Syllabus for Wisdom Literature

Course Description

Old Testament wisdom literature, mostly contained in Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, contains some of the most practical Biblical content in all of Scripture. Yet it is frequently misused by well-intended believers. In this course, we'll look closely at both the nature of wisdom literature in general, and Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in particular, to develop our abilities in both understanding and applying God's wisdom in our personal and ministerial lives.

Goals and Objectives

By engaging in the course and reading materials, students will be able to:

  1. Interpret and apply wisdom literature generally while avoiding some of the exegetical pitfalls common in evangelicalism.

  2. Understand the content, major themes, and application of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

  3. Navigate the sometimes difficult issues surrounding the authorship and original setting of these books.

  4. Identify areas for both personal growth and ministry in the church, in which growing in wisdom can improve the health and well-being of the church.

  5. Effectively utilize both reflective and didactic wisdom in preaching and teaching.

Thematic Outline of the Course

1. Poetics
2. Wisdom
3. Didactic Wisdom: Proverbs
4. Reflective Wisdom: Job
5. Reflective Wisdom: Ecclesiastes
6. NT Wisdom: James

Required Readings and Viewings

Proverbios y Eclesiastes, Atkinson and Kidner. 257 pages.
Job. Atkinson. 154 pages.
Forum Preparation Reading. Scott Simmons. 24 pages.
Scripture: Job, Proverbios, y Eclesiastes. 28 pages.
Various Viewings: See main course page for details and links.

The books are The Message Of... Commentaries. You can purchase the Message of Proverbs (Atkinson) and the Message of Ecclesiastes (Kinder) separately, but the link above contains two of the commentaries together. Page numbers are taken from the English versions of these books, so the actual pages could differ by a little.

Course Requirements

1. Viewings, Readings and Quizzes: Students will complete the readings and viewings assigned in each week’s lesson guide. In order to demonstrate their comprehension, students will complete the quizzes, as well as provide answers and replies for their classmates in the online discussion forum.

2. Faculty Tutorials: See the course page for scheduled times and zoom links for tutorials during this course. These are mandatory participation events. Since this course contains less video lesson content, these tutorials will be of more significant importance.

3. Discussion Forum Posts: Students will write answers to questions provided each week and post them in the Discussion Forum for the benefit of your classmates. You will post answers to the required number of questions provided in each forum. Posts should be 300 words or longer and cite sources parenthetically (i.e. Pratt, 23).

4. Discussion Forum Replies: Students will respond to two posts from their classmates each week. Your replies should contain at least one point that demonstrates you have a good understanding of your classmate’s perspective on the topic, and at least one point that articulates your own reflection on the topic whether in agreement or constructive critique. Each reply should be150 words or longer.

5. Mentor Meetings: Courses at Thirdmill Seminary carry a strong emphasis on personal application. To that end, you will be required to recruit and interact with a mentor as you walk through each and every course. With the Gospels, you will be meeting with your mentor on four separate occasions, specified in the course schedule below, to talk through issues of application related to the course materials. You and your mentor will then fill out a one-page "Mentor Meeting Report" and submit it for completion.

6. Spiritual Formation Exercises: These exercises will give you opportunities to reflect and apply the course content to your spiritual devotions, as well as your personal and corporate worship experiences.

7. Midterm Exam (3 credit courses only): The midterm is a multiple choice and short answer assessment that builds on the weekly lessons, readings and quizzes. Students will complete the midterm by Saturday of Week Four. See the course page for further details.

8. Final Exam: The final exam is a multiple choice and short answer assessment that builds on the weekly lessons, readings and quizzes. Students will complete the final exam by Saturday of Week Seven. See the course page for further details.

9. Writing Assignments: Writing assignments vary from class to class. See below for descriptions of the papers assigned for this particular course.

Reflection Papers

Students will complete three reflection papers, the first two reflection papers responding on your reading and lecture material. The first paper will reflect on didactic wisdom in Proverbs; the second will reflect on reflective wisdom in Job and Ecclesiastes. These papers are not academic papers. You should concentrate on what you learned about each form of wisdom and how what you learned will impact your personal life. 

