Biblical Wisdom Literature

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Biblical Wisdom Literature There is little value having this on DVD --- I would far prefer CD. Also any reference to the "brother" of Jesus requires comments that this phrase probably referred to "cousin".
Date published: 2019-02-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting I've just started the course. I find it interesting.
Date published: 2018-12-04
Date published: 2018-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating perspective on the Bible Father Koterski is so thorough and yet also very good at explaining complicated material. He comes across as very engaging on the audio, and a very likable teacher. This series covers a broad range of wisdom books in the Bible and related literature.
Date published: 2018-05-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Multi-Useful Course I bought this course some time ago and now have it via streaming. I see the current low price mark down and feel tempted to buy it again! This course is everything I would have hoped for from a Biblical Studies course. It is a Higher Education course at one level but also serves as more generic 'bible study': there is scholarly exploration of the background of the set of texts that make up the Wisdom literature, but also personal pointers, faith reflections and philosophical speculations on the meanings and applications of the texts. Although Roman Catholic at source, there are numerous references to the Judaic background and context of these writings and strong encouragement to look at different translations and perspectives. The teaching is relaxed, friendly and open. There is no 'preaching' in a negative sense and of all the courses I've experienced with the Great Courses this teacher almost feels like he is in the room! I'd really like to to be able to attend his classes.
Date published: 2017-08-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from excitingly dull Is it possible for something to be both boring and fascinating at the same time? Father Joseph Koterski gets very deep into the weeds and he obviously has an opinion (he is a priest after all!). And yet one learns Christian & Jewish philosophy. And where they come from. I think I understand Innocent Suffering better now.
Date published: 2017-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Teacher Dr. Koterski is the kind of person I would enjoy having dinner with. He is a thoughtful person and a gentleman. Spending time with him is time well spent. As one should expect he presents his own views, among those of other scholars, on topics open to interpretation. Books in the Catholic, but not the Protestant Bible, are included. Almost all of this class focuses on the Old Testament, and a more exact title for the class would be: Old Testament Wisdom Literature.
Date published: 2017-07-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Once again it is apparent an individual's expectations and pre-formed ideas affect their ratings. I am surprised by the number of relatively low ratings. My opinion is this course is an excellent fit with the other GC library of religious courses. Each Professor brings a different point of view to any subject. Prof. Koterski's presentation recognizes other interpretations exist (Of course; we are talking about religion !). His analysis of the various texts is as valid and valuable as any other of the GC's teachers. He does have a style of giving a sermon at times. However; in my opinion they are amongst the best sermons I have heard. He is very clear and deliberate in his presentation. He explains the background and history of the particular book he is about to discuss; and then discusses it. He makes a point of mentioning when a particular idea or theme appears in other books of the Bible. I think the entire presentation, organization, and points made about the various books discussed was excellent.
Date published: 2017-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Sapiential Exploration I have always wanted to read these books of the Bible but always felt intimidated without a competent guide... this course was that guide for me! I loved learning the history of the books and the context in which they were written. The inclusion of psalms and discussions of prayer were also very insightful. I personally loved Fr. Koterski's take on these important biblical books and how the concept of justice developed in them through time. I should disclose that I am of the same faith tradition as Fr. Koterski but I do not believe that it affected my opinion of this course. If you have always wanted to read these books with the help of a magister, this is the course for you.
Date published: 2017-03-30
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not what I was looking for. The reviews for this course are deservedly mixed, and quite polarized. Those looking for a spiritual approach to biblical wisdom literature may find this course compelling. Those, like me, looking for a historical-critical approach to biblical wisdom literature may be disappointed. As some other reviewers have noted, the course has the distinct feel of a sermon rather than an academic lecture series.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Title is descriptive of the content. Thoughroly and professionally presented. A good interpretatiomal coverage.
