Study Guide

Proverbs Allusions

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Literary and Philosophical References

The Gospel of John
The Gospel of John's conception of Jesus as "The Word," who existed before the creation of the world, mirrors Proverbs' conception of Wisdom as a similarly pre-existent being.

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen
The title of this book—one of the original self-help manuals and an early twentieth-century forerunner of New Age literature—comes from Proverbs 23:7: "As a man thinketh, so is he."

"Proverbs of Hell" from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell by William Blake
Blake's "Proverbs of Hell" isn't actually a work of Satanic philosophy. Its title is ironic: the book provides a kind of counter-wisdom that runs against much of the prudential wisdom in Proverbs. These proverbs vote for desire and creative excess above reason and restraint (though Blake's final position in Marriage isn't so simple as this).

Poor Richard's Almanack by Benjamin Franklin
The great Founding Father wrote this collection of proverbs and sayings, including such well-known chestnuts as "'Early to bed, early to rise' makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." It's very much in the common sense wisdom tradition established by Proverbs.

"Gods of the Copybook Headings" by Rudyard Kipling
"Copybook headings" are the same as proverbs. Kipling's poem predicts catastrophe for society, which he believes has forgotten this kind of simple wisdom. His lines "[T]he Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, / And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wobbling back to the Fire" allude to Proverbs 26:11.

Inherit the Wind (play) by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee
The title of this classic play (also made into a famous movie, starring Spencer Tracy) comes from Proverbs 11:29, "He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind: and the fool shall be servant to the wise of heart." The play is a fictionalized version of the famous Scopes trial, where a teacher was put on trial for teaching the Theory of Darwinian Evolution.

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence
The title of Lawrence's book comes from Proverbs 9:1. It tells the story of his adventures as a military leader in the Middle East—and oh, and he's also better known by the nickname "Lawrence of Arabia."

Quotes by Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde is well known for his numerous witticisms—he's one of the most quoted people in the English language. In many ways, his sayings hearken back to earlier works of wisdom literature—Proverbs being one of them (though Wilde admittedly tends to be funnier).

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