Ancient Wisdom for 2021: Speak the Language

Do you speak the language?  That might be a great question for a tourist who is exploring ruins in ancient Greece.  Maybe this would be a good question to an exchange student who is meeting her new roommate in Barcelona.  For our new Bible study in 2021 we’re going to look at Wisdom Literature in the Bible.  For the most part this is found in Psalms, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

The distinctive features of most English poetry are rhyme and meter. Hebrew poetry is quite different. Its most important feature is parallelism. Instead of rhyming words at the ends of successive lines, parallelism matches corresponding thoughts in successive lines. Poetry which uses parallelism as its main technique is therefore primarily a poetry of thoughts, rather than a poetry of sounds.

In this first lesson we spend some time walking through the different kinds of parallelism:

1. Synonymous Parallelism:  The first line says about the same thing as the first.

The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands. – Psalm 19:1

2. Antithetic Parallelism: The two lines contrast each other.  This type is common in Proverbs.

A cheerful heart is good medicine,

but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. – Proverbs 17:22

3. Synthetic Parallelism: The second line builds on the first.

A man’s wisdom gives him patience,

it is to his glory to overlook an offense – Proverbs 19:11

Want to hear more?  You can check out this first lesson where we lay the ground work for our study of wisdom literature in the Bible.  We end the lesson with a look at wisdom literature on the topic of smoking and drinking.  That way you too will be able to speak the language.

Please click HERE to check out the Bible class slides.

You can find all of the Bible classes from our series Ancient Wisdom for 2021 HERE.