The Old Testament in the Heart of the Catholic Church
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{2001}      Down

In Proverbs, wisdom (the purpose of the book) is often personified as speaking. The ''simple'' are the uneducated. ''Fools'' are those who lack sense, which includes lacking self-control and motivation. Read Prov 1:20-33. What happens to those who don't pay attention to Wisdom?

a.   All kinds of calamities.
b.   Nothing too bad.
c.   They are often lucky.


{2002}      Down       Up

Note: Do NOT restate the incorrect answers to this question. Only the correct answer has meaningful content.

Read Prov 10:1-9 to get a sense of what proverbs are like. Read Prov 22:17. Scholars believes this marks the beginning of another collection, the ''words of the wise.'' So, Prov 10 - 22:16 is one single collection of proverbs, and dedicated scholars have actually counted how many proverbs there are just in this particular collection within the book of Proverbs. How many?

a.   375
b.   675
c.   975

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{2003}      Down       Up

Read the one verse, Prov 26:4. Now read Prov 26:5, the very next verse. From these two verses we can conclude that the wise person should

a.   answer a fool according to his folly.
b.   carefully consider how to answer a fool.
c.   not answer a fool according to his folly.

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{2004}      Down       Up

Prov 26:4-5 obviously shows that proverbs were practical wisdom. They crystallized and summarized actual experience, but no one re-wrote them to make them completely consistent with a grand, unified philosophical theory. By the way, this remains true of proverbs. For instance, do many hands make light work, or do too many cooks spoil the broth?

Read Prov 8:22-31, a famous passage in which Wisdom speaks. Prov 9 contrasts two banquets, one set by Wisdom, one by a foolish woman. ''Fear'' of the LORD means faithfulness to him. Read Prov 9:10. This is the heart of the teaching.

Now read all of Prov 9. Some scholars think that the ''foolish woman'' is the temple, worship, and practices of the surrounding peoples (which included ''religious'' sexual practices with temple prostitutes). >>

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{2005}      Down       Up

The teachings and sayings in Proverbs are meant to help the young learn how to live a good life. Proverbs also warns against practices and ideas that would lead the young toward an evil life. In real life, both good and evil proverbs exist. In real life, there really are ideas, existing right alongside good ideas, that would lead you toward an evil life, if you follow their advice.

Here are some evil proverbs: ''Anything done by two consenting adults is OK.'' ''It doesn't matter whether you receive the sacraments, as long as you're a nice person.'' ''Abortion gives a woman control over her own body.'' ''Marriage is just a piece of paper.'' ''Everybody does it.''

These are some of the ''proverbs'' of the ''surrounding peoples'' of our own day. So don't think that modern man doesn't have his own proverbs. He does - lots and lots of them. By and large, people are probably built to live their lives mostly according to ''proverbs'' - little sayings that are not necessarily consistent with each other, but that encapsulate part of how we act and think.

This is probably why advertising works: successful advertisements are all built on a hidden proverb. Usually, this is ''If you buy this product, you will get what you secretly want.''

The book of Proverbs is correct:

(a) living by evil proverbs will take you farther from Christ.

(b) You have to pay attention and use self-discipline.

(c) It will not be easy!

Evil proverbs are just as prevalent in our day, and you can easily be just as much of a fool as any ancient Israelite.

Try to live by good proverbs, ones that lead you closer to Christ and the sacraments of his Catholic Church. <<

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{2006}      Down       Up

Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy || Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings || 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah || Tobit* Judith* Esther 1 Maccabees* 2 Maccabees* Job


Proverbs Ecclesiastes Song of Songs >> Wisdom* << Sirach* || Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch* Ezekiel Daniel || Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi

The Old Testament books with a star * are not any more or less important than the others. The star indicates that the Catholic Church definitively professes and knows these books to be part of the sacred writings, the inspired Word of God [cf. CCC 120], but that they are specifically rejected by the Jewish people, and called ''apocryphal'' (of doubtful inspiration) by Protestants.

The first meaning of Wisdom 2 is that some men come to the conclusion that life is essentially pointless, so they try to lose themselves in pleasures. However, they also become enraged by the man faithful to God, whose every breath is an affront to their chosen philosophy and way of living. Read Wis 2:1-20 now. Now re-read Wis 2:12-20. The Catholic Church has also heard this passage as referring to

a.   David.
b.   Israel.
c.   Jesus.

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{2007}      Down       Up

The literal sense of a scripture passage is the meaning intended by the original author, as discovered by scholarship and as clarified and corrected in the light provided by the Holy Spirit working in and through the sacraments. Read Wis 2:21-3:9. According to many scholars, part of the literal sense of this passage is a teaching about

a.   evolution.
b.   immortality.
c.   transubstantiation.

