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

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $10.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 66%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $10.00   
  • New (5) from $16.67   
  • Used (7) from $10.00   


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.

Read More Show Less

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.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

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
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • 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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)