This textbook is aimed at undergraduates on level two or three courses relating to Old Testament Wisdom literature. The book begins with a consideration of what the term 'wisdom literature' means in Hebrew usage, and also examines which biblical materials might properly be classified as belonging to the category of wisdom literature. The cultural and political context of ancient Israel is examined, together with an analysis of the key problem of whether or not there were any practical levels of literacy in the period in question. The middle section of the book looks in more depth at those books considered to contain 'wisdom literature': Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus. The genre is characterised by praise of God, often in poetic form and by sayings of wisdom intended to teach about God and about virtue. Questions of authorship, editing, interpretation, the historical context of some of the writings, the book's major themes and sub-themes and the latest criticisms of each are laid out for discussion and analysis.
The book is written with the undergraduate in mind, and is full of pedagogical features including tables and summaries of data, which allows for a more intensive agenda and for those with knowledge of classical Hebrew to pursue individual themes at greater depth.
Alastair Hunter teaches at the University of Glasgow, Scotland.
The achievement of this book is to cover a lot of ground briefly and in a relatively straightforward way without compromising the accuracy of the scholarship. (...) Above all the author manages to convey the special characteristics of Wesleyanism at its best, neither Nonconformist nor Church of England and, having natural affinities with both Evangelicals and High Churchmen, a broader Church than the Established Church itself. Edward Royle, Proceedings of the Wesley Historical Society
'This is an extremely fine study of Israelite Wisdom literature, which ducks none of the complexities and challenges of the genre, but which admirably clarifies many issues. it will be a source of great interest to devotees of the biblical text who wish to learn more about its inner structures and meaning, to students of the text at university or theological college, and to discussion groups in churches and synagogues'. Church Times, May 2007