The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-14/the Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31

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The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 1-14 by B. K. Waltke The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2004. 693 pp. $50.00 (cloth). ISBN 0-8028-2545-1.

The Book of Proverbs: Chapters 15-31 by B. K. Waltke The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 2005. 589 pp. $50.00 (cloth). ISBN 0-8028-2776-4.

BRUCE WALTKE, PROFESSOR of Old Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Oviedo, Florida, has enhanced his already distinguished career with a major commentary on Proverbs. He states that he is writing for ministers and laypeople, and there is much here for that audience if they are willing to think deeply about the material. The book is also addressed to the scholarly community, who will have to take his arguments into account in future academic work.

Waltke is perhaps best known as the lead author in the widely used Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (with M. P. O'Connor, 1990). His exegesis of Proverbs shows the careful concern for grammar described in this earlier work. He is also an adept philologist as he discusses Proverbs' vocabulary. However, laypeople and ministers will be most interested in his attention to the theological meaning of the book of Proverbs.

Concerning authorship, Waltke takes the ascription to Solomon seriously (1:1; 10:1; 25:1), refuting typical arguments against the idea (with notable appeal to the comparative work of Egyptologist Kenneth Kitchen). Waltke admits, of course, in keeping with the biblical data, that not all of the book is Solomonic, and that the final product is the result of an unnamed editor. He has a helpful discussion of the Near Eastern background of the genre, noting that Solomon would have been familiar with comparable Egyptian literature in particular.

In his discussion of structure and final form, Waltke aligns himself with those who see coherence to the collection of Proverbs in the second part of the book. This leads to a fairly monumental interpretive practice. Instead of reading the individual proverbs as random and isolated, he reads them as forming clusters that inform the meaning of each individual proverb. …