Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?

Article excerpt

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? Edited by Stephen C. Barton. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1999. xxiv + 388 pp. $37.95 (paper).

This book is in two sections, the first dealing with Wisdom in Israel and the Church, the second, Wisdom in Contemporary Philosophy, Theology and Ethics. Section one is thorough, informative and useful-ideal for a difficult essay on Wisdom, a tricky sermon, or as the basis for a sabbatical study. This is solid, quality material presented in short essays by different authors in clear, well-ordered formats. Section two offers practical handholds for those trying to get a grip on the context within which Judeo-Christian Wisdom develops. Stimulating essays deal with a range of topics including Biblical Wisdom, Jesus, Social Sciences, New Spirituality, Ethical Expertise (a splendid history of Ethical attitudes with an eye-opening emphasis on the corporate rather than the individual nature of Wisdom) and Wittgenstein.

There are many worthy reasons to read the book. Two chapters in particular shone out for me. Robert Song's "Wisdom as the End of Morality" is a deliciously clear analysis of the "morality system" which bites the theology/ philosophy bullet from the outset:

It is a striking feature of philosophy-at least in its dominant English-speaking varieties-that, despite the etymology of the word, one would not typically approach a philosopher if one were interested in the pursuit of wisdom. Nor, equally, would one look out a moral philosopher if one were after words of practical advice (p. 295). And yet, surely, the whole point of philosophy is wisdom, the knowledge of how to live!

The second essay that challenged me was Adrian Thatcher's "Premodern Marriage in Postmodern Times." He starts with a reasonable question: "What has marriage to do with wisdom? …

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