Article

Wisdom

Christine Roy Yoder

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0091
Wisdom

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The term wisdom, in biblical studies, refers to: (1) a movement in the ancient world that was associated with sages and educational purposes; (2) certain biblical books, namely Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and the deuterocanonical books of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Wisdom of Solomon; and (3) a particular worldview or theological perspective. Wisdom received comparatively little attention in biblical studies until the mid-20th century, owing, in part, to its international character. Because wisdom’s content, for the most part, lacks attention to matters considered typically Israelite—such as the ancestral promises, Moses and the Exodus, the covenant at Sinai, and the promise to David—wisdom stood apart from what was long considered Israel’s overarching storyline, namely, God’s saving acts in history. That changed with the 1970 publication of Gerhard von Rad’s Weisheit Israel (see von Rad 1972, cited under Worldview and Theology). Von Rad sparked fresh consideration of the literature, particularly its contributions to Old Testament theology. That spark has been fueled by the increasing availability of ancient Near Eastern texts associated with wisdom, the study of ethnic proverbs (or paroemiology), and movement away from characterizing Old Testament theology principally in terms of salvation history or covenant. As a result, in the early 21st century we enjoy an “embarrassment of riches” (Crenshaw 1998, p. 1; cited under General Overviews) in the study of wisdom.

Article.  9702 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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