Saturday, February 12, 2011

Wisdom Literature

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs (aka Song of Solomon) are the primary biblical witnesses to wisdom within the human experience. They are certainly not the only places wisdom is to be found, but they do provide the canvas on which the majority of thought concerning wisdom is painted. They give place for the full range of experience, emotion, and thought that we mortal humans live in our time on earth. They do not try to shield the reader from anything that may be considered not politically correct or too extreme. They toss up life in all its grittiness as the arena in which God is present and working.

I found an interesting introduction to the wisdom books in, of all places, the bible I'm using now which is The Message translation. It presents the five wisdom books as a grid of human experience with psalms squarely in the middle.

In one corner we have Ecclesiastes accepting us into the boredom of daily living while in the opposite corner Song of Songs celebrates the most exquisite and beautiful love that life can offer. Job and Proverbs share opposite corners with Proverbs providing pithy quotations for living successfully while Job provides an exposition into the extremes of suffering. Psalms ties them all together, providing a melting pot of celebration, lament, cries of anguish, and shouts of joy.

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