When a straight road becomes a Garden Path: The 'False Lead' as a pedagogical strategy in the Book of Proverbs

Suzanna R. Millar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The book of Proverbs is filled with poetic devices, many of which are used to didactic ends. One such device is the 'false lead' or 'garden path'. When reading a false lead proverb, one interpretation immediately occurs to the reader, but this interpretation jars with the worldview espoused in the book. The reader finds it unacceptable and realizes they have been led 'up the garden path'. They must go back and reanalyse the proverb, searching for a better interpretation. This article analyses five proverbs containing this device, and suggests that it is a deliberate pedagogical strategy. The technique teaches the reader the limits of their own wisdom, and also their capacity to rectify mistakes. They are forced to exercise their skills of discernment and moral reasoning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-82
Number of pages16
JournalJournal for the Study of the Old Testament
Volume43
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018

Keywords

  • Proverbs 10.1-22.16
  • Proverbs 25-29
  • pedagogy
  • didactic strategy
  • poetic techniques
  • wordplay
  • false lead
  • garden path
  • limits of wisdom

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