Freshmen Chapter 10
Wisdom & Wit: Seeking the Ways of God
Let’s go back to basics for a minute:
Knowledge: Facts, information, and skills
acquired by a person through experience or
education; the theoretical or practical
understanding of a subject; true, justified
belief; certain understanding, as opposed to
Religion: A strong belief in a supernatural
power or powers that control human destiny
• A synonym for failure is fiasco: A thing that is
a complete failure, esp. in a ludicrous or
humiliating way
• Success: A person or thing that achieves
desired aims or attains prosperity
Which do you want to be?
• Now we turn to a variety of Old Testament texts
written at various times after the Babylonian exile
• The authors of these books tried to answer these
What does it mean to be a wise person?
What is the meaning and purpose of life?
Where are we going?
Why do good people suffer and bad people
Why should we be good in a world that is unfair?
How can we live good and faithful lives when
surrounded by those who are hostile to our beliefs?
• The Book of Proverbs appeared sometime
after the Babylonian exile during the period
when the second, primitive temple was being
built in Jerusalem
• It contains collections of wisdom teachings
oriented toward teaching the young
• Parts of The Book may date back to the time
of King Solomon
• It is concerned with how to live a good life
• It is full of down-to-earth, practical advice
• How to live a good life according to The Book of
Proverbs: (See pg 246 ff) – Discuss one @ a time
 Parenting
 Communicating
 Attitudes
 Manners at court
 Work
 Conducting Business
 Reputation
 Leadership
 Gossip
 Learning
 Relationships with neighbors
• Notice the literary device used in wisdom sayings:
the same thing is said twice in two different ways,
ex “Misfortune pursues sinners, / but prosperity
rewards the righteous”
• The teachers says the first part of the saying and
the students respond with the second part
• In the original Hebrew it would have been even
more fun with the clever word plays and sounds
unique to the Hebrew language
• According to The Book of Proverbs, success &
prosperity in this life, gained fairly, are the
reward for a virtuous life
Watch video “The Book of Proverbs”
• Notice the focus in Judaism on rewards for being
good come in this life not in the afterlife as in
• Honor, dignity, and a good name are a person’s
memorial – there is no hint of an afterlife in
Jewish theology
• If pressed, Rabbis talk about a “collective”
afterlife with God in heaven but there is no
notion of an individual afterlife with God
• Where is God in all this wisdom? – most of the
sayings do not mention God
• The perspective of the Jewish sages (“sage” means a
“wise teacher”) was that true wisdom is from God,
no matter where we find it – even in other cultures
with their appealing wisdom sayings
• The sages saw the world as full of God’s wisdom so it
is not surprising that the sages looked to the
everyday experiences of the world to find wisdom
• The Book of Proverbs often portrays the image of
God’s wisdom as a woman and adds a feminine
voice and quality to the traditional image of God as
masculine and this feminine image of wisdom has
been called “Lady Sophia” after the Greek word for
• God is pure spirit – neither man nor woman
• God is personal, but transcends the human
categories of gender
• The Old Testament writes used the terms
“male” and “female” because that’s that they
knew from their everyday experience
• Catholic tradition has often read the passages
on Wisdom in the Old Testament as related to
Mary, the mother of God.
• Mary is called the “Seat of Wisdom” in some
prayers in the Catholic liturgy

Freshmen Chapter 10 Wisdom & Wit: Seeking the Ways of God