlesworth Translation:

Lost Books of the Bible Translation: