The Quixotic Pastor

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Buried Treasures .... in the Book of Proverbs????

So last night at one church's Bible Study, we began looking at the Book of Proverbs, the choice of the group.

When they chose it last week, I was thinking to myself, oh this might be kind of difficult to teach ... but then, as I started getting into the preparation for it on Monday, I suddenly discovered I was thirsting for something like this, and now I am looking forward to drinking deeply from what had been a largely undiscovered well.

For what have I been thirsty?

Especially in this political season, especially in our increasingly polarized, sound-bite driven US culture, especially as I confront fundamentalism of many different flavors, I have been thirsting for WISDOM!

And Proverbs is the exemplary Wisdom book, at least in the Protestant Canon of Scripture.

That wisdom literature even exists in Scripture is a sign to me that God intended us to make use of human reason and experience as well as revelation as we make life decisions, and not revelation only [i.e. Scripture].

I am also remembering something that Marcus Borg wrote [I think] about Jesus himself being primarily a teacher of wisdom [because he taught in parables] as well as God's Wisdom Incarnate ...

And wisdom is not the kind of knowledge that is easily gained or explained, nor does it lend itself to sound-bites. It is something that is cultivated over a lifetime of building relationships and collecting or sharing experiences, something that requires a real journey and effort to engage ... something that, when we pray the Serenity Prayer, we pray for --"God, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference" --which of course is the hardest thing to discern, isn't it?

So, anyway, I am more excited about this study than I was before. I am looking forward to being reminded of some long-neglected practical advice for living and enjoying a little common sense perhaps? Of course, one has to be careful about a certain elitism associated with knowledge ... but these days, ignorance sometimes seems like a weird form of elitism, and knowledge is not as valued as it once was ...


  • At 3:32 PM , Blogger Tom in Ontario said...

    In my 4th year of seminary (5 years ago) I took a course on Wisdom Literature. The main text that we used was The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature by Roland E. Murphy, O.Carm. ISBN 0-8028-4192-9.

    We spent some time with each of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes and from what we Prots call the Apocrypha, Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon.

    I quite like how Job and Ecclesiastes sometimes say things a lot differently, almost opposite, from the way Proverbs says things. From Proverbs you can easily come away with the view "be good and you'll be rewarded, be bad and you'll be punished" but Job and Ecclesiastes say that there aren't such clear cut correlations.

    Way to go tackling wisdom literature. I took that course in seminary but have rarely looked in or thought about any of those books in our Bibles.

  • At 8:29 AM , Blogger d said...

    Wisdom is one of those funny things that we admire but don't know how to get and probably wouldn't know we had if we did. Usually someones tells us we are wise..or stupid..and we rely on their (wise or stupid) opinion. Does it come with age? Doesn't seem to be the case here. Most of what I should be remembering to pass off as wisdom I have
    forgotten. My best stab at wisdom is finally accepting my gay self for the most part and not fighting against it.


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