Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Why is Proverbs canonical?

At Tabor today we commenced looking at the Wisdom Literature, focusing on the books of Job and Proverbs.

I can understand why the Book of Job is in the canon—that just because we don't understand why something is happening to us doesn't mean that God is not in control of it.

Equally, the book shows that despite Job sharing the presuppositions of his friends, that righteousness will be divinely rewarded, he shows us that an encounter with God enlightens us to our tiny understanding, that an encounter with God will help us realise that there is more on heaven and earth than is dreamed of in our philosophies, Horatio.

I see that Job shows us that sometimes we have to go through intense suffering before we realise that we don't have all the answers.

The Book of Job asks us two key questions:
  1. Do people worship God because of what they can get out of it? (Job 1:9)
  2. If we accept the good stuff why do we scream 'unfair' when the bad stuff happens? Who said we were only to get the good stuff? (2:10)

Job the character shows us that an encounter with God leaves us happy and willing to throw away our questions and trust him (42:5).

But if Proverbs is worded in such a way as to be memorable, not theoretically accurate, and if the proverbs themselves are not legal guarantees from God, if they are not promises from God, then why include the Book in the Old Testament?

There was any amount of 'self-help/success' literature from other nearby cultures available to the ancients; was Proverbs included in the canon just because the Israelites wanted their own 'success' literature?

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