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7 - Wisdom Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Calum Carmichael
Affiliation:
Cornell University, New York
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Summary

“Wisdom Literature” is a scholarly inference from the common interest of three biblical books: ḥokmah (wisdom). They promote universal human values, lack anything specific to Israel, and convey “parental” advice. Proverbs resembles sound bites, the book of Job debates the problem of innocent suffering, and Qoheleth (the name of the author of Ecclesiastes) views life philosophically as toilsome and pointless. Two other books, Sirach and Wisdom of Solomon, resemble Proverbs while integrating Jewish traditions from law and prophecy into their teachings about wisdom. These books are mainly poetry, although a prose account frames the book of Job, Qoheleth mixes prose and poetry, and Proverbs uses prose to describe a successful seduction. Only the divine speeches in Job surpass his initial curse of his birthday, Qoheleth’s two poems about cyclical reality and declining years of life, and the description of primordial Wisdom. Within parallel utterances or cola, numerous poetic devices both tease and delight.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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References

Further Reading

Brown, William P., Wisdom’s Wonder (Grand Rapids, MI, 2014).Google Scholar
Christianson, Eric S., A Time to Tell (Sheffield, 1998).Google Scholar
Collins, John J., Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age (Louisville, KY, 1997).Google Scholar
Crenshaw, James L., Old Testament Wisdom, 3rd ed. (Louisville, KY, 2010).Google Scholar
Crenshaw, James L., Qoheleth (Columbia, 2013).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fox, Michael V., A Time to Tear Down &, A Time to Build Up (Grand Rapids, MI, 1999).Google Scholar
Fox, Michael V., Proverbs 1–9 (New York, 2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fox, Michael V., Proverbs 10–31 (New Haven, CT, and London), 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rad, Gerhard von, Wisdom in Israel (Nashville, TN, 1972).Google Scholar
Schrorer, Silvia, Wisdom Has Built Her House (Collegeville, 2000).Google Scholar
Trible, Phyllis, “Wisdom Builds a Poem: The Architecture of Proverbs 1:20–33,” JBL 94 (1975), 509–18.Google Scholar
Weiss, Meir, The Story of Job’s Beginning (Jerusalem, 1983).Google Scholar

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  • Wisdom Literature
  • Edited by Calum Carmichael, Cornell University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to the Bible and Literature
  • Online publication: 13 March 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108386081.008
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  • Wisdom Literature
  • Edited by Calum Carmichael, Cornell University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to the Bible and Literature
  • Online publication: 13 March 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108386081.008
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Wisdom Literature
  • Edited by Calum Carmichael, Cornell University, New York
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to the Bible and Literature
  • Online publication: 13 March 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108386081.008
Available formats
×