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Ancient Wisdom
An Introduction to Sayings Collections
HARDCOVER; Published: 3/1/2022
ISBN: 978-0-8028-7543-3
Price: $ 34.99
335 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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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.

Table of Contents

1. ’Abot
2. Ahiqar
3. Amenemope
4. Anii
5. Ankhsheshonqy
6. Ben Sira
7. Cato
8. Counsels of Wisdom
9. Democritus
10. Epictetus
11. Papyrus Insinger
12. Isocrates
13. Menander
14. Merikare
15. Pseudo-Phocylides
16. Porphyry
17. Proverbs
18. Ptahhotep
19. Publilius
20. Pythagorean Collections
21. The Seven Sages
22. Sextus
23. Shuruppak
24. Silvanus
25. Sumerian Proverb Collections
26. Syriac Menander
27. The Gospel of Thomas
Appendix: Minor Collections

Review of Biblical Literature
“This book is carefully conceived, meticulously researched, robustly referenced, and written with the kind of clarity that makes it an accessible and necessary resource for student and scholar alike. . . . A must-read, a must-have volume for both research and the classroom.”
“The collections discussed are presented alphabetically, and for each Wilson supplies a brief introduction providing historical information and cultural context, a helpful analysis of pertinent passages and characterization of the collection, and a brief bibliography. . . . Recommended.”