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Hebrew Wisdom as the Sitz im Leben for Higher Education in Ancient Israel

Description: This research grows out of an interest in what scholars commonly call the wisdom tradition of the ancient near east. This tradition or movement involved groups of thinkers and writers, known collectively as scribes, who were concerned in a philosophical way with the problems of living, and with principles of living well. Such communities are known to have flourished in Egypt, the various kingdoms of Mesopotamia, and western Asia, from at least the middle of the third millennium B.C. These scribal communities are also known to have sponsored schools, intended primarily for training in statecraft and the professions, but also for training in the scribal profession per se. The documentary and historical record indicates that such schools provided education from the most rudimentary level of literacy and writing to the most advanced levels of scribal scholarship. These advanced levels of training were functionally equivalent to what is nowadays known as higher education; and the ideals, the philosophy, which guided this enterprise found expression in a corpus of literature bearing the name "wisdom." The problem for this dissertation is whether or not there was in ancient Israel, specifically in the Solomonic era (10th century, B.C.), such an advanced scribal school associated with a Hebrew wisdom tradition. This is a research problem precisely because the evidence for such a school in Israel is both less abundant and less accessible than for the rest of the ancient near east.
Date: May 1997
Creator: Wells, C. Richard (Calvin Richard), 1949-
Partner: UNT Libraries