Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Proverbs on Education

What is the message of Proverbs concerning education and learning?

In the final analysis Proverbs is a book of education. It is the textbook of Israelite paideia (Greek, "education"). What is the Hebrew ideal of education?...

First, Proverbs does not subordinate the education of the individual to the needs of the state. This is remarkably different from the later Greek paideia. For the Greeks devotion to the polis ("state") was a fundamental element of education....In Proverbs, however, such notions scarcely surface at all. Patriotism is not regarded as evil, but no attempt is made to glorify Israelite culture. Instead, everything is subordinated to the Israelite God. If God is honored, all will be well with the state; if he is not, things will not go well....

Second, Israelite wisdom does not promote any particular occupation or trade. This contrasts with Egyptian instructional literature....

Third, education is primarily the task of parents. The family is the first and best school (Deut 6:4-9). The son is exhorted o heed his mother and father (23:22-25), and the parents are commanded to invest time and attention in their children (29:15, 17).

Finally, biblical wisdom stresses the limitations of human knowledge. The gulf between human perception and divine reality is never really closed....The learned must never forget their limitations (30:2-4) and that they are prone to error and conceit. Above all, they must subordinate their quest to the Word of God. For "every word of God is flawless" (30:5).

Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (NAC), 57, 59

P.S. Those in our seminar on the wisdom literature in the Bible may be interested in this post, "What is Hebrew Poetry?"

No comments: