Progression and Character of Wisdom Literature.

Categories of Wisdom Literature in chronological order

Practical Wisdom (contains some material which may date from as early as the time of Solomon (c. 1000 BCE), however, the whole collection received its final form in the post-Exilic period.
Biblical Book - The Psalms and Proverbs
Typical Values - Propriety and enlightened self-interest. Correct ethical behavior is the means to material success. Labor and learning, self- discipline and moderation, honesty, righteousness, humility, charity, chastity, obedience to Yahweh will result in happiness and well-being. Eg. (Proverbs 11:17 and The First Psalm) (simple optimism. The lack of emphasis on the specific history of Israel should be noted.)
Literary Form - Simple,"catchy" sayings. (Note the influence of Egyptian and Babylonian Wisdom literature. The "thirty sayings" of Proverbs 22:17-24:22 closely resemble a known Egyptian text, The Instruction of Amen em Opet, which is in Pritchard's Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Bible, pp. 237-243)

Theological/Philosophical Wisdom
Biblical Books - Proverbs, Job
Typical Values - The value of Wisdom itself, which is personified as the ultimately desirable and worthy woman (Proverbs 1:20 and 7:4) and as a cosmic principle by which Yahweh founded his creation. (Proverbs 3:19-20 and 8:22). The simplicity of practical wisdom is questioned.
Literary Form - longer and more refined.

Skeptical Wisdom
Biblical Books - Job, Ecclesiastes
Typical Values - The values of wisdom, faith, patience, charity and obedience to Yahweh are still commended (Ecclesiastes 11:1-10) although the simple understanding that they will bring earthly reward is refuted (Ecclesiastes 7:15). The limits of human wisdom are emphasized. (Job 38:4-5, Ecclesiastes 3:21).
Literary Form - longer and more refined.



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