CHXV - XV. Torah and Wisdom Literature: Wisdom literature...

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XV. Torah and Wisdom Literature: Wisdom literature was a universal cultural feature which Israel shared with many of her neighbors. Wisdom literature was the practical, down to earth, "how to" literature of the first millennium BC. A jaunt to any neighborhood bookstore reminds us of the longevity of this genre; its goal is to utilize common sense and the values of a culture to enable the reader to "live well." Because of the rather natural overlap of religion and culture in Israel Wis. Lit. quite naturally took on the shape of a sort of pop-theology that addressed the questions of the day (mid-monarchy) from the standpoint of a common sense application of Hebrew religious values. If all this is true, then one might expect that the Torah forms an important foundation for Hebrew Wis. Lit., and therefore distinguishes Hebrew Wis. Lit. from that of the surrounding cultures. In Israel, Torah was regarded as Wisdom especially in the Deuteronomic Codes: 1 Behold, I [Moses] have taught you statutes and ordinances, as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them; for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.' For what great nation has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day? Psalm 19, one of the so-called "wisdom psalms," connects creation and torah as twin avenues of hearing the word, speech, and wisdom of God. Creation is a silent witness to the wondrous works of the LORD: 2 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard; 1 Deuteronomy 4:5-9. 2 Psalm 19:1-4. 1
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Yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Because creation is so pervaded by the presence and knowledge of God, Wisdom Literature contemplates the created world and discerns there patterns and principles of behavior that are praiseworthy -- principles that are in harmony with Torah and the will of God. Psalm 19 demon- strates this by leading us from the voice of creation (vs. 1-6) to the voice of the Law (vs. 7-14): The Law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever; The ordinances of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired than gold,
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course REL THEL 353 taught by Professor Tyson during the Spring '08 term at Houghton College.

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CHXV - XV. Torah and Wisdom Literature: Wisdom literature...

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