Sapiential Books

views updated


Sapiential Books, the biblical books of proverbs, job, ecclesiastes, sirach (or ecclesiasticus), and wisdom, which are the five key books of Old Testament wisdom literature. The Church has traditionally associated with them the Book of psalms and the song of songs. However, only a few of the Psalms (1, 36, etc.) are properly sapiential, and the Song of Songs is a collection of love lyrics that may have been preserved for a didactic purpose. In addition, there are many influences of wisdom literature discernible in the works of the prophets (see J. Lindblom in Vetus Testamentum [Leiden 1951] Suppl 3 1955 192204), and in books like baruch (3.94.4) and tobit (4.321; 12.613). In the New Testament, the epistle of james is sapiential in tone, and many sayings of Jesus are couched in the style proper to the books of wisdom. [For details and bibliography see wisdom (in the bible).]

[r. e. murphy]