Date published: 2016-12-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good summary of books Although not quite as expected, the lecturer does a good job of presenting the content of the books. Expected a more detailed discussion of the concept and presentation of wisdom literature in the Bible. More of a Bible study approach of the books individually. Including the "Catholic" books in addition to the standard Biblical books was a good addition. Even though the lecturer is Catholic, does a balanced presentation, providing the different viewpoints of other denominations and beliefs.
Date published: 2016-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and would Recommend Father Joseph Koterski offers a great insight into the Wisdom literature for anyone seeking a greater understanding. As a happily practicing Catholic it reminds me of the great balance and relationship of "faith seeking understanding". He, Fr. Koterski, presents a balance of the historical settings of the books with all the trials and challenges of God's people throughout history and in a greater cultural setting along with an application to the challenges and questions faced today and throughout all time with regard to suffering, morality and enduring Truth. He is a Catholic priest and he, at times, shares his method of prayer and reflection on the scriptures. I liked that very much. I am reading his book on Medieval Philosophy and a few articles he has written on Pope John Paul's writings. He is a great teacher and is able to impart the deep beauty and transcendence of Catholic Teaching. A listener would not have to be Catholic to appreciate.
Date published: 2016-10-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Biblical wisdom The principals of human nature and its the biggest mystery of all, and helps categorize some of the most recent qualities as we evolve.
Date published: 2016-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Wise Course to Take Father Koterski's lectures on Biblical Wisdom Literature in both the Old and New Testaments were informative and inspiring. My religious background is both Episcopal and Lutheran, and I was glad to learn how the deuterocanonical/apocryphal books of Sirach and The Wisdom of Solomon help to connect the Old and New Testaments in the development of wisdom and resurrection beliefs. He designed the course for both searchers and believers, and he has a welcoming tone that shouldn't put anyone off if you're at all interested in this topic. I also like his practical suggestions on how the Bible's wisdom passages can enhance one's meditation and prayer. And after finishing the course, I plan not only to review his lectures but to keep searching the Biblical literature that this course covers.
Date published: 2015-09-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Like Listening to a Spiritual Advisor In Biblical Wisdom Literature, Father Koterski explains both the historical context (known and theorized) and provides guidance on how one may incorporate the lessons the Wisdom literature may teach us, should we choose to listen to it. Especially interesting to me, Fr. Koterski spent "interludes" every few lessons to discuss psalms and how one my mediate on the psalms or other Wisdom literature, essentially using lectio divino. The last few lessons include an extension into Jesus' ministry and how His lessons, such as those taught through parables, and His Sermon on the Mount may be considered Wisdom literature in the New Testament. In addition, Fr. Koterski brought in modern and ancient philosophy into the lectures to describe how various schools of thought might view various passages. I found it helpful to have a bible open in front of me. Though I listened to the audio version, I found I got more out of the lessons when I was following along in my bible, which made listen to this at home rather than in the car. A note on the bible- Fr. Koterski always indicated which version he was reading from, but there were at least three different translations that he quoted from regularly. Regarding Father Koterski's voice (I see that several other reviews mention it), I think he would make an excellent reader on a meditation recording or on a recorded bedtime story book. This class is different than many others I've taken through Great Courses, but well worthwhile. Overall, I would classify this course as more spiritual guidance rather than historical.
Date published: 2015-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course This is my 2nd course from this professor. I did the audio because I enjoy listening to the lectures while at the gym, or even at home. What I particularly enjoy about this professor, and this series, is it is packed with learning. His presentations are understandable, and he not only enjoys the subject, he gives a natural warmth. I'm not quite done with this series yet, but I am hopeful Great Courses will bring this professor back.
Date published: 2014-12-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course I am really enjoying this course! The professor is great and very knowledgeable. Can't wait to finish it, I know it will help me reread this bible books will clearer understanding and see them in a new light
Date published: 2014-12-10
