16 August 2011

"God's Wisdom in Proverbs": What's the Deal?

by Dan Phillips

I realized that I haven't actually told you much about God's Wisdom in Proverbs, beyond the fact that it's coming and it's pre-orderable at 50% off. Realizing this, I'm truly all the more humbled and grateful to the many of you who have pre-ordered the book, regardless. Thank you so much; please know that I never, ever take it for granted.

Perhaps others would like a sneak-peek at what's in it, and such like? In that case, I'm here to serve.

Because the 50%-off price is, seriously, a terrific deal, if you ever think you'd be interested in this book. (For that matter, I'm tempted to order a bunch of copies myself!)

For starters, here's the...

Table of Contents
Preface......................................................................................................xv
Acknowledgments......................................................................................xx
Chapter One
Essentials for Understanding Proverbs...........................................................1
Chapter Two
The Stated Design of Proverbs.....................................................................35
Chapter Three
The Foundation of Wisdom..........................................................................65
Chapter Four
WISDOM: Seeking and Finding..................................................................107
Chapter Five
Relating to God by Trust and Worship.........................................................127
Chapter Six
Skill in Godly Relationships........................................................................161
Chapter Seven
Skill in Godly Marriage...............................................................................187
Chapter Eight
Skill in Godly Child-training........................................................................243
Epilogue
A Word to the Wise.....................................................................................307
Appendix One
Who Wrote Proverbs, and What Difference Does It Make?..........................317
Appendix Two
Words Related to Teaching in Proverbs.......................................................337
Appendix Three
Proverbs 22:6—Promise…or Threat?...........................................................353
Appendix Four
Preaching and Teaching the Book of Proverbs............................................381
Bibliography..............................................................................................397
Index of Major Subjects..............................................................................403
Index of Scriptures.....................................................................................404

What that doesn't show is that each chapter is followed by a series of study questions for consideration. This will make the book more useful for Bible studies, Fellowship groups, electives, college/seminary courses.

Now let me tell you a bit more about what is in God's Wisdom in Proverbs — though I will mostly let others do the talking. How can I? We sent a penultimate version of the manuscript to a broadly-selected group of readers who included PhDs, moms, pastors, and others of varying levels of theological education. The following quotations are from their responses to a series of questions about their experience in reading the manuscript.

Style. God's Wisdom in Proverbs is rather different from The World-Tilting Gospel. TWTG is conversational in tone. While one hopes that it is evident that the author did his homework, the muscle is kept largely "under the hood." There are relatively few academic-type footnotes, and what Greek and Hebrew notes are included are phonetically transliterated.

In God's Wisdom in Proverbs, by contrast — to use a math metaphor, which, my dear wife will confirm, is pretty funny for me to be caught doing — I "show my work." Hebrew, Greek, scads of footnotes, pages of bibliography, charts, graphs, arguing with previous writers, the whole nine yards. A fair bit of exegetical, expository, theological, and applicational nuts and bolts are provided for your edification.

On the other hand, it's still by me. It's still my style, or one of my styles. The intent is to reach as wide a spectrum of readers as possible with some of the best work in Proverbs that I'm capable of offering. My desire as always is to be of use to as many as possible — in fact, to absolutely anyone who wishes to understand the Word better. That is my life-goal, under God. So the most technical information is in the footnotes, while the main text is kept more flowing.

Does the extensive reference to Hebrew make the book unusable to a non-Hebrew-reader? Hear one such pre-reader speak to just that question: "I definitely found the use of Hebrew to be appropriate, and certainly understood why it was there. After all, we’re studying a book written in Hebrew, let’s get to the language. ...Dan’s obvious familiarity with the language boosted my confidence in his treatment of the text."

Another, who had studied some Hebrew previously, said, "I found [the use of Hebrew] helpful, because Dan explains his terms. He explained his terms well enough that a serious student who may be ignorant of Hebrew could easily manage his way through his book and benefit greatly from it."

Does the fact that it's more "show-my-work" than The World-Tilting Gospel make God's Wisdom in Proverbs any less accessible?

