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Insights from Proverbs on Sacred/Secular Divide in Theological Education

Dr Shirley S. Ho
Associate Professor of the Old Testament
China Evangelical Seminary/Langham Partnership
Dr Lily K. Chua
Acting Academic Dean/Assistant Professor
China Evangelical Seminary

Seminar title: Insights from Proverbs on Sacred/Secular Divide in Theological Education

Among many the books in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Proverbs arguably has strong pedagogical foundation both in form and content. However. it is notorious for its alleged “secular” overtone. The secularity is alleged because of its limited, if not, lack of reference to Israel’s sacred temple, the covenant, the Mosaic law, salvation-historical traditions, levitical rituals, myths, gods/goddesses, etc. Undoubtedly, the authors/editors of Proverbs do not have modern concept of secularity in mind, but the book of Proverbs certainly appears to be so— “secular,” at least at cursory reading. Hence, this seminar will show how Proverbs can provide conceptual framework and insights as we think about scared/secular divide in theological education. One key insight from Proverbs is the meta-narrative imagery of the son set out on a journey (Prov 1-9). In this life journey, the son is constantly warned to choose and pursue wisdom each step of the way so that he reaches the final destination of dining with Lady Wisdom symbolising the sacred divine presence (Prov 8-9). Hence, guided by Proverbs, may one conceive theological education as a continuous journey progressively moving from the secular to the sacred?