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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 259 Reviews THE TREE OF LIFE: AN EXPLORATION OF BIBLICAL WISDOM LITERATURE. By Roland E. Murphy. Second edition. Pp. xi + 233. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996. Paper, $22.00. Roland E. Murphy, one of the acclaimed doyens of the study of biblical wisdom literature, brings his expertise and breadth of knowledge-his wisdom -to bear in this "exploration." After an introductory chapter, Murphy reviews the books generally accepted as constituting the corpus of scriptural (and apocryphal or deuterocanonical) wisdom books, offering one chapter for each. The chapter titles define and help problematize each book: "Proverbs: The Wisdom of Words"; "Job the Steadfast"; "Qoheleth the Skeptic"; "Ben Sira-Wisdom's Traditionalist"; "The Wisdom of Solomon-A View from the Diaspora." These are followed by two thematic chapters, the first in which Murphy probes wisdom echoes found in other biblical books and the second broaching theological concerns in wisdom literature. This section of the volume concludes with a chapter examining "Lady Wisdom." These nine chapters are followed by the Appendix in which Murphy offers brief treatments of ancient Near Eastern wisdom material, presented separately from the other chapters so "they do not interfere with the exposition of the biblical books" (p. 151). Nonetheless, to a limited extent the extra-biblical material is also cited for comparative purposes in the earlier and later chapters of the volume. At this point it must be noted that, with the exception of the Appendix, all of the chapters (pp. 1-149) appear again a second time in shortened form in what is designated as a Supplement (pp. 191-229; more on this momentarily). roughly one-sixth the length of the entire book. The Supplement represents Murphy's additions to the first edition (published in 1990), and it also inCludes methodological and bibliographic updates. Buttressed by the tradition known as higher, or skeptical, wisdom, one might see a revised edition structured in this manner primarily as a device for saving time and cutting printing costs in preparation of the second edition. Doubtless it was. This duplicative structure, however, also has its strengths. despite the inconvenience necessitated by flipping back and forth between the full chapter (reprinted as it appeared in the first edition) and the relevant section in the Supplement. This method of organization provides a collateral-and let us assume intended-benefit. The separation. rather than integration, of the two sets of material enables the reader to discern stages of development over time, and it reflects what appear to be the tensions Murphy experiences between older and newer interpretive methods. Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 260 Reviews We discern, for instance, his growing acceptance of literary gender studies; at times we may even sense a dialectic,between Murphy's earlier and later views. Thus we see evidence testifying to changes in the field of wisdom studies and Murphy's acceptance of some-but not all-of those changes. This is an unexpe.cted treat, a window into the study of a prominent scholar. Several other editorial decisions related to the structure of the volume may be distracting (e.g., having two different bibliographic reference styles, one used in material of the first edition and a second style in the supplementary chapters, and of the occasional appearance of material in both parts of the book). But Murphy offers enough of substance to overcome such minor irritants. Before examining specific books within the wisdom corpus, Murphy assesses the characteristics of ancient wisdom and its social settings. Despite some ambiguity in delineating whether wisdom is a matter of form or of content, that uncertainty does not muddle the rest of the volume. One might quibble about some bibliographic omissions (e.g., J. Crenshaw, Old Testament Wisdom: An Introduction [Atlanta, GA: John Knox, 1981] and now the revised edition [Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 1998]; explicit mention of any of H. L. Ginsberg's work for Qoheleth; R. Gordis's for Job; or W. Beyerlin, Near Eastern Religious Texts Relating to the Old Testament [Philadelphia, PA: Westminster, 1978]-to which one can now add W. Hallo, ed., Scripture in Context [New York, NY: Brill, vol. 1, 1996; vol. 2. 1999]-for general ancient Near Eastern comparative material...


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