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointed - Wanted More and Got Less. I was disappointed. I wanted to learn more about what is in the Bible and the story behind the words in everyday life when they were written along with what I am missing in these pages, and finally to have a better understanding so I can learn and live a better life through Gods Words. I wanted to be better able to link what is of concern in my life to Biblical doctrine for better guidance and wisdom. I didn't learn much. The Professor rambles, drifts off of the Biblical subject on various tangents and seems to like using "$20 words" to impress himself and his audience when regular straight forward words would be less distracting and more to the point like the Words of Jesus in the Bible. The Professor shows why his style of teaching isn't working in organized religions and in classrooms, and killing interest. It was painful to endure all these CD's and I was so glad when the last one was finally done playing. Wasted Money.
Date published: 2014-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent guide to this section of the Bible It probably is worth saying, given the numerous non-believing commentators on the Bible today, that Professor Koterski is a Jesuit priest and therefore a believer who is completely comfortable with these texts and obviously loves them deeply. He also has had a broad non-religious education, something I have found almost universal in Jesuits. For example, he remarks that Candide is a satire on the religious beliefs of Leibniz, suggests watching Babette's Feast as an illustration of one of the texts, and takes an enlightening detour into Dante's Divine Comedy. A feature I appreciated greatly is the smoothness with which he keeps you oriented in the present lecture as well as past and future lectures. There's an enormous amount of material here! I found it helpful to have more than one Bible (Koterski quotes from several). I already owned a King James Version, a Geneva Bible, and the early and recent translations from the Jewish Publication Society. I had to buy the Oxford Bible with the Apochrypa, as Prostestant and Jewish Bibles do not contain that material (e.g., Ben Sirach), which is the subject of some of the lectures. I am now wondering why those two groups spurned these books, as they are quite wonderful. One thing puzzles me: the cover of the course guide and the CD cases have pictures of a crucifix. A very large part of the material covered is from the Hebrew Bible, and some people will find the crucifix offensive. This is a small quibble, as the pictures can easily be ignored. After all, you get this course to listen to it, and it is well worth the time.
Date published: 2014-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Great Course! This is now my favorite Teaching Company course (I’ve been a customer for 12+ years). I held off getting it since I had read some negative comments about Father Koterski’s voice/presentation style, and also wondered about his perspective as a Roman Catholic priest. In the end, my interest in the subject and the positive comments of other reviewers persuaded me to get the course on audio download. I planned on breaking up the Biblical Wisdom lectures with lectures from another course (which I sometimes do when I’ve got a 36 lecture course on hand and feel like taking a break from a subject), but this course kept my attention right through the Old Testament into the New Testament. I attribute a good deal of the appeal of this course not only to Father Koterski’s teaching style, organization of material, personal asides and interpretations (with which he is quite free, but always alerts us when he is rendering a personal opinion), and observations, but also to his background. Yes, he is a Roman Catholic priest, a Jesuit, and knows the Bible, but he also has solid scholarly background in classical languages and philosophy. Considering that the Bible’s Wisdom Literature is the most philosophical portion of the Bible, Father Koterski comes to the task uniquely qualified as both a scholar and a believer. I did not want an academic treatment by a non-believer of this topic, drained of the spirit and meaning (or worse, treated in an incredulous or demeaning manner). After listening to all 36 lectures, I think I am safe in saying that even open-minded non-believers would find the course interesting, if for no other reason than to get a better perspective on Jewish and Christian belief, thought, and practice. Father Koterski also uses various versions/translations of the Bible. I sensed that he was especially sensitive to those of us from the Protestant tradition in some comments and elaborations, as well as in Bible references. These lectures are well worth the purchase if only for the masterful seven lecture treatment of Job. I came also to really appreciate the five Interlude lectures devoted to the Wisdom Psalms, in which Father Koterski provided multi-layered context and useful advice in how to meditate on and use those Psalms in prayer. Throughout, Father Koterski makes a point of relating each book to other parts of the Bible and to the other Wisdom books. There is some repetition in this regard, but in my opinion it is necessary over so many lectures. My ignorance of the background of the Apocrypha was greatly diminished by the lectures and especially fostered an appreciation of Ecclesiasticus (or Wisdom of Sirach) and Wisdom of Solomon. According to Father Koterski the Wisdom Literature of the Bible is not understandable without reference to covenant, especially that of God with Noah, which “…explains something about why bad things sometimes happen to good people—why the wicked sometimes prosper and the innocent sometimes suffer.” (Course Guidebook, page 