1st Edition

Wisdom Discourse in the Ancient World

Edited By Sara De Martin, Anna Lucia Furlan Copyright 2025
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book moves beyond the debate on ‘wisdom literature’, ongoing in Biblical Studies, demonstrating the productivity of ‘wisdom’ as a literary category. Featuring work by scholars of Egyptology, Classics, Biblical and Near Eastern Studies, it offers fresh perspectives on what makes a text ‘wisdom’.

    This interdisciplinary volume widens the scope of the investigation into ‘wisdom literature’, chronologically, geographically, and methodologically. Readers are given insights into how the label ‘wisdom’ contributes to our understanding of diverse literary forms across time periods and cultural contexts. In the volume’s introduction, the editors consider ‘wisdom’ as a ‘discourse’, shifting the focus from the debate on whether ‘wisdom literature’ is a genre, to the properties of the texts, namely exploring what makes a text ‘wisdom’. This offers a methodological backdrop against which the diverse approaches of the single authors productively coexist, showing how different methodologies can be integrated to reframe our conceptions of ancient literary genres.  The chapters in this volume examine texts that are the products of different ancient cultures, with several of them bridging diverse cultural, social, and chronological contexts. By sampling how different methodologies interact both within individual interpretative efforts and in wider attempts to understand cross-cultural literary phenomena, this volume also contributes new perspectives to the scholarship on ancient literary genres.

    Wisdom Discourse in the Ancient World will interest both students and scholars of the Ancient Near East, Egyptology, Classical Studies, Biblical Studies, and Theology and Religious Studies, particularly those working on wisdom literature in antiquity. It will also appeal to readers with an interest in comparative approaches and genre studies more broadly.

    1. Introduction: ‘Wisdom Literatures’ and the Discourse of Wisdom, Sara De Martin and Anna Lucia Furlan; 2. Reframing Wisdom through Liminality in Akkadian Literature, Ivo Ricardo dos Santos Martins; 3. Discourses on Ethics and Ethics of Discourse in Ancient Egyptian Wisdom Literature, Ilaria Cariddi; 4. Battlefields as Teaching Spaces: Seeing the Divine, Conversing and Fighting in the Iliad and MahābhārataDavid Hodgkinson; 5. Configuring Moral Authority in Archaic Greek Poetry, Sara De Martin; 6. What of Wisdom in the Scrolls? Assessing the Expansion of the Wisdom Literature Category from the Hebrew Bible to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Charles P. Comerford; 7. Wisdom and a ‘Wisdom Discourse’: the Classical-Biblical Dialectic in Aristobulus and Philo, Anna Lucia Furlan; 8. A Wisdom Tale: Fable, the Life of Aesop, and the Narrative Use of Wisdom Genres, Ioannis M. Konstantakos; 9. (Un)exemplary Teaching in Boethius’ De consolatione Philosophiae, Katherine Krauss; 10. Arabic Wisdom Literature as a Template for Reframing Wisdom Literature, Dimitri Gutas.


    Sara De Martin received her PhD in Classics from King’s College, London. She is currently Lecturer in Ancient Languages and Greek Literature at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, and an Early Career Research Associate of the Institute of Classical Studies, London. Her research focuses on archaic Greek elegy, gnomic literature, and Greek comedy.

    Anna Lucia Furlan obtained her PhD in Classics at King’s College, London. She is currently honorary research fellow (cultrice della materia) in the Religious Studies Department of the Catholic University in Milan. At present, her research interests mainly include ancient mystery cults and their reception (particularly Orphism) and Early Christian Literature.