Every culture finds ways to pass along its wisdom from one generation to the next. Old Testament Wisdom literature—comprised of the books of Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, Sirach, and Wisdom—raises the "big" questions for the people of Israel: Why do the righteous suffer? "Why do we die? What is the meaning of life?
The book of Proverbs organizes memorable sayings that lead to insight and understanding about the world that can inform the way we live. Speaking universally of the human condition, it paints a poetic portrait of wisdom as it guides members of the community, especially the young, in how to get along in life.
Katherine M. Hayes (1946-2023) was professor of Sacred Scripture at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York. She was also the author of the Proverbs volume in the New Collegeville Bible Commentary series published by Liturgical Press.