23), and he carries this through into the New Testament. Along with covenant is fear of God (as, for example, being the beginning of Wisdom), and it is handled in such a thorough and reasonable way that I wish it could be shared more widely. A significant theme that surfaces even more explicitly is the reference to and significance of an afterlife. Father Koterski notes that only in Daniel is there an explicit mention of an afterlife (going beyond mention of the pit/Sheol) found, for instance, in Proverbs. This sets the stage, proceeding through the later Apocrypha into the New Testament, in which OT Wisdom Literature has its culmination in Jesus Christ. Here, Father Koterski focuses on The Sermon on the Mount and, in the matter of grace, the Lord’s Prayer. As one can tell, I found this a great course taught by a knowledgeable and personable professor. Where else can one find a discussion of biblical wisdom literature that not only includes mention of derivations and meanings of Hebrew and Greek words and their relationships to other books of the Bible, but also references to James Joyce, Rene Descartes, Greek Tragedy, the Da Vinci Code, Mesopotamian and Egyptian influences, Epicurus, Shakespeare, and Plato? I’ve since bought a copy of Gerhard Von Rad’s Wisdom in Israel recommended by Father Koterski and have begun listening to Father Koterski’s earlier TC course on Natural Law and Human Nature (lecture nine of which has a good thumbnail summary of Father Koterski’s OT portion of the longer Biblical Wisdom Literature course.) In the wings for me is Father Koterski’s TC course on Aristotle’s Ethics. Would it be too much to hope that the Teaching Company would have Father Koterski handle a course on an Old Testament theme or even in the New Testament, perhaps on the making of the NT Canon (-: , or on St. Thomas Aquinas?
Date published: 2013-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a careful, insightful course I have been extremely impressed by the quality of the commentary that Fr. Kozerski has supplied for this course. Also, his choice of text portions to read aloud, the way he ties in thoughts from one sequence to the next are all very good. He presents a balanced, thoughtful consideration of the material, noting its strengths as well as where there are shortcomings. Highly recommend it.
Date published: 2012-12-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course I love this course and its even-handed presentation.
Date published: 2012-10-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Unexpectedly disappointing but has some value The overall low rating for this course clearly indicates considerable dissatisfaction with it. I found Father Koterski pleasant and appealing, but he did come across at times as though presenting a sermon. Also, I found his pronunciation of the word "PSALMS" to be extremely odd: he virtually makes it rhyme with "forms" or "dorms" which I've never heard before. It threw me off each time he used the word. Yes, I did learn from these lectures, but I was rather disappointed that I didn't come out with the understanding I had hoped to achieve. The lecrures are not memorable. I'm glad I viewed them, but I could not recommend them, and here I am in the company of almost half the reviewers, alas.
Date published: 2012-03-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Doesn't Address the Sapiential Meaning My principle concern is this: Christian and Jewish theologians have long observed that the Bible permits (if not requires) multiple levels of interpretation. The great Origen of Alexandria codified this principle as early as the third century, suggesting that Scripture can be interpreted at three levels: literal, moral, and spiritual. The last we might, in modern terms, call a psychological or sapiential level of interpretation. Nowhere in the Bible is this last level of meaning more important than in the Wisdom Books. An example taken from the New Testament will illustrate the point. Concerning the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, Origen suggests that the seven wise virgins, who keep their lamps trimmed and supplied with oil, correspond to seven spiritual senses. These senses the religious aspirant must keep active and ready in anticipation of divine revelations (symbolized as the coming of the bridegroom). The story makes little sense in any other terms. As a parable, it's clearly not to be taken literally, and as a moral lesson, it's rather vague. But as a statement of principles of subtle inner psychological processes, it is most profound. Similar examples abound throughout the Wisdom Books. For instance, when Proverbs warns about consorting with the "strange woman", a figurative, sapiential meaning is more persuasive than a literal or moral one. That is, one hardly needs Scripture to warn young men not to consort with courtiers. It's good advice, but not especially divine. At a deeper, allegorical level, however, it warns against concupiscence and the intrusion of and mental seduction by lustful or disordered sensual thoughts. For the seeker of Wisdom, it is arguably the latter meaning that is more significant. Enough modern authors have broached the topic of psychological/spiritual allegorism that it ought to have at least been mentioned in these lectures. Properly understood, the Wisdom Books of the Bible instruct the serious reader on the path of mental salvation -- the "transformation of the mind", as St. Paul calls it. Some Westerners now choose to explore this path via Eastern spiritual traditions, such as Buddhism. It is unfortunate that more do not recognize that a comparable tradition exists within the Western tradition, in which the Wisdom Books figure prominently. The lectures supply reasonably good background information on the Wisdom Books and offer insights into the moral dimension of their meaning. They are perhaps worth purchasing (but not at full price) for that reason. However, they fail to supply the key that unlocks the sapiential meaning of the Sapiential Books. The organization and delivery of the lectures (I purchased the audio version only) is excellent, and overall Fr. Koterski is an exemplary lecturer. His series on Aristotle's Ethics is splendid.
