The Love Poetry Genre In The Old Testament And The Ancient Near East: Another Look At Inspiration -- By: G. Lloyd Carr

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 025:4 (Dec 1982)
Article: The Love Poetry Genre In The Old Testament And The Ancient Near East: Another Look At Inspiration
Author: G. Lloyd Carr


The Love Poetry Genre In The Old Testament
And The Ancient Near East:
Another Look At Inspiration

G. Lloyd Carr*

I. The Problem

One of the more intriguing aspects of the current debate on the inspiration/infallibility of Scripture is the problem most writers have with the wisdom books of the OT. In a brief unscientific survey (some twenty-five books and monographs I happened to have at hand) on the nature of the inspiration of Scripture I found only five listing any references to the wisdom literature.

Warfield in Inspiration and Authority has about twenty references, mostly footnote lists of “poetic words” in Proverbs, Job and apocryphal wisdom literature. He makes no use of any of these books in his arguments for inspiration. In The Infallible Word (ed. Woolley and Stonehouse) there are four references to Job: one an appeal to 13:15 to “trust Yahweh,” one noting that the description of Leviathan is “poetry, not biology,” and two references to the text criticism of the MT in light of the LXX. E. J. Young in Thy Word Is Truth makes a single reference to Job 9:32. In The Structure of Biblical Authority Meredith Kline gets more mileage out of Leviticus (eleven references) than he does out of all the wisdom literature together (eight references, all in Proverbs: three to Wisdom’s house of the seven pillars, paralleling both the seven days of creation and Solomon’s temple court [pp. 86-87], and five to support the thesis that the “function of the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament is the explication of the covenant” [pp. 64-65]).

Only Dewey Beegle in The Inspiration of Scripture pays much attention to the wisdom literature, and then only to call in question the whole idea of inspiration on the basis of these books. He describes Ecclesiastes as a third-century book by “someone putting his message in the mouth of Solomon”; Paul’s quotation of Job 5:13 in I Cor 3:19 as somehow providing “an infallible account of error”; the references in Prov 25:1; 22:17; 30:1; 31:1 as validating the word of “uninspired writers” (Hezekiah’s men, Agur, and either Lemuel or his mother); and the Song of Solomon as nothing more than love poetry whose inclusion in the canon has to be justified on the basis of elaborate typology or allegory.

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