I’m working on an Old Testament essay at the moment. On the wisdom literature. And I’m wondering if the wisdom literature – particularly Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs functioned as pro-Yahweh propaganda for the surrounding nations. Other nations had comparable wisdom literature (and indeed Israelite wisdom literature borrows directly from some of these surrounding documents providing a bit of a theological corrective – namely that knowledge starts with the fear of the Lord). Solomon’s dispensation of wisdom to the nations (in 1 Kings) seems to be the most fitting pre-Christ fulfilment of the Genesis 12 promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to the nations.
Part of my thinking is that Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are either written by Solomon, or presented as being written by Solomon, which I think makes a pretty compelling claim for reading them alongside the accounts of Solomon’s reign – where nations gather to experience his wisdom (somewhat vicariously – at the very least rulers of the other nations come to see Solomon).
Trouble is, I can’t find anybody (in the academic world) who agrees with me yet. And unfortunately, the question is “evaluate the proposal that Ecclesiastes and Job are protest literature” – some scholars think they’re basically a corrective of Proverbs – particularly the idea that material blessings flow from our actions (it’s called the acts-consequences nexus). So I have to show that I think the three are theologically united and serve this missional purpose. If I still think this is the case tomorrow.
What do you reckon the place of mission was in Israel? There were provisions to look after “sojourners” there are Psalms about the nations coming before God… that was also part of the messianic framework that developed in Israel prior to Christ. But, other than Jonah, there doesn’t seem to be too much direct preaching to gentile nations in Old Testament times (Obadiah’s prophecies about Edom might be an exception).