Poetry and Wisdom of the Old Testament: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles by Bart Marshall




The Biblical books included in this volume, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Canticles, comprise what is often called the Hebrew Wisdom Literature. They are books 18-22 of the 39 books of the Old Testament, making them literally the centerpiece of the Bible, with 17 books preceding them and 17 coming after. The Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, orders the books of the Bible differently, so the central placement of these wisdom books may have been intentional when the rearranged Tanakh was incorporated into the Christian Holy Bible as the Old Testament.

The first five books of the Old Testament are the Five Books of Moses, and make up the Torah, which I have also published separately. Books 6-17 are considered Old Testament Narrative, and contain many familiar Bible stories, as does the Torah. Books 23-39 are the testimonies of the Prophets. Some scholars argue that Psalms is more of a prayer book than wisdom literature, and that Canticles is basically a love poem, or song, but I include them here as wisdom books, and think it is appropriate to do so.

This book is excerpted from a larger work-in-progress, The Holy Bible: King James Reader’s Version. My method in this work is to start with the King James Version of the Bible, then consult 40 other versions as I create what I believe to be the most faithful and poetic version of each verse, while retaining the lilt and rhythms of the King James Version we have come to love and associate with biblical passages.

I also format these works as epic poems, which they are, with verse numbers in a separate column so they do not interfere with flow. The result is what I believe to be the most accurate, accessible, and poetic version of the Bible available. My target publication date for the complete Bible is early 2021.

I have written an introduction to each of the five wisdom books included here, but have been intentionally brief. There is an unlimited amount of scholarship available on the Bible for those who want to dig deeper into history and interpretation, but I want to let these great works speak for themselves here. It is my hope that my translation/version helps in this regard.