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How to Read Proverbs Paperback – Sep 1 2006

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic (Sept. 1 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0877849420
  • ISBN-13: 978-0877849421
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 195 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #475,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"This handy volume will solve the riddle of the book of Proverbs for many. Longman's guidance for interpreting biblical proverbs in general is lucid and his clarification of special issues raised by Proverbs extremely helpful. A must-read for all who study and teach the book."--Daniel I. Block, D.Phil., Associate Dean, John R. Sampey Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

"A brilliant blend of in-depth scholarship with an easy-to-understand conversational narrative. . . . An enjoyable read and a good guide for those who desire to explore the path of biblical wisdom."--Ted Hildebrandt, Gordon College

About the Author

Tremper Longman III (Ph.D., Yale University) is the Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies at Westmont College. He has authored or coauthored more than twenty books, including commentaries on Daniel, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I am looking forward to Longman's commentary on the Proverbs. Longman is a solid exegete of OT wisdom books.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0e9db40) out of 5 stars 19 reviews
49 of 49 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e99e10) out of 5 stars Wonderful and clear introduction to Proverbs July 31 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tremper Longman has provided a very readable and useful snapshot into the book of Proverbs. There are no overly academic descriptions here; Dr. Longman successfully promotes sound exegetical ideas into very simple-sounding English. But don't let the simplicity fool you; there is a lot of important information here that will save you a lot of pain in the future if you heed the author's advice. If you are reading this I'm assuming you have an interest in studying the book of Proverbs, so I won't try to convince you of the value of Proverbs.

Dr. Longman gives the reader plenty of background information in three informative sections. The first section deals with background on the nature of the proverb; what it is and what it is not. Knowing the historical setting is stressed. Exegetical principles are established by looking for patterns such as parallelism, and numerical parallelism, imagery and others. The second section deals with the context of wisdom in the Bible; how the comments in Proverbs relate to other Bible books such as Job and Ecclesiastes. On this topic, Tremper Longman may be one of the best because he has written extensively on the Hebrew wisdom literature, and his Biblical and historical insights are quite valuable. The final section is a list of a few special studies in proverbs, such as the topic of money and marriage. Although not exhaustive, they are insightful and help the reader to see how to put the ideas of the previous sections into practice.

The author deals with practical issues such as "Are proverbs always true?" This chapter is worth the price of the book, because in my experience Christians tend to take proverbs as always true when in fact they are reflections on life that are generally true. Why some proverbs seem to contradict each other is also discussed very well. Dr. Longman treats with integrity and thoughtfulness the topic of is Jesus/Yeshua referred to as the "wisdom" in Proverbs 8. And the comparison of proverbs to other forms of ancient literature was a real treat.

In short, this is a great first-stop shopping book that I recommend prior to a study of Proverbs. The book is not overly Jewish, but you will gain some insight into ancient Jewish culture from this study of wisdom literature. Advanced scholarly types might not find the book as useful, but Longman's explanations are pretty thoughtful and would be very useful for teaching purposes. I think regardless of training, you will still find some helpful insights. The book could also be the topic of a Bible study, since there are a series of group-discussion questions at the end of each chapter. There are also lots of suggestions for further reading, and a list of useful commentaries. A delightful book overall that will enhance your walk with God!
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa11470e4) out of 5 stars Review of "How To Read Proverbs" by Longman Oct. 19 2006
By Warren T. Baldwin - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For a brief, nontechnical introduction to Proverbs, and wisdom literature in general, you will want this book. Longman discusses Proverbs in three sections: 1) General overview of Proverbs and wisdom; 2) How Proverbs fits into the overall theme of ancient wisdom (this includes the other wisdom books in the Bible and wisdom in other parts of the ancient world); and 3) Themes in Proverbs (money, love & marriage, wise and foolish words).

This book is not a verse by verse study of Proverbs. For that you will want a commentary, such as that by Dave Bland or Bruce Waltke (see my reviews). Instead, this book is an introduction to Proverbs and the nature of wisdom literature.

