Roots Of Wisdom / Edition 1

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In this book, Claus Westermann argues that Israel's early wisdom literature grew out of an oral tradition reflecting an agrarian setting. Dealing primarily with Proverbs 10-31, Westermann demonstrates how the wisdom literature evolved into a form of poetry that had greater universal appeal as the people of Israel became more urbanized. A distinctive feature of Roots of Wisdom is Westermann's use of other wisdom sayings, particularly those from ancient Africa, to illustrate the logical progression of wisdom poetry being simply observational in character to becoming more universal in character.

Dealing primarily with Proverbs 10-31, Westermann demonstrates how the wisdom literature evolved into a form of poetry that had greater universal appeal as the people of Israel became more urbanized. He also uses other wisdom sayings, particularly those from ancient Africa, to illustrate the logical progression of wisdom poetry from being simply observational in character to becoming more universal in character.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780664255596
  • Publisher: Westminster John Knox Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 188
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Claus Westermann was Professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He authored a number of books, including Praise and Lament in the Psalms, Roots of Wisdom, and Prophetic Oracles of Salvation in the Old Testament, all published by WJK.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I. The Early Proverbial Wisdom of Israel 1
II. History of Research 3
1. Proverbial Statements 6
I. Proverbs of Observation and Experience 6
1. Observations about People 6
2. Contrasts 11
3. The Human Being and Its Social Standing, Work, and Possessions 17
4. The Human Being in Community and Family 24
5. The Human Being in Public Life 28
6. The King 31
7. The Messenger 36
8. Summary 36
II. Proverbs about Human Character 38
1. Form 38
Excursus 1 The Relationship of the Proverbs to Old Testament Laws 40
2. Types of Character That Endanger the Community 41
3. Characterization of Behavior 45
4. Characterization of the Fool by Comparison 46
5. Characterization of the One Who Promotes the Community 47
6. Conclusion 48
III. Proverbs of Antithesis: The Foolish-The Wise 50
1. Originally Double-Verse Proverbs and Those Editorially Constructed 50
2. Proverbs Dealing Exclusively with the Foolish and the Wise 52
3. The Wisdom of the Wise in Transition 56
IV. Comparisons 58
1. The Content of the Comparisons 59
2. The Form of the Comparisons 61
3. The Uniqueness of the Comparisons Exemplified 63
V. Proverbs of Value Judgment (Comparative Proverbs) 68
VI. Numerical Proverbs: Commendations and Riddles 72
VII. Proverbs of Antithesis: The Righteous-The Wicked 75
1. Basic Fourfold Thematic Structure 75
2. Proverbs of Antithesis: The Righteous-The Wicked in Chapters 25--29 79
3. What Happens between the Righteous and the Wicked 80
Excursus 2 The Righteous and the Wicked in the Psalms and Job 81
Excursus 3 Comparisons in the Proverbs of Antithesis: The Righteous-The Wicked 82
4. Summary 83
2. Hortatory Proverbs (Imperative Sayings) 85
I. Two Types of Hortatory Proverbs 85
II. The Introduction in 22:17-21: The Summons to Listen 86
III. Exhortations concerning Instruction 87
IV. General Exhortations 87
Excursus 4 The Structure of 22:17-24:24 and Its Correspondence to the Teaching of Amenemope 88
V. Hortatory Words in Chapters 22--24: Summary 89
VI. Scattered Proverbs in Chapters 22--24 91
VII. Hortatory Proverbs outside of 22:17-24:24 91
Excursus 5 The Farewell Exhortation in Tobit 4:3-19 93
3. Poetry in the Book of Proverbs 95
4. Proverbs in the Old Testament Outside of Proverbs 10--31 99
I. Proverbs in Proverbs 1--9 99
II. Individual Proverbs in Qohelet 99
III. Proverbs in the Historical and Prophetic Books 103
IV. Wisdom Sayings in the Psalms 104
V. Wisdom in the Book of Job 105
5. The Change From Proverbial Wisdom to Didactic Poetry 108
6. A Form-Critical Sketch of Wisdom 109
7. Wisdom Proverbs as Words of Jesus 111
I. Rudolf Bultmann 111
II. Max Kuchler 113
III. W. A. Beardslee 115
IV. Summary 115
V. A Sketch of a Grouping of Proverbs in the Gospels 116
8. God and Humanity in Early Proverbial Wisdom 118
I. The Understanding of Humanity in Proverbial Wisdom 118
1. The Human Being; the Creature 118
2. The Human Being as a Creature among Creatures; the Environment 120
3. The Fruit of the Garden; Provisions 120
4. Work and Its Yield 121
5. The Human Being in Community 122
6. Discourse 122
II. The Work of God in Early Wisdom 123
1. Yahweh as the Creator of Humanity 123
2. God and His Work as the Limitation of Human Possibilities 125
3. God Chastises and Forgives in Mercy 126
4. Proverbs of Antithesis: God's Dealing with the Righteous and the Wicked 127
5. The Fear of Yahweh 128
Summary 129
Excursus 6 Wisdom and Theology 131
Conclusion 132
I. The Significance of the Universal Aspects of the Proverbs 132
II. Humanity Comes of Age 133
III. Wisdom, Science, and Philosophy 135
1. Time and Place 135
2. Science and Wisdom 136
3. Wisdom and Philosophy 136
IV. Ecclesiastes 3:1-11 (Luther's Translation): Humanity in Its Temporality 138
Appendix 140
I. Comparisons with Proverbial Sayings from Other Times and Places 140
II. African Proverbs 141
III. Hortatory Words of Tobatak of Sumatra 148
IV. Form and Scope of Sumerian Proverbs 150
V. The Teaching of Amenemope 155
VI. The Instruction of Onch-Sheshonqy 159
VII. Conclusion 162
VIII. Epilogue 164
Abbreviations 165
Notes 167
A Select Chronological Bibliography 175
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