• The ‘Wisdom Literature’ Category: An Obituary

    Author(s):
    Will Kynes (see profile)
    Date:
    2017
    Subject(s):
    Genre theory, Hebrew bible, Wisdom literature
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/5yx5-yy90
    Abstract:
    The consensus that Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job are the primary members of a ‘Wisdom’ collection is nearly universal, though the category’s origin is unknown and its definition debated. This article identifies that origin and argues that it has caused that continuing debate. Wisdom was not born in early Jewish and Christian interpretation, as some suggest, but in nineteenth-century Germany to make the Old Testament palatable to its ‘cultured despisers’. The uncritical acceptance of the category perpetuates the presuppositions that inspired it, which continue to plague its interpretation. Now, as the category’s vital weaknesses are increasingly recognized, the time has come to declare Wisdom Literature dead and replace it with a new approach to genre that reads texts, not in exclusive categories, but in multiple overlapping groupings. This will offer a more nuanced understanding of the so-called Wisdom texts’ place in the intricate intertextual network of the canon and beyond. It will free Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job, as well as the Israelite concept of wisdom, to be interpreted more independently, beyond their connections with one another, and thus more fully and accurately.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    10 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved
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