Wisdom Literature (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon)
The book of James is a New Testament example of wisdom literature. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job are Old Testament examples. One characteristic of wisdom literature is its diversity. Life is diverse, and so wisdom instruction covers the whole range of life’s situations. Another characteristic of wisdom literature is its unifying foundation: the fear of God. This is what allows the diversity of life to make sense. It is focused on God’s character, not thousands of individual insights into life. The wise person is one who knows who God is. Knowledge of the character of God enables believers to act in a wise way in all of life’s situations. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5–7) and his parables (Matt. 13) are examples of New Testament wisdom literature. James has close affinities with the content of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.
Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, The Tyndale Reference Library (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2001), 676.