The third will investigate ways to implement both didactic and reflective wisdom in the life of the church (or other ministry context). This third paper will be a response video and lesson materials, as well as to the faculty tutorials, especially those covering poetics and wisdom in general. See the tutorial notes to review. Students will be graded on their thoughtful interactions with the content of those tutorials.

See the course page for due dates, page length, etc.

Research Paper

Students will complete one 6-page exegetical research paper during the term investigating either a passage in Job, Proverbs or Ecclesiastes or a topical paper investigating a topic about which wisdom literature speaks (like finances, gossip, laziness, etc). If you want to choose a wisdom passage outside of Job, Proverbs or Ecclesiastes, please check with your instructor before doing your research.

The first half of the paper should be more academic in nature, focusing on the academic exegesis of a passage or exploration of a topic. The second half should be more focused on application, your personal calling and spiritual development in your particular ministry. Here are some sample outlines of papers:

Exegetical Paper: Proverbs 1:1-7

1. Introduction (1/2 page)
    A. Author and Date
    B. Setting and Purpose of Proverbs
2. Original Meaning (3 pages)
     A. Title (v. 1)
     B. Moral and Mental Aspects of Wisdom (vv. 2-3)
     C. Parenthesis (v. 4)
     D. Moral Aspect (v. 5)
     E. Mental Aspect (v. 6)
     F. Theme of Proverbs (v. 7)
3.  Application to Life Today (2 pages)
     A. Personal Life
     B. Ministry Life
4. Conclusion (1/2 page)

Topical Paper: Wise Motives

1. Introduction (1/2 page)
2. Motives in Wisdom Literature (3 pages)
    A. Didactic (Proverbs)
    B. Reflective (Job, Ecclesiastes)
3. Application (2 Pages)
    A. Personal Life
    B. Ministry Life
4. Conclusion (1/2 Page)


15% - Quizzes (5)

18% - Discussion Forums (6)

8% - Mentor Meetings (4)

12% - Spiritual Formation Exercises (4)

15% - Reflection Papers (3)

20% - Final Exam

12% - Research Paper

Grading Scale


Letter Grade

4.0 Scale for GPA

95 - 100



90 - 94.99



87 - 89.99



84 - 86.99



80 - 83.99



77 - 79.99



74 - 76.99



70 - 73.99



67 - 69.99



64 - 66.99



60 - 63.99



Academic Honesty Policy

As part of our mission to equip Christian leaders, we expect godly integrity in the academic work you do at Thirdmill Seminary. At the heart of this integrity is a commitment to accurately represent yourself and your work to others. First, we expect members of our learning community to follow the rules under which quizzes, exams, papers, and projects are to be completed and submitted for academic credit. This includes a commitment to do your own work. Second, we expect students to give credit to others for their ideas by documenting them appropriately in written and oral presentations. Both of these activities—cheating and plagiarism—are violations of the ninth commandment, which forbids bearing false witness. According to Miriam-Webster’s dictionary, plagiarism is, “to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one's own: use (another's production) without crediting the source [... or] to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.” This includes sermons.

The first violation of this academic honesty standard will result in failure of the assignment or test in question and could, depending on the assignment, result in failure of the class. A second violation of this standard will result in a review by the faculty curriculum committee and possible dismissal from the institution. The student always has the right to appeal a decision and to be heard via a letter submitted to the committee.

In addition, students are expected to submit original work for each assignment. Therefore, duplicate submission, or using the same assignment from one course to fulfill the objectives of another assignment in another course, is not acceptable.

Late Penalties

Some work, like quizzes and exams, cannot be submitted late without special permission, requested and granted, ahead of time. Work submitted past the deadline will be penalized 2 points per day (except Sundays). No work will be accepted in a class after the last day of the academic period, unless an “incomplete” has been requested and granted.

2-point penalty for each day late 

2 days late             -4 points

4 days late             -8 points

6 days late             -12 points

8 days late            -16 points 

10 days late          -20 points

12 days late          -24 points

14 days late          -28 points

Greek and Hebrew

Some lessons in our courses make reference to words in Greek or Hebrew. If you have not studied these languages, you might want to at least become familiar with the alphabets.

For the Greek alphabet, see:

For the Hebrew alphabet, see:

Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2022, 3:43 PM