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The Social World of the Sages: An Introduction to Israelite and Jewish Wisdom Literature

Author: 
Mark R. Sneed (Author)
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Description

The notion of a distinct “wisdom tradition” in ancient Israel has a long history—but does it have a basis in the evidence? Mark R. Sneed argues for a redefinition of the wisdom literature as a loosely cohering collection of books aimed at educating scribal apprentices in moral instruction and the art of living. He presents archaeological and literary data illustrating scribal culture and pedagogy in the ancient Near East and draws a portrait of Israel’s scribal culture, on the basis of which he argues that Israel’s wisdom literature was meant to complement, not to compete with, other modes of literature in the Hebrew Bible.

The result is a surprising new picture of the authors and tradents of the wisdom materials alongside the rich mixture of other traditions in ancient Israel, a presentation carried out with regard to Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, Wisdom, and the wisdom writings in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Features include informational sidebars, photos, diagrams, and maps illustrating archaeological discoveries.  

ISBN: 
9781451470369
Price: 
$44.00
Release date: 
June 1, 2015
Pages: 
224
Width: 
6
Height: 
9

Endorsements

“This is a comprehensive and up-to-date introduction to biblical Wisdom in its historical and social environment. Eminently readable with plenty of illustrations from the ancient and modern worlds, it is ideally suited as a textbook for a course in Wisdom. While Sneed’s conclusion about the theological orientation of Wisdom goes against the consensus, his view is well defended and contextualized.”
Steven L. McKenzie
Rhodes College
 
“With so much attention being given to prophets and kings, it is refreshing to find a volume that addresses wisdom and the sage.  What is particularly remarkable about Sneed’s book is his careful prose, attention to detail, and systematic treatment of the subject.  He brings the readers along with a step-by-step approach, preparing them for more complex ideas and a greater understanding of this important facet of ancient life. His use of ancient Near Eastern texts is also important as a demonstration of the broader literary and social context of ancient Israel.”
—Victor H. Matthews
Missouri State University
 
“Sneed has produced a comprehensive survey of ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature which describes its remarkable variety of sub-genres and reflects on its diverse life-settings, producers, and practitioners. This book would be an accessible, contextual introduction to the Bible’s wisdom literature and to the broad range of wisdom elements within the biblical world.”  
—Jan Jaynes Quesada
Texas Christian University

"The Social World of the Sages is just what its title implies—a sophisticated, up to date, and accessible introduction to the sages and their wisdom books. Professor Sneed makes use of the latest scholarship on a variety of topics and does not hesitate to subject received opinions to intelligent critiques. A refreshing contribution to the subject."
—Richard Clifford
Boston College 


Reviews