Proverbs

Proverbs, book of the Bible. It is a collection of sayings, many of them moral maxims, in no special order. The teaching is of a practical nature; it does not dwell on the salvation-historical traditions of Israel, but is individual and universal based on the observation of nature. There are eight divisions, some having traditional ascriptions, including three to Solomon, one to Agur (unknown), and one to King Lemuel. The book is an early example of wisdom literature (see Wisdom of Solomon), where wisdom is often personified. The dating of the final shape of Proverbs is post-exilic. Although tradition attributes Proverbs to Solomon, the book is probably a collection of various origins dating from the 9th to the 2d cent. BC Proverbs does insist that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge, thus placing the instruction within the framework of faith.

See B. Lang, Wisdom and the Book of Proverbs (1986); R. Alter, The Wisdom Books (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

A Proverb in Mind: The Cognitive Science of Proverbial Wit and Wisdom
Richard P. Honeck.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1997
A Dialogue of Proverbs
Rudolph E. Habenicht; John Heywood.
University of California Press, 1963
A Dictionary of American Proverbs
Wolfgang Mieder; Stewart A. Kingsbury; Kelsie B. Harder.
Oxford University Press, 1996
The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs
William George Smith.
Clarendon Press, 1935
FREE! Gold-Foil, Hammered from Popular Proverbs
Timothy Titcomb.
Charles Scribner, 1859 (7th edition)
Proverbs in Medieval Occitan Literature
Wendy Pfeffer.
University Press of Florida, 1997
The Book of Proverbs and Our Search for Wisdom
Richard J. Clifford.
Marquette University Press, 1995
Folk Groups and Folklore Genres: An Introduction
Elliott Oring.
Utah State University Press, 1986
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Riddles and Proverbs"
Our Living Traditions: An Introduction to American Folklore
Tristram Potter Coffin.
Basic Books, 1968
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 17 "'The Wisdom of Many': Proverbs and Proverbial Expression"
Folklore in America: Tales, Songs, Superstitions, Proverbs, Riddles, Games, Folk Drama and Folk Festivals
Tristram P. Coffin; Hennig Cohen.
Anchor Books, 1970
Proverbs, Textuality, and Nativism in African Literature
Adeeko Adeleke.
University Press of Florida, 1998
African-American Proverbs in Context
Sw. Anand Prahlad.
University Press of Mississippi, 1996
Shakespeare's Proverbial Themes: A Rhetorical Context for the Sententia as Res
Marjorie Donker.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Japanese Proverbs
Otoo Huzii.
Board of Tourist Industry, Japanese Government Railways, 1940
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