Bible Review 10:2, April 1994

Bible Books

Discovering God in the Ordinary

Wisdom in Theology

R. E. Clements (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992), 188 pp., $16.99(paperback)

Trying to understanding the biblical Wisdom literature is rather like trying to understand life. Many things are crystal clear, but the ambiguities and conundrums range from puzzling to painful.

Distinguished Old Testament scholar Ronald E. Clements, of King’s College, London, presents in this book a fine, semi-popular introduction to many issues raised by Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and Ben Sira. His overarching concern is theological. But since the genius of Wisdom literature is to discover God in the ordinary, much of Clements’ little book is devoted to worldly affairs. Thus he presents chapters on Wisdom in relation to the world, health, politics and the household. The book concludes with “Wisdom and the Divine Realm.” Useful footnotes and a bibliography enable the reader to pursue these subjects further.

Clements’ main focus is on the post-Exilic period (that is, after 538 B.C.E.). He believes, with most scholars, that the main work of editing Proverbs occurred then and that its first nine chapters were written in that period. These chapters are crucial because they serve as the prologue and interpretive context for the (generally pre-Exilic) collections of short sayings in chapters 10–29.

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