The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature / Edition 3

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Overview

Since 1990 Roland Murphy's Tree of Life has been a standard introduction to the wisdom literature of the Bible. Now The Tree of Life is available in a third edition, complete with a new preface by the author and a special supplement that surveys the latest developments in wisdom research.

This superb study thoroughly explores the wisdom writings of the Bible, interpreting this literature in a way that illumines the development of Israel's search for wisdom throughout its tumultuous history. Murphy looks at each wisdom book individually — Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Ecclesiasticus, and Wisdom of Solomon — and adds to them a discussion of wisdom from other parts of the Old Testament. His careful investigations expose the various guises that wisdom adopts — the "fear of the Lord," moral formation, the universality of human experience, the mysteries of creation, and others.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802839657
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 286
  • Sales rank: 707,098
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

(1917—2002) Roland E. Murphy was George Washington Ivey Professor of Biblical Studies Emeritus at Duke University and adjunct professor of biblical studies at the Washington Theological Union.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface to the Third Edition
1 Introduction 1
2 Proverbs - The Wisdom of Words 15
3 Job the Steadfast 33
4 Qoheleth the Skeptic 49
5 Ben Sira - Wisdom's Traditionalist 65
6 The Wisdom of Solomon - A View from the Diaspora 83
7 Wisdom's Echoes 97
8 Wisdom Literature and Theology 111
9 Lady Wisdom 133
Appendix 151
Abbreviations 181
Selected and Annotated Bibliography 185
Supplement 191
Millennium Supplement 231
Index 283
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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    An informed, balanced, and useful volume on Israelite wisdom literature

    Roland E. Murphy, a Catholic scholar who has devoted his life to the study of Israelite wisdom literature, has written an informed, balanced, and useful volume that summarizes that lifetime of study. The third edition is an expansion in the form of an added supplement, the Millennium Supplement, which interacts with scholarly developments in the field of wisdom studies since the publication of the first edition. The aim of the study is to survey the biblical question for wisdom, what that quest entails, and how the wisdom literature was a part of and converses with the rest of the Old Testament.

    The book is organized into nine chapters. The first chapter is an introduction, which outlines and treats preliminary issues. The next five examine the biblical books themselves: Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth, Sirach, and the Wisdom of Solomon. The seventh chapter is an investigation of wisdom influence on other Old Testament literature. The eighth chapter considers the theological message and value of the wisdom literature and how it relates to the deuteronomistic and prophetic visions of the Old Testament. The last chapter is an analysis of Lady Wisdom. An appendix on Egyptian, Mesopotamian, and Hellenistic wisdoms completes the main text, while the two supplements designed for advanced students and scholars engage more recent scholarly questions and discussions. Overall, the book is well written and lucid, and Murphy tries to expound the Israelite wisdom literature as clearly and accurately as possible.

    The structure of the book is both distracting yet helpful. The book would have been a more fluid read if Murphy had rewritten the book and incorporated material from the supplements into the main text. Such a re-working would also have minimized the need to turn back and forth between pages. On the other hand, this structure allows the main text to focus on the elementary and principal issues, which preserves readability for students or the intelligent lay-reader. The supplements, then, provide more able students and scholars access to more advanced topics and discussion.

    One can read Murphy's book and walk away somewhat disappointed. The book is not particulately exhaustive; instead, it seeks to be selective by treating the major and most salient points. But the purpose of his book was not to be exhaustive, but to pull together the main threads of his research to provide, in one place and in a readable way, an explanation and commentary on the place of wisdom literature in Israelite thought and Old Testament theology. If that was his goal - as it seems to have been - then Murphy succeeded admirably; and while not a particularly novel monograph, it is nonetheless a cogent, intelligent, and careful reference work that will be helpful to students and scholars for years to come.

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