Wisdom literature and theology Conlusion

Wisdom and history

Humans and our environment

Humans and our environment

  • They also made comparisons between things (Prov 25:14; 26:2; Prov 30:24–28; Job 12:7).
  • When the Lord “replies” to Job he lets nature do the talking (Job 38–41).
  • See Job 38:19–20.
  • Nature and its mysteries were observed and analysed - although in a simple way (Prov 30:18–19).
  • Humans and our environment

  • The world is depended on its Creator.
  • The cosmos was not a machine that was wound up at creation and then let go.
  • The Lord is active at all levels.
  • But, we find a kind of tension.
  • Humans and our environment

  • On one hand, humans bear responsibility for their action - we have “free will”.
  • On the other hand, the Lord is the cause of everything, both good and bad.
  • Israel never tried to explain the relation between human freedom and divine activity.
  • See Sirach 15:11–20 and Job 9:22–24
  • Humans and our environment

  • Israel discerned God’s actions through their life experiences.
  • The author of the Book of Wisdom reveals God’s providence in dealing with his people (Wisdom 19:22).
  • Such understanding of history and daily events in life is rooted in the virtue of trust.
  • God was responsible for the reality that confronted the sages.
  • Humans and our environment

  • Trust in the Lord goes hand in hand with respect for the mystery of divine activity (Prov 20:24; 21:30; Job 11:7–8; Is 40:13–14, 28).
  • And so here, we encounter another paradox.
  • On one hand, wisdom is something acquired by discipline and docility.
  • On the other hand, it is a gift from God.
  • Search for order

    Search for order

  • God set up his world according to certain laws.
  • And creatures are to abide by the divine set of laws.
  • The sages deduced from observation or their experience that certain actions lead to good or bad results.
  • For example: what are the effects of a soothing word, of self control, honesty, humility (cf. Prov 16:24)?
  • Search for order

  • Experience teaches certain lessons: laziness usually leads to poverty and diligence to prosperity (cf. Prov 10:4; 26:14).
  • But notice the word “usually”.
  • The sages also recognised that there could be exceptions.
  • Retribution


  • Prov 25:23 seems to established a relation between the laws of nature and moral realm.
  • But, we should not understand it as something mechanical.
  • The sages connect good and bad results with the Lord who rewards and punishes (Prov 20:22; 22:12).
  • See also Is 45:7; 43:12; 1 Sam 2:6.
  • Our God reacts to human conduct (Gen 18:16–33; Deut 4:3–4; 5:9–11).
  • Retribution

  • The role of God in establishing order affects also the realm of political and social life.
  • It can be summarised by the word “justice”.
  • Amos 5:24.
  • If there is no justice society cannot survive.
  • We can say that there is an inherit connection between God, our actions and nature (Rom 8:19–21).
  • Wisdom and creation

    Wisdom and creation

  • Prov 8:22–31 speaks about Wisdom participating in the creation of the world.
  • Then in Gen 1:28 - God orders humans to “subdue” the earth.
  • But, the sages realised that such thing can only be properly done with the help of wisdom (See Wisdom 7:22; 8:6).
  • Wisdom and creation

    Wisdom and the world.

  • For Israel, the world is always seen in relation to God and all living being that occupy it - particularly that mysterious creature ‘human being’ (Sirach 17:7).
  • See Ps 22:10 - our dependence on God;
  • See also Job 10:8ff.
  • Wisdom and creation

  • Moreover, the world also proclaims the existence of God (Pss 19:2; 145; 148).
  • Ps 104 speaks about God’s care for the world (see 104:24).
  • Looking at creation, the psalmist admires and praises God.
  • Wisdom and Israel’s faith

    Wisdom and Israel’s faith

  • Wisdom and faith go hand in hand (Sir 4:11–19).
  • After all, fear of the Lord - which presupposes faith in God - is the beginning of wisdom (Prov 1:7).
  • The sages teach us that we can encounter God in ordinary events of our lives.

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