Readings in the Hebrew Bible: The Wisdom Tradition

Open—Spring

The question of theodicy is most acute in times of social and political crisis. Theodicy refers to the problem of evil in the context of a religion at whose foundation is a monotheistic belief in God. In the Bible, the Book of Deuteronomy promises Israel that adherence to the Torah will lead to a good life. This belief system was severely challenged by the loss of Israel in the Babylonian invasion of 587BCE. The destruction of the Temple by the Babylonians and the subsequent exile of the Israelites engendered a rich and complex body of literature. Jewish scribes wrote books of wisdom intended to guide Israel into the uncharted waters that their God had presumably taken them. To this end, we will read books like Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, and Ben-Sira with a view to understanding how these works addressed theological issues of their day. This course may be taken in conjunction with Readings in Genesis (fall) as a yearlong seminar.