Wisdom Thumbnail and Opinion

The Wisdom Literature of the Bible is variously held to be either limited to certain books of the OT, or it can be seen in a wide variety of OT and NT passages. 

Those who limit Wisdom Literature to specific books, usually list Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes among the 66 canonical books of the Bible.  For our purposes we will mean this when we use the term Wisdom Literature in capitals.

Others see some the the Wisdom perspective in other portions of the Bible – certain passages in Isaiah, Psalms in the OT and the parables of Jesus and the book of James in the NT.  Those who hold this looser perspective vary widely on what they consider to be included.  We will use the term wisdom writing(s) for this broader concept.

Wisdom Literature has some characteristics that we will explore.  It has an international vocabulary, a conviction that God has embedded discoverable truth in the world, a love of language and literary forms, frequent use of observations of the world’s workings, infrequent use of covenantal language of law and sacrifice, respect for tradition, reverence for God and is frequently human centered.

James Crenshaw observes, “When a marriage between form and content exists, there is wisdom literature.  Lacking such oneness, a given text participates in biblical wisdom to a greater or lesser extent.”    O.T. Wisdom, p 11.

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