Chapter one is entitled "Why Read Proverbs?" Below are comments from that chapter:

"Wisdom is the skill of living." (P.14)

"Wisdom entails the ability to avoid problems, and the skill to handle them when they present themselves. Wisdom also includes the ability to interpret other people's speech and writing in order to react correctly to what they are saying to us." (Pp.14-15)

Proverbs is more about E.Q. (emotional quotient) than I.Q. (intelligent quotient). Proverbs uses stories of animals (Prov. 24-28). "These animals don't have a high I.Q., but the verses plainly describe a skill in living that is remarkable."

"People who have a high I.Q. know many facts; they can solve difficult mathematical equations. Their ability to reason and use logic is superior to others'. People with emotional intelligence have other abilities, including `self-control, zeal and persistence and the ability to motivate oneself ... to control impulse and delay gratification; to regulate one's moods and keep distress from swamping the ability to think...'" (Longman quotes from Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence). Biblical wisdom is closer to EQ than IQ. (P.15-16)

"Wisdom is a skill, a `knowing how': it is not raw intellect, a `knowing that.'" "Why read Proverbs, then? To gain wisdom, which is an ability to navigate life." (P.16)

You'll appreciate the insights Longman's book will give you to get a handle on wisdom in general and Proverbs in particular. I recommend it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0aff048) out of 5 stars Great Intro to Proverbs Nov. 4 2006
By nafrica - Published on
Format: Paperback
Part II of Longman's little "How to Read" series, I think it is by far the best of the three (his Psalms intro is a close second). His exposition on the meaning of Lady Wisdom and Lady Folly was fantastic. His integration of other wisdom books was very helpful and militates against an isolated reading of Proverbs. And his interpretation that the woman in Proverbs 31 represents Jesus was genius. This book really motivates you to tackle Proverbs on your own and to really appreciate its artform. And you can't ask more from a intro book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1f4d38c) out of 5 stars Erudite but accessible Oct. 25 2012
By DJ Konz - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Longman successfully balances solid, reliable and contemporary biblical scholarship with accessibility for the intelligent but not necessarily learned reader of Proverbs. His speciality in Old Testament Wisdom Literature shows in this volume which, in placing Proverbs in that setting, also includes helpful overviews of Job and Ecclesiastes. Particularly helpful is Longman's location of the biblical proverbs within the Ancient Near Eastern context (where proverbial wisdom was somewhat commonplace) highlighting the distinctive theological themes and authority of the biblical material. Also, his rejoinder to read individual proverbs within the context of the whole book, the first nine chapters of which in its present form act as theme- and scene-setting for the proverbs which follow, is a fundamental but often unrecognised point - even by many students and pastors who have studied hermeneutical principles. And just as elementary - but critical - is his stress on not treating individual proverbs as divine promises. They are designed for pithiness and punchiness - to be committed to memory - not as comprehensively applicable divine guarantees; generally, however, the wisdom they seek to capture proves itself true most of the time.

The proverbial material could readily be organised in different ways to the seven key themes he chooses - there are many ways to slice the proverbial pie! - but he himself admits that and doesn't press his own schema beyond its limits.

Lay readers, undergraduates and even graduates can benefit from this introduction to a book - and genre of historical literature - which is often misunderstood.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0e2787c) out of 5 stars A precious book! Nov. 29 2006
By Lange Dürre - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

- Easy to read

- Good structure

- Very helpful study questions and "for further reading" at the end of each chapter

- Good approach to the subject

- Compares Proverbs to Near Eastern wisdom texts to give background information of such kind, in such days in that region - amazing similarities!

Almost negative:

- The author uses the New Living Translation (NLT)

I must admit that I am a lover of the King James Version (KJV). But in such a book I would have expected a different version of the Bible. An example might illustrate my point:

Proverbs 8:14-15 NLT

"Common sense and success belong to me.

Insight and strength are mine.

Because of me, kings reign,

and rulers make just decrees."

Proverbs 8:14-15 KJV

"Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice."

Proverbs 10:19 NLT

"Too much talk leads to sin.

Be sensible and keep your mouth shut."

Proverbs 10:19 KJV

"In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise."

Overall an excellent book, for beginners and advanced students of the Bible alike. The author took me several layers deeper into the Word of God - I enjoyed the ride!