Shorter Reviews and Notices -- Wisdom in Theology: The Didsbury Lectures, 1989 by R. E. Clements

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WISDOM IN THEOLOGY: THE DIDSBURY LECTURES, 1989, by R E. Clements. The Paternoster Press, Carlisle/Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, 1992. 188 pp. $16.99 (paper). ISBN 0-8028-0576-0.

Once the neglected part of the biblical canon, the wisdom corpus of the Old Testament has received increasing scholarly attention the past two decades. Clements's very accessible book comes as a welcome contribution to students of biblical theology and wisdom. Based on his 1989 Didsbury Lectures, Clements's work is a breath of fresh air among most introductions to wisdom literature. Instead of plodding through the biblical books in historical order, Clements structures his presentation around the themes of creation, health, politics, the household, and the divine realm. In so doing, Clements is able to reflect on certain issues that are frequently given short shrift in general treatments, for example, virtue and character, the family, inner life, healing and sickness, death, and even magic.

Clements consistently maintains that the intellectual development of Israelite wisdom reached its height in the postexilic period. Such a thesis in and of itself is by no means unique, but more innovative is Clements's use of the work of the anthropologist Victor Turner in identifying the condition of exile as a period of "liminality" that prompts a radical reassessment of religious and national sentiment as well as allows for a more internationally oriented context in which wisdom could flourish. …