The Making of Sages: Biblical Wisdom and Contemporary Culture

Article excerpt

The Making of Sages: Biblical Wisdom and Contemporary Culture. By Dorm F. Morgan. Harrisburg, Pa.: Trinity Press International, 2002. xxv + 182 pp. $22.00 (paper).

Donn F. Morgan s study of biblical wisdom and contemporary management and learning theory gathers materials generated over a period of fifteen years. The essays glean from the best in wisdom studies over that period, and provide for the casual or scholarly reader a useful survey of where that subdiscipline of biblical studies has been going (the final chapter provides an excellent bibliography).

Morgan's work as the head of a theological institution (he is president and dean and professor of Old Testament at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific) piqued his interest in the relationship between contemporary organizational and learning theory (much of which seeks to transcend cultural boundaries), and the wisdom traditions of the Bible (which themselves transcend national and religious boundaries in various ways). he poses two questions: Who are the sages? How do we teach wisdom? A strength of the book is two chapters which take on these questions cross-culturally in relation to Asian traditions and institutions. In one (chapter 2), Morgan pursues a comparison of the respective literary and wisdom "canons" of Confucius and Solomon. In a second (chapter 6), originally written for a Hong Kong audience, he explores the history and development of professionalization and its relation to roles of teachers of religion in that culture.

The first section of the book explores who sages are in different contexts: (1) evolving understanding of the biblical wisdom traditions; (2) crosscultural; (3) teaching and learning theory old and new; and (4) in relation to the theme of "hope" in the sage's social and cultural milieu. The second section of the book explores where sages might be found both in the ancient world and in contemporary society. Morgan draws heavily on the distinction between Pairieia and Wissenscaft, and the contrast between the educational objectives of the ancients (Athens) and post-enlightenment modems (Berlin). he discusses the roles of universities, professionalism, and work of thinkers such as Margaret Wheatley on leadership and chaos theory. The final section of the book turns to an exploration of how the contemporary faith community might use biblical wisdom literature to address the educational needs of both church and society. …