"I found this book’s style highly engaging. ...I found the book to be a page-turner. Loved the warmth, wit and obvious love for God’s word and concern for the reader" (grandmother)

"Yes, Dan has an easy 'let’s chat about' this style...." (PhD/professor)

“Yes hard to put down. ...Very encouraging. Too many OT works in general, and works on the poetic books in particular, get lost in theory, diagramming, and seem to lose application and spiritual vigor” (PhD/pastor)

"Dan has done a really superb job in keeping the material accessible" (associate pastor)

Usefulness. Who could make use of God's Wisdom in Proverbs? My intent was that it be useful to as many sorts of people as Lady Wisdom summons in the streets (Prov. 1:20-33). Here are the folks the pre-readers felt it would reach:

  • Pastors
  • Pastors in training
  • Seminary students
  • Bible college students
  • College students
  • Bible study leaders
  • Biblical counselors
  • Discipleship trainers
  • SS teachers
  • Parents, specifically home-school parents and parents of struggling or wise teenagers
  • Young parents who want to start their households off on the path of wisdom
  • Single parents
  • Grandparents
  • Serious-minded Christians
  • Pretty much anyone who is serious about studying the Proverbs
  • Anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of Hebrew or understand how intricately translations affect understanding and application
  • All kinds of people from all kinds of walks of life
  • Home school co-op teachers
But don't take my word for it. Before we did the final edit, we ran the book before readers from all walks of life. Here are some of their impressions:

"I enjoyed and benefited immensely from this book, as a parent, a grandparent, a teacher, counselor, and most of all as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a great read, as evidenced by how much I ruminated on it and looked forward to getting back to it when I had to lay it down. ...The material was accessible; although the work is plenty academic, the language was direct and real, and never stuffy. I very much enjoyed Dan’s sense of humor even as he was speaking pastorally. ... will heartily recommend this book to friends and fellow church members. I believe it’s an important book that can fill a huge need in the church." (a grandmother)

"Spiritually convicting, helpful, pastoral." (PhD/pastor)

"...it was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It was engaging to the point I would seriously think about teaching through the book of Proverbs with a class or congregation" (Bible teacher/ employee in Christian org.)

"Without exaggeration, this book will become a 'go-to' resource for Proverbs... I especially thought that [the introductory material is] worth whatever may be the price of this book. Dan’s discussion of Solomonic authorship and intent, the structure and unity of Proverbs, as well as interpretive guidelines were exceedingly helpful in cutting through the higher critical presumptions on Proverbs, many of which have unfortunately infiltrated the evangelical pew and necessitate treatment by any pastor or teacher.

"Dan’s strength is not just the exhaustive treatment (and interaction with other literature and commentaries), but the accessible manner in which he treats them. It is a rare-find to have a book that deals with all the necessary issues in a readable fashion. Dan very much exemplifies a model for teaching Proverbs to pastors and teachers and I do not believe I have yet to encounter another work on Proverbs that is this accessible, thorough, and helpful.  Furthermore, Dan’s applicational comments are both relevant and suggestive to how one may preach and apply Proverbs to our contemporary context and churches. ...I believe I would go so far as to say that if you own only one book on Proverbs for teaching and preparation, this is the book." (Associate pastor)

Of course, as the author, to see both "accessible" and "academic" applied repeatedly to the same book does not ruin my day. To say the least.

I hope that's helpful in telling you whether this sounds like a book for your library. In the days to come, I am thinking of putting up an excerpt or two. Maybe I'll tease you with a bit from Appendix Three, concerning which Dr. Kevin Zuber said it might make some readers "take that old 'cross-stitch verse' off the nursery wall."

But if you have any interest in it at all, I sincerely encourage you to take advantage of the 50% off deal that is currently being offered. When Amazon has it, I can't imagine they're get anywhere near that price.

Publication date is targeted for September 1, 2011. Soon!

Readers outside of America: the person to contact is Tonya Waycaster, at tonya.waycaster, then @, then stl-distribution.com. Ask her any questions you have about coupons, delivery, all the rest. Thanks for your interest!

Kindle? Logos? Audio version? All that probably depends on sales of the hardcover edition, and that is what this post and meta are about.

Dan Phillips's signature

56 comments:

Robert said...

Just put mine on order. I can't wait to go through this with my boys. We went through Proverbs with them a couple of years ago and now our oldest son is reading a chapter a day in his daily reading. Thanks for your work on this.

Brownie said...

Thanks for posting this... just might have to order it at that great price!

Tom said...

"...but wait there's more!"

"only three easy monthly payments of $9.99..."

"as seen on tv"

"Place your order now. Operators are standing by."

"Just fix it and forget it."

Sensei, I'm just waiting for the celebrity endorsement... Maybe Chuck Norris is available?

Tom

word verification: slything

DJP said...

Phil Johnson, Jim Hamilton, Michael Rydelnik and all the others are def. celebrities to me.

Tom said...

Sorry, never heard of them.

Hey, I do know of a famous pastor in Seattle, Washington. He might give you an endorsemment.


or not.

gabby said...

Ordered! I can't think of anyone I'd rather study the Proverbs with than Dan. Thanks so much for the 50% off.

Stefan said...

I've always had more difficulty reading Proverbs than any of the other 65 books of the Bible.

