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Wisdom Literature

(2,295 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Otto | Myers, Allen C.
1. Term The Hebrew word ḥokmâ originally meant technical and intellectual understanding resting on experience. While statutes were associated with the priests, and the Word of God with the prophets, counsel typified the wise (Jer. 18:18). The quest for wisdom involves reflection on universal human concerns: the place of humanity within the world, especially the potential and limitations of the individual. In the Bible, it is the attempt to ascertain the meaning of life, to explore its difficult and painful mysteries, to engage i…

Lamentations, Book of

(755 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Otto
1. Name, Place in Canon, Authorship The Book of Lamentations consists of five songs. The book’s usual name in modern Bible versions comes, by way of the Vg (Lamentationes) and the LXX ( Thrēnoi [ Ieremiou]), from Jewish tradition, in which it is called qı̂nôt, “laments for the dead” ( b.  B. Bat.  15a). In Hebrew MSS and printed copies it is usually named after the first word: ʾêkâ, “alas, how.” Though Lamentations is placed among the Megilloth (i.e., festal scrolls), the LXX, followed by dependent and modern versions, inserts it after the Book of Jeremiah on the ba…

Proverbs, Book of

(1,872 words)

Author(s): Kaiser, Otto
1. Description The Book of Proverbs, together with the Books of Job and Ecclesiastes, belongs to the Wisdom books of the Hebrew Bible. It thus belongs to a literary category that was widespread and greatly enjoyed in the ancient world because it transmitted the experience of past generations about the right ways of dealing with God and others. By means of its sayings and teachings, it promised a life (§1) that would be long, happy, and successful. Because Solomon traditionally ranked as the wisest king of Israel (§1.4, 1 Kgs. 4:29–34 and 10:1–10), the Wisdom books up to the deuterocano…