Jeremiah’s Use of Wisdom: Knowing Yahweh through Creation and Covenant

As is well known, scholars continue to debate the complex relationship between Israel’s Wisdom Literature and other Old Testament books. For some, the Wisdom Literature does not conceptually belong with other Old Testament books (Clements, 1995). Instead, the Wisdom Literature is grounded in a theology of creation (Zimmerli, 1964) that is independent of other Old Testament traditions which focus on Israel’s history and covenantal relationship with Yahweh.

Though this is a dominant understanding, other scholars are reexamining the interpretation of the Wisdom Literature as well as the relationship of Wisdom Literature to other canonical books (e.g., Boda, Meek, and Osbourne, 2018; Ansberry, 2016; Bartholomew, 2016; Murphy, 1978). An influx of studies have addressed the relationship of the Wisdom Literature with other scriptural texts by re-evaluating hermeneutical and historical assumptions (Kynes, 2018a, 2018b, and Sneed, 2015, 2018), refining methodological considerations for identifying influence (e.g., Dell, 2018), as well as engaging with particular texts shared in the wisdom and prophetic books (e.g, Boda, Meek, and Osbourne 2018).

This paper seeks to complement the valuable contributions above by examining in detail how the prophet Jeremiah uses the theme of wisdom in his prophecy. Previous studies on Jeremiah have focused on the the sage as a social class (e.g., Lindblom 1955; McKane 1995), but more relevant studies have focused on the link between wisdom and creation (Dell, 2015), and the structural role that the theme of wisdom plays in Jeremiah 7–10 (Allen, 2018). However, the significance on Jeremiah’s conception of the relationship between wisdom, covenant, and creation has yet to be explored fully.

In this paper, I will show that Jeremiah conceives of true wisdom as knowledge and obedience to Yahweh through the revelation of his will in covenant and the created order. Though there are distinctions of emphasis, I will show that this conception of wisdom is right at home with the Wisdom Literature. This paper then makes an important contribution to to the ongoing study of the relationship between Wisdom Literature and other scriptural texts. By examining Jeremiah’s use of wisdom, we have a canonical model of integrating wisdom with covenantal and creational theology.

5 thoughts on “Jeremiah’s Use of Wisdom: Knowing Yahweh through Creation and Covenant”

  1. Great Contribution, Not Great Fit
    As mentioned, the role of wisdom in the prophets is less explored, so I think Luke’s topic is very interesting, particularly how he might draw together covenantal and creation theology. I think this paper should be selected, perhaps for a general session. I am not sure how well it fits with the other proposed topics for this session.

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  2. Not a Great Fit, Lack of Methodological Clarity
    Since the focus of the proposed paper is on Jeremiah, is really does not fit in the Wisdom Literature session, since he is NOT claiming that Jeremiah is a ‘wisdom’ book. The proposal gives the impression that the paper could devote an excessive amount of time to a summary of past scholarship, since only ONE sentence in the proposal gives any hint of the actual nature of his contribution, and that sentence lists no specific texts in Jeremiah. Furthermore, the proposal reflects a lack of methodological clarity: Is it his goal to demonstrate that Jeremiah is verbally dependent on specific texts in acknowledged OT Wisdom books (his final paragraph: “the relationship between Wisdom Literature and other scriptural texts) or merely to demonstrate that the concept of wisdom (broadly defined) is also found in prophetic books such as Jeremiah (his title: “Use of Wisdom”; his third paragraph” “the theme of wisdom”)? I am unsure that anyone dispute the latter claim.

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  3. An interesting thesis, but probably not for our session
    I, too, would be interested in hearing this presentation, but it does fit better in the OT prophets area. Hopefully, it will be picked out of the general queue for an at-large slot in the program.

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  4. Intertextually interesting w/ Eccl
    It might be interesting to ask Luke to expand his paper or simply speak to the intertextual possibilities in the Q&A for bringing Jeremiah’s concept which “conceives of true wisdom as knowledge and obedience to Yahweh through the revelation of his will in covenant and the created order” together with “fear of God” in Eccl (which the other papers in the session will be addressing). In this way his paper provides an update to the field and an avenue to move beyond Ecclesiastes in the discussion of the theme of anthropology. So I could see it working well as a response paper to the others.

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