I’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs with my wife. I’ve noticed something in the text that clues me into the history of the book, and poses interesting questions for the doctrine of Biblical inspiration.
The book opens with the words, “The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel” (Proverbs 1:1, ESV). These words read like the words of an editor, not Solomon himself. They were added by the individual(s) who compiled Solomon’s proverbs and edited them into the form and order we see in our Bibles. There is reason to believe, however, that this collection of Solomonic proverbs consisted only of the first nine chapters. Proverbs 10:1 reads, “The proverbs of Solomon.” If the introduction to the book of Proverbs tells us these are the proverbs of Solomon, why mention this again unless (1) there had been a shift in authors from Solomon to someone else somewhere between chapter one and chapter nine, or (2) if the proverbs beginning with chapter 10 were not part of the original collection of proverbs. There is no indication of a change in authorship between chapter one and chapter nine, so it follows that chapter 10 begins a new collection of Solomonic proverbs that was not part of the original collection. How long did the first collection circulate before this second collection was added? We do not know, but clearly enough time elapsed that when the new collection was added to the first, it was important to preface the collection by noting that these, too, were the proverbs of Solomon.