Elements of Stoic cosmology, reinterpreted through a Platonic lens, appeared in the Jewish book known as the Wisdom of Solomon. “Wisdom” is understood in terms of the Stoic concept of the pneuma. For example, one verse says that “the pneuma of the Lord has filled the world, and that which holds all things together.” This is a distinctly Stoic idea. As noted, however, rather than articulating a purely Stoic cosmology, the author of the Wisdom of Solomon mixes its articulation with Platonism. “While a Stoic picture of wisdom as pneuma is used to account for wisdom’s concrete activity in the world (see 7:24 and 27 and 8:1), a Platonic picture is employed to celebrate wisdom’s beauty and divine status as reflecting her relationship with God”(Engberg-Pedersen, 2010):
So Wis 7:22-8:1:
“There is in her [sc. wisdom] a spirit (pneuma) that is intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, clear, unpolluted, distinct, invulnerable, loving the good, keen, irresistible, (23) beneficent, humane, steadfast, sure from anxiety, all-powerful, overseeing all, and penetrating through all spirits that are intelligent, pure, and altogether subtle. (24) For wisdom is more mobile than any motion; because of her pureness she pervades and penetrates all things. (25) For she is a breath (atmis) of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty; therefore nothing defiled gains entrance into her. (26) For she is a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. (27) Although she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets, (28) for God loves nothing so much as the person who lives with wisdom. (29) She is more beautiful than the sun, and is above any position of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, (30) for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail. (8:1) She reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well”(Engberg-Pedersen, 2010).
Engberg-Pedersen notes that the author almost explicitly elevates Platonic ontological categories above that of Stoic ones, insofar as “wisdom is even more beautiful than the sun and consequently has her ontological base above any position of the stars. Here Platonism is almost explicitly said to be preferable to Stoicism, on which the author is nevertheless also drawing quite heavily.”
In fact, the author explicitly refers to the Stoics. He writes that the Stoics “supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were gods that ruled the world.” This caused them to be ignorant of the transcendent God, whose being is better understood in Platonic, rather than Stoic, terms.
Stoics believed that the beauty of the created world was proof of the existence of God. Ironically enough, the author of the Wisdom of Solomon faults the Stoics for seeing nature as an embodiment of the gods rather than as pointing to a transcendent God who created them. “The author’s reversal of this argument suggests that the target of his criticism was not just Stoicism in general, but rather the specific kind of God for which the Stoics argued, namely, a materialist one…” What we see is “an attempt to fit the Jewish figure of ‘wisdom’ and thet Jewish God into a Greek philosophical framework. The result is not just the position we normally identify as ‘Middle Platonism’, in which Stoic and Platonic elements often lie side by side in intricate configuration.” While the author of Wisdom acknowledges that Stoic language may be appropriate for understanding the activity of wisdom in the world, this does not mean that its materialistic cosmology is an appropriate one for speaking of God.
Philo of Alexandria condemned the materialistic Stoic cosmology. His reason is the same which inspires the author of the Wisdom of Solomon: The Jewish God must be transcendent, and Platonic metaphysics is much more suited for such a theology proper than the immanentist understanding of Stoicism. The Stoics preferred such a transcendentalist understanding of the relation between God and the creation because they believed it was otherwise impossible to explain how an immaterial God interacted with a material world. Philo acknowledges that this is a mystery but declines to offer an explanation.
Engberg-Pedersen, Troels (2010-03-18). Cosmology and Self in the Apostle Paul: The Material Spirit (p. 20). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.