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Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction

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Old Testament Wisdom has introduced thousands of students to biblical wisdom. Now you can add it to your digital library and benefit from this fantastic resource, as well!

As an introduction to the study of wisdom literature in the Bible, Old Testament Wisdom is perfectly suited to the student or armchair theologian. This textbook is listed on a multitude of syllabi and bibliographies for Old Testament studies, from institutions as diverse as Fuller Theological Seminary, Ashland Theological Seminary, Hartford Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Yale Divinity School. In fact, if you enrolled in an introductory course on OT wisdom literature today, chances are Crenshaw's text would be either required or recommended reading.

When Old Testament Wisdom first appeared in 1981, it was praised and widely adopted as a tool that equipped students of the Bible to understand the wisdom literature of the Old Testament (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and Song of Solomon). At that time, new perspectives on biblical theology, an increasing awareness of ancient Near Eastern texts resembling biblical wisdom, and an emerging interest in ethnic proverbs were just the beginning of what was to become a dramatic outpouring of scholarship on wisdom literature.

In this expanded edition, James Crenshaw takes stock of the wealth of new material produced by contemporary interpreters. Liberation and feminist critics, scholars in comparative religion, specialists in devotional theology, and researchers exploring educational systems in the ancient Near East all have enriched our understanding of wisdom literature in recent years, and all receive insightful treatment in this new volume. Now as before, Crenshaw's Old Testament Wisdom is an invaluable asset for anyone wishing to understand the rich and complex legacy of wisdom literature.

Resource Experts

Top Highlights

“In general, two types of texts are reckoned among wisdom literature: (1) experiential wisdom, chiefly in the form of brief proverbial sayings and longer instructions; and (2) theoretical wisdom, either as philosophical probing of life’s inequities or as personal reflection on life’s meaning in the light of death’s inevitability.” (Page 5)

“To understand how it is possible to include Job 31 within sapiential ethics, we need to define biblical wisdom. While there are various attempts to catch wisdom’s essence—wisdom is ‘the ability to cope,’ ‘the art of steering’; it is ‘practical knowledge of the laws of life and of the world, based on experience’; wisdom constitutes ‘parents’ legacy to their children’; it is ‘the quest for self-understanding and for mastery of the world’—no single definition suffices because of the variety of phenomena that employ the Hebrew word ḥokmâ and similar ideas in the ancient Near East.26 Still, a beginning step toward an adequate definition can be taken.” (Page 9)

“The third point: Wisdom is a particular attitude toward reality, a worldview. That stance survives through time and reaches from one end of the Fertile Crescent to the other.” (Page 10)

“In summary, human survival depends on an ability to study the complexity of human relationships and to cope with reality as it presents itself in the ordinary circumstances of daily existence. Generation after generation acquired fundamental insights into the difficult problem of male-female relationships, and these discoveries were etched into the collective memory through careful formulation of unforgettable sayings.” (Page 7)

Crenshaw is one of the leading specialists in the Old Testament Wisdom literature. Probably represents the best contemporary introduction to the literature. Important, provocative, readable.

The Princeton Seminary Bulletin

James Crenshaw refers to the current scholarly literature on wisdom as 'an embarrassment of riches.' His own book is not only a part of those riches but a harvest of that bounty, generously made available to students and scholars in the field. While his book is clear and accessible to the student, pastor, and layperson, both the advanced student and the scholar will find an invaluable and amazingly complete guide to the best of current scholarship. This is an essential resource for anyone who wants to understand the Israelite wisdom tradition.

—Carol A. Newsom, Professor of Old Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

James Crenshaw is one of the foremost scholars of biblical wisdom literature. He is known for the breadth of his learning, the clarity of his writing, and the good judgment he applies to ancient texts. These qualities are evident in the present revision of Old Testament Wisdom, which goes well beyond the earlier edition and encompasses a wide range of recent publications on biblical wisdom.

—Michael V. Fox, Weinstein-Bascom Professor in Jewish Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Title: Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction
  • Author: James L. Crenshaw
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox
  • Print Publication Date: 1998
  • Logos Release Date: 2005
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subject: Wisdom literature › Criticism, interpretation, etc
  • Resource ID: LLS:34.0.130
  • Resource Type: text.monograph.introduction.old-testament
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-02-11T16:31:57Z

James L. Crenshaw is one of the leading interpreters of wisdom literature and biblical prophecy. He is the author of Old Testament Wisdom: An IntroductionTrembling at the Threshold of a Biblical Text, and The Anchor Yale Bible: Joel.

Reviews

5 ratings

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  1. JT

    JT

    2/12/2023

    Crenshaw is a known expert in this field and this work is a pretty good one. However, this is of an earlier edition. Very disappointed this isn't latest version (3rd edition I believe). I bought it and then realised after the fact. Fault is mine as I am familiar with field and this book and I just missed it. Should have checked more thoroughly. Still, can't understand why Faithlife would be selling older editions - and if they have to for licencing reasons etc., make that clear so people aren't duped unnecessarily.
  2. Jason Learner
    “To understand how it is possible to include Job 31 within sapiential ethics, we need to define biblical wisdom. While there are various attempts to catch wisdom’s essence—wisdom is ‘the ability to cope,’ ‘the art of steering’; it is ‘practical knowledge of the laws of life and of the world, based on experience’; wisdom constitutes ‘parents’ legacy to their children’; it is ‘the quest for self-understanding and for mastery of the world’—no single definition suffices because of the variety of phenomena that employ the Hebrew word ḥokmâ and similar ideas in the ancient Near East.26 Still, a beginning step toward an adequate definition can be taken.” (Page 9) “The third point: Wisdom is a particular attitude toward reality, a worldview. That stance survives through time and reaches from one end of the Fertile Crescent to the other.” (Page 10) While the above might be very interesting, i always thought biblical wisdom was the fear of the Lord (proverbs 1:7)
  3. SEONGJAE YEO

    SEONGJAE YEO

    10/5/2019

  4. Unix

    Unix

    1/12/2016

  5. Edward Meinert

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Digital list price: $26.99
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