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Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction [Paperback]

By James L. Crenshaw (Author)
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Item description for Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction by James L. Crenshaw...

This expanded edition of Crenshaw's popular book takes stock of the wealth of new material produced by contemporary interpreters to provide an invaluable asset for anyone wishing to understand the rich and complex legacy of wisdom literature.

Publishers Description
The title of the book can be pleasantly deceiving. Crenshaw goes well beyond the wisdom tradition found in the biblical books of Ecclesiates, Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. He takes a broader perspective and includes apocrapha writings as well as Egyptian and Mesopotamian literature. This is a very thorough, concise, and well orgainized book, much appreciated for students working under time constraints.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Westminster John Knox Press
Pages   272
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.04" Width: 6.04" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   0.97 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 6, 2009
Publisher   Westminster John Knox Press
Edition  Large Type  
ISBN  0664254624  
ISBN13  9780664254629  

Availability  100 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2017 10:18.
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More About James L. Crenshaw

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! James L. Crenshaw is Robert L. Flowers Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Duke University. Widely published, he is one of the world's leading scholars on Old Testament study, focusing especially on wisdom and poetry.

James L. Crenshaw currently resides in Durham, in the state of North Carolina. James L. Crenshaw has an academic affiliation as follows - The Divinity School, Duke University.

James L. Crenshaw has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Biblical Resource Series
  2. Genesis to Revelation
  3. Old Testament Library

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Bible & Other Sacred Texts > Bible > Old Testament
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible Study > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Commentaries > Old Testament
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Concordances
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > Old Testament
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament > Old Testament
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Old Testament
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > Old Testament

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Reviews - What do customers think about Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction?

Crenshaw and Wisdom Literature  Dec 22, 2004
In the book Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction, James L. Crenshaw comprehensively presents an examination of the wide variety of wisdom literature imbedded in the writings of the Old Testament. Crenshaw prefaces this book by explaining that his years of teaching and studying Old Testament wisdom has helped him recognize the need for an "adequate introductory textbook" for use in the classroom. After surveying the vast amount of literature that has been written on the subject of Old Testament wisdom, Crenshaw elucidates the essentiality of an even greater illumination of the depth of meaning in Israelite wisdom. He explains that "this book is an attempt to clarify that `certain indescribable quality,'" which the tradition of Israelite wisdom literature possesses and conveys as a literary corpus (25). This critical review will outline Crenshaw's main discussions in Old Testament Wisdom. It will also attempt to determine the merit of this book according to its general purpose as an introductory text to the study of Old Testament wisdom.
In his introduction Crenshaw attempts to provide a definition of the traditional expression of Israelite wisdom. Among the difficulties of a study on wisdom literature, Crenshaw notes the vexing problem of defining the parameters of the existential phenomena. Nonetheless, he attempts to capture the essence of wisdom by illustrating it as "`the ability to cope,' `the art of steering'; it is `practical knowledge of the laws of life and of the world, based on experience'; wisdom constitutes `parents' legacy to their children'; it is `the quest for self-understanding and for mastery of the world'" (16). Here, Crenshaw lays the groundwork for his complex study of the highly expressive compositions of the sages of Israel in the context of the ancient Near East.
In the first chapter entitled, "The World of Wisdom," Crenshaw introduces the reader to that which he explicitly alludes to in his title. Beginning with a brief analysis of the Hebrew derivatives and function of wisdom language, he shows how its common usage reflects that the wisdom writings are a product of an elite class. In order to make distinctions between the various literary forms which comprise the modes of expression and discourse in the wisdom books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and the Wisdom of Solomon, Crenshaw uses the following eight genres as categories: "proverb, riddle, allegory, hymn, dialogue, autobiographical narrative, noun lists, and didactic narrative" (37). The first chapter also provides a brief and reserved discussion concerning the influence of wisdom literature upon other canonical books of the Old Testament.
At the beginning of the second chapter, "The Sapiential Tradition," Crenshaw focuses his attention on King Solomon, maintaining from the outset that he is "Israel's greatest sage"(42). In order to gain an understanding of the emergence of the sapiential tradition he examines the role of Solomon as a royal figure. Although he dismisses the tradition of Solomon's great wisdom as a product of "late legend" and an "undeserved fame from biblical interpreters," Crenshaw makes a comparison to Solomon's wisdom with a Baalistic, non-Israelite tradition (53-54). Henceforth, he develops this comparison by exposing the "international character of the sapiential tradition" in the context of the ancient Near East (55).
In chapters three through seven, Crenshaw individually examines the book of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), as well as the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom Psalms. Crenshaw focuses on gaining an understanding of the form and content of each book, which follows his proposition in the introduction, to treat form and content separately in order to accurately understand their corresponding parts in a literary whole. In these chapters, Crenshaw illuminates the sages search for wisdom as being distinct from one another (e.g. Proverbs search for knowledge, Job for the presence of God). Crenshaw's greatest achievement in these chapters is his ability to let the literary genre and chief thematic characteristics of each book direct and carry the discussion.
Throughout the whole book Crenshaw places a heavy emphasis on contextualization. At the end of each chapter, he draws connections and makes speculations on the influences of the ancient Near East upon wisdom literature. Although it is important to properly contextualize Old Testament wisdom literature, Crenshaw's expansive discussion on Egyptian and Mesopotamian in chapter nine is not a positive asset to the overall scheme of the book. Although the final chapter is a good introduction of Egyptian and Mesopotamian wisdom it does not serve as a good conclusion to his over-arching aim, which is to provide an introduction to Old Testament Wisdom.
It is evident that Crenshaw is very familiar with the role of wisdom literature within in the context of the Old Testament canon as well as non-canonical books. However, as mentioned above, he probably exceeds the amount of ground that he needed to cover for an introductory level text. The title of the book, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction, leads the reader to believe that Crenshaw is going to deal specifically with wisdom literature in the Old Testament and maintain canonicity. Although his integrative approach was much more informative than a sole treatment of wisdom literature within the canon, Crenshaw could have done more to hone in his discussion to maintain centrality on the Old Testament as his title implicates.
Overall, this book covers more than its general purpose and aim had originally claimed, which makes the book too convoluted and expansive for use as an introductory text. Despite the complexity and expansive nature of this book, Crenshaw does an excellent job of examining the various expressions of literary form, content, and themes found within wisdom literature.
Excellent Resource for Biblical Studies  Jul 12, 2000
I do not even remember where I purchased this book at but it has been an invaluable tool for both OT and NT studies in my pursuit of understanding the ancient wisdom traditions. The title of the book can be pleasantly deceiving. Crenshaw goes well beyond the wisdom tradition found in the biblical books of Ecclesiates, Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. He takes a broader perspective and includes apocrapha writings as well as Egyptian and Mesopotamian literature. I have found this book to be a very thorough, concise, and well orgainized book, much appreciated for students working under time constraints. This book has proven to be invaluable for exegesis of both OT and NT passages that make reference to ancient wisdom traditions. It is simple to read and has a great biblography that aids in indepth study of the word.

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