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Proverb

Universal extent of proverbs. Sententious sayings or proverbs are common to all peoples and undoubtedly antedate written language. Not only the OT and NT, but many other ancient literatures, e.g., Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian, and Greek, contain proverbs. From the Icelanders to the Chinese, and from the ancient Hebrews to the modern Russians, proverbs have been part of everyday language. Varieties of proverbs. Two main classes of proverbs are folk and literary proverbs. In the former, some succinct saying (the origin of which has been long forgotten) impressed itself so forcibly upon the common consciousness that it entered ordinary usage as the anonymous voice of the people. In the latter, which are sometimes called “gnomes,” a writer or speaker distilled into a maxim a keen observation or statement of truth in an esp. memorable way. Within these two classes, proverbs are of various kinds. Some are deliberately perplexing and stimulate thought by their riddlelike quality. Ot