Numbers, Psalms, Isaiah, even Revelation...some of them are definitely challenging (especially the last one!), but they have transparent narrative or poetic structures, and they fit within historical contexts.

But Proverbs seems harder to "get" because at first glance, half of it appears to be just an extended collection of bits of biblical wisdom, bits of tumbleweed blowing off to the side of the highway of redemptive history.

Even at 400 pages (!), it looks like this might be the kind of book that could help to make sense of Proverbs and draw out its Spirit-breathed purpose and logic.

DJP said...

Chapters one and two will speak directly to that concern, Stefan; as well as appendices one and four.

JackW said...

So what you’re saying is that if I want the Kindle edition, then I need to buy the hardcover paper brick edition first so that the publisher can see that there is enough demand that they can spend a few extra bucks to put the original electronic version into another format?

There has got to be an app for that and probably a proverb to show me the error of my ways.

Anyway, ordered the brick even though Proverbs is “my least favorite” book. I’m hoping for a mind-tilter.

Manfred said...

I am in an elder training program and read lots of books. Recently bought Tremper Longman's book "How to Read Proverbs", recommended by my pastor/elder/mentor. He presses on us the need to read wide and deep - especially on the wisdom literature. So I read about this book from Dan, considered all the teaching I've taken in from this man, and ordered a copy of his book for me, and one for my man-child in the Pacific NW.

Thanks for your zeal for the Lord!

Mel said...

It just wouldn't be a DJP column without a shameless plug for one of your books.

DJP said...

Thanks so much, Manfred. You'll find I have a few issues with Dr. Longmann; should be interesting for you! (c;

Manfred said...

DJP - we wouldn't be humans if we agreed with anyone 100%. My pastor - with whom I do not agree 100% - has some reservations with Longmann as well :-) I look forward to reading your book and gaining a better understanding of work of God, to see Christ in Proverbs rather than merely moral fables for good living.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I know that when I get my copy, I'll be the envy of all the housewives in Pennsylvania. And soon people will begin to ask how I became so wise and humble and winsome.

Seriously, I look forward to owning a hard copy and using it.

Tom said...

Sensei,

I give you a hard time, but I did pre-order the book. Now, if I could only get you to sign it and write a nice note on it like you wrote to Johnny Mac, you know with the XOXOXOs and all... :)

Tom

DJP said...

Manfred, I especially focus on his shrugging off the authorship issue with a "it really doesn't make any difference." Yikes.

DJP said...

All I can say, Tom, is: you be a no-name nobody, write a book, and have John MacArthur take the time to say a kind word — and if that doesn't turn you into a doe-eyed Fanboy for Life, you're made of sterner stuff than I.

JackW said...

This just in from Kress:

Hi Jack

An order you recently placed on our website has had its status changed.

The status of order #296 is now Awaiting Fulfillment



... I'll say.

Solameanie said...

Just ordered. If this keeps up, I'm going to have to add a "Pyro Authors" section to the library in my den/home office.

Solameanie said...

BTW, allow me to strike a blow for books, paper and shelves. I will resist electronic books while I have life and breath. I refuse to turn into a circuit board.

Patrick said...

Hi Dan,

Looks like a great book. What's the 50% coupon? The Kress Website has it listed at full price for $24.99.

Patrick said...

Nevermind.. I saw it in the text description: PLXUF10LALPY6

Even So... said...

Here is wisdom:

Ordering this book about wisdom would be wise.

Not ordering this book about wisdom would not be wise.


BTW...
#318

Even So... said...

I had to leave another comment because the word verification was "metasan"...

Merrilee Stevenson said...

By the way, that last quote in the blue text box from the associate pastor was fantastic. And right on the money.





Almost makin' me "mistio" (word verif.)

Stefan said...

To quote Merrilee:

"Be the envy of all the housewives in Pennsylvania!"

How's that for a tagline?

DJP said...

Even So...! Now, there's a voice from the past! Dude, how are you, how've you been?

DJP said...

Justin Martyr did quite a riff on the number 318, if memory serves.

DJP said...

< chuckle > These posts so bring out the single-star ratings-haters.

Glad the rest of you are having fun.

jmb said...

Klaatu barada nikto!

DJP said...

I have smart commenters.

(c:

threegirldad said...

If Chapter 8 includes what I'll call Dan's "rethinking" of Prov 22:6 as discussed in this talk, then his book will be worth ten times the regular price.

[Begins at the 47:35 mark and runs to 53:10; I've transcribed this section, if anyone is interested.]

DJP said...

3GD: all of Appendix 3 is devoted to that very thing.

threegirldad said...

Fabulous. :-)

Always Reforming said...

50%?? Too good to pass up!! The ratio of pages to dollars is outrageous!!

