A proverb a day keeps your sins away – Monday, 25th Week in ordinary time – Proverbs 3:27-34

For the next two weeks, starting from today, the first readings of the liturgy of the Eucharist will focus briefly on three books taken from the body of literature called wisdom literature. We will reflect on texts from the book of Proverbs(Monday and Tuesday), the book of Ecclesiastes (Thursday to Saturday) and the book of Job which will take up the whole of next week

The Hebrew division of the Bible has three parts: the Law, the Prophets, the Writings. Within the writings are seven books which are commonly called wisdom books: Proverbs, Job, Psalms, Ecclesiastes (Qoholeth), Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus).

Every culture has a way of recording the practical advice of previous generations and an important part of life is becoming familiar this cultural data. Wisdom Literature contains writing designed to help people live righteously, in ways that are pleasing to God. The books consist of a series of “wise sayings” emanating from the educated and leading class of the Jewish people in the period following the return from exile in Babylon.

The book of Proverbs is a collection of moral and religious instruction given to young Jews by learned teachers. The book of Proverbs contains not only proverbial sayings; that is, short popular statements expressive of practical wisdom and experience but also parables, similitudes, comparisons, and short pithy sayings. It is not merely a compilation of unrelated sayings containing the ethical wisdom of the Orientals, but constitutes the ethical code of its authors. It’s spirit is thoroughly religious and the idea of God permeates the entire book.

The book is traditionally ascribed to Solomon, the third king of Israel but this is a mere convention. It was in Solomon’s court that ancient oriental “wisdom” was first introduced to Israel, and it later became customary to attribute all books belonging to this particular literary genre to him.

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