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

By E. W. Heaton | Go to book overview

IV Education in Wisdom

Education in wisdom means training in 'know-how'. This splendid expression, which has been current in the United States since the early nineteenth century, identifies the essentially practical quality which the Old Testament writers called wisdom. 1 The term always signifies superior ability—the ability to get on top of things, to achieve a goal, to become expert, to exercise mastery, and so on. The attenuated modern view of wisdom as analytic insight detached from executive power, such as the elderly are supposed to possess, was quite foreign to ancient Israel. At one end of the spectrum, wisdom was used to describe the skill of seamen 2 and snake-charmers, 3 designers 4 and embroiderers, 5 carpenters 6 and metalworkers, 7 like Hiram, whom Solomon hired: 'His father, a native of Tyre, had been a worker in bronze, and he himself was a man of great skill and ingenuity, versed in every kind of craftsmanship in bronze' (or, as the Revised Standard Version translates more literally, 'he was full of wisdom, understanding and skill, for making any work in bronze'). 8 At the other end of the spectrum, it was by wisdom that in the beginning God created the world and got it to work:

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth's foundations
and by understanding he set the heavens in place;

-65-

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

Table of contents

  • The School Tradition of the Old Testament iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgement ix
  • Contents xi
  • Abbreviations xii
  • I- a Jerusalem School Inspected 1
  • II- Schools and Libraries 24
  • III- School-Books from Egypt 45
  • IV- Education in Wisdom 65
  • V- Prophets and Teachers 93
  • VI- Story-Writers 115
  • VII- Honest Doubters 137
  • VIII- Belief and Behaviour 159
  • IX- Retrospect 183
  • Chronological Tables 191
  • Index of Biblical References 195
  • Index of Subjects 204
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