Date published: 2011-12-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting survey of Biblical Wisdom I really enjoyed listening to this series of presentations. The overviews of various Biblical Wisdom books separated by interesting interludes on various psalms made the series enjoyable to listen to and to think about. It is not a high speed presentation - but is presented at a comfortable pace. Enjoy...
Date published: 2011-09-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Great Disappointment I have ordered and listened to over 25 different courses from The Teaching Company, and I have only been disappointed twice - this is one of two disappointments. This course does not provide the background or explanation I would have liked. Instead it is much more in line with what I would expect from a Bible Study. And while I enjoy a good Bible Study, that's not at all what I was looking for here. The professor's voice tends to drone and put me to sleep more than once. He fails to make the subject matter interesting or engaging.
Date published: 2011-07-06
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Depends on what you're looking for Whether you'll find this course of value depends on what you're looking for. The ratings I gave it are relative to my own interests. Unlike his other course on Ethics, this one comes across not as an intellectual presentation but a sermon, Father Joseph in his pastoral role. He is soothing, pious and unctuous, presenting the Good News as foreshadowed in the Old News. The intellectual content here -- and there is a bit -- is all placed in the service of showing that the Old Testament is an evolutionary stage on the way to the New. The mysteries of Job, for example, are all neatly solved by the subsequent "discovery" of an afterlife. I found it irritatingly complacent and intellectually simplistic. However, I am not currently in need of a priest; were I, might have found this course a comfort rather than a bore..
Date published: 2011-03-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Absolutely the BEST course I have ever taken at The Teaching Company. As with Father Koterski’s other courses, The "Ethics" of Aristotle and Natural Law and Human Nature, I found his Biblical Wisdom Literature material to be well prepared and delivered with excellence. The gold of this course is in its content -- deep, rich, and rewarding. I think its full measure can only be taken by repeatedly hearing it. Because I was laid-up due to surgery I was able to complete the 36 lectures in a short period of time . . . a bonus by any standard. Normally a course takes longer, given the constraints of “normal” time. Before beginning, the thought crossed my mind that this particular course may be biased toward Catholicism. Yet I found nothing of the sort. When Father Koterski did profess some particular aspect of his belief, he was very clear in noting that it was his, and that others may find a different meaning. I found his treatment of the material to be quite penetrating, direct, and balanced. He favorably noted the Buddhist koans as well as Jewish faith practices. He offered suggestions on prayer without blurring them into a sermon. Nothing in the entire course ever reminded me of a sermon. Father Koterski uses his talents to teach. Truly, I cannot praise Father Koterski and Biblical Wisdom Literature enough. I am so thrilled with this course that I have put my money where my mouth is. I purchased a second set to pass along among my friends and family because I want to keep mine on-hand for review. I have taken many courses at The Teaching Company and found only a few disappointing. Most have been worth my time. The Teaching Company is to be commended on its mission to offer quality courses for lifelong learning.
Date published: 2011-01-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Mixed feelings on this one My review title tells it all. At some points I was lulled to sleep with the detail and at other times I was entrhalled with the presentation and wanted more on the topic. Too detailed and not detailed enough. Admittedly this course did get me to want to re-read my Bible. While Father Koterski basically presented the Christian view he did present other views occasionally. I found this course spotty in its presentation.
Date published: 2010-12-31
  • y_2021, m_4, d_17, h_17
  • bvseo_bulk, prod_bvrr, vn_bulk_3.0.14
  • cp_2, bvpage2n
  • co_hasreviews, tv_3, tr_54
  • loc_en_CA, sid_6260, prod, sort_[SortEntry(order=SUBMISSION_TIME, direction=DESCENDING)]
  • clientName_teachco
  • bvseo_sdk, p_sdk, 3.2.1
  • CLOUD, getReviews, 13.42ms
Introduction to Biblical Wisdom Literature
1: Introduction to Biblical Wisdom Literature

