Jewish Heritage Lecture Series: “The Mantic Sage in Israel and the Ancient Near East” by Leo Perdue on Nov. 10th

On Tuesday, November 10th at 7pm in Grainger Hall,Professor Leo Perdue of the Brite Divinity School will be presenting a lecture entitled, “The Mantic Sage in Israel and the Ancient Near East”.  This event is part of the Jewish Heritage Lecture Series sponsored by the UW Center for Jewish Studies.


Gerhard von Rad developed the thesis that apocalyptic developed out of Wisdom as a result of its failure to sustain its world view grounded in retribution. While endorsing his teacher’s thesis, Hans-Peter Müller (cf. James VanderKam) added that apocalyptic emerged from a particular form of Wisdom, i.e. mantic wisdom, as well as prophecy and was influenced by ancient Near Eastern texts. This lecture seeks to modify those interpretations. It contends that Wisdom does not cease to express its vibrancy and variety as it is transformed into apocalyptic, sectarian, rabbinic, and early Christian texts. It continued as a creative and instructive tradition well into Tannaitic and Amoraic Judaism. Müller is wrong to suggest that mantic wisdom was the only sapiential tradition that led to the development of apocalyptic. Certainly this type of wisdom contributed to the rise of later apocalyptic communities and their texts, but so did other rich resources of different types of wisdom: traditional instruction and proverbs providing guidance for everyday life, Torah and halakhah, and liturgy.

Andreas Bedenbender’s opposition to Müller’s (and VanderKam’s) arguments is based on the expectation of a rigidly exact conformity of Israelite and early Jewish mantic wisdom to ancient Near Eastern Wisdom and especially the emphasis on dreams. He does not allow for Israelite and Jewish sages to shape ancient Near Eastern mantic wisdom according to indigenous understandings. To require this strict set of expectations would in essence negate any possibility of influence on Jewish and Christian literatures by mantic wisdom and other sapiential traditions found in ancient Near Eastern literature.

About the Lecturer:

An historian and theologian, Leo G. Perdue is Professor of Hebrew Bible, Brite Divinity School, where he has taught for twenty years. Receiving his Ph.d. from Vanderbilt, he also has participated in seminars at the University of Chicago, Claremont School of Theology, and Yale. He has served as a visiting professor in several other universities and divinity schools. These include Göttingen, Heidelberg, Stellenbosch, Cambridge, and Chinese University Hong Kong.

In addition to composing some 150 essays and reviews, Professor Perdue has written and/or edited over thirty books. His most recent publications include After the Collapse of History. New Approaches to Biblical Theology (2005), Wisdom Literature: A Theological History (2007), Sword and Stylus: An Invitation to Wisdom in the Age of Empires (2008), and Sages, Scribes, and Seers (2008). Robert Morgan, emeritus Professor of New Testament, Oxford, and Benjamin Sommer, Jewish Theological Seminary, and he have recently written Biblical Theology: Introducing the Conversation (2009). He is currently working on two manuscripts: “Unrighteous Empire: The Bible and Postcolonial Resistance to American Imperialism,” “Among the Empires: A History of Israel and Early Judaism” (with Aliou Niang), and “Interpreting the Hebrew Bible: Methodology, Exegesis, and Hermeneutics.”

Perdue is the current editor of several series: The Library of Biblical Theology (16 volumes), The Library of Wisdom (25 volumes), The Biblical Encyclopedia (12 volumes), Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament (10 volumes), and The History of Biblical Studies (10 volumes).