Wisdom And Its Literature In Biblical-Theological Context -- By: Graeme Goldsworthy

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 15:3 (Fall 2011)
Article: Wisdom And Its Literature In Biblical-Theological Context
Author: Graeme Goldsworthy


Wisdom And Its Literature In Biblical-Theological Context

Graeme Goldsworthy

Graeme Goldsworthy is a minister of the Anglican Church of Australia and has served in churches in Sydney and Brisbane. He is a graduate of the Universities of Sydney, London, and Cambridge, and he earned his Ph.D. at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He lectured at Moore Theological College, Sydney, in Old Testament, Biblical Theology, and Hermeneutics. Now retired, Dr. Goldsworthy continues as a visiting lecturer at Moore College. He is the author of many books, including Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation (InterVarsity, 2007), According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (InterVarsity, 2002), and Preaching the Whole Bible As Christian Scripture (Eerdmans, 2000).

Wisdom In The Context Of The Ancient Near East

Every culture, ancient and modern, has developed its own wisdom, and recorded much of it in literature. Such wisdom can be based on human experience from which people learn what is in life and how to deal with it. There are written storehouses of wisdom from many different cultures in which human experiences are crystallized and typically abstracted from their original contexts to become aphorisms which can be applied in new situations that the inheritors of such wisdom think to be apt. This commonality itself constitutes one of the problems of Old Testament wisdom in that the radical distinction between revealed truth in the word of God and human musing and philosophizing seems to break down. There is enough evidence from the Ancient Near East to support the view that Israel’s wisdom was a part of a common human activity of learning about life and seeking to pass on the gathered wisdom to succeeding generations. We have Sumerian and Babylonian wisdom that is far older than anything that is in the Bible. The Egyptians also produced wisdom works, one of which—Wisdom of menemope—is generally considered to be the origin of part of the Book of Proverbs (Prov 22:17-23:11). There are examples of proverbial wisdom and the longer reflective creations emanating from Babylon and Egypt. Biblical Wisdom, as well as its foreign counterparts, can be more reflective and can be expressed in longer compositions that indicate a less spontaneous origin than the empirical aphorisms and proverbs. Like the Book of Job, reflective wisdom maybe the basis of a long and complex composition that addresses some of the great problems of life.

But, how is Israel’s wisdom different? The many parallels to the forms of Israelite wisdom that are found among the comp...

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