A Honeyed Cup: Poetry, Pedagogy, and Ethos in the Book of Proverbs Open Access

Stewart, Anne Whitaker (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/hh63sw27b?locale=en


From its opening words, the book of Proverbs presents itself as a manual of instruction for the student to acquire the necessary discipline and virtues to follow the wise course. Because Proverbs often speaks in language of binary opposition (e.g., righteous/wicked, wise/foolish), many interpreters have described the book's vision of the moral world as relatively simplistic. Accordingly, shaping the student's character would seem a straightforward task of merely conveying the right course while warning of the dangers of the wrong course. However, the book imparts a much more complicated vision of the moral world than has often been assumed.

The moral world of Proverbs is closely related to the book's literary form. This project explores the strategies of character formation in Proverbs with particular attention to the function of Proverbs' poetry. Part I of the dissertation is a methodological framework for the study, examining the "character ethics approach" and the nature of poetry in Proverbs. Character ethics, in its various forms, has given great attention to the role of narrative in the formation of character, but Proverbs challenges this narrative orientation. Part II presents four different models of character formation: (1) rebuke, (2) motivation, (3) desire, and (4) imagination. These heuristic categories organize the diverse ways in which the book speaks about formation, uses certain rhetorical tools to enact formation within the student, and operates with implicit assumptions about the nature of learning and of human beings. Through its poetry, Proverbs presents a sophisticated understanding of the role of emotion, desire, and imagination in the formation of the moral self, thus suggesting that character formation requires educating all of the senses, not simply the cognitive faculties. While Proverbs often makes use of black-and-white binary opposition, it in fact schools the student to operate in a moral world of gray hue, a place in which he will be constantly barraged by competing choices and desires that require the mental acuity to make wise choices.

Table of Contents

1. Poetry, Pedagogy, and Ethos

1. The Poetry of Character and the Character of Poetry

2. Character, Knowledge, and the Moral Self

3. Overview of Chapters

Part I: Character and Poetry in Proverbs

2. The Question of Character Ethics

1. The Character Ethics Approach: Introduction and Background

1.1. Virtue Ethics

1.2. Narrative Ethics

1.3. Character Ethics

1.4. Summary

2. The Character Ethics Approach: Case Studies

2.1. M. Daniel Carroll R.

2.2. Carol A. Newsom

2.3. M. Patrick Graham

3. The Character Ethics Approach: Evaluation

4. Proverbs and the Character Ethics Approach

5. William P. Brown, Proverbs, and the Character Ethics Approach

6. Proverbs and the Character Ethics Approach: A Reevaluation

3. Form Criticism and the Way of Poetry in Proverbs

1. The Nature of Poetry in Proverbs 1-9

1.1. History of Form- and Literary-Critical Research

1.2. Proverbs and the Genre(s) of Biblical Hebrew Poetry

1.3. Proverbs and Didactic Poetry

1.4. Proverbs Beyond Didactic Poetry

1.5. Proverbs and the Genre(s) of Biblical Hebrew Poetry (again)

2. The Nature of Poetry in Proverbs 10-31

2.1. History of Form-Critical Research

2.2. Forms in Proverbs 10-31

2.2.1. Two-line saying

2.2.2. Better-than saying

2.2.3. Numerical saying

2.2.4. Beyond Two Lines: Other Forms in Proverbs

2.3. Poetic Features of Proverbs 10-31

2.3.1. Parallelism

2.3.2. Sound Play

2.3.3. Terseness and Vocabulary

2.3.4. Parataxis

2.3.5. Figurative Language

3. Conclusion: Proverbs and the Nature of Poetry

4. Poetry and Character Formation: Approach and Presenting Issues

Part II: Models of Character Formation in Proverbs

4. The Model of Rebuke

1. The Model of Rebuke

2. The Poetics of Rebuke

2.1. Proverbs 1:20-33

2.2. Rebuke in the Sayings

2.2.1. Proverbs 25:12

2.2.2. Proverbs 26:3, 11

3. The Model of Rebuke and the Moral Self

5. The Model of Motivation

1. The Model of Motivation

1.1. What is Motivation?

1.2. What is Moral Motivation?

1.3. Paradigms of Motivation in Proverbs

1.3.1. Wealth

1.3.2. Honor

1.3.3. Protection

1.3.4. Life

2. The Form of Motivation

2.1. Proverbs 10:1-7

2.2. Proverbs 3:1-12

2.3. Proverbs 3:13-18

3. The Model of Motivation and the Moral Self

4. Proverbs and Moral Motivation

6. The Model of Desire

1. The Ubiquity of Desire in Proverbs

2. Typologies of Desire

2.1. The Wicked, Fools, and Other Questionable Characters

2.2. The Righteous, the Wise, and Woman Wisdom

3. The (Poetic) Patterning of Desire

3.1. The Poetry of Desire in Proverbs 10-31

3.1.1. Proverbs 24:13-14

3.1.2. Proverbs 20:17

3.2. The Poetry of Desire in Proverbs 1-9

3.2.1. Proverbs 4:1-9

3.2.2. Proverbs 7:1-27

4. Desire and the Moral Self

4.1. Proverbs 8:1-21

4.2. Proverbs 8:32-36

7. The Model of Imagination

1. Proverbs and the Imagination

2. Cognitive Science, Ethics, and the Moral Imagination

3. Proverbs and Moral Prototypes

4. Metaphor and Moral Reasoning

4.1. Moral Accounting

4.2. Moral Strength

4.3. Moral Authority

4.4. Moral Nurturance

5. Imagining Alternatives

5.1. Proverbs 5

6. The Moral Imagination of Proverbs as Didactic Poetry

Part III: Conclusion

8. Proverbs and Character Ethics (A Reprise)

1. Narrative, Poetry, and Personhood

2. Proverbs and the Narrative Mode

3. The Moral Landscape of Israelite Wisdom


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