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Books of Wisdom Literature

In: Religion Topics

Submitted By hey900605
Words 2147
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Ho Man Chan
RELI 1301 05
J. Jonathan Kim, Ph.D.
Books of Wisdom Literature Wisdom Literature is a style of Hebrew literature. It was originated from 6th century BC, when the Israelites in exile after being swept into the AD era. These literary works are such as "Wisdom books." "Wisdom literature" has four main characteristics: 1. The writing time should be after the Israelis were swept and before the birth of Jesus Christ; 2. The contents should focus on ethics, but not designed to focus on theology; 3. The way of expression are mainly the maxim, aphorism, metaphor, fables, poems, eulogy, etc; 4. The writing object is not only limited to Jews. There are five main books of Wisdom Literature, Book of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms and Song of Songs. First, Job is a faithful servant of God who is known for piety and patience. At that time, the Israelites were polluted to worship the Egyptian demons, but only Job is adhered to worship the God purely. The most ancient tradition believed that Moses is the author of this book. Many Jewish and early Christian scholars also agreed with this proposition. It is because the style of Job is very similar with the Pentateuch. So, the time of writing should be estimated around 1500 BC of the Patriarch Period. Most of this book (3:1-42:6) is a form of play or epic written. The front (1:1-2:13) is a prelude and (42:7-17) is the end. These two parts is written in prose form. Job not only teaches a great truth. “The Book of Job deals with one of man's oldest questions: Why do the righteous suffer?” (Massimiliano) Although this book deals with the fundamental question "Why do the righteous people always suffer unfair disaster?”, this is not the main focus. The main focus is on: “When God does not answer why the righteous people are suffering, what should the righteous people response to their suffering?” Confidence without testing is not a complete confidence. In order to strengthen the confidence, confidence must go through trials. Job did not know why he needed to suffer that much. However, if he knew, his confidence cannot be a meaningful test. Job finally learned to trust in God, although he has not been answered. So, the main theme of Job is whether we understand the reason of what God had done or not, he still worthy of our worship and unconditional trust. It is because he is the supreme god. Second, Proverbs is the twentieth book in the Bible. Proverbs is popular among the people and the God which is combined with the proverbs and verse. The authors of Proverbs have more than one person which is also a collective creation. However, the main author is King Solomon. He had created three thousand mottos and one thousand and five poetries. The date of writing should be started from the period of King Solomon and compiled until after the return of captives. “This Book is so called, because it consists of wise and weighty sentences: regulating the morals of men: and directing them to wisdom and virtue. And these sentences are also called PARABLES, because great truths are often couched in them under certain figures and similitude.” (THE BOOK OF PROVERBS) Proverbs has mainly mentioned: 1. Wisdom: God wants his people have wisdom. Fools and wise life have a strong contrast. Wicked fools are stubborn, hate God and ignore God; wises pursuit and love God; 2. Interpersonal: Proverbs gave us advice on the establishment of relationships with family, friends or even colleagues. No matter what kind of relationships, we must show our loves and strive to maintain. 3. Conversation: words show our attitudes to others and our personal behaviors. Speech is a test of our level of intelligence; 4. Work: God controls the outcome of all our work, but we still have responsibility to work under the admonishment and do not be lazy 5. Success: People are fighting for fame and fortune hardly every day, but God thinks that a real success is a good reputation, a good virtue, and a faithful obedience in the spirit. In general, Proverbs is teaching people how to get wisdom and a careful life; how to do thing in a righteousness, fairness and honesty way. In short, we should use the divine wisdom in our daily lives and provide moral guidance. Try to read more Proverbs and implement it. Finally, we will be able to have a better life which is blessed by the God. Third, many people believe that the writer of Ecclesiastes is a descendant of David which is the king of Jerusalem. It may mean the author is Solomon. The writing time should be before 1000 BC and during the reign of Solomon. Author use "evangelist" to represent himself, the original meaning of “evangelist” is "convener" or "assembly spokesman." So, it probably means that he convened a group of audience to listen to his spiritual messages. This book is very loose structure and containing many obscure phrases. Also, many words are unique in the Old Testament which means it is not easy to determine accurately. Many matter, habits and proverbs mentioned in the book were made by metaphor. So, at that time, maybe it is not difficult for the reader to comprehend. However, many readers will be unsure of its meaning nowadays. Nevertheless, the book has a keen observation and criticism of life. It can be attractive for some people to explore the obscure and try to get a deeper wisdom. One of the important contents in this book is the meaningless of life. “Prayers on behalf of the dead have no meaning, for nothing can be changed by them. God's Word shows that the dead no longer have any physical or mental activity (Psalm 146:4;Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). Each person who dies sleeps in his grave in unconsciousness until the resurrection (John 5:28-29;Daniel 12:2;Job 19:25-26;14:12-14;John 3:13;Acts 2:29, 34). Clearly, prayers should be for the living while there is still hope of repentance, not for the dead, who can do nothing.” (Ecclesiastes) Actually, at the beginning of Ecclesiastes, it