Interpreting the Wisdom Books: An Exegetical Handbook

book int wis

This book is the latest entry in Kregel’s series entitled “Handbooks for Old Testament Exegesis”, edited by David M. Howard, Jr. If you have already used the earlier volumes on the Pentateuch, the historical books, the Psalms, the prophetic books, and apocalyptic literature, you know what to expect. This entry is equal in value to its predecessors. It tackles only Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon since the Book of Psalms has its own volume. The series is geared for graduate-level exegesis courses, but any pastor or Bible student could glean from its contents.

The first chapter overviews the task of interpreting Old Testament Wisdom literature. That requires explaining Wisdom’s perspective in the biblical sense. The author discusses what he calls the pedagogy of the sages and thoroughly reviews the genres of Wisdom: poetry and proverb.

The next chapter tackles primary themes in the Wisdom books. Each of the four books being studied are discussed one at a time. Outstanding theological themes are shared in this lengthy chapter. Whether you agree with all of them are not, you will be given much food for thought that will advance understanding.

Chapter 3 turns more toward the hermeneutical task. In this chapter, you will learn the importance of the ANE background, textual criticism, and context. This chapter also gives a detailed list of hermeneutical resources that can be consulted. Chapter 4 extends the process by diving into exegesis. Chapter 5 guides the reader into taking that exegesis and turning it into a sermon. Since some portions of these Wisdom writings are the trickiest to turn into sermons, this guidance will be greatly appreciated. Chapter 6 continues the process of sermon building to organizing the material and applying the text. Chapter 7 serves as an appendix of computer and Internet resources.

There is a helpful glossary of terms in the back of the book that defines carefully important highlighted words from the text of the book.

Mr. Curtis has done good work here. It’s thorough enough for deep study, yet short and the succinct enough to be used widely. This book can do you a lot of good and I recommend it.

I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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