I posted not long ago on “The Five One-Chapter Books” of the Bible, and about the same time I was thinking about what an amazing compendium the wisdom books are. There are five of them too, of course, so then I started thinking about how interesting it is that so much of the Bible’s organization involves groups of five.
Consider: In the Old Testament, there are the five books of the Torah, and the five books of the major prophets, as well as the five wisdom books already mentioned. In the New Testament, it’s more of a stretch, but John wrote five books; and, before we get to all the epistles, there are the five most important books in the entire Bible, namely the four Gospels and Acts. That’s five groups of five in the two Testaments.
And both Testaments have five genres: In the Old Testament, there is the Torah, and then the history books, wisdom books, major prophets, and minor prophets; in the New Testament, there are the Gospels, and then Acts, Paul’s letters, everyone else’s letters, and Revelation. By the way and for what it’s worth, if I had to pick out five essential books from the Bible to take with me to a desert island, I think I’d pick Genesis, one of the Gospels, Acts, Romans, and Psalms.
I’m not saying that the recurrence of groups of five proves anything. I just thought it interesting.
Back to the point I made earlier, about the wisdom books being an amazing compendium. Think of it: You start with a fascinating story written in beautiful poetry about the nature of God and our relationship to Him (Job); and then read about how to pray (Psalms), how to live (Proverbs), how to keep things in perspective (Ecclesiastes), and how to love (Song of Songs).
A handsomely bound but portable copy of the five wisdom books, lightly annotated and with a nice inscription, would be a great present.