Why do bad things happen to good people? Is there meaning in the suffering of life? As an introduction to your consideration of biblical wisdom literature, begin to ponder these crucial questions through the story of Job and preview your journey into this rich tradition.

32 min
The Place of Proverbs in the Bible
2: The Place of Proverbs in the Bible

In the book of Proverbs, encounter one of the oldest biblical wisdom books. After considering the various literary forms in this book, take a closer look at the text by examining the story of a youth's encounter with the Lady Wisdom and the Lady Folly.

30 min
Collections of Proverbs
3: Collections of Proverbs

Continue your consideration of the book of Proverbs by exploring the series of proverbs that follow the book's opening story. This lecture also provides insights into the book's historical context and its debt to Egyptian wisdom traditions.

31 min
The Poems of the Book of Proverbs
4: The Poems of the Book of Proverbs

Proverbs not only offers sage advice on how to live a good life; it also contains some of the most beautiful poetry in the Bible. Here, examine two of these lovely poetic texts: an acrostic poem about the ideal spouse and a poem about the personified figure of Wisdom.

30 min
The Relation of Proverbs to Covenant
5: The Relation of Proverbs to Covenant

A key theme in biblical history is the idea of covenant: the solemn agreement made between God and his chosen people. Examine this biblical motif and see how a proper interpretation of the book of Proverbs provides a moral exhortation to live according to God's wisdom.

30 min
Interlude-Some Wisdom Psalms
6: Interlude-Some Wisdom Psalms

In this first interlude, consider the place of wisdom psalms within the larger structure of the book of Psalms. The lecture also delineates the distinctive characteristics of Hebrew poetry and suggests ways to use these psalms as part of prayerful meditation.

29 min
Job and the Suffering of the Innocent
7: Job and the Suffering of the Innocent

Remarkably rich and complex, the book of Job offers a distinctly philosophical approach to the problem of suffering of innocent people. Begin your exploration of this wisdom story by examining its structure and considering its complex mix of drama and poetry.

30 min
Job-The First Cycle of Conversations
8: Job-The First Cycle of Conversations

In a close analysis of the first section of the book of Job, encounter the angelic council where God allows Satan to test Job and the response to these sufferings by Job's three friends. The scene raises a compelling question: Has Job done something to deserve his sufferings?

31 min
Job-Deepening the Conversation
9: Job-Deepening the Conversation

As you continue your exploration of the first cycle of speeches, gain deeper insight into the logical error made by Job's friends. Job's insistence of his own innocence leads to the conclusion that there must be other reasons for suffering besides divine retribution.

29 min
Job-Second and Third Conversation Cycles
10: Job-Second and Third Conversation Cycles

Does Job's resistance to his friends' arguments suggest moral blindness on his part or a rightful belief that his suffering is out of proportion to his actions? A close reading uncovers textual problems that suggest that the answer may be more complex than a simple dialogue can convey.

29 min
Job-The Wisdom Poem and the Conclusion
11: Job-The Wisdom Poem and the Conclusion

Here, encounter a sharp shift in style in the book of Job as the text moves from dramatic dialogue to wisdom poetry. Analyzing this poem and the laments that follow, consider how Job serves as a pattern for spiritual discernment in times of trouble.

31 min
Job-Elihu's Defense of God's Honor
12: Job-Elihu's Defense of God's Honor

The book of Job concludes with two dramatic episodes: the entrance of Elihu, a young man who upbraids Job for not admitting to God's justice, and the dramatic appearance of God in the form of a whirlwind.

31 min
Job-Reflections on the Book as a Whole
13: Job-Reflections on the Book as a Whole

In this final lecture on the book of Job, examine the dramatic conclusion of this wisdom tale and explore how the lessons it teaches about the justice of God's ways compare with views of such modern thinkers as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and C. S. Lewis.

