Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35.4 (December 1992) 433-444
MOTIVATION AND ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM
IN PROVERBS 10-15
Motivation is a critical issue for employers, administrators, teachers
and parents. It is also a key topic in the book of Proverbs. This paper will
attempt to make contributions to proverbial motivation studies in several
areas. A methodology will be developed for digging out the deep semantic
motivational structures buried in the sentence literature (Proverbs 10-
15). By applying this method of analysis to the sentence literature, a rich
diversity of motivational forces will be exposed even though there is a
dearth of explicit motive clauses. Eight deep-structure categories will pro-
vide an initial framework for categorizing and understanding the underly-
ing thought structure of the proverbial sentences. It will be suggested that
"approach/avoidance" motivation theory may provide a psycholinguistic
reason for the sages' frequent selection of antithetic parallelism as a me-
dium to express their instruction. A dialogue will be initiated between
proverbial motivation study and the vast literature on the psychology of
motivation that lies untapped by Biblical scholars. Such an integration
may yield fresh insights into a Biblical theory of motivation that may be of
use to educators, employers and parents. Hopefully such a theory will al-
low us to expose the motivating forces that should and do drive us as we
pursue God and others (Prov 16:2).
I. BACKGROUND: OT MOTIVE CLAUSE STUDY
Gemser in 1953 first isolated the motive clause as a grammatically sub-
ordinate clause usually introduced by a particle (ki; le- plus infinitive;
lema'an; pen-) that provides motivation for a command (Law: Exod 20:7;
Deut 22:19; Prophets: Amos 5:4-5; Isa 34:5-8; Jer 4:6-8; Writings: Pss
2:11; 3:7; 95:3-7; Prov 3:1-2). After surveying the ancient Near Eastern
law codes, Gemser concludes that motive clauses were unique to Israel.1
While the absoluteness of his original conclusion has been tempered by
the dissertations of Sonsino and Utti, they confirm a wide frequency gap
between the motives of Biblical law (30% are motivated; 375 of 1,238 com-
mands) and the ancient law codes (only 5%-6% are motivated).2
Hildebrandt is professor of Biblical studies and philosophy at
1B. Gemser, "The Importance of the Motive Clause in Old Testament Law. (VTSup 1; Lei-
den: Brill, 1953) 52, 62.
2 R. Sonsino, Motive Clauses in Hebrew Law: Biblical Forms and Near Eastern Parallels
(Chico: Scholars, 1980) 153, 172-173,221; R. Utti, The Motive Clause in Old Testament Law
434 JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
The motive clause is usually viewed as a later addition to the admoni-
tion (cf. Prov 22:28; 23:10-11).3 Sonsino, following Kitchen's advice, rejects
the idea of unilinear evolution from smaller, literary units to those larger
and more complex.4 He does affirm, however, that motive clauses are used
more frequently in the later Biblical law codes than in earlier codes (Book
of the Covenant = 17%; Deuteronomy = 50%; Holiness Code = 51%).5 Postel
harnesses this developmental pattern in Proverbs and concludes that the
substantially higher percentage of motive clauses in Proverbs 1-9 dates
the collection later than Proverbs 10-22.6 But Sonsino wisely notes that
content may also have a marked effect on the frequency of motivation (78%
of the law is cultic [27% motivated]; 12% treats civil matters [29% moti-
vated]; 8% is ethical/humanitarian [53% motivated]).7 Since wisdom is
largely of an ethical/humanitarian nature the frequent use of motive
clauses is not surprising, especially given wisdom's didactic Sitz im Leben.
The differences in form and content between the instructions (Proverbs 1-
9) and brief, pungent sentences (Proverbs 10-22) may better account for
the difference in the frequency of motive clauses than the date.
