Book of Proverbs in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE
I. The Book's Account of Itself.
1. Title and Headings:
At the beginning, intended apparently to cover the whole
work, stands the title: "The proverbs of Solomon the son of
David, king of Israel." It seemed good to the compilers,
however, to repeat, or perhaps retain an older heading, "The
proverbs of Solomon" at Prov 10, as if in some special sense
the collection there beginning deserved it; and at Prov 25
still another heading occurs: "These also are proverbs of
Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied
out." All these ascribe the proverbs to Solomon; but the
heading (30:1), "The words of Agur the son of Jakeh; the
oracle," and the heading (31:1), "The words of king Lemuel;
the oracle which his mother taught him," indicate that
authorship other than that of Solomon is represented; while
the mention of "the words of the wise" (1:6; 22:17), as also
the definite heading, "These also are sayings of the wise"
(24:23), ascribe parts of the book to the sages in general.
The book is confessedly a series of compilations made at
different times; confessedly, also, to a considerable extent
at least, the work of a number, perhaps a whole guild, of
2. Authorship or Literary Species?:
It is hazardous to argue either for or against a specific
authorship; nor is it my intention to do so. The question
naturally arises, however, in what sense this book, with its
composite structure so outspoken, can lay claim to being the
work of Solomon. Does the title refer to actual personal
authorship, or does it name a species and type of literature
of which Solomon was the originator and inspirer--as if it
meant to say "the Solomonic proverbs"? We may work toward
the answer of this question by noting some literary facts...