31 min
Interlude-Prayer in Times of Suffering
14: Interlude-Prayer in Times of Suffering

After reflecting on the book of Job, return to Psalms to reflect on the significance of praying for compassion and wisdom in the face of suffering. The lecture also includes some practical suggestions for how to pray using the psalms.

30 min
Qoheleth-The Inadequacy of Human Wisdom
15: Qoheleth-The Inadequacy of Human Wisdom

Often known by its Greek title as Ecclesiastes, the book of Qoheleth is one of the shortest books in the biblical wisdom tradition. In this lecture, see how this book, unlike the coherent narrative of Job, presents wide-ranging musings on a variety of topics.

33 min
Qoheleth-Skepticism about Easy Answers
16: Qoheleth-Skepticism about Easy Answers

Like Job, the author of Qoheleth faces a fundamental problem: Do a person's virtues and vices garner their due rewards in this life? A close examination of the text reveals that there are no easy answers to this question.

30 min
Qoheleth-Keeping Faith during Confusion
17: Qoheleth-Keeping Faith during Confusion

When confronted with life's uncertainties, how can one continue to forge ahead? This final lecture on the book of Qoheleth suggests the limits of man's ability to comprehend the ultimate meaning of life and offers practical advice on how to persevere in faith and hope.

33 min
Interlude-Wisdom Psalms for Uncertainty
18: Interlude-Wisdom Psalms for Uncertainty

After considering Qoheleth's weighty musings on the possibility of attaining wisdom, turn once again to the psalms. During this interlude, reflect on the topics of prayer and faith when reason seems to have lost its way or is blocked by uncertainty.

28 min
Sirach-A Traditional Approach to Wisdom
19: Sirach-A Traditional Approach to Wisdom

The longest of the Bible's wisdom books, Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus) portrays suffering as a way to test character and teach moral lessons. Here, preview the book's structure and consider its place within the variety of traditions that have held these writings sacred.

30 min
Sirach on the Cultivation of Virtue
20: Sirach on the Cultivation of Virtue

While it shares with Job and Qoheleth a sense of the need for faith in the face of uncertainties, Sirach echoes Proverbs in recommending the cultivation of virtue. This lecture explores this book's teachings on topics such as fidelity to Torah, friendship, fear of God, sin, and vice.

30 min
Sirach's Wisdom Poetry
21: Sirach's Wisdom Poetry

The book of Sirach includes a wisdom poem that is distinctive for its explicit connection between wisdom and the observance of Torah. Examine the structure and content of this wisdom poem and compare it with other instances seen in Proverbs and Job and by the prophet Baruch.

33 min
Sirach on Divine Providence within History
22: Sirach on Divine Providence within History

The final portion of the book of Sirach includes two notable excerpts: a lovely hymn praising the glory of God in nature and a lengthy meditation on the history of salvation. As you analyze these passages, contemplate the importance of memory and gratitude in prayer.

29 min
The Song of Songs-Love as the Answer
23: The Song of Songs-Love as the Answer

The Song of Songs, also called the Canticle of Canticles, is a series of poems recording a great story of the separation and reuniting of lovers. This lecture provides a general overview of this resonant love story and discusses its historical context.

30 min
The Song of Songs-Levels of Meaning
24: The Song of Songs-Levels of Meaning

What is the meaning of the beautiful verses of the Song of Songs? Is it the account of an earthly love between man and woman? Or an allegory about the relationship between God and his people? Explore the meanings both Jewish and Christian readers have found in this famous literary work.

30 min
Interlude-Wisdom Psalms on Perseverance
25: Interlude-Wisdom Psalms on Perseverance

After exploring the wide range of emotions in the Song of Songs, return to the treasury of the Psalms to consider a number of texts that are especially relevant for moments when perseverance is needed to counter delay and discouragement.

32 min
Daniel-Wisdom through Dream Visions
26: Daniel-Wisdom through Dream Visions

Although it is often classed among the prophetic books of the Bible, the book of Daniel also offers a contemplation of wisdom through its representation of the meaning of dreams. Here, consider this book's historical context and analyze some of Daniel's early dream visions.

32 min
Daniel-God's Providential Plan for History
27: Daniel-God's Providential Plan for History

The latter portions of the book of Daniel concern eschatology, or theological reflections on the end times. Conclude your consideration of this book by examining its commentary on the various stages of the world's history as part of God's providential plan.

32 min
The Wisdom of Solomon on Divine Justice
28: The Wisdom of Solomon on Divine Justice

Although attributed to King Solomon, the Wisdom of Solomon is believed to have been written long after his death. In this lecture, learn about the unique circumstances of its authorship and examine how its opening section posits the choice between virtue and vice.

31 min
The Wisdom of Solomon on Death
29: The Wisdom of Solomon on Death

In this lecture, return to the problem of suffering and explore this book's teachings about the meaning of the death of innocents. Consider the book's treatment of God's covenant with mankind, as well as a theme that will gain equal importance, the idea of the immortality of the soul.

33 min
The Wisdom of Solomon on Prayer
30: The Wisdom of Solomon on Prayer

Examine the extended poem in which Solomon exhorts kings of the world to cultivate wisdom in order to rise to the challenges of their office and offers a lesson on how to pray for wisdom.

30 min
The Wisdom of Solomon on Divine Providence
31: The Wisdom of Solomon on Divine Providence

As in Sirach, the final section of the Wisdom of Solomon examines how God actively intervenes in history. Examine this theme and other distinctive elements of the book, such as its parallels with the philosophical tradition of natural law ethics and allusions to the soul's immortality.

32 min
Interlude-A Wisdom Psalm on Torah
32: Interlude-A Wisdom Psalm on Torah

Many psalms reflect a key concern of the Bible's wisdom literature: an exploration of God's covenant with his chosen people as expressed in Torah. Here, contemplate the importance of prayer for conforming oneself to the covenant that God initiated.

33 min
Jesus as Wisdom Teacher
33: Jesus as Wisdom Teacher

In Christian belief, Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God who took on human nature for the sake of mankind's salvation from sin and death. This lecture provides an overview of this doctrine and presents Jesus as a teacher who both continues and reinvigorates the wisdom tradition.

33 min
Jesus and the Wisdom Stories in the Gospels
34: Jesus and the Wisdom Stories in the Gospels

Jesus was renowned for presenting his wisdom teachings in the form of parables: dense, often paradoxical stories that convey hidden truths. Here, focus on representative examples, including the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

33 min
Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount
35: Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount

As the paradigmatic instance of Jesus as Wisdom Teacher, the Sermon on the Mount both echoes the earlier wisdom tradition and adds new inspiration. Explore this remarkable text, giving close attention to Jesus's famed Beatitudes as statements of traditional wisdom thought.

29 min
Overview of Biblical Wisdom Literature
36: Overview of Biblical Wisdom Literature

What does "wisdom" mean? As you review the tradition, focus on three ways to view the meaning of wisdom as it is revealed throughout these writings: wisdom as divinely inspired; wisdom as derived from the natural world; and wisdom as achieved through human nature.

31 min
Joseph Koterski, S.J.

As a Jesuit priest, I think there is something from this tradition that I can bring to bear, that will be of great interest to those who share my convictions, those who do not, and to those who are interested and searching.


Fordham University


St. Louis University

About Joseph Koterski, S.J.

A member of the Society of Jesus, Father Joseph Koterski is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University, where he specializes in the history of medieval philosophy and natural law ethics. Before taking his position at Fordham University, Father Koterski taught at the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He earned his doctorate in Philosophy from St. Louis University, after receiving an H.A.B. in Classics from Xavier University. As a priest ordained in 1992, Father Koterski brings an added dimension of insight to his study of theology and biblical texts. He earned his Master of Divinity and License of Sacred Theology from the Weston School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Father Koterski is a veteran Great Courses instructor and a respected teacher and scholar. At Fordham, he has been recognized for his teaching skills and was awarded the Dean's Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching and the Graduate Teacher of the Year Award. He serves as the editor-in-chief of the International Philosophical Quarterly and is coeditor of the Fordham University Press Series in Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology.

Also By This Professor