Contend Earnestly: Principles for Reading the Book of Proverbs

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Principles for Reading the Book of Proverbs

This is taken straight from the end of the book by Tremper Longman on "How to Read Proverbs", which I highly recommend.

1. Keep in mind the structure of the whole book of Proverbs as you read any part of it. In particular, make sure you read any passage of the book in the light of the imagery concerning the path and the two women that is developed in Proverbs 1-9 and reaches its climax in Proverbs 8-9.

2. Reflect on the parallelism of a proverb by asking how the second colon sharpens or intensifies the thought of the first.

3. Identify the imagery in the passage, then unpack it by asking how the two things compared are similar and how they are different.

4. Think about the source of the wisdom of a passage. Does it come from observation, experience, tradition, revelation or any combination of these sources?

5. Is the passage an observation, a bit of advice, a warning, a reflection, or some other kind of teaching?

6. Since proverbs are not true in any and every circumstance, ask under what circumstances the proverb may or may not apply to a situation. How can you tell?

7. Does the proverb mention or imply a reward or punishment that will result from obedience or disobedience?

8. If the passage is addressed to a young man, ask how it applies to you.

9. Using a commentary, study the Near Eastern background of the passage you are considering.

10. When doing a topical study, read through the book of Proverbs and pinpoint the relevant verses. Group them together, then study each group.

11. Try to identify biblical stories or characters who may illustrate the truthfulness of the proverb(s) you are studying.

12. Does the New Testament address the topic or teaching of the passage you are studying?

13. Think of Christ as the fulfillment of wisdom and how he might illustrate the wisdom of the passage you are reading.


Boaly said...

Great principles. Cheers for sharing them. i must jot them down, and look into getting the book

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