E. W. Heaton

in The School Tradition of the Old Testament

Published in print October 1994 | ISBN: 9780198263623
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191601156 | DOI:

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It has not been a part of this study to argue the case for the existence of schools in Ancient Israel. From the outset, their work has been taken for granted and the aim has been to demonstrate how this would throw new light on much of the literature of the Old Testament, and provide an explanation for its growth and transmission. The exploration of Israel’s school tradition started out with tentative criteria, adopting the method of reviewing a fairly wide range of Old Testament literature in the hope of finding a distinctive literary stance and style. The selection of the literature to be reviewed has not been entirely arbitrary: it began with those works long recognized as being in some degree ‘intellectual’ and conventionally ascribed to a hypothetical ‘wisdom tradition’; the selection was then extended to include writings which, though not explicitly ‘intellectual’, exhibit features reflecting an educated literary background: the texts that have come to be represented as the product of an imagined ‘Wisdom Movement’; two other groups of texts were then added on the grounds of their general similarity. From this approach a school tradition has emerged that stands apart from a number of the writings of the post-exilic period (such as the books of Chronicles, Leviticus and Numbers), and is fundamentally different from the instruction of the seminary in being moral and intellectual, rather than professionally religious and institutional.

Keywords: Bible; Israeli school tradition; literary style; Old Testament

Chapter.  2871 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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