Archive for the ‘Old Testament Wisdom’ Category


I. Identifying other Hebrew Wisdom literature

a. There are other Hebrew Wisdom literatures in the Bible besides Proverbs (Session Nine).

b. Remember that Hebrew Wisdom are concern with[1]:

i. Divine reward of good and punishment for evil

ii. Living responsibly or recklessly

iii. Knowing the truth of God’s creation

iv.Good citizenship.

c. Other books of Hebrew Wisdom Literature in the Canon of Scripture include:

i. Job

ii. Ecclesiastes

iii. Song of Solomon

d. Importance of the fear of the LORD in Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature

i. “The concept of the fear of the LORD infused Hebrew wisdom tradition with religious and ethical dimension as well, distinguishing it to some degree from its ancient Near Eastern counterparts.”[2]

ii. Where the concept of the fear of the LORD as the beginning of wisdom is reaffirmed:

1. Job 28:28

2. Psalm 111:10

3. Ecclesiastes 12:13

e. Hebrew Wisdom can invite readers to be extra reflective of what is written

i. Unlike the direct forwardness of Proverbs, Non-Proverbial wisdom literature can be more indirect in getting the message across.

ii. It can get more illustrative in describing something than straight forward propositions.

iii. Example: Song of Solomon describes a relationship between lovers instead of just saying, “Lovers should be in love with one another”.

f. Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature can also deal with ultimate foundational issues of meaning and life.

i. In other words, Non-Proverbial Wisdom literature can be quite “philosophical”.

ii. Example: Ecclessiates discusses about the vanities of life.

II. Principles in interpretation

a. Remember that the Fear of the LORD is foundational in Non-Proverbial wisdom literature.

i. The fear of the Lord is what keeps the “shrewdness of Proverbs from slipping into mere self interest, the perplexity of Job from mutiny, and the disillusion of Ecclesiastes from final despair.”[3]

b. Sometimes Non-Proverbial wisdom literatures require extra care of the greater context of the book in interpretation.

i. It is especially obvious of the danger of quoting verses in such literature without the context to teach something that the verse or the entire Bible really does not teach.

ii. It is important that one interpret a verse in light of the development of the thought progressing throughout the bo

iii. Example: Was Job’s friends correct in their assessment of Job?  Has it been revealed in the book what God thought about the perspectives offered by Job’s friends?

c. Expect disturbing propositions to be brought up, but not necessarily endorsed.

i. Since Hebrew Wisdom literature does deal with deal with ultimate foundational issues of meaning and life, and Hebrew Wisdom literature are creatively written to be thought-provoking, expect disturbing propositions to be brought up.

ii. There exists the literary device of counter-wisdom or anti-wisdom wisdom, where the “use of tension is the real genius of speculative or discussion wisdom”[4]

iii. Are all ideas raised necessarily endorsed by the author as the right view?  Remember to see the entirety of the book, and how it flows!

d. Pay attention to repetition

i. What is repeated again and again does have some importance.

ii. The question to ask about Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes would be: What is the repeating theme in these two books?

[1] Donald K. Berry, An Introduction to Wisdom And Poetry Of the Old Testament, (Nashville: Broadman And Holman Publishers), 4.

[2] Andrew E. Hill, “Non-Proverbial Wisdom” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 256.

[3] Derek Kidner, An Introduction to Wisdom Literature: The Wisdom of Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes, (Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press), 17.

[4] Andrew E. Hill, “Non-Proverbial Wisdom” Cracking Old Testament Codes, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House Company), 271.


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