Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry & Writings: A Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship, Edited by Tremper Longman III and Peter Enns

Christianity Today Merit Award winner
ECPA Gold Medallion

The Old Testament books of wisdom and poetry carry themselves differently from those of the Pentateuch, the histories or the prophets. The divine voice does not peal from Sinai, there are no narratives carried along by prophetic interpretation nor are oracles declaimed by a prophet. Here Scripture often speaks in the words of human response to God and God's world. The hymns, laments and thanksgivings of Israel, the dirge of Lamentations, the questionings of Qohelet, the love poetry of the Song of Songs, the bold drama of Job and the proverbial wisdom of Israel all offer their textures to this great body of biblical literature. Then too there are the finely crafted stories of Ruth and Esther that narrate the silent providence of God in the course of Israelite and Jewish lives.

This third Old Testament volume in InterVarsity Press's celebrated "Black Dictionary" series offers nearly 150 articles covering all the important aspects of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Psalms, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ruth and Esther. Over ninety contributors, many of them experts in this literature, have contributed to the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry Writings. This volume maintains the quality of scholarship that students, scholars and pastors have come to expect from this series.

Coverage of each biblical book includes an introduction to the book itself as well as separate articles on its ancient Near Eastern background and its history of interpretation. Additional articles amply explore the literary dimensions of Hebrew poetry and prose, including acrostic, ellipsis, inclusio, intertextuality, parallelism and rhyme. And there are well-rounded treatments of Israelite wisdom and wisdom literature, including wisdom poems, sources and theology. In addition, a wide range of interpretive approaches is canvassed in articles on hermeneutics, feminist interpretation, form criticism, historical criticism, rhetorical criticism and social-scientific approaches.

The Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry Writings is sure to command shelf space within arm's reach of any student, teacher or preacher working in this portion of biblical literature.

Tremper Longman III and Peter E. Enns edit this collection of 148 articles by 90 contributors on Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ruth and Esther.

Reference volumes in the IVP Bible Dictionary Series provide in-depth treatment of biblical and theological topics in an accessible, encyclopedia format, including cross-sectional themes, methods of interpretation, significant historical or cultural background, and each Old and New Testament book as a whole.

"This volume in the acclaimed InterVarsity Press Bible dictionaries will serve to further enhance the reputation of the series. Longman and Enns have brought together a great team of authors to cover wisdom, poetry and writings of the Old Testament. This volume is comprehensive and up to date as, for example, the articles on history of interpretation and intertextuality indicate. This volume will be an invaluable resource for students, pastors and scholars as they seek to hear God's address through these biblical books. The Wisdom and poetic books have not always received the attention they deserve, and this volume will play a significant role in addressing that imbalance. Highly recommended!"

Craig Bartholomew, H. Evan Runner Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Religion, Redeemer University College, Ontario, Canada

"At last, a fully comprehensive, fascinating compendium of information about Psalms, Wisdom literature and other writings of the Old Testament! From characters such as Ruth to major Wisdom books such as Job, from scholarly method to major theological themes, this volume gives us articles of real depth and substance. Its broad and thorough remit includes contributions on Jewish and Christian tradition, festival worship, ancient Near Eastern background and Hebrew language from a range of highly qualified experts in the field. An essential reference book for all serious-minded students of the Hebrew Scriptures."

Katharine J. Dell, Senior Lecturer in Old Testament Studies, University of Cambridge

"A stellar cast of younger and senior scholars has put together a handbook for the study of the writings of the Old Testament. While one will find easy access to the expected and necessary basic information on the various books of wisdom and poetry, there will be some interesting surprises for readers as the authors take up theological, rhetorical, metaphorical and sociological dimensions of this literature. An important sign of the times is the fact that for each biblical book, major attention is given to the history of its interpretation."

Patrick D. Miller, Professor of Old Testament Theology Emeritus, Princeton Theological Seminary

"Every student serious about pursuing biblical studies and every pastor committed to solid exegetical work should keep a copy of this indispensible volume within arm's reach."

Luke Lin, Koinonia

"Editors Longman and Enns have assembled a truly outstanding team of both senior and junior scholars who present up-to-date research with current bibliographies on all the major issues confronting the interpreter of these important books. If you are only going to buy one encyclopedic dictionary on the Bible, this is the one I would recommend."

Paul J. Kissling, SCJ, Spring 2009

"Authors and editors have taken great care to make the articles both scholarly and readable, and one can say that they have succeeded in producing a work that supplements all existing biblical reference works."

International Review of Biblical Studies, 2008-2009

"This useful addition to this series of dictionaries provides an excellent resource for students and others who require an accessible overview of the study of biblical books and general topics in the wisdom and poetry category."

J. McKeown, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 2009

"Students and professors of Scripture have, in this volume, a precious and incredibly up-to-date resource."

