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Book of Proverbs

General Information

The Book of Proverbs, in the Old Testament of the Bible, is a grouping of wisdom sayings and longer, connected poems composed from the 10th to the 4th century BC and finally collected about 300 BC. The sayings are either statements that provoke further thought or admonitions to behave in particular ways. The longer poems celebrate wisdom, encourage its observance, and personify it as a woman who at God's right hand assisted in creation. Egyptian wisdom is evident in Proverbs, making it possible to date the nucleus of the book to pre exilic times. The book as a whole reflects the ideology of enterprising privileged classes and expresses a general confidence in the human capacity to act freely and wisely. Self interest and religious devotion are shown to be congruent. Respect for women (31:10 - 31) is encouraged. The book is conventionally attributed to Solomon as the prototype of Israelite wisdom, but many sages had a hand in composing and collecting the subsections; mentioned specifically are the "men of Hezekiah."

Norman K Gottwald

Bibliography
R L Alden, Proverbs (1983); L E Boadt, Introduction to Wisdom Literature, Proverbs (1986); W McKane, Proverbs: A New Approach (1970); R B Y Scott, Proverbs (1965) and The Way of Wisdom in the Old Testament (1971).


Book of Proverbs

Brief Outline

  1. Introduction (1:1-9)
  2. Sin and righteousness personified and contrasted (1:10-9:18)
  3. Single-verse contrasts of sin and righteousness (10:1-22:16)
  4. Miscellaneous and longer contrasts (22:17-29:27)
  5. Righteousness in poems of climax (30:1-31:31)



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