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Early Israelite Wisdom$
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Stuart Weeks

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198270072

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198270072.001.0001

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Was Early Wisdom Secular?

Was Early Wisdom Secular?

(p.57) 4 Was Early Wisdom Secular?
Early Israelite Wisdom

Stuart Weeks

Oxford University Press

Discussion about early wisdom in Israel has been influenced for some years by the claim that it was a fundamentally secular tradition, in which theology played no part. This claim is associated especially with the work of William McKane. The similarity between McKane's view and older, humanistic ideas about the Egyptian instructions may provoke some suspicion that, like those theories, it depends more on modern ideas than on the texts. McKane's theory be dismissed as simply anachronistic, and he has never strayed beyond the bounds of strict historical possibility. He does not attempt to view early wisdom as a sort of philosophical humanism, which would be quite improbable, but claims that it is a tradition of Realpolitik, which is eminently plausible. His ideas rest in part upon his interpretation of prophetic and other texts, but also find expression in an analysis of Proverbs.

Keywords:   Proverbs, early wisdom literature, William McKane

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