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{2008}      Down       Up

Many scholars believe that righteousness or justice in the context of the book of Wisdom means God's loving ordering of the world. Read Wis 1:12-15. This passage has been heard by the Catholic Church to mean that

a.   God created all things good and that everything that happens is for the best.
b.   God created all things good and that man's sin brought death to the world.
c.   The world is totally ruled by God and that man has no choices to make.

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{2009}      Down       Up

Many scholars agree that the book of Wisdom was written within 100 years of Christ's birth, with the purpose of encouraging faithful Jews during a time when Greek power, science, and ideas made Jewish thought and traditions seem childish and irrelevant to some. These scholars say that the author of Wisdom is highly educated and is very familiar with Greek ideas. He just doesn't think that they are as important as faithfulness to the LORD.

Books in the Old Testament like the book of Wisdom are usually not that interested in subjects like proper worship, the Temple, the history of the Jewish people, the covenants the LORD made with his people, or even the Law, though when these are mentioned, it is with approval.

However, Wisdom is unusual in this regard. For example, read Wis 19:6-9. Here Wisdom explicitly links the traditional subject matter of ''wisdom books'' with the great saving events of Israel. >>

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{2010}      Down       Up

Now re-read Wis 1:12-15 and Wis 2:21-24. Many scholars note that passages like these have often been cited by saints and scholars as the Catholic Church has reflected on mysteries such as creation, immortality, and the Fall. The book of Wisdom has been an important resource for the Church since very early times.

Many passages in Wisdom, particularly in the first nine chapters, are read by the Catholic Church in her liturgies. <<

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{2011}      Down       Up

Read Gen 11:1-9. In [CCC 57] the Holy Father and the bishops teach that God ''confused the languages of all the earth'' and thus prevented men from building the tower and city of Babel because

a.   God was divinely jealous of man's powers and did not abide them.
b.   the truth is that man is not meant to know the mysteries of God.
c.   the unity that fallen man can forge entirely on his own is perverse.

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{2012}      Down       Up

Some scholars have said that the name ''Babel'' refers to the real city of

a.   Babel.
b.   Babylon.
c.   Nineveh.

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{2013}      Down       Up

Babylon was the capital of a great and powerful ancient empire. The Babylonian ziggurat (a kind of giant pyramid with steps and an altar at the top) may have been the model for the tower of Babel. (It also may not have been). However, as the story itself makes clear, it was the building of the entire city of false unity, not just the tower, that offended God. Men ''left off building the city,'' not just the tower. <<

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{2014}      Down       Up

The Holy Father and the bishops teach [CCC 57] that humanity now experiences a disunity that is

a.   ''cosmic, social, and religious.''
b.   ''illusory and unreal.''
c.   ''total and complete.''

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{2015}      Down       Up

The Holy Father and the bishops teach [CCC 57] that humanity now experiences a disunity that

a.   is limited to isolated circumstances.
b.   is not as significant as once thought.
c.   man's powers can not overcome.

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{2016}      Down       Up

The Holy Father and the bishops teach [CCC 56] that the disunity humanity now experiences

a.   assists God in his efforts to save men.
b.   does not limit God's ability to save men.
c.   limits God's ability to save men.

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{2017}      Down       Up

Some people have said that God has to make humanity unified before he can save it. Thus the actual salvation of actual people (such as yourself) is just pretend or vicarious, since only a perfect, completely unified humanity at the end of time can be saved. The Holy Father and bishops say [CCC 55-56] that this idea

a.   is not true.
b.   is true.
c.   might be true.

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{2018}      Down       Up

God seeks to save the real, only partially united world that you live in right now. The Catechism plainly states that God ''at once'' sought to save the shattered world right in the middle of its disunity, ''part by part.'' [CCC 56] God is stronger than death itself. He is certainly stronger than any amount of human disunity. He saves real men - like you - in the real world of human disunity. <<

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{2019}      Down       Up

A serious implication of the Fall, which is shown by Babel, is that human unity

a.   can now only be partial.
b.   is completely destroyed.
c.   is forever beyond man.

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{2020}      Up

Even after the Fall, humanity does not evaporate into total disunity. Human unity, and thus humanity itself, is wounded but not annihilated by the Fall. God saves ''part by part'' - because there are still ''parts'' to save. These are the ''nations'' - real but partial unions of humanity.

As Babel shows, even consciously apart from God and by himself, fallen man is at least partially conscious of his need for unity. The men of Babel wish to build, ''lest we be scattered.'' [Gen 11:4] Moreover, Babel shows that fallen men clearly have enough power to build a city of partial unity by themselves. <<

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copyright (c) 2001 John Kelleher. All rights reserved.