Take a guided tour on how to interpret biblical proverbs and wisdom literature. Leland Ryken shows pastors and students and teachers of the Bible how to appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of biblical proverbs. In Short Sentences Long Remembered, he explores the intersection of the Bible and wisdom literature. And he goes one step further than merely explaining these memorable writings—he includes exercises to help students of the Bible master them.
In the Reading the Bible as Literature series, Leland Ryken explores the intersection of the Bible and literature. In the series preface he writes, “It is my belief that a literary approach to the Bible is the common reader’s friend, in contrast to the more specialized types of scholarship on the Bible.”
Leland Ryken has been a pacesetter in the literary study of the Bible, especially within the evangelical community. Those of us who find this approach to Scripture especially enriching are always ready to listen when Ryken speaks. Readers who master Ryken’s principles will find the Bible open up to them in new, exciting ways.
—Robert B. Chisholm Jr., Chair and Professor of Old Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary
“I tell my classes that the task of a literary author is threefold—to observe and record human experience, to interpret the experiences that are portrayed, and to entertain us with literary form and technique. The proverbs that make up wisdom literature perform exactly those three functions.” (Page 17)
“The division of duties among these religious leaders was approximately as follows: the priests represented the people to God; the prophets brought God’s word to people; the wise men taught their fellow humans.” (Page 12)
“An aphorism is a proverb—a concise, memorable statement of truth. To produce proverbs requires a special kind of thinking.” (Page 14)
“Proverbs do not convey information; they convey wisdom.” (Page 21)
“Wisdom is skill for living. This implies that wisdom focuses on practical daily living and ties into the authors’ task of observing life and human experience as noted above. The book of Proverbs contains observations and advice on such far-flung topics as farming, lawsuits, table manners, money management, avoiding bad companions, choosing a wife, and the delights of having grandchildren. This is not to minimize that other proverbs deal with the spiritual life—fearing God, worshiping properly, and enduring trial. Even here, though, the goal of the wise men is that people will navigate life well rather than poorly—with skill for living, in other words.” (Page 13)
Leland Ryken (Ph.D., University of Oregon) is Professor of English Emeritus at Wheaton College, where he has taught since 1968. He is the author of more than 50 books, including How to Read the Bible as Literature, Words of Delight: A Literary Introduction to the Bible, Windows to the World: Literature in Christian Perspective, and A Complete Handbook of Literary Forms in the Bible.