The British Library

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel,” begins the Book of Proverbs, marked by this illuminated “P” from the Arnstein Bible, a medieval British manuscript. Many scholars dismiss Proverbs and the rest of the Bible’s Wisdom literature as nontheological. Most proverbs don’t mention God and he seems of only peripheral concern in Job and Ecclesiastes. However, author Katharine Dell believes that Wisdom literature has a theology, one derived from experience and the search for meaning and fulfillment in human life. Though it does not focus on God’s self-revelation in Israel’s history like the theology of the rest of the Bible, it does present God as the background and source for all wisdom. In this illumination, rays of light representing God’s inspiration shine on King Solomon’s head as he writes proverbs. Surrounding him are personifications of Wisdom (upper left roundel), Prudence (upper right), Fortitude (lower left) and Justice (lower right).