The Earliest Christian Hymnbook: The Odes of Solomon

By James H. Charlesworth (translator)

An introduction to and translation of the The Odes of Solomon, one of the earliest collections of Christian and proto-Christian odes and hymns.

ISBN: 9780227173558


Nearly two millennia ago a gifted poet in the Middle East composed the earliest Christian hymnbook, and this anonymous Odist became the early poet laureate of Christianity.

That the earliest followers of Jesus wrote poetry, hymns, and odes is evident already in the New Testament. This volume is a translation of The Odes of Solomon, a collection of early Christian hymns or odes dating from the 2nd Century; some are obviously Christian, others perhaps Jewish. The beauty of these poems is a tribute to the depth of spirituality in early communities of Christians, some of whom were perhaps also Jews or converted Jews. Professor Charlesworth offers an informative and insightful introduction and a translation of this work that is both engaging and true to the original languages. Having studied the Odes since 1966, Charlesworth believes the Odes express unique spiritual truths.

Invaluable as a resource for scholars and students of the religious literature of the period, the richness and spirituality of the Odes will also appeal to a wider audience. An Index of Ancient Sources also provides the reader with easy access to the wide range of references in the notes.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 127 mm
Pages 170

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

James H. Charlesworth is George L. Collord Professor of New Testament Language and Literature and Director and Editor of the PTS Dead Sea Scrolls Project. He is author of numerous works, including The Historical Jesus, Resurrection, Authentic Apocrypha, and Jesus Within Judaism. His many edited volumes include The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 volumes), Jesus and Hillel, and Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls.



1. My Wreathed-Crown
2. [Lost]
3. The Beloved
4. God’s Sanctuary
5. Praising the Lord for Grace and Salvation
6. Praising His Holy Spirit
7. The Course of Joy
8. Fruits of the Lord
9. The Wreathed-Crown of the True Covenant
10. The Fruit of the Lord’s Peace
11. The Lord’s Paradise
12. The Ineffable Word
13. The Lord Is Our Mirror
14. The Odes of Your Truth
15. The Lord Is My Sun
16. My Work Is the Lord’s Psalm
17. My Wreathed-Crown Is Living
18. The Love of the Most High
19. The Cup of Milk
20. A Wreathed-Crown from His Tree
21. The Lord’s Grace
22. The Holy Ones’ Dwelling Place
23. Joy Is for the Elect Ones
24. Our Lord Messiah
25. My Helper
26. The Odists Stand in Serenity
27. The Upright Cross
28. Immortal Life Embraced Me
29. The Lord Is My Hope
30. The Lord’s Living Spring
31. Immortal Life
32. Joy from the Heart
33. The Perfect Virgin Is Judge
34. The Simple Heart
35. The Lord’s Dew
36. The Lord’s High Place
37. The Lips of my Heart
38. The Light of Truth
39. The Lord’s Power
40. The Lord’s Odes of Immortality
41. Our Hearts Meditate in His Love
42. The Righteous One: Our Savior

Index of Ancient Sources


Endorsements and Reviews

Eminent scholar James Charlesworth has provided a stunning translation of the poetic second-century Odes of Solomon. Some readers will delight in its female imagery for God; my favorite image is of our Lord as a wreathed crown on our head. The attractively designed publication is fine for scholars, wonderful for believers.
Gail Ramshaw, Past President of the North American Academy of Liturgy