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An Introduction to the Study of Wisdom Literature

"Stuart Weeks" provides a much needed introduction to wisdom literature. In contrast to much of the other literature in the Hebrew Bible, the wisdom books have little interest in corporate religion or historical exigencies, but focus instead on the needs of each individual, struggling to survive and prosper in a world that can be dangerous and confusing. This has sometimes led to the marginalization of this literature in biblical studies, but has also allowed it to remain popular and influential amongst readers of the Bible, who have continued to confront the same questions and issues across the centuries. After an initial section, examining these basic questions and the development of 'authoritative' literary genres which sought to address them in Egypt and Mesopotamia, the literary characteristics and thought of each book will be outlined, and the relationships between them discussed. The third section will look at the historical questions and approaches, discussing the traditional tendency to isolate wisdom literature, but also emphasizing the many links with other biblical literature and thought. The final section, similarly, will suggest that the theological and ideological positions most commonly associated with wisdom literature can also be viewed more profitably in the general context of developing Jewish ideas than as an 'alien' body within the canon. These guides have been developed for those taking a course in biblical studies in theological or ministerial education, and are designed to introduce the reader to the various approaches to the study of the bible. The series is ecumenical, and all the writers are professionally engaged in the teaching of biblical studies.
Product Details

Table of Contents

1. Wisdom Literature in Context; a. The terms'wisdom' and 'wisdom literature'.; b. The question of authority.; c. The ancient Near Eastern background.; d. The roots of biblical wisdom literature.; 2. The Wisdom Books; a. Proverbs: its nature as an anthology, and the character of the subsections.; b. Job.; c. Ecclesiastes.; d. The apocryphal wisdom books, and other early Jewish wisdom texts.; e. On defining a corpus of 'wisdom literature'.; 3. The Place of Wisdom Literature.; a. The place of the wisdom texts in the biblical canon.; b. The origins of wisdom literature and the question of 'wisdom circles'.; c. The influence of wisdom literature.; 4. Wisdom and Theology; a. Creation, world-order, and the role of God.; b. Wisdom, ethics, and personal piety.; c. The influence of wisdom ideas and motifs in Jewish and Christian thought.

About the Author

Dr Stuart Weeks MA (Oxon.) MPhil DPhil, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew, Durham University, UK. He is the author of Early Israelite Wisdom (OUP, 1994) and Instructions & Imagery in Proverbs 1-9 (OUP, 2007). He is writing the ICC volume on Ecclesiastes for T&T Clark.


The Introduction of the study of Wisdom Literature deals with the corpus of Hebew wisdom books incorporated in the Canon of Old Testament, as well as other pieces of Jewish wishdom literature compiled in the period of the Second Temple. The book will definitively serve well the broader academic community, it well be especially useful for teaching a course on wisdom literature in an academic setting. - Igal German, University of Toronto (Wycliffe College), Canada 'Weeks provides a valuable survey of Israelite Wisdom Literature. He explains the main issues presented by the Wisdom corpus and gives fair consideration to a variety of views, while arguing thoughtfully for his own conclusions. His knowledge of scholarly literature is extensive and deep, but he takes care to make his writing clear and accessible to all. His "Introduction "will be an effective tool in the university classroom.' - Michael V. Fox, Jay C. and Ruth Halls-Bascom Professor, Department of Hebrew and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA.--Sanford Lakoff 'The book will definitely serve well the broader academic community; it will be especially useful for teaching a course on wisdom literature in an academic setting.'--Sanford Lakoff 'Avoiding technical language and footnotes, Weeks has given us a clear and thought-provoking introduction to a set of intriguing biblical texts.' --Sanford Lakoff Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 st1\: *{behavior: url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name: "Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow: yes; mso-style-parent: ""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom: .0001pt; mso-pagination: widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language: #0400; mso-fareast-language: #0400; mso-bidi-language: #0400;} 'Weeks here illuminates both the form and the content of 's wisdom literature in relation to the wider world of its origins. The thinking is sharp and nuanced, the presentation is lucid and accessible. This is a distinctive and valuable Introduction'. - Walter Moberly, Professor of Theology and Biblical Interpretation, Durham University, --Sanford Lakoff Normal0falsefalsefalseMicrosoftInternetExplorer4st1\: *{behavior: url(#ieooui) }/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name: "Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow: yes;mso-style-parent: "";mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt;mso-para-margin:0cm;mso-para-margin-bottom: .0001pt;mso-pagination: widow-orphan;font-size:10.0pt;font-family: "Times New Roman";mso-ansi-language: #0400;mso-fareast-language: #0400;mso-bidi-language: #0400;}'Weekshere illuminates both the form and the content of 's wisdom literature inrelation to the wider world of its origins. The thinking is sharp andnuanced, the presentation is lucid and accessible. This is a distinctiveand valuable Introduction'. - Walter Moberly, Professor of Theology andBiblical Interpretation, DurhamUniversity, --,

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