The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Wisdom
Reason they offer, yet reason all amiss. Their hearts tell them, So brief our time here, so full of discomfort, and death brings no remedy! Never a man yet made good his title to have come back from the grave!
Whence came we, none can tell; and it will be all one hereafter whether we lived or no. What is our breath, but a passing vapour; what is our reason, but a spark that sets the brain whirling?
Quench that spark, and our body is turned to ashes; like a spent sigh, our breath is wasted on the air; like the cloud-wrack our life passes away, unsubstantial as the mist yonder sun disperses with its ray, bears down with its heat.
Time will surely efface our memory, and none will mark the record of our doings.
Only a passing shadow, this life of ours, and from its end there is no returning; the doom is sealed, and there is no acquittal.
Come then (they say), let us enjoy pleasure, while pleasure is ours; youth does not last, and creation is at our call;
of rich wine and well spiced take we our fill. Spring shall not cheat us of her blossoming;
crown we our heads with roses ere they wither; be every meadow the scene of our wanton mirth.
Share we the revels all alike, leave traces everywhere of our joyous passing; no part or lot have we but this.
Helpless innocence shall lie at our mercy; not for us to spare the widow, to respect the venerable head, grown white with years.
Might shall be our right, weakness count for proof of worthlessness.
Where is he, the just man? We must plot to be rid of him; he will not lend himself to our purposes. Ever he must be thwarting our plans; transgress we the law, he is all reproof, depart we from the traditions of our race, he denounces us.
What, would he claim knowledge of divine secrets, give himself out as the son of God?
The touchstone, he, of our inmost thoughts;
we cannot bear the very sight of him, his life so different from other men’s, the path he takes, so far removed from theirs!
No better than false coin he counts us, holds aloof from our doings as though they would defile him; envies the just their future happiness, boasts of a divine parentage.
Put we his claims, then, to the proof; let experience shew what his lot shall be, and what end awaits him.
If to be just is to be God’s son indeed, then God will take up his cause, will save him from the power of his enemies.✻
Outrage and torment, let these be the tests we use; let us see that gentleness of his in its true colours, find out what his patience is worth.
Sentenced let him be to a shameful death; by his own way of it, he shall find deliverance.✻
So false the calculations that are blinded by human malice!
The secret purposes of God they might not fathom; how should they foresee that holiness is requited, how should they pass true award on a blameless life?
God, to be sure, framed man for an immortal destiny, the created image of his own endless being;
but, since the devil’s envy brought death into the world,
they make him their model that take him for their master.✻
The Holy Bible