(Shepherd Press: 2008; 201 pages)
I am reading and scanning a number of books as I work (delightedly and feverishly) on my own Proverbs book for Kress, and this is one of them.
A Proverbs Driven Life is neither a commentary nor strictly a study. The tone is largely pastoral, and the style is very readable. Pastor Selvaggio singles out a number of themes from Proverbs, and discusses them in a whole-canon setting. The themes are work, wealth, and relationships, with a focus on marriage and parenting.
A weakness of the book is that Selvaggio virtually never deals at all with the Hebrew text of Proverbs. Hence, a number of his critical definitions either are systematic, or are based on the English word. For instance, he defines wisdom as "an ability to make good decisions based on knowledge, and then act on those decisions in a way that’s effective and makes a difference" (14), and says that it "is about using knowledge well" (15). Perhaps, but that is not really the core sense of the Hebrew word; nor does Selvaggio demonstrate his definition from the text at all.
Also — endnotes! Brr-r-r-r.
In the plus-column: Selvaggio approaches Proverbs as a Christian, and sets it in the context of the whole Bible. He has some brief but solid reflections on Christ as the embodiment and source of the sort of wisdom Proverbs idealizes.
Further, though Selvaggio does not treat the interpretation and application of Proverbs at length, he does give some admirably concise, helpful guidelines. To wit:
- Use basic logic (17-18; i.e. don’t make 13:11 say that all loss of money necessarily indicates dishonest gain)
- Don’t read any proverb in isolation (18)
- Don’t put God on your timetable (18-19)
- Make God the goal of your obedience (19).
Younger Christians in particularly would often assess their prospective spouses much like Israel assessed the Gibeonites. They relied solely on their reason and the external facts as the basis for entering into a vow. They failed to reflect thoughtfully or inquire deeply of God before speaking a vow meant to last a lifetime (31)However, I didn't love Selvaggio's apparently-approving quotation of William Arnot in the context of finding a mate: “Our Father loves to be consulted in this great life-match for his children, and they who ask His advise [sic] will not be sent away without it” (144). So... ask God which one of the hundreds of thousands of eligible singles to marry, and He'll.... do what? Offer His opinion? Verbally? By direct revelation? Perhaps a vision? This offers false hope (and imposes a false, unbearable burden) without Biblical warrant; thankfully, it is an exception.
(The lesson there, children, is: just because a guy's dead, doesn't mean he's Canon. Know what I mean?)
I was also a bit stunned at Selvaggio's blunt and unqualified insistence that a person whose mate has committed adultery should number himself/herself among the finger-pointing accusers of the (textually dubious) John 8:1-11, and basically just let it go (166). Wow. Readers will find a much more Biblically satisfying approach to such situations in Chris Brauns' book. I actually, literally looked at the blank remainder of that page and the next page, to make sure I hadn't missed something. I hadn't. Yikes.
My final thought is: I sure wish I'd thought of the title first!
But, alas, I didn't.