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The Biblical Wisdom Literature: Definition, classification, social context and theology

Job Rebuked by His Friends
William Blake, Job Rebuked by His Friends (June 1805)
This course will examine the question whether there is indeed a wisdom tradition within the Old Testament canon and which books make this up.  Questions of definition, scope and classification will consider the character of each of the three main wisdom books, but also look at other contenders from across the canon and consider criteria for inclusion.  Then each of the main wisdom books will be examined in turn with regard to such questions of classification but also in relation to the social context and theology of each.  Particular issues raised by each book will be looked at, notably the question of whether an oral or written culture led to the production of Proverbs or whether the literary character of Job allows it to be seriously considered a mainstream wisdom book, or how to evaluate the Solomonic connections of Ecclesiastes (and Proverbs) and their canonical implications.  Current scholarship on these books will be evaluated and there will be a look at the history of interpretation and different hermeneutical perspectives.  Familiarity with the text and themes of each of the three books will also be expected.