Contrary to the absence of motive clauses in ancient Near Eastern le-
materials, the use of motivational support is characteristic of the
dom literature throughout the ancient Near East (Sumerian [Instruction
of Suruppak], Akkadian [Counsels of Wisdom], Ugaritic [Instructions of
Sube-Awilum], Egyptian [Ptahhotep, Ani, etc.)).8 Gemser suggests that
there is an intrinsic connection between the law and wisdom based on mo-
tive clauses (Exod 23:7 [cf. Prov 17:15]; Lev 19:35 [cf. Prov 11:1]). The le-
nexus is also found in the Bantu tribes of
proverbial wisdom to clinch arguments in legal courtroom settings.9 Son-
sino highlights several distinctions in the
form of legal, as opposed to
dom, motive clauses (wisdom uses ‘al + second person, legal uses lo';
wisdom uses nonrepetitive format [contrast Lev 19:20]; wisdom uses parti-
cles to connect motives).10
II. MOTIVE CLASSIFICATION
Gemser classifies the motive clauses into four categories: (1) explana-
tory character (Deut 20:5-8; 22:24, 26; Prov 19:25, 27; 22:6), (2) ethical
3W. Zimmerli, "Concerning the Structure of Old Testament Wisdom," Studies in Ancient Isra-
elite Wisdom (ed.
tion of the Motive Clause in Proverbs 10-29 (dissertation;
4Sonsino, Motive 98-99, 193; P. Nel, "Authority in the Wisdom Admonitions," ZAW 93
5Sonsino, Motive 98-99.
6Postel, Form 138; contra C. Kayatz, Studien zu Proverbien 1-9 (WMANT 22; Neukirchen-
Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1966) 135.
7Sonsino, Motive 99, 222-223.
8Ibid. 153, 168-170.
9Gemser, "Importance" 64-65; cr. Sonsino, Motive 28-29, 36; T. Hildebrandt, Proverbial
Poetry: Its Settings and Syntax (dissertation; Grace Theological Seminary, 1985) 89-91; cf. ap-
propriate cautions by J. Crenshaw, "Method in Determining Wisdom Influence upon 'Historical'
Literature," Studies (ed. Crenshaw) 481-494.
10Sonsino, Motive 28, 171.
MOTIVATION AND ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM IN PROVERBS 10-15 435
content (Deut 5:14-15; 19:21), (3) cultic/theological (Deut 17:1; 22:5; Prov
20:22; 22:24-25), and (4) historical (Lev 19:33-34; Deut 5:15).11 It is in-
teresting that neither the ancient Near Eastern legal codes nor Biblical
wisdom employs motives using historical events.12
Sonsino isolates numerous motivational forces: (1) human dignity (Deut
25:3), (2) compassion (Exod 22:26), (3) imitating God (20:11), (4) social value
(Lev 21:9), (5) special status of actor (21:7), (6) short value judgment
(20:17), and (7) characterization of prohibition (11:41, "it is loathsome").
These draw from four orientations: (1) God's authority (Lev 19:3, 30), (2) al-
lusions to historical experiences (Exod 22:20; Deut 23:8), (3) fear of punish-
ment (Exod 30:20-21), and (4) promise of well-being (20:12; Deut 5:16).13
Postel sets up a typology of motive content more fitting for wisdom
(T = Theological; E = Explanatory; C = Consequential) with motive valences
(P = Promissory; D = Dissuasive).14 The presence of promissory motives in
Proverbs warns that the often-cited statement "a proverb is not a promise"
is rather simplistic and an inadequate explanation of the consequentially
directed proverbial statements (Prov 3:1-2,5-6,9-10; cf. Deut 8:1). Postel
connects his "consequential" category with von Rad's "act-consequence" (or-
der) relationship, supporting it as the center of wisdom literature.15
In Proverbs the distribution of motive clauses is concentrated largely in
the instructions (Proverbs 1-9; 22:17-24:22; 31:1-9) as opposed to the sen-
tences (10:1-22:16; chaps. 25-29). Admonitions are much more frequent in
the instructions (Proverbs 1-9 = 39) than in the sayings (Proverbs 10-22 =
13 [e.g. 14:7; 16:3; 19:18; 20:18-19; 22:6]).16 Postel notes that 13 of the 17
motive clauses in Proverbs 10-22 are in admonitions and only 4 are in
nonadmonitional sentences (13:14; 14:27; 15:24; 16:12).17 He further dif-
ferentiates between the instructions and proverbial sentences by noting
differences in the content of the motive clauses. A clear contrast emerges in
the frequency of motive clauses in the instructions (77.5% in 22:17-24:22) as
opposed to the sentences (5.3% in Proverbs 10-22; 12% in Proverbs 25-29).
