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Lecture 16

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Religious Studies
RELG 203
Sean Ross

Lecture 16 Wisom Literature -a genre of biblical and other ancient near east literature -found in Keuvim in the Hebrew Bible as well as in the apocrypha -books include: proverbs, ecclesiastes, job, psalms, wisdom of Solomon, sirach, song of songs -relatively late, younger books -wisdom lit. addresses existential questions about human 0065and the nature of the relationship between humanity and divine -problems such as justice, suffering and death -goal is not to retell history Solomonic Trilogy: *Proverbs *Ecclesiastes *Song of Solomon (song of songs) -they offer different types of questions and answers -attributed to king Solomon (thought of as being the author) -late texts -solomon is a figure of great wisdom woody allen movie: “I will always choose god over the truth” Proverbs: aphorism- teaches some moral or practical truth -use imagery or metaphors to get point across -anthology of texts -not all the same (length, different issues) -chief theological perspective is the wicked are punished and the good are rewarded Advice- religious in nature “The foreign woman” -father warns son about foreign woman -could be literal (stick to women of your own nation) -metaphorical (don’t stray from the teachings of the fathers, it’s dangerous to wander away from what you’ve been taught) lady folly/lady wisdom -god’s partner in creating the world -personified wisdom -woman who stands opposite of the foolish woman -the woman who should be desired and pursued -actual divine being of god’s partner or wife vs personified wisdom Ecclesiastes: -(aka The Preacher or Qoheleth) -asks questions that don’t necessarily have answers -God’s ways are inscrutable and you should do the best with what you have -can’t tell how God will deal with people (what his motivations are) when it comes to the just and the wicked -sometimes the good suffer and the wicked prosper in life -everyone dies in the end anyway…same fate comes to everyone -it is impossible to observe that God rewards are the good -disoriented, basic framework= written in the perspective of a man pursuing wisdom and seeking knowledge of life (autobiographical) -poems, proverbs, bits of advice, lots of questions -theme: concept of vanity (“all is vanity” or literally “life is like a puff of air”) -indicates the difficulty humans encounter when they want to understand the purpose of life -authors conclusions: life seems to have no clear meaning, brings about insight “for everything there is a season” -the Byrd’s song Turn, Turn, Turn lyrics are directly from the bible (add lyric “I swear it’s not too late” to add a new twist) -Eat, drink and be merry -often sided by atheists -says God’s ways are unknowable, not that he does not exist -poets fail to pick up on the basic optimism -can enjoy life even if you don’t understand world -the world is ongoing, continuing, nothing changes Song of Solomon (song of songs): -not necessarily always treated as an example of wisdom lit. -collection of erotic poetry from different sources that have been strung together to make a cohesive arc -two lovers, appreciation of one another’s beauty, pain of separation and joy of being brought together -Solomon is author (Solomon had a thousand wives) -each lover describes his or her counter part’s physical attributes -urgency felt by lovers, passion, desire behind lyrics -jews interpret it as desire for god and Israel is his lover (spiritual desire between god and god’s people) -song on mount Sinai when covenant was formed and the laws were handed down -either individual’s desire for god or the church as a whole -not sexual, its spiritual -erotic poetry expresses spiritual development Job: -literary classic -source of easy answers about the odyssey (question of whether or not God is just) -innocent suffering -how can we say that god is just when the good suffer so much in life and the evil seem to get away with it? -written in 6 century though the story is set long before (period of judges or patriarchs) -job is husband of jacob’s daughter Dinah -drama made up of long poetic dialogue between job and different characters who confront him over his anger and suffering -If Job suffers, then he must have done something to deserve it -Job’s anger: “Let the day perish in which I was born” -When job suffers enough, he snaps and wants to confront god -no comfort from friends -wants answers as to why terrible things happen to such a good person as himself Eliphaz is convinced that Job has done something to deserve suffering -he represents ethical outlook on life that bad people get punished -perspective of friends is that Job should repent and accept his own fault/what has happened to him -gets his chance to confront God -God gives Job what he wants but does not directly answer Job’s questions -no explanation -challenges the very notion that a very human being like Job could even ask a question -humans have no means by which to question the actions of gods -talks about leviathan, behemoth and his strength and might compared to humans -god is not silent, he’s there, it’s just that he can’t be understood by people -Job accepts this, is satisfied by meeting God, rewarded with new family and wealth -Christian interpretation: Job is interpreted as a martyr saint and type of Christ -Job serves as a mirror of the human condition Job complains because he has no living sons who will stick up for him after he dies -in Christian interpretation the vindicator is Christ (can have hope in resurrection through Christ) Psalms: -150 -the word comes from a greek word referring to the musical instrument played to accompany the poems of the psalms -hebrew word means praises -many psalms attributed to David -psalms written well after he lived Three basic categories: 1)Praise (extolls and celebrates god, as creator, as king of world or as deliverer of Israel) 2)Lament (individual songs of dejection, fear, sadness, anxiety, cries to God of complaints for help, accusatory, angry, hopeful) 3)Thanksgiving (individual or corporate songs, thanks god for personal service or to Israel as a whole) Aroyal psalm- -seek to reinforce the Davidic dynasty -coronation hymns Divine office -traditional songs associated with certain periods -i.e. Mondays consist of psalms so-and-so, etc Lecture 17 The Latter Prophets: -individual book attributed to specific prophets -each book is fully devoted to a single prophet -Isaiah is centered around the words of Isaiah (presented as the prophet’s own words) Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel (major prophets) and the scroll of the 12 (minor prophets) -major/minor has to do with length -major prophets come first in the order of the books -prophets are not fortune tellers -oriented towards addressing the needs of Judah in Israel -immediate future not distant future -commentary on social and political issues of the day -some were prophets as a profession (that’s how they made their living) -not simply con
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