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Interpreting the Book of Proverbs A) Recap: Orientation and Guidelines B) Structure of the Book: A “Collection” of the “Collections” of Wisdom Sayings 1) Purpose (1:1-6) 2) Motto (1:7) 3) Long Instructions/Admonitions (1:8-9:18) 4) Short Proverbial Sayings (10: 1-29:27)

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slide1

Interpreting the Book of Proverbs

A) Recap: Orientation and Guidelines

B) Structure of the Book: A “Collection” of

the “Collections” of Wisdom Sayings

1) Purpose (1:1-6)

2) Motto (1:7)

3) Long Instructions/Admonitions (1:8-9:18)

4) Short Proverbial Sayings (10: 1-29:27)

5) Two longer Collections (30: 1-31:9)

6) Conclusion/Epilogue (31: 10-31)

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Initial Purpose of the Book:

A) Initially designed for use for young men of

Israel’s society being groomed for positions of leadership (Hubbard).

B) The real intent is to train a person (male and female; young and old), to shape character, to show what life is and how best to cope with it (Murphy).

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Purpose (1: 1-7)

a) First Audience: simple, young, “the wise”

& “the discerning” (v. 5)

b) Goal: attaining-- wisdom, discipline, under-

standing words of insight,

acquiring– disciplined and prudent life,

skill and wisdom to discern (prudence

simple; knowledge & discretion  young)

For the “Wise” – add to their learning;

For “the Discerning” –still get guidance.

Motto (1:7)

a)“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of

Wisdom” ; b) Don’t be a fool who dispises

wisdom and discipline.

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3) Long Instructions/Admonitions

a) Extended Admonitions (2: 1-22; 3: 1-20; 4:1- 9)

b) Reflections & Personal Observations (4: 3-9;

7: 6-23; 6: 6-8)

4) Wisdom Speeches & Personification

(1:20-23; 8:1-36; 9:1-6, 13-18)

5) Short Proverbial Sayings

Cf. Bricker, Daniel P.

“The Doctrine of the :Two-Ways” in Proverbs,” JETS 38 (1995): 501-17. (uploaded

on site).

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5) Short Proverbial Sayings (Continued)

a) Transmission from saying proverb

b) The “polar” structure

c) Aim: to say the maxi. Of things with the min. of words (& its limits)

d) Every gnomic/Wisdom saying needs a “balancing corrective” (Murphy)

e) The danger of dogmatizing (e.g., 14:11; 3:33) – and Job’s suffering?

e) Categories of Proverbs:

(1) General proverbs (e.g.,15:1)

(2) Situation-Specific (e.g., 6:19a; 12:17)

(3) Opposing (26:4-5; 17:27-28; 15:6)

(4) Anachronistic (20:20; 19:18) still valid?

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6) Conclusion/Epilogue (31: 10-31)

(Implications: if 31:10-31 is taken as

the conclusion to the whole book)?

cf. Leung Lai, Barbara M.

“Making Sense of the Biblical Portrait:

Toward an Interpretive Strategy for the

Virtuous Wife” in Proverbs 31:10-31” in Teach

Me Your Paths: Studies in Old Testament

Literature and Theology. Edited by John

Kessler & Jeffrey P. Greenman. Toronto:

Clements Publishing, 2001.

(Hard copy circulated)