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4 - The Literary Context(s) and Development of Wisdom Literature in Ancient Israel (with Special Reference to Proverbs)

from Part I - The Context of Wisdom Literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2022

Katherine J. Dell
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Suzanna R. Millar
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Arthur Jan Keefer
Affiliation:
Eton College
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Summary

Knut Heim examines the literary and historical contexts of wisdom literature, taking the book of Proverbs as a case study, and surveying the work of key scholars in the field. Beginning with literary context, he argues that the sayings are organised into ‘clusters’ through linguistic and thematic links with their neighbours, and that this context has hermeneutical significance. Particularly important is the placement of religious proverbs, which are well integrated with their surroundings. This calls into question the scholarly assumption that religious elements are a late addition to the book, and that wisdom was originally a ‘secular’ endeavour. Rather, elements like the ‘fear of the Lord’ were already embedded within the sayings collections by the time an editor added chapters 1–9. This has implications for the historical development of Proverbs and, more broadly, of wisdom in Israel.

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Chapter
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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References

Further Reading

Bruch, Johann Friedrich. Weisheits-Lehre der Hebräer: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Philosophie. Strasbourg: 1851.Google Scholar
Dell, Katharine J. The Book of Proverbs in Social and Theological Context. Cambridge: 2006.Google Scholar
Fox, Michael V. Proverbs 1–9: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible, 18A. New York: 2000.Google Scholar
Fox, Michael V. Proverbs 10–31: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Yale Bible, 18B. New York: 2009.Google Scholar
Heim, Knut M. Poetic Imagination in Proverbs: Variant Repetitions and the Nature of Poetry. BBRSup, 4. Grand Rapids: 2013.Google Scholar
Kynes, Will. An Obituary for ‘Wisdom Literature’: The Birth, Death, and Intertextual Reintegration of a Biblical Corpus. Oxford: 2019.Google Scholar
Schipper, Bernd Ulrich. Proverbs 1–15: A Commentary on the Book of Proverbs 1:1–15:33. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: 2019.Google Scholar
Sneed, Mark R., ed. Was There a Wisdom Tradition? New Prospects in Israelite Wisdom Studies. Ancient Israel and Its Literature, 23. Atlanta: 2015.Google Scholar
Waltke, Bruce K. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1–15. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: 2004.Google Scholar
Waltke, Bruce K. The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 16–31. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: 2005.Google Scholar
Weeks, Stuart. An Introduction to the Study of Wisdom Literature. T&T Clark Approaches to Biblical Studies. London: 2010.Google Scholar
Whybray, R. Norman The Composition of the Book of Proverbs. JSOTSup, 168. Sheffield: 1994.Google Scholar

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