The School Tradition of the Old Testament: The Bampton Lectures for 1994

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The vigorous interest of recent Old Testament scholars in Israel's so-called Wisdom Tradition has exposed much methodological confusion and achieved no agreed results. the wise have not been located in any recognisable structure of Israelite society and the Tradition has never been pinned down as a coherent historical phenomenon. The purpose of this book is to demonstrate that the literature which has been at the centre of the debate was the characteristic product of the schools of ancient Israel, and that scholars who deny the existence of schools or ignore their influence are mistaken. Through a review of a representative sample of Old Testament writings, Dr Heaton examines the intellectual stance and literary style of the school tradition, and relates them to Egyptian prototypes. He argues that the school tradition, with its moral and rational stamina, cannot be dismissed as an eccentric development on the margin of Old Testament thought, but should be recongised as playing a fundamental role in the transmission and re-interpretation of the heritage of Israel. The book offers a lively and important challenge to the conventional presentation of Old Testament theology and to those versions of Christian theology which represent the Church as the exclusive recipient and sole guardian of the truth about God and his world.