had directly mentioned the theme of this book, “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” It is because people are always experiencing a great toil. Everything is meaningless in the world whatever you are stupid or wise, hard-working or lazy. All the anguish of life and material gains is meaningless. If anyone does not know God, he/she will not be able to have a completely content in his/her life. It is because all efforts are vanity and meaningless. The power of God on the earth is only a helpless hand for him/her since it is often not entirely as he/she wishes. However, if a man knows God, he/she still can enjoy the life whatever the life is short or not. It is because God's power has made the person’s life better. So, Ecclesiastes not only tells the illusion of life, but also makes people to see the faith of God and respect and fear God. Also, it is important to let God comes inside our heat and be the center of our live. Fourth, Psalms is the poetry that the Christian are using or singing when they are worship the God. The lyrics are mainly the praise of God, thanks, pray, etc. “The book contains 150 psalms, and may be divided into five great divisions or books, which must have been originally formed at different periods” (Book of Psalms), including the praise of God or the hymns of asking God to bless. Many psalms were come from the hands of the Jewish King, David. At the same time, he also is a great musician. So, except the main content of Psalm is about praising the Lord, it also includes when the poets were suffered adversity, they asked God to remove their pain. Psalms is full of the beauty of text and style which is sufficient and comparable to any literary masterpiece. However, Christians generally believe that it is not only a literary work. It also contains the Lord's message. For example, the name of “Lord” has appeared nearly 700 times in the Psalm. Also, there are many places in the Psalms are using “Most high” of the title to indicate the Lord's supreme right to rule his kingdom. Moreover, the poems points out that human were different with the eternal God so we need to pay attention to God's law and trust the Lord. Mostly important, Psalms is full of many prophecies. One of the prophecies stated that "the descendent of David", Lord Jesus Christ will be anointed to be the king and rule the world. In general, Psalms is a beautiful section of the Old Testament and affects the future a lot. Fifth, Song of Songs is one of the most unique books in Bible. The main theme of this book is about the joy and love and also the lovesickness between men and women. The book is very short but the genre is strange and has a beautiful writing and rich in oriental flavor. As showing in the first section of this book, the author is probably the son of David, King Solomon. The name of “Solomon” has mentioned seven times in this book. “Most believe that the "Song of Songs," or "Song of Solomon," was the best of the 1,005 songs which Solomon wrote. (See I Kings 4:32.) There is also the possibility that the play was actually written by the Shulamite since she is the only character whose thoughts and dreams are recorded. No matter who wrote it, the Song of Songs is an important part of the Word of God.” (Song of Songs Commentary) The writing date is presumed to be the year 961 BC which is the previous period of the kingdom of Israel split. There are four main features of Song of Song: 1. This is the only roll of the Bible describes the unique love between bride and groom specifically. All of the content of this book is describing the couples were talking about the affection and love after their marriage, especially the ecstatic joy of the newlywed; 2. This is a unique masterpiece of literature. The using of words is careful and also taking the beauty of nature to lays out an extremely gorgeous scene. A large number of metaphors and descriptive language can show the romantic love and the love, passion, vitality and beauty of marriage. It describes a clean, pure love; 3. It is one of the few Old Testament books that does not mention or imply in the New Testament; 4. This is the book outside of the Old Testament except Esther does not explicitly mention about the God. Through the study of the Song of Song, it not only helps us to understand the goodness of human love, but also understands more about the root causes behind love – Holy Jesus Christ. To conclude, the word “wisdom” in the Bible can be divided into human's wisdom and God's wisdom. Human’s wisdom does not really mean people's wisdom, but to the God-given human instinct. It is the ethics of doing things in life; God's wisdom is to reflect God's goodness and almighty. The five books of Wisdom Literature are the questions of human beings about their own destiny. They are written to the people who are seeking wisdom and better lives.

Reference 1. D. Massimiliano Lorenzini. "Frontline Ministries - Job's Discourse on Wisdom in Job 28."Frontline Ministries - Christian Worldview Training in Bible, Theology, Apologetics, & Ethics. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <>. 2. "THE BOOK OF PROVERBS." Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <>. 3. "Ecclesiastes 9:5 (King James Version) :: Forerunner Commentary." Bible Tools. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <>. 4. "Book of Psalms." Topical Bible. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <>. 5. "Song of Songs Commentary." West-Ark Church of Christ Splash Page. Web. 13 Nov. 2011. <>. 6. Allen, Cliton J. and Press, Broadman. “The Broadman Bible Commentary, Leviticus - Ruth, Volume 2.” Marshall, Morgan & Scott: 1971. 7. Carr, G. Lloyd. “Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries.” Inter-Varsity Press: 1984. 8. Exell, Joseph S. “The Biblical Illustrator.” BiblioBazaar: 2010. 9. Waltke, Bruce K. “New International Commentary on the Old Testamant, the Book of Proverbs: Chapter 15-31.” Wm. B. Eerdamns Publishing: 2005. 10. Hubbard, David Allen and Barker, Glenn W. “Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 1.” Word Books: 1995.

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