REL 113: Old Testament Faith and History. “Writings” hand out. Hill(III) ch. 16-21.  RJDKnauth

Psalms – Songs for personal and community worship – the hymnal of the 2nd Temple. Associated with David.

                Form/Tradition Critical concern: Life-setting.  Covenant renewal, Enthronement, Pilgrimage, etc.

                5 books - each ending in doxology, 150 total with Ps. 1-2 as introduction and Ps. 150 as final doxology

                Occasional titles indicate musical tunes, historical settings, etc., but probably secondary additions.

                Poetic parallelism, acrostic structure.   Individual and Communal.

Lament, Complaint, Thanksgiving, Song of Praise, Pilgrim Songs, Wisdom Psalms, Coronations…


Proverbs – Traditional wisdom, short pithy sayings. The good will prosper, the evil will perish. Assoc. w/ Solomon.

                Popular common sense sayings, prudence

                Fear of God, Theological wisdom

                Importance and beauty of Torah/Law

Image of “Woman Wisdom” – wisdom personified

                Sayings about the Wise and the Foolish

Ancient Near Eastern parallels – international context, setting in royal court?

                Smaller collections within the book, each with a title/attribution, some explicitly foreign


Ecclesiastes – Anti-wisdom tradition, philosophical skepticism. Associated with Solomon – “teacher”

                Problem of futility, striving after the wind, vanity, nothing new under the sun.

                Enjoy life, because the wise and the foolish alike both die // it is better never to be born (?!)


Job – Anti-wisdom tradition, the dilemma of the righteous sufferer. If you suffer, you must be guilty: WRONG!

                Difficult to date, much unique language not found elsewhere in O.T., Edomite connection?

ANE parallels – “Dialogue on Suicide,” etc.

                Cycle of 3 arguments between Job and three friends, with God’s answer. Prologue/Epilogue added. 

                Mystery of God – cannot know God’s purposes, should not presume to know. But Job is justified.

                Job 30-31 parallels with Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount, Beatitudes.” End with trust in God.


Song of Solomon – (Song of Songs) Love song, associated with Solomon (named 7 times).

                Tirzah/Jerusalem may indicate date ca. 900 BCE, others say post-exilic

Traditionally interpreted as allegory of God’s love for Israel, or Christ’s love for church

                Closest parallels are with Proverbs 1-9, Job 28

                A series of meetings: Beloved, Friend, Lover

Sensuous imagery from nature/creation.  Inspiration for many songs.

                Meditation on God’s love: Love is stronger than death, a flood could not quench it.


Esther (compare the story of Joseph in the pentateuch, Daniel, and Ruth) – Hero story, full of humor, irony

                Novella set in Persian period (exile/diaspora), under King Xerxes at Susa, ca. 480 BCE.

                Explanation for feast of Purim – celebrating Jews getting vengeance on their enemies.

                Nationalistic spirit in context of persecution; popularized in Maccabaean period. God turns evil to good.

                God not explicitly mentioned (almost excluded from canon on this basis), but clearly in control.

                Theme of honor/shame, ironic turn-about, Steadfastness and courage in the face of persecution.

                Profound pronouncement of faith: “Perhaps it was for this very reason that I was brought to this position.”


Jonah (included among the “Prophets” but really a wisdom story) – the story of a reluctant prophet.

                Jonah is named in Kings as 8th century prophet, but many date as late Persian period.

                Opposes the post-exilic narrow nationalistic program of Ezra & Nehemiah against Persian cosmopolitanism?

                Humor, irony, opposites, word-play.  Includes poem, ends with a moral. God cares about animals.

                Illustrates the character of God as: Universal, In Control, Gracious and Merciful, Forgiving.

                Quick repentance, conversion, prayer and worship of foreigners show up Israel’s failure to repent.              


Daniel (included in “Prophets” but really an entirely new genre) – Hero story set in Babylonian exile. Part Aramaic.

                Apocalyptic genre (“uncover, reveal”)- compare Isaiah 24-27, Zechariah 9-14. Prophecy in a new idiom.

Veiled political commentary in times of crisis and persecution: bizarre visions, symbolism of beasts, horns.

                Necessity of loyalty to Torah. God in control – even in exile. Be a good citizen, but don’t compromise faith.

                Scholars date to Maccabaean period, 165 BCE, persecutions of Antiochus (proclaimed himself a god):

   Circumcision, Sabbath observance and Torah banned. Temple desecrated, forced idolatry, eating swine.


Also Ruth, Lamentations, Chronicles – covered earlier in course. Apocrypha also from this category & time period.


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