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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Wisdom Intoned: A Reappraisal of the Genre 'Wisdom Psalms'
Cheung, Simon Chi-Chung

London: Bloomsbury, 2015 pp. 248. $112.00

Series Information
Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 613


Description: It has been hard to categorise and identify the 'Wisdom psalms' within the Psalter. Interpreters have produced different lists of wisdom psalms of greatly varying lengths, and individual scholars often change their choices over time. Cheung re-examines the issues at stake in identifying this group of psalms in order to better describe the configuration of this psalmic genre. Past scholarship has failed to settle this issue because of the use of unfit criteria and an ill-understood concept of genre. With the aid of the concepts of 'family resemblance' and 'prototypes', this book proposes to define 'wisdom psalms' as a psalm family which is characterised by a wisdom-oriented constellation of its generic features. Three such features are identified after a fresh assessment of the most typical characteristics of 'wisdom literature'. This proposed method is put to test in the extensive study of seven psalms (37, 49, 73, 128, 32, 39, and 19) and the three criteria are verified to be suitable descriptors of the 'wisdom psalm' family. Cheung also explores questions related to the wisdom-cult disparity, Joban parallels as wisdom indicators, and the wisdom-orientation of 'torah psalms'.

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Writings, Literature, Methods, Literary Approaches, Psalms

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Review by Phil J. Botha
Published 6/1/2017
Citation: Phil J. Botha, review of Simon Chi-Chung Cheung, Wisdom Intoned: A Reappraisal of the Genre 'Wisdom Psalms', Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2017).


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