Presentation on theme: "Wisdom Literature Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes. Wisdom Literature Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job (canonized) –Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom of Solomon (apocryphal."— Presentation transcript:
Wisdom Literature Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job (canonized) –Ecclesiasticus and Wisdom of Solomon (apocryphal not canonized) These writings can seem very unbiblical! –Job suffers because of a casual wager between God and Satan. Knowing he is righteous, he questions and challenges God until he is rebuked. –Ecclesiastes goes beyond Job’s questioning of God’s justice to present the bleak idea that humans can understand next to nothing about the meaning of life. –Proverbs is less negative, but most advice seems to have little to do with God directly. Writings from the wise men of Ancient Israel. –We don’t know much about these people, but they were not priests or prophets. –Solomon is like their “patron saint”
Not concerned with 1.The Hebrew religion 1.Proverbs-only a couple of verses 2.Ecclesiastes-just be aware of what you do and why 3.Job- only in prologue and epilogue 4.Does organized religion really have an important bearing on one’s life? 2.Nationalism 1.No speaking directly to Israel 2.Speak toward universal ideas and ideals. 3.Similar to collected wisdom from nearby cultures 3.Israel’s past or place among the nations 1.No talk of the covenants or historic events 2.References to Solomon mostly as a representative idea. 4.A personal relationship between God and people 1.No emotional closeness to God as in Psalms 2.No shining faces, like Moses’ 3.No, “thus says the Lord” like the prophets. 4.Observed things as they are, not as revealed by God. These points do not mean that wisdom books are necessarily in direct contradiction to other books.
Proverbs Parallelism in Proverbs Synonymous parallelism: the second part reaffirms the first part Antithetic parallelism: The second part contrasts with the first Synthetic parallelism: The second part advances the first. Because the writers are concerned with teaching moral values, they often use antithetic parallelism to heighten the contrast between approved and disapproved behavior. Women in Proverbs Wisdom is personified as a woman who reaches out to the world. She is the antithesis of the strange woman, the loose woman, the foolish woman, the prostitute, that ensnares young men. 5:3 For the lips of a loose woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. The picture of the wise woman begins and ends Proverbs. 1:20 -21 Wisdom cries out in the street; in the squares she raises her voice. At the busiest corner she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
Behavior and its consequences in Proverbs Composed over centuries, it’s final form appears to be a book of instruction for young men, on the nature of the world and how to be successful in it. How one behaves is related to his fortune. You reap what you sow in both the moral and practical realm. Good produces good, and evil produces evil. Wise planning and effort lead to prosperity while carelessness and laziness lead to ruin. The principle of cause and effect is pretty simple.
Cause and effect (synthetic) Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray (22:6) Oppressing the poor in order to enrich oneself, and giving to the rich, will lead only to loss (22:16) Folly is bound up in the heart of a boy, but the rod of discipline drives it far away. (22:15) Simple comparisons to elucidate (antithetic) When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech (10:19) What the wicked dread will come upon them, but the desire of the righteous will be granted. (10:24) Restating (synonymous) Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. (31:9) She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong (31:17) Wisdom and Parallelism in Proverbs
Prudence and fairness will lead to success –because that is the way things work in this world –because God’s watchful concern guarantees it Proverbs says little about people who suffer through no fault of their own. –Implies that there is no such thing as people who suffer unjustly. –Sufferers must be guilty of some sin that others cannot see. –Suffering can be seen as God’s way of reproving and chastening them for their own good. Prov 3:11-12 –My child, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves the one he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. Straight-forward cause and effect logic
Behavior and its consequences in Job The same principle of Proverbs is spoken to Job by his friends. –‘Think now, who that was innocent ever perished? Or where were the upright cut off? As I have seen, those who plough iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. 4:7-8, –‘How happy is the one whom God reproves; therefore do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. 5:17 Using the same kind of logic as we find in Proverbs, Job’s friends imply that Job is not as blameless as he thinks he is.
But Job believes he is innocent. God is apparently not just –It is all one; therefore I say, he destroys both the blameless and the wicked. When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent. (9:22-23) Job asks God to appear in court and tell him clearly what wrong he did that warrants such punishment. But when God finally does speak to Job, it appears rather harsh. –Will you even put me in the wrong? Will you condemn me that you may be justified? Have you an arm like God? And can you thunder with a voice like his? (40:8-9) God says that Job and his friends don’t know what they are talking about when they try to understand God’s justice. –After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: ‘My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. (42:7) Weren’t the friends defending God’s justice along the lines of what Proverbs espouses. The author of Job seems to be taking the problem of suffering to the furthest extreme he can take it.
Behavior and its consequences in Ecclesiastes Job argues that there is no relationship between the good or evil a man does and what happens to him in life. Where Job leaves off, the author of Ecclesiastes picks up. –Not only are there no guarantees that doing good or bad will lead to good or bad consequences for the doer, there are no guarantees that any kind of action will have the consequences the doer intends or thinks he has a right to expect. The only certainties in this world are that natural processes will continue forever—sunrise, sunset, and that death will follow life. All human speculation about cause and effect comes to nothing. –For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. 3:19 Death is nothingness, the same as animals as for people.
So, what behavior does the author of Ecclesiastes recommend? Reach for short term satisfaction –It’s better to be wise than foolish, –It’s better to have food than not, –youth is better than age, –life is better than death Cherish the good things you have. Don’t entertain great expectations. Live with the knowledge that you will soon die. Is Ecclesiastes Ironic? Was the epilogue added later? (12:9-13)
Conclusion How can these different views be reconciled with each other? Could they all be the thoughts of the same person on different days? Life provides a wide spectrum of differences. Each of these points about wisdom has ideas that we can contemplate. What is the truth about the relationship between how we act the consequences? What is the truth about reasons behind human suffering? Viewed together, the books of wisdom offer no simple solution, but a serious and profound dialogue.