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: BA9519A (Approved)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Old Testament

Proposing College: St Athanasius College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


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


Analyse and explain the content, types and themes of Wisdom Literature.


Define the nature and attributes of God in Wisdom Literature


Critically discuss 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


Integrate perspectives from Wisdom Literature with their other theological studies

Unit sequence

An Old Testament introduction unit


Lectures, classroom discussion, guided reading from set texts, additional reading resources and notes

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.
  • 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 (%)

Written Assessment Task – Essay 3500 words

3500 50.0

Written Assessment Task – Essay 1750 words

1750 25.0

Written Assessment Task – Reading Reflection 1750 words

1750 25.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 30 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2019-10-23 14:51:42 +1100