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.
Dr Alastair Hunter is senior lecturer in Hebrew and Old Testament and senior advisor of studies at Glasgow University. He teaches Old Testament in English and Hebrew, Judaism, Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, Responses to the Holocaust and Cultural and Literary Studies.