Wisdom and law: adultery in Proverbs 1-9 and the legal texts of the Old Testament

Krüger, Tillmann O (2005) Wisdom and law: adultery in Proverbs 1-9 and the legal texts of the Old Testament. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

Text (Final Thesis)
10844 KRUEGER Tillmann (2005) WISDOM AND LAW Adultery in Proverbs 1-9 and the Legal Texts of the Old Testament PhD Thesis.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License All Rights Reserved.

Download (24MB) | Preview


The present thesis aims at clarifying the relationship of wisdom and law in the Old Testament, using adultery as main point of reference. Adultery is frequently referred to in the extant ancient Near Eastern texts, the legal texts of the Old Testament and Prov 1-9. The investigation of the treatment of adultery in ancient Near Eastern texts thereby provides the background on which similarities and differences to the Old Testament texts can be shown. Both the ancient Near Eastern as well as the Old Testament legal texts agree on the death penalty for adultery. In contrast to Old Testament legal texts, the ancient Near Eastern texts in some instances grant the wronged husband the right to avert the death penalty. Moreover, the notion of sin plays no role in the treatment of adultery in the law collections of the ancient Near East - only a few texts outside of the legal corpus call adultery a 'great wrong'. The Old Testament legal texts, however, label adultery as sin, polluting the whole land. The connection between adultery and sin arguably is a concept that reflects the Sinaitic covenant as framework for the legal texts of the Old Testament. Adultery displeases Yahweh since it is a sin that attacks both existing marriages as well as the covenant relationship with Yahweh. Four out of ten lectures in Prov 1-9 deal with adultery, one of which explicitly calls adultery sin. The strong death language in connection with the warnings against adultery in Prov 1-9 should not be understood hyperbolically but literally, pointing to the death penalty as legal requirement and ultimate consequence of adultery. Although many scholars understand Prov 6:34f. as referring to individual revenge by the wronged husband, the text in my view rather points to a proper public trial, emphasising that there is no escape from judgment if adultery was committed. Prov 1-9 has affinities to deuteronomic concepts, like the internalisation of outward requirement, reflecting similarities in pedagogy. Moreover, several legal concepts are used in Prov 1-9: the promise of life, the promise of land and the offering of firstfruits. Finally, already Deut 4:5-8 at least partially equated wisdom and law which gives further reason to assume an established relationship in Prov 1-9 as well. Wisdom and law are thus not two entirely separate streams. Both belong to the same sphe.re of thought, both reflect the same worldview. The most central assumption of this world view is the fear of Yahweh. It is the present author's opinion that the law reflects basic religious instruction, showing up boundaries that should not be crossed. Wisdom, however, builds upon that basic instruction and aims at living a successful life within these boundaries. Thus, Prov 1-9 presupposes the teaching of the Old Testament legal texts.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Advisors:
Thesis AdvisorEmailURL
Additional Information: The thesis has been retrospectively digitised and is not fully accessible.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Old Testament; Near Eastern texts;legal texts of the Old Testament; Prov 1-9
Related URLs:
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creatives
Depositing User: Anne Pengelly
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 10:00
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:57
URI: https://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/10844

University Staff: Request a correction | Repository Editors: Update this record

University Of Gloucestershire

Bookmark and Share

Find Us On Social Media:

Social Media Icons Facebook Twitter Google+ YouTube Pinterest Linkedin

Other University Web Sites

University of Gloucestershire, The Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 2RH. Telephone +44 (0)844 8010001.