CLIFFORD, R. J. (ed.) Wisdom Literature in Mesopotamia and Israel. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2007, 132 p. – ISBN 9781589832190.
This volume in the SBL Symposium series grew out of a panel on “Mesopotamian Wisdom Literature and Its Legacy in the Ancient Near East” at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in 2004 at San Antonio, Texas. Panelists Paul-Alain Beaulieu, Karel van der Toorn, Peter Machinist, and Victor Avigdor Hurowitz—biblical scholars as well as distinguished Assyriologists—gave papers on Mesopotamian wisdom literature. The editor of this volume, Richard Clifford, was chair of the SBL panel. Though primarily concerned with Mesopotamia, the panelists adduced parallels to other cultures and literatures, including ancient Israel. One paper was on the intellectual and social setting of Babylonian wisdom literature; another was on the development of the concept of wisdom especially in the Old Babylonian and Standard Versions of the Gilgamesh Epic. Two papers were fresh studies of important though difficult wisdom texts, one long known and the other recently published. So well attended was the meeting and so stimulating the discussion that the panelists and chair decided to publish the papers and invite other scholars to contribute to the volume. Since all the papers focus on specific issues or texts, a general guide to the publication of Mesopotamian wisdom literature in its relationship to biblical literature is called for.
Richard J. Clifford (born 1934) is Professor Emeritus of Old Testament at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA.