Old Testament

Wisdom Literature

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Abraham’s Parting from the Family of Lot Jan Victors ca. 1655-65 cropped

The biblical books generally categorized as wisdom literature include Proverbs, Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth) and Job. These books are the closest to philosophy that the Hebrew Bible offers: they explore the question of how much of the world we can know, and how we can know it; how to live a good life; and why bad things happen to good people (and vice versa). Though they belong to a common conversation, each book has a unique form and a unique perspective: these issues have been at the forefront of human inquiry for over two thousand years.

In this study, we will explore each of these books, and the wisdom tradition in which they all participate.

Presenters

Dr. Joel S. Baden

Prof. Joel Baden, Professor of Hebrew Bible at Yale Divinity School, is a specialist in the Pentateuch, Biblical Hebrew, and disability theory in biblical studies. He is the author of numerous articles, essays, and books on individual pentateuchal texts, critical methodology, and Biblical Hebrew. Future projects include commentaries on Deuteronomy and Exodus. He holds degrees in Judaic Studies (BA, Yale), Semitic Languages (MA, University of Chicago), and Hebrew Bible (PhD, Harvard).

Prof. Baden is also the Director of the Center for Continuing Education at Yale Divinity School. The foundational programs of the Center are YMI, Yale Bible Study and Yale Summer Study.

Dr. John J. Collins

Dr. John J. Collins is the Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation at Yale Divinity School. A native of Ireland, Professor Collins was a professor of Hebrew Bible at the University of Chicago from 1991 until his arrival at YDS in 2000. He previously taught at the University of Notre Dame. He has published widely on the subjects of apocalypticism, wisdom, Hellenistic Judaism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

His books include The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Biography; Early Judaism: A Comprehensive Overview; the commentary on Daniel in the Hermeneia series; The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature; Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls; Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age; The Apocalyptic Imagination; Between Athens and Jerusalem: Jewish Identity in the Hellenistic Diaspora; Introduction to the Hebrew Bible with CD-ROM; Does the Bible Justify Violence?; Jewish Cult and Hellenistic Culture; Encounters with Biblical Theology; The Bible after Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age; King and Messiah as Son of God (with Adela Yarbro Collins); and Beyond the Qumran Community: The Sectarian Movement of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

He is coeditor of the three-volume Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, and The Oxford Handbook of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and has participated in the editing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. He is general editor of the Yale Anchor Bible series. He has served as editor of the Journal for the Study of Judaism Supplement Series, Dead Sea Discoveries, and Journal of Biblical Literature, and as president of both the Catholic Biblical Association and the Society of Biblical Literature. He holds an honorary D.Litt. from University College Dublin. Professor Collins is a fellow of Trumbull College.

Discussion