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Interpreting the Book of Proverbs @PatheosBlog

The Hebrew proverbs are often brief and enigmatic such as ‘stone and stone; measure and measure’ (Prov. 20.10). In English translations, interpretation is often added, seemingly to make the proverb easier to understand (this has also occurred in the Old Greek translation of Proverbs, in the Septuagint). However, the proverbs are not actually designed to provide a quick answer to every situation, but to invite us to ponder on the meaning as it relates to different life contexts.


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The Polish author and Nobel Prize laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz tells us the story of Vinicius, a Roman tribune, and Lygia, a Christian servant of Roman patricians. Upon returning to Rome, Vinicius meets Lygia and falls in love with her immediately, which leads to a perilous series of events that will put the tribune’s feelings to the test. In this series of events, Vinicius discovers the Christian faith and becomes a believer, and his bond with Lygia grows even stronger. Nevertheless, Nero has Rome set ablaze and blames the Christians for it, resulting in a chaotic and bloody persecution of Christians. It’s needless to say that the consequences are just as nefarious as the act itself. Vinicius is forced to use every bit of power and influence he has in order to save Lygia and himself, and even this carries its sacrifices.