James Chukwuma Okoye, Catholic Library World, March 2010

"The Dictionary offers a lot of helpful, accessible material at a reasonable price."

Charles Telfer, Mid America Journal of Theology, 2009

"A beautiful accession to the series, and its price is unbelievable!"

P.C. Beentjes, International Journal in Philosophy and Theology, 70, 2009

"The volume covers much ground and covers it well. Well worth the price for any layperson, student, or scholar who wishes to engage the varied corpus that this dictionary covers."

Scott C. Jones, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 71, 2009

"An excellent resource for students and others who require accessible overview of the study of biblical books and general topics in the wisdom and poetry category."

J. McKeow, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 33.5, 2009

"This Dictionary should be in the collection of any library covering Biblical studies regardless of religious affiliation. Once again IVP has done the scholarly community a great service."

Philosophy and Religion, Vol. 23, No. 5, 2009

"Worth a read as it is up to date and gives a flavour of recent studies in wisdom literature."

The Revd Dr Derek J Fraser, The Baptist Times, March 26, 2009

"This useful addition to this series of dictionaries provides an excellent resource for students and others who require an accessible overview of the study of biblical books and general topics in the wisdom and poetry category."

J. McKeown, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, 33.5, 2009

"As in preceding volumes, a long article is devoted to each biblical book; this dictionary, however, also contains an article focusing on each book's ancient Near Eastern background and history of interpretation. An impressive work of reference."

Margaret Daniels, Methodist Recorder, July 2, 2009

"A compendium of contemporary biblical scholarship with the inclusion of the contributed effort of the best scholars and critics in their respected fields. A great achievement, comprehensive in scope and provides substantial insights in understanding the text and world of the Old Testament. This is an outstanding text, an indispensable reference for individuals working in the discipline of Biblical Studies. It is unimaginable that students and scholars, and even interested laymen of the Hebrew Bible would defer the purchase of a reference copy of this volume."

Celucien Joseph, Christ, My Righteousness (christmyrighteousness9587.wordpress.com), May 18, 2009

"A series whose every volume is worth waiting for and worth owning. Written in a scholarly but accessible style. Very highly recommended."

James A. Cox, Reviewer's Bookwatch, March 2009

"This volume on wisdom, poetry, and writings covers over 100 topics like acrostic poetry, Old Testament ethics, Psalms of lament, Messiah, retribution, rhetorical criticism, and worship. The articles are scholarly but accessible and unintimidating. Both pastors and laymen will be able to profit from this dictionary without having to know or read Hebrew."

David Wenkel, Christian Library Journal, April 2009

"Having access to recent contemporary scholarship on the biblical canon in a dictionary format is extremely helpful to professors, graduate students, upper level undergraduate students, and informed members of the public with an interest in remaining au courant with the best of recent thinking on biblical issues. IVP Academic Press is publishing such a series of dictionaries on the entire biblical canon in a number of volumes. It is a series whose every volume is worth waiting for and worth owning. The seventh volume examines the Wisdom, Poetry and Writings sections of the Hebrew Bible. It is written in a scholarly but accessible style. Very highly recommended."

Pius Charles Murray, The Midwest Book Review, April 2009

"[A] must have for anyone who wishes to do in-depth Bible study."

Johnny Cisneros, Bible Study Magazine, November/December 2008

"Whatever your academic standpoint, at 1,000 pages this volume will need to be a to-hand resource for anybody working on the field of Wisdom, Poetry or Writings. I am very glad to have [this book] on my shelf and I will make regular use of it."

Chris Tilling, Chrisendom (christilling.de/blog/ctblog.html), September 20, 2008

"Not only is this a very attractive dictionary, but it is also chock-full of the technical data a researcher requires. Each article is clearly outlined, long enough to adequately cover the subject, and short enough to be read in one sitting. It must also be mentioned that these articles are not limited to either lexical, exegetical, historical or theological matters; but rather to all of these matters."

Jason Button, Sharper Iron (sharperiron.org), September 11, 2008

"The contributors have done a fine job of presenting a balanced and scholarly overview of the various topics, although there is a slant toward a Christian interpretation. This dictionary is an excellent choice for just about any public, church, or academic library, as well as for specialty theological collections."

Library Journal, October 2008


How to Use This Dictionary
List of Contributors
Dictionary Articles
Scripture Index
Subject Index
Articles Index


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Tremper Longman III

Tremper Longman III (PhD, Yale University) is Distinguished Scholar and Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. He is the author or coauthor of over thirty books, including How to Read Genesis, How to Read Proverbs, Literary Approaches to Biblical Interpretation, and Old Testament Essentials.

Peter Enns

Peter Enns is professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University (St. Davids, PA). He is the author of numerous books including Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament and The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn´t Say about Human Origins.