Excerpt: Language is one of the things that make humans human. Whilst there are other instances of communication in the animal kingdom, some employing relatively complex sets of signals by which animals express engagement with one another and with their physical environment, we have no evidence that non-human creatures can express abstract mental concepts such as those we are discussing today.
The author guidelines for Scholar’s Compass posts advise beginning with “a quotation from Scripture or a Christian writer”. The first quotation above is neither. It is an extract from the Instruction of Amenemope (variously named Amenophis, Amenemopet, or Amen-em-apt), an ancient Egyptian work of uncertain date giving advice of a practical and ethical kind from a father to a son.
Most days, on my way to the library, I have to pick my way through a narrow passageway between Senate House (the ceremonial headquarters of Cambridge University where degrees are conferred) and Gonville and Caius College, dodging speeding cyclists, tourists stopping to take photos, and long crocodiles of schoolchildren.
In the first post in this series, I introduced the mysterious figure of Lady Wisdom, a key character in the nine chapters that introduce the book of Proverbs. This figure, gendered as female, stands in the streets and calls the passers-by to feast at her house, eating her bread, drinking her wine, and learning from her to “walk in the way of insight” (Proverbs 9:1-6).
The figure of Lady Wisdom, as depicted in the nine chapters opening the book of Proverbs, is a mysterious one.