A Rhetorical Perspective on the Sentence Sayings of the Book of Proverbs

TitleA Rhetorical Perspective on the Sentence Sayings of the Book of Proverbs
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1994
AuthorsBland, Dave
DegreeDoctor of Phhilosophy
Date Published01/1994
UniversityUniversity of Washington
Thesis TypePhD

The dominant perspective of biblical scholarship; is that proverbs are valued for what they reveal about the wisdom and culture of an ancient civilization. While they convey insightful information; they are perceived as mild mannered in spirit. But this perspective is anemic. It eclipses the power of the proverb. What I have done is to brush away the deposits from the surface of the proverb and expose the deep structure of its rhetorical shape. I have demonstrated that far from being harmless cliches, biblical proverbs are potent rhetorical works of art. What I have discovered is a sharpness about the proverb that enables it to penetrate the ear and the mind of the listener.

Because of this internal dynamic, the proverb does not lie dormant. It must have a context in which to work. Even when consigned to a collection, the proverb seeks out active duty. Contemporary scholarship has of acknowledged this activity within the book of Proverbs. My work is distinctive in that it describes the action of the proverb within the collection. Proverbs do not have to lie around waiting for someone to pluck them from the loneliness of a collection and appropriate them to a social context before they experience self-actualization. They have a working context within the book of Proverbs. Thus, scholarship can no longer be noncritical of the long standing belief that the texts of Proverbs are randomly Collected. Biblical scholars must now be more sensitive to macro-structures within Proverbs. I have shown that the rhetorical power of the proverb enables it not only to manage individual and social behavior but also to manage texts and ever changing contexts within the canon of Scripture.