Sunday, 31 August 2008

Scripture Reading Plan Continued: the Book of Proverbs

As regular readers will know, I'm following a Scripture reading plan for lectio divina purposes, posted on New Liturgical Movement by a Benedictine monk, that more or less mirrors Matins. The plan sticks with the Wisdom literature for the moment, turning today to the Book of Proverbs.


Proverbs as lectio divina

Proverbs is a collection of the sayings of King Solomon (and a few other people) interspersed with material on the importance of wisdom. Much of the material is truly ancient, dating back to the time of Solomon (970-931 BC), with some probably added up to the time of Nehemiah (445-410 BC).

I have to say that I think this book poses a real challenge for a Bible reading plan of this kind: particularly once you get to the collections of pithy sayings (chapter 10 - 22). This is a book that deserves to be read at a leisurely pace, and its key sayings memorized. This is essential stuff, material that we should be teaching our children, going to key themes including things like respecting parents and teachers, being willing to learn, and the virtues! But it isn't really meant to be read straight through in one go.

Still, on the principle of getting an overview of the whole Bible, and steeping ourselves in it, I suspect the best approach is to read the couple of chapters set for each day through in order to get an overview, and then pick out one or two maxims to focus on each day. And next time around, pick out a few more...

Structure

The first section is a series of poems and instructions on wisdom (1-9:18), and talks about wisdom as the companion of God from the beginning, preparing the path for the revelation of Jesus as wisdom personified. Proverbs 8:22-35 is used in the liturgy for Our Lady.

There are then a series of 'sayings':
  • 375 proverbs of Solomon (Chapters 10-22:16)
  • 30 sayings of wise men (22:17-24:22), followed by more sayings of the wise men (24:23-34)
  • 128 proverbs of Solomon (25 - 29:27)
  • sayings of Agur (30:1-14)
  • numerical proverbs (30:15-33)
  • sayings of Lemuel (counsel of a mother to her son)
  • portrait of the ideal wife (31:10-31)

The reading plan

The plan allocates 2 or 3 chapters a day, so that the book is completed by September 11.

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