Proverbs has languished from neglect in biblical scholarship as an allegedly deficient fund for theological formulation. Recent studies have plied to fill this lacuna by focusing on the book’s literary structure as the key to its theological contribution. While some skepticism concerning its purposeful arrangement remains, several studies have adduced evidence from the final form of Proverbs to suggest it served in ancient Israel as an educational curriculum aimed at moving the implied reader from simple ethical decisions to complex social applications. This article argues that this reading strategy finds support in the preamble, which outlines a training regimen designed to advance the inexperienced youth toward the virtues of righteousness, justice, and integrity for the goal of exercising sociopolitical leadership. The literary structure of Proverbs discloses the collocation of key terms from the preamble that the final author/editor has embedded as mnemonic signposts in the opening and closing seams of its seven wisdom collections. A structural-canonical reading highlights this intentional and dynamic movement: by progressing through the seven courses of leadership, the callow initiate matures and matriculates to navigate the intricate demands and dangers of societal leadership in the royal court.

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