Ancient Wisdom

Ancient Wisdom

An Introduction to Sayings Collections

Walter T. Wilson


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This book surveys and analyzes twenty-seven major collections of wisdom sayings from antiquity, including texts from ancient Egypt, the ancient Near East, ancient Israel and early Judaism, early Christianity, and the Greco-Roman world. Through the diversity of these selections, readers are exposed to wisdom literature from a wide array of historical, cultural, and linguistic settings, which unfolds into a larger understanding of how different ancient peoples articulated a gnomic understanding of life. 

Throughout this useful guide, Walter Wilson keeps a constant eye on the relation of the wisdom texts to the worlds from which they emerged—paying close attention to each text’s distinctive thematic profile and how its moral agenda was mapped onto the reader’s social landscape. Where appropriate, he discusses affinities between the different collections and draws conclusions about ancient wisdom literature as a genre. 

For further study, each entry includes a short bibliography directing the reader to an up-to-date translation of the collection in question and other relevant secondary texts, making this an ideal starting point for anyone studying wisdom literature of the ancient world.


Walter T. Wilson:
Walter T. Wilson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. His other books include a critical edition of The Sentences of Sextus and a commentary on Philo of Alexandria's On Virtue.