Tuesday, 29 July 2008

New OT Dictionary - and look who contributed

The new IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings edited by Tremper Longman and Peter Enns has just arrived. Lots of people will know this wonderful series which has produced four impressive volumes on the New Testament and now three on the Old Testament. As a I find this series a great help since it allows the non-specialist in Biblical Studies who wants to engage with careful well-informed evangelical biblical scholarship. This volume deals with Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ruth and Esther. As well as articles on each of those books there are almost 150 articles taking 1000 pages on the theology and themes of the books, the literary features of Hebrew poetry and Wisdom literature, the cultural bacgrlund and various interpretive approaches.

 There are four Australian contributors David Jackson, Paul Williamson, Martin Shields and our own John Davies. John has an article on 'theodicy' and one on 'folly'. I don't think there is a connection, though some people would say that all attempts at theodicy (defending God's righteousness) are folly (either they are doomed or needless!). 

On folly John tells us that it comes out first in speech, "Fools speak too soon and without listening … they say too much … they slander others … are quarrelsome, irascible, quick to take offense, or verbally aggressive". They may use proverbs, but in their mouths the proverb is 'disabled'. The fool is marked by a character, but behind the character is "a different orientation to knowledge … succumbing to the allure of this world's godless knowledge".

On theodicy he concludes that "rather than attempt to offer a rational explanation, to resolve the tensions by limiting God's power or denying his goodness, [the Biblical writers] seek to instill in their readers the fear of Yahweh. We may not understand God's ways but God knows what he is doing".

I'm looking forward to reading John's articles more fully and dipping into the rest of the volume.

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