chapter  1
17 Pages

From proverbs and poetry to prose

The Bible’s own “Great Divide”
ByJacqueline Vayntrub

Proverbs scholarship in the mid-twentieth century challenged the crudest assumptions of the framework. Apart from framing titles in Proverbs, Song of Songs, and Qohelet that variously attribute the works to Solomon, these works stood entirely outside the biblical narrative history. Poetry is spoken by characters in the narrative that, because of how the narrative is configured, are set in the narrator’s often deep and legendary past. Poetry is also presented within non-narrative anthologies like Psalms. Biblical poetry is encountered in the narrative texts as performances voiced by characters because this is the text’s design. In Psalms and Proverbs, poetry comes to the reader in the form of anthologies, frequently outside of the voice of a speaking character in a narrative. The idea that poetry encountered in the written text seems to have oral origins and seems to be older than prose writing is deeply embedded in scholarly frameworks.