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Even a cursory reading of the book of Proverbs reveals that it is dominated by the subject of education, or personal formation. The voice of the teacher addressing his pupils resounds from its pages. A wide array of topics is presented, and frequent exhortations challenge the learner to hear and heed the teacher’s instruction. This material, however, comes, for the most part, without recognizable order or sequence. Much of Proverbs consists of apparently random collections of maxims. As readers, we see many individual pieces, but the puzzle as a whole remains unclear.
Daniel J. Estes synthesizes the teachings of the first nine chapters of Proverbs into a systematic statement of the theory of education and personal formation that lies behind the text. Working from the Hebrew text and building upon an extensive analysis of exegetical works, he organizes his study of Proverbs 1–9 into seven categories typical of pedagogical discussion: worldview, values for education, goals for education, curriculum for education, the process of instruction, the role of the teacher, and the role of the learner. His work agrees with but also transcends the original purpose of the text by revealing the foundational theory of intellectual and moral formation embedded in this important section of Scripture. It also has valuable things to say about constructing a biblically informed philosophy of education today.
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It is the holistic vision of ‘instruction’ . . . that occupies the attention of Dr. Estes. His work not only illuminates some important chapters of the Old Testament but serves as a salutary reminder for the people of God today to keep certain fundamental priorities clear.
—D.A. Carson, research professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
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Daniel J. Estes is professor of Bible and dean of the school of biblical and theological studies at Cedarville University in Ohio. He has written several books, including Teach the Text Commentary: Job and Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms.