Israel’s Wisdom Tradition gives us a fresh way of looking at life, very different from the legal, law-based understandings of how things work in the world.
As you have read the Psalms, you can see how some poems argue with YHWH, complaining that “this is not how it’s supposed to be!” You heard that same accusation from Job and you heard the Creator’s mysterious answer: “You are not able to understand…”
This week we will read all of the Proverbs, all of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. Each is distinctive, with its own unique perspective. Don’t be intimidated because it looks like a lot of reading; it’s very manageable over the days of a week.
Proverbs overflows with proverbial sayings. We understand this. Who else’s mother warned you: “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll rise up with fleas.” Or encouraged you with “Pretty is as pretty does.” Or “Life is like a box of chocolates…” Some of the sayings seem to contradict each other; but isn’t life itself pretty contradictory?
Ecclesiastes give us the cynicism of a skeptic. His doubts and questions may sound familiar if you too have ever been overwhelmed with life’s unfairness.
The Song of Solomon is like no other writing in Scripture. It is a love song between a man and a woman, full of passion and awe at the mystery of erotic love. Some Hebrew traditions saw there a metaphor for the relationship between YHWH and God’s chosen people. Some Christian theologians see a song of intimacy that speaks to the love between Christ and the Church.
James is the New Testament book that most clearly continues the wisdom tradition of Israel. It too offers advice for living well and warns against living apart from the Way of Wisdom.
Living in The Story blog for Week 31