Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary

By Bricker, Daniel P. | Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary


Bricker, Daniel P., Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society


Proverbs: A Mentor Commentary. By John A. Kitchen. Inverness, Scotland: Mentor, 2006, 789 pp., n.p.

In recent years several commentaries have appeared on the book of Proverbs: van Leeuwen (1997), Murphy (1998), Clifford (1999), Fox (2000), Waltke (2004-2005), and Longman (2006), to name a few. Each of these authors approaches Proverbs from an academic standpoint, and this is appropriate, since all are biblical scholars. To help provide a balance, John A. Kitchen has written a commentary that examines the text from a pastoral point of view and emphasizes practical application. Kitchen holds the position of senior pastor at the Stow Alliance Fellowship in Stow, OH.

The format of the book consists of 32 chapters; the first is an introduction, which briefly addresses matters such as the context of Proverbs within the ancient world and in the biblical canon, authorship and date, interpretation, theology, and structure of the book. The following 31 chapters, each one tied to a chapter in Proverbs, contain the author's comments on every individual verse, with the nasb acting as the anchor version. Following the commentary are two appendices. The first is a discussion of wisdom and folly, while the second is a helpful thematic index of the book of Proverbs tied to the nasb. There are also indices on subjects and Scripture cited, along with a brief bibliography.

When reading the introduction from one of the commentaries listed above, the reader is exposed to information that helps interpret, learn to appreciate, or understand better the wisdom movement of the ANE, and by extension, the book of Proverbs. Literary forms are discussed and shown to be familiar genres throughout that geographical region. In Kitchen's introduction there is no significant comparison of proverbs from neighboring cultures to give the reader a' sense of what wisdom materials from other countries were like or to show the wisdom movement was truly an international phenomenon. The only example of foreign wisdom brought into the discussion is the Instruction of Amen-em-ope (referred to as the Wisdom of Amenemope), but so little information is given that it is impossible to get a feel for what Egyptian wisdom was like. The same can be said for Mesopotamian wisdom. The author could have mentioned and given examples from the proverb collections discovered at Ebla (Tel-Mardikh), or the Sumerian proverbs found in Nippur, Susa, and Ur.

Kitchen also accepts without question, and with limited discussion, the Solomonic authorship for all the proverbs found in Prov 1:1-22:16 and 25:1-29:27. The arguments of those who hold a different position are never mentioned.

In the commentary, each proverb is dealt with individually, making it difficult to see literary relationships when the text is composed of larger literary units such as those in chapters 1-9 and 30-31. Even passages that obviously fit together as sentences that spread over more than one verse (e.g. 23:1-2) are given separate treatment. …

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