The School Tradition of the Old Testament: The Bampton Lectures for 1994

By E. W. Heaton | Go to book overview
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IX Retrospect

It was no part of the purpose of this study to argue the case for the existence of schools in Ancient Israel. From the outset, their work has been taken for granted and the aim has been to demonstrate how it throws new light on much of the literature of the Old Testament and provides an explanation (otherwise missing) of its growth and transmission.

Our exploration of Israel's school tradition started out with tentative criteria and nothing approaching a definition. Instead of declaring at the outset what precisely we were looking for, we adopted the method of reviewing a fairly wide range of Old Testament literature in the hope and expectation that a distinctive stance and style would become evident. There is no escaping the possibility that a preconceived notion of the goal influenced the initial choice of texts. If this has exposed us to the risk of arguing in a circle, it has not inhibited the literary evidence from making its own impact; and that is what matters.

The selection of the literature to be reviewed has not, however, been entirely arbitrary. Obviously it began with those works long recognized as being in some degree 'intellectual' and conventionally (but not very usefully) ascribed to a hypothetical 'wisdom tradition'. 1 This selection was then extended to include writings which, though not explicitly 'intellectual', exhibit features reflecting an educated literary background. 2 These are the texts which, in recent years, have come to be represented as the product of an imagined 'Wisdom Movement', thus exacerbating the

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