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Liess, Kathrin (2009): »Der Glanz der Alten ist ihr graues Haar«. Zur Alterstopik in der alttestamentlichen und apokryphen Weisheitsliteratur. In: Elm, Dorothee; Fitzon, Thorsten; Liess, Kathrin; Linden, Sandra (eds.) : Alterstopoi. Das Wissen von den Lebensaltern in Literatur, Kunst und Theologie. Berlin; New York: De Gruyter. pp. 19-48
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Abstract

This essay treats the idea of old age in Old Testament wisdom literature. It focuses on two motifs: the motif of gray hair and that of the old person’s wisdom. In Proverbs, gray hair symbolizes the wisdom and respected position of an aged man (Prov 16:31, 20:29). In the later wisdom literature, however, (Job; Wisdom of Solomon), the connection of grayness, old age, and wisdom is questioned, in light of the suffering and premature death of the righteous. In the Book of Job, the aged man’s wisdom is ›questioned‹ in that Job’s older friends cannot offer a proper explanation for Job’s suffering (Job 32:5ff.). Thus, instead of correlating old age and wisdom, Job 12:20 and 32:8f. both emphasize wisdom’s non-availability: it can be given or withdrawn by God alone. In view of the premature death of the righteous, Wis 4 presents a definition of ›old age‹ that modifies the traditional view: grayness, the respectability of old age, and worldly wisdom can even fall to a young person who has died prematurely. In this manner, the text assimilates certain topoi of ancient consolation literature into its line of reasoning.