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The somewhat neglected Wisdom of Solomon, or ‘Book of Wisdom’, contains concepts important not only for understanding wisdom in the rest of the OT but also for understanding how wisdom bridged both testaments. Joachim Schaper gives priority to the book’s theology and its place in Hellenistic Jewish and early Christian thought. He provides an overview of the book’s structure and versions, its intellectual context, its universalistic conceptions of God and humans in history, and how the book exhibits a ‘spiritual exercise’. Most important here are Wisdom’s use of πνευμα (‘spirit’) and its amalgam of Platonic, Stoic and Egyptian elements. It offers a distinct interpretation of the exodus, with which Schaper accounts for ideas of liberation and eschatology. As for the book as spiritual exercise, the discussion turns to matters of genre and literary function, disclosing its purpose to fortify religious beliefs and one’s self-mastery.
This chapter attempts to sketch the literary history of the Hebrew Bible as the history of genres of literary production in their social and cultural settings. With regard to the history of Israelite and Judahite literature it is important to differentiate between the literary and non-literary uses of writing. One can trace the development of ancient Hebrew and early Jewish narrative in and through the history of the formation of the Hebrew Bible. The search for literary building blocks for the future seems to have been the main reason for the formation of the Deuteronomistic History, the Pentateuch and the book of Chronicles. In the case of the Pentateuch, the most significant and most momentous literary product of Achaemenid Judah, its production is best explained as being the result of a desire for national self-assertion and cultural and religious self-preservation.