Composition of the Book of Proverbs

POSTED 24 OCTOBER, 2017

Approximate date: 900s B.C.E. (Right); 900s B.C.E. for composition of source material, 715-686 B.C.E. for redactions (conservative-moderate); 500s-300s B.C.E. (Left)

Time period: sometime during Israel’s monarchy, both the United and Divided Kingdom eras

Author: Solomon exclusively (Right); mostly Solomon with later redaction and addition (conservative-moderate); anonymous teachers (Left)

Location of author(s): Land of Israel or Jerusalem (Right, conservative-moderate); Land of Israel, Jerusalem, and/or Babylon (Left)

Target audience and their location: people of Israel, later people of Judah (Right, conservative-moderate); Southern Kingdom returning or returned from Babylon (Left)

Theological Summary: The Book of Proverbs makes up the largest collection of wisdom sayings in canonical Scripture. Proverbs is a text that most people turn to when requiring advice so they can be guided in a proper way of living. Proverbs has important lessons to teach anyone, regardless of their age, gender, or social status. Many of the admonitions that it includes orient the reader as a child being instructed by a teacher, often being parental in tone. Proverbs embodies the essence of practical theology, seen in one of its first major admonitions: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (1:7). Proverbs is intended to guide individuals to perform actions that are right, just, and pious, and to be productive members of their communities.

The Hebrew title of Proverbs is Mishlei, derived from the verb mashal, which in the Hifil stem (casual action, active voice) can mean “to compare with” (HALOT). Many theologians are keen to point out that mashal represents a wide variety of types of sayings and admonitions. The Septuagint title for Proverbs is Paroimiai, followed by the Latin Vulgate’s Liber Proverbiorium. In the Jewish theological tradition, Proverbs is placed among the Writings between Psalms and Job, but in Christian tradition Proverbs is considered a Wisdom text along with Job and Ecclesiastes.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages