2019 Association of Catholic Publishers Book of the Year
In this volume, Alice Ogden Bellis considers the book of Proverbs as a structural whole, the sages having designed it in such a way as to make positive statements about women and to undercut the negative ones. By grouping Proverbs together around common issues, the reader is called to consider the perennial moral questions of wealth and poverty, diligence and laziness, and integrity and corruption, as well as the relationship among these values. The result is much more complex and has greater depth than the random list of bromides that most of Proverbs is often thought to be. This volume opens up a multi-dimensional spiritual puzzle.
Alice Ogden Bellis is an ordained minister and professor of Hebrew Bible at Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C. Her books include Helpmates, Harlots, and Heroes: Women's Stories in the Hebrew Bible (Westminster/John Knox, 1994 & 2007), Science, Scripture, and Homosexuality, with Dr. Terry Hufford (Pilgrim Press, 2002; Wipf and Stock, 2011), and Jews and Christians and the Theology of Hebrew Scriptures (co-edited with Joel Kaminsky, (SBL Symposium Series; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, November 2000).
“Bellis masterfully authors a commentary on the book of Proverbs. This work presents a thorough engagement with the Hebrew text while also consistently considering how the text encounters the world of contemporary readers. Though one might anticipate that a gender sensitive reading of Proverbs would be highly critical of that text—and at times the commentary is—Bellis instead passionately reads the text constructively in order that it might speak to all sorts of persons today and not only those who readily identify with its original, elite male audience.”
Horizons in Biblical Theology
"This well-researched and insightful commentary delves beneath what can often appear to be commonplace or obvious proverbial sayings to discern their deeper theological, social, and anthropological importance, making it a good addition to this growing series."
The Bible Today
"With care and precision, Bellis identifies both positive and problematic gender assumptions in Proverbs, balancing the historical function of these sayings with modern concerns. This volume will be of value to scholars, clergy, and interested laity concerned with the enduring voice of Proverbs in the modern world."
Catholic Books Review
"A refreshing commentary on Proverbs that, in line with the aims of the series, provides a gender-sensitive set of diverse readings, with an eye to the ancient Israelite, as well as the modern context. A particularly innovative aspect is that one hears other voices than just that of Bellis herself. Both attention to the detail of the text and digging deep when needed, are accompanied by diverse viewpoints, spiritual moments, and creative thinking. A veritable 'wise' commentary for the twenty-first century."
Katharine Dell, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge
"The Books of Proverbs is unique in that it is addressed primarily to young men, and, according to Bellis, requires a gender-sensitive reading of the text. She beautifully unites many voices and unique perspectives in their commentary on Proverbs and animates this text with a new vitality. Recommended for all theological and university libraries."
Catholic Library World
"The work stands out from other consciously feminist works by commenting on the whole text, rather than just those that explicitly mention women. It aims to be faithful to the ancient texts and to explore how they are heard by contemporary men and women."
"Careful Hebrew word study helps readers explore Proverbs more closely. The personification of Wisdom comes alive in these analyses which are a boon for preachers."
"Bellis's readable, sharp, and cogent commentary will be a helpful resource for making sense of a book whole coherence is not easily apparent. Any reader will no doubt be encouraged by Bellis's vision of the Proverbs."
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly