The wisdom writings of the Old Testament may be regarded as largely a repository of ‘old ideas’ that were preserved across cultures and ages because they generally served human life. To study the material from this angle, focusing less on reconstructing the past and more on serving the present, will require several adjustments to usual scholarly approaches. Comparisons going beyond Israel’s Umwelt will also be fruitful. Comparisons with the teachings of Confucius and Aristotle may be particularly helpful. Such studies have to be respectfully critical, taking the sages of the past seriously as interlocutors while recognizing the limits of their vision.