He who hears the shema drinks the shekar!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Gott Proverbs?

Norman K. Gottwald argued nearly 50 years ago that the Hebrew Proverbs are "generally mediocre as literature, tedious as ethics, banal as religion" (A Light to the Nations, New York: Harper, 1959: 472). For someone who was quite critical of the historical-critical school, it's remarkable how little Gottwald's sociological models and ethnographic parallels -- seen chiefly in his 'peasant revolt' theory of Israel's origins -- move us beyond what the critical school had been saying for decades prior.

Thankfully, numerous studies in 'Wisdom literature' more recently have demonstrated how woefully wrong Gottwald is on all three accounts. Raymond van Leeuwen's Context and Meaning in Proverbs 25-27 should be required-reading for anyone trying to work their way through Proverbs' poetic skill, rhetorical subtleties, and theological acumen. Bruce Waltke's recent commentary on Proverbs works this out in even greater detail.


James said...

Thanks for the suggestion about Raymond van Leeuwen. I was not familiar with it.


Anonymous said...

I've used RVL a few times on wisdom literature stuff. His commentary in NIB is pretty solid but one of the greatest things I read by him was called something like Liminality and Worldview in Proverbs . . . it was in Semeia a few years back and it draws on some of Leo Perdue's work on the social state of liminality and how it fits into the social setting of Prov. I should just spend the $$ to pick up his book. Thanks for the reminder!

Matt Morgan said...

I wish all SBL monographs could be purchased for a meager $20! :-) Why RVL's Context is so cheap I have no idea.