Wisdom Calls: The Moral Story of the Hebrew Bible
by Paul Lewis
“And Now for Something Completely Different!” That phrase, the opening line for each episode of the groundbreaking British comedy series Monty Python’s Flying Circus, might well describe this book, for it is not a standard introduction to the Old Testament. This book should be treated instead as a thought experiment that investigates the question, “What does the Old Testament teach us about moral development?” The answer that I will develop over the course of the book is that it calls us to develop wisdom to live in a complex world full of competing voices. This is, in short, what I am calling the moral story of the Hebrew Bible. In fact, I will go further to suggest that reading the Old Testament as Hebrew Bible actually initiates its readers into a process of moral development, the end point of which is wisdom.
Experience as both professor and pastor confirms that many Christians who take faith seriously yearn for ways to inhabit the Old Testament text and embrace it as a living organism. They ask, “How can I engage the Hebrew Bible in ways that simultaneously honor its integrity and display its functional benefit for living intentionally in complex, and sometimes disordered, times? How can the Old Testament be a resource for my development as a moral person?” In this highly suggestive and even sometimes edgy book, Paul Lewis has undertaken a novel approach for discerning how both Jews and Christians can learn about how their development as moral and wise persons are displayed in the Hebrew Bible. —The Rev. Dr. Harmon Smith, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology (Divinity) and Emeritus Professor of Community and Family Medicine (Medicine) at Duke University
Paul Lewis is scholarly, spiritual and…well…worldly—in the best sense of the word. So, whether you wander the halls of academia, regularly sit in a church, or just hang out in coffee shops, his humor, heart, and insight will delight and benefit you. Paul shares a refreshing view of biblical literature that guides us past both the rigidity of legalistic answers and the murky, mysterious unanswerable questions of faith to a space of mature thought for our messy worlds. I’m guessing you’ll finish this book and think, “My bible, my life and my world make a little more sense to me now.” —Dr. Jim Dant, Pastor, First Baptist Greenville, Greenville, South Carolina
Paul Lewis gifts the reader with a path into the Old Testament that integrates religious and psychological frameworks. The book is engagingly written and entices the reader to move forward on the path to wisdom. We can all benefit from such assistance! —Dr. Darcia Narvaez, Professor of Psychology, University of Notre Dame
In this perceptive and noteworthy work, Paul Lewis applies criterion generally associated with wisdom literature to the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures, creating a very fresh focus that amplifies our understanding of these sacred texts. —Rabbi Larry Schlesinger, Temple Beth Israel, Macon, Georgia