This review appeared in the Jan-Mar 2011 vol. 168 no. 1 issue of Biblotheca Sacra, DTS’s quarterly academic journal.Subscribe Today
ProverbsConcordia Publishing House, St. Louis November 1, 2009
This commentary, by a professor of theology and Hebrew at Concordia University, Chicago, makes an outstanding contribution to the study of the Book of Proverbs. This is an unusually complete and thorough commentary on Proverbs.
Each section of verses in Proverbs includes a translation, extensive textual notes on the Hebrew, and commentary. In addition the author has included twelve excursuses throughout the book. These include, among others, “The Organization of the Sayings in Solomon’s Proverbs in Proverbs 10:1–22:16” (pp. 249–54), and “The Metaphor of Path in Solomon's Wisdom” (pp. 255–60). Introductory pages discuss authorship and date, wisdom in Proverbs (a discussion of eleven Hebrew words for wisdom; pp. 18–30), and nine words for fools (pp. 30–32). Steinmann also discusses the several types of sayings in Proverbs: complete sentences, juxtaposed sentences, comparison sayings, good and better sayings, numerical sayings, and short sayings that present observations about life and commands or prohibitions (pp. 32–37). In his introductory remarks Steinmann also discusses how to understand and apply Proverbs, and the text of Proverbs.
Not everyone will agree that wisdom in Proverbs 8:22–31 refers to the preexistent second person of the Trinity, a view Steinmann discusses at great length (pp. 206–9).
In a five-page excursus he discusses the relationship of Proverbs 22:17–24:22 to the Wisdom of Amenemope, an Egyptian document. He writes, “There is a general consensus that some relationship between Proverbs and Amenemope exists” (p. 447). “Clearly the Words of Wise People [Prov. 22:17–24:22] and the Wisdom of Amenemope sometimes contain true parallels and other times contain verbal similarities without thematic parallels or thematic parallels without verbal correspondence” (ibid.). He concludes that “Solomon probably used the Wisdom of Amenemope, or perhaps some document related to or derived from it, as one source for his compilation of words of wise people” (p. 449). In a chart he lists sixteen possible parallels between these two documents (p. 450).
Steinmann translates the Hebrew lyIj'Atv,ae in 31:10 as “a wife of strong character” (pp. 634–36). The New International Version translates these words as “a wife of noble character,” and the New American Standard Bible renders them “an excellent wife.”
A fifteen-page bibliography of approximately three hundred entries (pp. xxv–xxxix) adds to the value of the book. As in the other books in this Concordia Commentary series, fifteen icons are scattered throughout the margins of the book to highlight various themes, including the Trinity, the tabernacle or temple, the Incarnation, the Atonement, baptism, the Lord's Supper, the church, worship, heaven, and justification.
Any person preaching or teaching Proverbs will benefit greatly from this thorough exposition of this fascinating Bible book.
—Roy B. Zuck