Proverbs: Mother Wit and Da Streetz
The Book of Proverbs provides a wealth of wisdom resources for all peoples, especially oppressed Black folk. Proverbs, like much of the rest of the Bible, is a part of the common vernacular of the African American community. A recent study on the Bible and African Americans revealed that “the Bible permeates African American life and culture.” In fact, the presence of the Bible is so “pervasive” that it is embedded in our “music, art, street conversations, sales, and fortune telling.”1 Such research into the social effect of the Bible on the African American community is significant because it gives weight to the inference that African American church folks appreciate the theocentric insistence of Proverbs 1:7: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (KJV). Furthermore, the Book of Proverbs establishes God’s wisdom in the received wisdom of the human family, passed down by a father and mother. Thus only the “fool” despises the instruction of one’s father and mother, for it is in hearing, receiving, and applying the proverbial insights of one’s elders that one lives a virtuous life. Proverbs insists that the virtuous life reflects the life of a person who is walking in fellowship with God. Thus is wisdom’s Circle made complete—wisdom comes from God to one’s elders, who pass it down through the generations of families, who are called to follow wisdom’s instructions in order to live a virtuous life, and by doing so, turn the attention of everyone not to themselves, but to God.
KeywordsAfrican American Community Black Church Music Industry Virtuous Life Violent Person
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- 1.Cf. James M. Shopshire, Ida Rousseau Mukenge, Victoria Erickson, and Hans A. Baer “The Bible and Contemporary African American Culture II”, in African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Texts and Social Textures edited by Vincent Wimbush (New York: Continuum, 2001), p. 73.Google Scholar
- 2.Stephen L. Harris and Robewrt L. Platzner The Old testament: Aan Introduction to the Hebrew Bible (Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2003), p. 298.Google Scholar