The unit will examine many different aspects of the ancient Israel wisdom, focusing on four canonical books of the Old Testament: The Book of Job, Wisdom Psalms, The Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes; with the reference to deuterocanonical books: The Wisdom of Solomon, Ben Sirach (Book of Ecclesiasticus). Wisdom literature will be explored through the questions: What is wisdom? What are its foundations? Who is a wise man or woman? Specific biblical and extra-biblical texts will be studied from theological, historical critical and literary perspectives. Modern reception of Wisdom literature will be investigated, particularly the manner in which modern theologians respond to the question of innocent suffering in the modern world.

Unit code: BA3519A (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Old Testament

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

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Learning outcomes


Demonstrate knowledge of the content of the main Old Testament wisdom texts


Discuss the content, types and themes of Wisdom Literature


Define the nature and attributes of God in Wisdom Literature


Explain the influence of the Ancient Near Eastern literature on Wisdom Literature


Analyse the themes and theology of Wisdom Literature, especially the theological issue of theodicy

Unit sequence

Old Testament Introductory unit


Articles and lecture notes, video lectures and online discussion forums.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Crenshaw, James. Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, 2010. (recommended for purchase)
  • Murphy, Roland. The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co., 1990, 2002. (recommended for purchase)
  • Blenkinsopp, Joseph. Sage, Priest, Prophet: Religious and Intellectual Leadership in Ancient Israel. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2000.
  • Brown, William P. Character in Crisis: A Fresh Approach to the Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996.
  • Clifford, Richard J. (ed.). Wisdom Literature in Mesopotamia and Israel. Atlanta: SBL, 2007.
  • Curtis, E. M. and J. J. Brugaletta. Discovering the Way of Wisdom. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004.
  • Fyall, Robert. S. Now My Eyes Have Seen You: Images of Creation and Evil in Job. Leicester: Apollos, 2002.
  • Hunter, Alastair G. Wisdom Literature. London: SCM, 2006.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Reading Reflections (250 words)

0 5.0

Essay (2500 words)

0 50.0

Reading Reflections (250 words)

0 5.0

Reading Reflections (250 words)

0 5.0

Reading Reflections (250 words)

0 5.0

Essay (1250 words)

0 25.0

Reading Reflections (250 words)

0 5.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 1 Nov, 2017

Unit record last updated: 2019-02-13 07:30:52 +1100