Wisdom Literature

For audio files go to the bottom of this page.

A number of my introducatory commentaries are relevant to this aspect of the Older Testament.

The Psalms

Writing in Alexandria in the fourth century, Saint Athanasius has this to say: 'The BOOK OF PSALMS is like a garden which contains the fruits of all the other books, grows a crop of song and so adds its own special fruit to the rest. It seems to me that for the person who recites them the psalms are like a mirror in which we may see ourselves and the movements of our heart and mind and then give voice to them.' 512 pages $40 [includes GST and postage within Australia]. The audio files are available on my website

as is the full text of the commentary.

 

The Book of Proverbs, the Book of Job

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS is a collection of the oldest wisdom sayings of Ancient Israel. It includes instructions and suggestions on how to live a productive and fulfilled life. The 'wise sayings' are the fruit of reflection on life experience and on Israel's faith. The BOOK OF JOB, acknowledged as a poetic masterpiece, examines human suffering, and in doing so challenges traditional 'wisdom'. 228 pages $20 [includes GST and postage within Australia]

Commentary on Proverbs click HERE

Commentary on Job Click HERE

Audio files on the Proverbs

Proverbs 1-9

Proverbs 10-14

Proverbs 15-24

Proverbs 25-31

A copy of the full suite of audio files of Proverbs is available on 1 CD (cost $5.00, plus an extra $5.00 if purchased singly, to cover packaging and postage). Please contact me if you wish to purchase.

  • You can, of course, download this material free of charge from this website.

 

Tobit and Judith

Tobit is a short story, a romance. The author, writing somewhere in the East, and probably in the third century BC, wants his Jewish contemporaries to appreciate the blessings of the covenant they have with their God, and the benefits that flow from a life lived in obedience to the Torah. The story has a lot to tell us about living a noble and just life, expressed in acts of kindness.

Judith, too, is a story, composed in Judah in the last decades of the second century BC.  The heroine is a woman, Judith, who lives in an imaginary town in Samaria. She is victorious over the general of the most powerful army in the world. The author wants to encourage his contemporaries to persevere in their faith. Their situation may appear impossible, and their enemies invincible, but only God is invincible and God is committed to his people. They must never lose faith or abandon their traditional way of life in obedience to the Torah. 113 pages $10
[includes GST and postage within Australia]

Commentary on Tobit Click HERE

Commentary on Judith Click HERE

Wisdom of Ben Sira & Wisdom of Solomon

As well as such inspiring passaghes as Chapter 24 (a hymn to Wisdom), Chapter 34:14-20 (on divine providence), Chapter 39:12-35 (in praise of the Creator), and the concluding hymn (51:13-30), we can find many gems of wisdom from Ben Sira, a remarkable teacher whose career in Jerusalem spanned the final decades of the third century BC, and continued into the early years of the second century.

There are times (but very few) where Christians reading this text
can imagine Jesus saying: ‘It was said to you of old, but I say’.
One obvious example is Chapter 12:1-7, where the author assumes that God hates sinners, and encourages his students to do the same. He speaks quite beautifully about forgiveness, but it does not extend to one’s enemies. He displays a special antipathy to the Samaritans. He encourages a caring attitude to those in need, but his attitude to women witnesses to the prevailing assumption that they are inferior to men. However, all in all, Ben Sira offers much practical and wise advice, as relevant in our day as it was in his.

The author of the Wisdom of Solomon composed his work two centuries later, in Alexandria, during the Roman period. He draws on the same Jewish tradition, but he also draws on current Hellenistic philosophy with which he was very familiar. He writes in Greek, and when he covers themes found also in Sirach he uses the language, not of the Septuagint, but of the Hellenist schools. He wants his students to engage with Hellenism, but to value the  special wisdom that is their patrimony as Jews. 272 pages $20 [includes GST and postage within Australia]

Commentary on Ben Sira Click HERE

Commentary on Wisdom of Solomon Click HERE

Audio file on the Wisdom of Ben Sira

Sirach 1-4

Sirach 4-14

Sirach 14-38

Sirach 38-51

Audio files on the Wisdom of Solomon

Wisdom 1-3

Wisdom 4-18

A copy of the full suite of audio files ofSirach & Wisdomis available on 1 CD (cost $5.00, plus an extra $5.00 if purchased singly, to cover packaging and postage). Please contact me if you wish to purchase.

  • You can, of course, download this material free of charge from this website.