The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Wisdom
For us, thou art God; thou, beneficent and truthful, thou, always patient and merciful towards the world thou governest.
Sin we, still we are thy worshippers; have we not proof of thy power? Sin we not, of this, too, we have proof, that thou wilt count us for thy own.
To know thee as thou art, is the soul’s full health; to have proof of thy power, is the root whence springs immortality.
Not for us to be led astray by foolish tales of man’s imagining, by the sculptor’s barren art, as he picks out some image with motley colours,
to set fools gaping at the sight of a lifeless shadow, all seeming and no breathing.
Lovers they are of their own ruin, worthy of the fond hopes they cherish, that make such things, or sigh after them, or do them reverence.
Despise we not the potter’s toil, that works the pliant earth between his fingers, and makes a cup here, a dish there for our use. Serve they noble ends or base, all alike come from the same clay, and what employment each of them shall find, it is the potter’s right to determine.
But very ill is that toil bestowed, when he uses the same clay to fashion some god that is no god. Bethink thee, potter, that it is but a little while since thou thyself wast fashioned out of the same earth, and ere long, when the lease of thy soul falls due, to that earth thou shalt return.
But no, he never looks forward to the day when he will be past work; how short life is, he recks not; he must vie with goldsmith and silversmith, he must be even with his neighbour that works in bronze; in puppet-making✻ all his hope lies of winning fame.
O heart of dust, O ambition worthless as the sand, life than his own clay more despicable!
No thought for the God that was his own fashioner, quickened him with the pulse of energy, breathed into him a living spirit!
Existence, for him, only a toy to be played with; our life here, only a market-place, where a man must needs get his living by fair means or foul!
Such a man, as no other, sins with his eyes open; from the same earthenware he will make you fragile pot or carved effigy as you will.
Fools all, and doomed to misery beyond the common doom of tyrants,✻ were the enemies that from time to time have lorded it over thy people.
Gods, for them, were all the idols of the heathen, with their sightless eyes, their nostrils that never drew breath, deaf ears, unfeeling hands, and feet that still would walk, yet still tarry;
gods man-made, gods of his fashioning that is a debtor for the very breath he draws. For indeed, the gods man fashions are less than himself;
vain his impiety, since he is but mortal, they already dead; better he than they, since he lived once, and they never.
And what beasts are these they worship? Of all beasts, the most hateful; such models they have foolishly chosen as cannot vie with the others;✻
as have no beauty, even beast-fashion, to make them desirable; the least honourable of God’s creatures and the least blessed.
The Holy Bible