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Poetic Ethics in Proverbs
Wisdom Literature and the Shaping of the Moral Self


  • Date Published: February 2016
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107119420

£ 89.99

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About the Authors
  • The Book of Proverbs' frequent use of binary oppositions - righteous and wicked, wise and foolish - has led many to assume that its vision of the moral world is relatively simplistic. This study demonstrates that Proverbs in fact presents a remarkably sophisticated response to ethical questions of profound concern to the Israelite sages who crafted the book: what motivates human beings? How do they learn? How does the power of desire shape human characters? Anne W. Stewart analyzes Proverbs' multifaceted collection of images and metaphors to reveal their complex understanding of the development of the moral self, which suggests that character formation requires educating all of the senses and not simply the cognitive faculties. One of few works to make explicit connections between the poetic form of Proverbs and its pedagogical function, Poetic Ethics in Proverbs will appeal to all those interested in literary approaches to the Bible.

    • Offers a critique of the solely narrative orientation of character ethics
    • Gives extensive attention to the moral psychology of Proverbs
    • Includes detailed readings of individual poems
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Throughout, the discussion is well-rooted not only in the regular debates and literature of biblical scholarship, but also in the debates and literature of moral philosophy as well as of the general study of literature. A recurrent emphasis is the limitations of those treatments of Proverbs that see the book as essentially a collection of simplistic and/or dogmatic perspectives; [Stewart] argues that this fails to do justice to the sophisticated understanding of the complexities of the human person and human motivations that she finds to be consistently present … This is one of the best books on Proverbs that I have read.' Walter Moberly, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2016
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107119420
    • length: 260 pages
    • dimensions: 236 x 158 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. Poetry, pedagogy, and ethos
    Part I. Character and Poetry:
    2. Character ethics and the shaping of the self
    3. Form criticism and the way of poetry in Proverbs
    Part II. Models of Mûsār:
    4. The model of rebuke
    5. The model of motivation
    6. The model of desire
    7. The model of imagination
    Part III. Narrative, Poetry, and Personhood:
    8. Narrative, poetry, and personhood.

  • Author

    Anne W. Stewart, Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey
    Anne W. Stewart is Director of External Relations at Princeton Theological Seminary. Her essays have appeared in the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, the Harvard Theological Review, the Women's Bible Commentary, and the Encyclopaedia of the Bible and its Reception.

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