Katharine Dell explores the distinction between 'wisdom' as an attribute that is God-given and that we should all strive to get; and wisdom as denoting a genre of material contained in the Bible and other books which have the nature of specialist wisdom writing from the past. She goes on to define and characterize wisdom by beginning with the book of Proverbs and continuing throughout the Bible.
Many scholars have tried to find a phrase or sentence that sums wisdom up in a nutshell. However, wisdom is so diverse as a phenomenon that to pin it down in this way leads to difficulties in interpretation. Wisdom begins with experience, human experience of the world and of God as creator and sustainer of that world. It represents the cumulative experience of many generations.
The author concludes with an examination of the Israelite appropriation of wisdom as distinctive. As a particular understanding of reality its theology permeates all corners of Israelite thought, and hence wisdom influence is strong within the Old Testament and outside it.