Book of Proverbs meets the Hidden Words:
Some preliminary notes
First presented at the Irfan Colloquia Session #104
Centre for Bahá'í Studies: Acuto, Italy
July 9–12, 2011
(see list of papers from #104)
Both the book of Proverbs (Mishley) and the Hidden Words (Kalimát-i Maknúnah) contain short lyrical verses that are to be considered as personal guidelines for human life. The book of Proverbs is to be found in the Bible between Psalms and the book of Job. Together with the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes (Qohelet) these five books contain a unique literary genre. This genre is known as Wisdom literature in which we can find advices and guidance for the right moral life. Yet contrary to the Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh these recommendations do not come from a divine authority. Whilst in the book of Proverbs we find Wisdom that is based on human knowledge transmitted from father or mother to their son, in the Hidden Words the knowledge stems from God passing it through to his subjects. The book of Proverbs stresses the fear of God as the first step towards Wisdom: "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge". The Hidden Words on the other hand introduce the love of God as the leading guideline:
The best of men are they that earn a livelihood by their calling and spend upon themselves and upon their kindred for the love of God, the Lord of all worlds.
Although both works were created more than 2000 years apart we can found many similarities yet also differences. Thus my presentation will start with a short introduction to the book of Proverbs and its unique genre (wisdom literature) and will be followed with few examples of verses from both works and their meanings.
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