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The theological dialectic of creation and death in Hebrew bible wisdom traditions

11 June 2009

PhD ceremony: W.A. Lategan, 13.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: The theological dialectic of creation and death in Hebrew bible wisdom traditions

Promotor(s): prof. E. Noort

Faculty: Theology and Religious Studies


The wisdom tradition of the Hebrew Bible is consistent in its portrayal of death as final. This notion is expressed in a variety of ways, as exemplified by the analysis of specific texts, namely Ps 104, Job 3 and Ecclesiastes 11:7-12:8. The analysis of these texts illustrates that the wisdom tradition allows for a diversity of responses to the question concerning the place of death in creation and death’s relation to the creator. Privilege should be given to this theological diversity, rather than incorporating these diverse responses within an all-encompassing framework. The wisdom tradition is also persistent in directing attention to life in the present and does not entertain the notion of a meaningful existence after death, or that of a future bodily resurrection coinciding with divine judgment. Such a persistent focus on life Diesseits illustrates the non-eschatological basis of hope in the wisdom tradition. Such a preeminence of life in the present places an ethical imperative on faith communities to contribute to the dissemination of justice and human dignity in the present. In this regard the open-ended and dialogical nature of the wisdom tradition points to alternative avenues for contemporary theological reflection, resisting the modernist quest for absoluteness, and keeping theological debate honest and relevant.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.39 p.m.
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