Book Notice: Vols 1 and 2 of THE BOOK OF PROVERBS, by Bruce K. Waltke

Published on June 17, 2019 by Benjamin J. Montoya

Eerdmans, 2004 | 729 pages

A Brief Book Notice from Books At a Glance

Fred Zaspel


Okay, everyone knows Waltke’s is the king of Proverbs commentaries (Vol 1 and Vol 2) – at least any diligent student of Proverbs knows it. But I just noticed that we have not featured this massive two-volume tome on Books At a Glance. And having just preached a series from Proverbs and as part of my preparation having spent some time with Waltke’s invaluable work again, I decided it was just wrong not to have some mention of his work here.

It is a massive tome of two volumes (vol. 1, 2004, 729 pages; vol. 2, 2005, 624 pages). The first 150 or so pages of “Introductory” material reflect his close and thorough acquaintance with the field of study, and it takes the reader well along the way to the competent study of Proverbs. And the section on the “Theology” of Proverbs is a goldmine. All in all this Introduction is by itself well worth the price of the book. Then his commentary proper consistently delivers precise, insightful analysis of each verse and the “gist” of each proverb.

There are of course other books on Proverbs that I have also profited from greatly over the years. William Mouser’s very accessible Getting the Most Out of Proverbs (Zondervan, 1991) was a very helpful introductory study of how various proverbs work, although I understand it has become outdated. (I can’t find this book on Amazon, not even used. I suspect it is the same as his earlier Walking in Wisdom [IVP, 1983] available used.) I have recently been informed that Adele Berlin’s The Dynamics of Biblical Parallelism is the better study. Tremper Longman’s How To Read Proverbs is a very helpful introductory guide also and takes the reader well along in the study of this wisdom book. And the prominent commentaries offer their own kind of help, of course, perhaps most famously Derek Kidner. But Waltke’s commentary reflects his lifetime of study and masterful investigation and consistently delivers precise understanding of each proverb. It is hands down the best informed, most insightful resource on the study of Proverbs to be had. What a treasure.

I should note that the commentary is accessible to the careful reader, but it does assume some acquaintance with Hebrew (but the Hebrew words are transliterated).

Briefly put, you don’t want to study Proverbs without Waltke’s help – especially if you are a pastor preparing to preach / teach through this wisdom book. Sell off everything else if you must, but get Waltke.

PS: You can listen to Waltke’s lectures on Proverbs here.

Buy the books


Eerdmans, 2004 | 729 pages

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