Reading Proverbs In the Context of the Old and New Testament
One of my seminary professors used to cheekily refer to common Christian devotional practices as our “daily bread crumb.” Meaning: we often take a verse or even part of a verse and spin out a comforting crumb of exhortation at the expense of the whole loaf of biblical bread—whether the surrounding pericope or greater.
Perhaps with no other place in Scripture do we do this than with Proverbs. Ryan O’Dowd offers an important reminder in his new commentary on Proverbs (Story of God Bible Commentary) when studying this book:
such casual study of individual proverbs can be shortsighted, both because it is apt to overlook the endless depth of each saying and also because the sayings take on a whole new life in the…
By Faith, Through Wisdom [Awakening Faith]
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)
So who is God? God is the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; he is one God. Do not ask to know more of God. If you want to see into the depths of God, you must know the depths of the natural world, for knowledge of the Trinity is compared to knowledge of the sea: “And the great depths, who shall fathom them?” (Job 11:7). Just as the depths of the sea are invisible to the human eye, so too the godhead of the Trinity is beyond human sense and understanding.
I submit, therefore, that if people want to know what they should believe, they should not think that they will understand better through arguments than through belief; if they do that, they will be further from…
Reading the Wisdom Books Canonically — An Excerpt from “Canon and Biblical Interpretation”
Canon and Biblical Interpretation is a unique, landmark volume in the “Scripture and Hermeneutics Series.” It examines the canonical approach to interpreting the Bible and the various criticisms that have been leveled against such an approach.
Leading biblical scholars contribute explore a canonical interpretation in relation to different parts of the Bible, such as the Pentateuch, the Wisdom books, the Psalms, and the Gospels. Essays address such issues as canonical authority and the controversial relationship between canonical interpretation and general hermeneutics.
In our excerpt today, Tremper Longman III explores a canonical interpretation to the wisdom literature in the Old Testament. “While there is a place for studying these books in isolation from each other,” Longman writes, “it is important to ultimately read each wisdom book in the context of the others, and also to read…
Walton and Hill Ask, What Is Wisdom? — An Excerpt from “Old Testament Today (2nd Edition)”
In their foundational Old Testament textbook Old Testament Today, they explain the category covers such things as scientific knowledge, philosophy, politics, and law. While the Bible declares that the foundation of “wisdom” is the “fear of the Lord,” they ask, “Does this suggest that none of those disciplines could be successfully engaged without fear of the Lord?” (324)
As they explain in the excerpt below, the key to “wisdom” is worldview integration.
In the ancient world, order was a prime value, and wisdom was seen as the path toward understanding and preserving that order. “The people of the day wanted their worldview to fit together like a puzzle…They saw the fear of the Lord as the keystone to this integration process.” (326)
Read the rest of the excerpt for a helpful introduction into OT wisdom literature.
-Jeremy Bouma, Th.M. (@bouma)
Commentary and Discussion with Craig Blomberg
Over the next five weeks, Craig Blomberg and Mariam Kamell will be blogging through the book of James. Their commentary, the first in the ZECNT series, will release at the ETS and SBL annual meetings, beginning Nov. 19. This first post by Craig looks at James 1:5-7.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; they are double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:5-7).
Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as Mormonism, describes in his autobiography that it was this passage that led him as a teenager to ask God which Christian denomination he should join. He claims that he received the answer, “none of them,” but was instructed to await further divine revelation. The “prosperity gospel” regularly appeals to this text to support its “name it and claim it” approach to prayer, especially in the areas of health and wealth. What about all of those who don’t receive what they ask for in prayer? The text of James gives them the debilitating reply: “you just didn’t have enough faith.” The average Christian intuitively recognizes that these applications of the passage are probably wrong, though he or she might not always be able to explain conclusively why. But many believers count on these promises for “routine” prayer. Yet they are troubled because it can sound like James is requiring them to know in advance how God will answer their prayers if they are to have sufficient faith, without doubting. What exactly is James teaching here?
To begin with, it is important to note that James is talking about asking for wisdom. Not health, not wealth, not even a job or a spouse or a car or a child or any other specific “thing” we might wish we had. He promises to give us wisdom, to guide us, to help us apply the large body of truth in his revealed word to our current circumstances.
What then is the doubt that we are to avoid?