Proverbs

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

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).

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