Possibly the earliest Christian hymn book; discovered in 1909, likely from Antioch, written in Syriac.


The origins of the Odes remain unclear to scholars. Modern discovery is given to J. Rendel Harris in 1909, who found the manuscript among a pile of of Syrian documents which were brought to England from the Middle East and tossed onto shelves in a corner of his office.

The document is likely to have been written in Antioch or Edessa and were originally composed in Syriac, as were many other early Christian documents.

Written as early as the late 1st century, but as late as the late 2nd century; likely early 2nd century. An interesting fact is that it was not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls which contained vast libraries of early Christian documents.


Comrised of 42 “odes”, which are like hymns. Odes 1 and 2 were lost until 1 was found in a Gnostic library written in Coptic. Ode 2 is still lost. They are attributed to “Solomon” which is likely not the Solomon of the Old Testament but like its style and feel, is reflective of the Pslams, some of which were written by Solomon (72 and 127), and the Song of Solomon.

Rich sense of Semitic style written much like the Pslams, praising God and catechising the reader. Convincing references to “Word” (Ode 10) and “Living Water” (Ode 6) give this document a Christian and orthodox composition. It should not be considered to be Gnostic because there is no visible element of Gnostic theme and character. I agree with scholars that this is likely the earliest Christian hymn book, likely crafted by Jewish Christians.
Read the Odes of Solomon at Misericordia.edu 
Resources and commentary at Early Chrisitan Writings