Maybe you said this soemwhere, but when does it actually get released?

DJP said...

Target-date is September 1, 2011.

Robert said...

Yeah...I got it for about the same price as WTG, Always Reforming! I can add to the P section of my bookshelves now.

jbboren said...

Is it a commentary, a textbook, a bible study, or something else?

Scooter said...

My current plan:

a) buy WTG and Proverbs (may need to stop eating for a week)

b) rip out section on prophecy from Grudem's systematic theology; replace with WTG

c) read Proverbs for morning devotions

d) make decisions; go to bed without anxiety

Always Reforming said...

@Robert: First I'll need to organize my books (most of my shelves have books in multiple layers and positions), then I'll add it to my P section.

@DJP: That should give me time to finish Knowing God.

DJP said...

jbboren, I'd love to do a commentary someday, but this isn't that.

You get a good idea from the Table of Contents, which I have in the post. The whole is a study, made up of a series of focused studies. In the course, of course, I do examine and analyze several passages and individual verses at length. There's a verse by verse analysis and exposition, for instance, of 1:1-7, another of 2:1ff, another of 3:5ff., and a whole appendix on 22:6. But there are discussions and expositions of many other verses as well.

It is usable for a Bible study book (A) because it's literally packed with Scriptures, opened up and applied; (B) because the chapters are broken into sections, which makes for easy apportionment (i.e. "We'll study up to ___"); and (C) each chapter has a series of questions for discussion at the end.

You could use it personally, church groups, college classes, seminary courses. It's all up to the use the individual, leader, teacher or professor wants to make of it.

Bill Cross said...

Hey Dan,
I have ordered it.

The post today was very helpful in knowing what to expect, with one exception.

Could you drop a hint as to how or if you will interact with God's Wisdom in Proverbs and Jesus, God's Wisdom?

Except for a passing statement or two, so many Proverbs comentaries just don't or won't.

DJP said...

Let me say I do interact, more than once, and at some length. My approach is not primarily per se to do a "find Jesus in Proverbs" hunt as it is to show how Proverbs is positioned in the entire Canon, and how it speaks with one voice with the NT as well as the whole OT. I also show how it points us to Christ, and how it interplays both with saving faith and living faith.

DJP said...

In that process, btw, I visit and revisit "how do we as Christians deal with Proverbs" from a number of angles.

Robert said...

Dan,

Just thinking about your past couple of comments and I can't help but to think that wisdom has always called out to me and I didn't listen. So much of the Proverbs, just as the rest of the Bible, has pointed out my own folly and wickedness. And this points to my need for salvation, which Jesus provided through his perfect life and atoning death where He took the wrath of God for my sinfulness (and sins).

Now, as a Christian, I am called to follow the wisdom displayed in Proverbs because it is wisdom delivered from God. In Proverbs, God has laid out clearly the path of the wicked and the righteous...the fool and the wise man. I should read and meditate upon the Proverbs and this should cause my conduct as a Christian to reflect the wisdom of God...and I can do so if I am abiding in Christ and living by the will and the power that the Holy Spirit provides.

Bill Cross said...

Thank you.

Sounds like good stuff.

Can't wait to get my copy.

P.S. Purchased, downloaded and devoured TWTG last Thursday. I will continue to highly recommend it.

DJP said...

Thank you, Bill, I really appreciate it.

Robert said...

I was in a bit of a hurry and forgot to add that I can not wait to see how you unlock how Proverbs applies to Christians and some practical ways that we can use the wisdom God provides for us in this book. If it is even just half as thought-provoking as your blog posts, I am sure that it will be a book I read and digest many, many times.

AlexPhilip said...

Your book has study questions at the end of each chapter which you say will be helpful for Bible studies. But if they're studying your book then obviously, it's not a Bible study! And I thought you were a committed cesationist.

Wendy said...

Seriously debating giving up some grocery money for this.

Rachael Starke said...

"My approach is not primarily per se to do a "find Jesus in Proverbs" hunt as it is to show how Proverbs is positioned in the entire Canon, and how it speaks with one voice with the NT as well as the whole OT. I also show how it points us to Christ, and how it interplays both with saving faith and living faith.

And that, right there, is why I wish Blogger had a Love function on comments. Or at least a Like one.

Can't. Wait.

Thomas Louw said...

I’m relieved that I am not the only one with issues, regarding Dr Longman that is.

Paul said...

Appendix Four includes Preaching & Teaching the Book of Proverbs. Without knowing the contents - would your advice be similar when preaching & teaching James?

DJP said...

No.

Paul said...

Ordered my copy a couple weeks ago and look forward to receiving.

thomas4881 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.