"Stuart Weeks" provides a much needed introduction to wisdom literature. In contrast to much of the other literature in the Hebrew Bible, the wisdom books have little interest in corporate religion or historical exigencies, but focus instead on the needs of each individual, struggling to survive and prosper in a world that can be dangerous and confusing. This has sometimes led to the marginalization of this literature in biblical studies, but has also allowed it to remain popular and influential amongst readers of the Bible, who have continued to confront the same questions and issues across the centuries. After an initial section, examining these basic questions and the development of 'authoritative' literary genres which sought to address them in Egypt and Mesopotamia, the literary characteristics and thought of each book will be outlined, and the relationships between them discussed. The third section will look at the historical questions and approaches, discussing the traditional tendency to isolate wisdom literature, but also emphasizing the many links with other biblical literature and thought.
The final section, similarly, will suggest that the theological and ideological positions most commonly associated with wisdom literature can also be viewed more profitably in the general context of developing Jewish ideas than as an 'alien' body within the canon. These guides have been developed for those taking a course in biblical studies in theological or ministerial education, and are designed to introduce the reader to the various approaches to the study of the bible. The series is ecumenical, and all the writers are professionally engaged in the teaching of biblical studies.
Dr Stuart Weeks MA (Oxon.) MPhil DPhil, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament and Hebrew, Durham University, UK. He is the author of Early Israelite Wisdom (OUP, 1994) and Instructions & Imagery in Proverbs 1-9 (OUP, 2007). He is writing the ICC volume on Ecclesiastes for T&T Clark.