Postel observes that the motive clauses in the instructions (22:17-24:22) are
heavily theological and those in Proverbs 25-29 are heavily consequential
while those in Proverbs 10-22 are evenly distributed.18
III. NEED FOR DEEP-STRUCTURE MOTIVE ANALYSIS
Several lines of evidence caution against concluding that because the sen-
tences contain few motive clauses they are merely empirical observations
11Gemser, "Importance" 55-56; Postel, Form 144, 151-157.
12Sonsino, Motive 172; Postel, Form 146.
13Sonsino, Motive 105-108; cf. Utti, Motive 92.
14Postel, Form 58; P. Nel, The Structure and Ethos of the Wisdom Admonitions in Proverbs
(Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1982) 28, 46-48.
15Cf. the ma'at concept; Postel, Form 72-73; G. von Rad,
Wisdom in Israel (
ingdon, 1972) 196; cf. F. Wicker, F. Lambert, F. Richardson and J. Kahler, "Categorical Goal
Hierarchies and Classification of Human Motives," Journal of Personality 52/3 (1984) 285-305.
16Nel, Structure 65-66, has a handy listing of all admonitions in Proverbs.
17Postel, Form 58, 90-93.
18Ibid. 137, 170.
436 JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
with little attempt to motivate (energize and direct choices). (1) There seems
to be a clear relationship between admonitions and sentences in some of
the "duplicate" proverbs in which the same content is formatted as an ad-
monition (22:22-23; 27:11 with explicit motive clause) and as a sentence
(14:31; 10:1 without explicit motive clause but clearly motivational in in-
tent).19 Zimmerli recognizes the sentential deep-structure motivation when
he writes concerning the admonition/saying connection that the admonition
makes "explicit the implication, already lying hidden within the saying."20
(2) A naive reading of the sentences in Proverbs 10-15 (e.g. 10:1, 4, 5) reveals
that many of the sentences go beyond mere empirical observation to being
motivationally directive. Thus one must be careful to dissociate the broad
deep-structure category of motivation from Gemser's grammatical motive
clause. This distinction is critical. When looking at motivation in the sen-
tences it is imperative to penetrate below the surface motive clauses in order
to isolate how the sages actually motivated. A deep-structure analysis may
provide a link between the sentence (Aussage) and admonition (Mahnwort)
genres. (3) Postel notes that "the to'eba [abomination] clause, so frequent in
Old Testament legislation, does not occur in the motive clauses of Prov-
erbs."21 Yet such "abomination sayings" are found in the sentences but not in
explicit motive clauses (11:1, 20; 12:22; 15:8, 9; 17:15; 20:10).22 A deep-
structure analysis would uncover the motivational intent of these abomina-
tion sayings, while Postel's surface motive clause analysis has missed the
connection. (4) After a deep-structure analysis was performed on the sen-
tences, many of the same motivational themes arose that occurred in the ex-
plicit motive clauses of Proverbs 1-9. This provides some verification for the
Raymond Van Leeuwen has insightfully harnessed the deep-structure
binary analysis of Dundes by breaking the proverbial sentence into a topic
and comment (e.g. topic: "A wise son"; comment: "brings his father joy"
[Prov 10:la]).23 The semantic relationship between the topic and comment
is specified below. A couple of examples will illustrate the method. First,
the line is broken up into topic/comment and then the semantic deep-
structure relationship and valences (+/-) between the topic and comment
19Ibid. 28; Nel, Structure 29.
20Zimmerli, "Structure" 183. Nel also mentions the need for a meaning-based analysis of
the motive clauses rather than merely a grammatical approach.
21Postel, Form 146.
22von Rad, Wisdom 115; R. Murphy, Wisdom Literature (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981) 69.
23R. Van Leeuwen, Context and Meaning in Proverbs 25-27 (Atlanta: Scholars, 1988) 48-
Fontaine, Traditional Sayings in the Old Testament: A Contextual Study (
mond, 1982) 34-38; A. Dundes, "On the Structure of the Proverb," Analytic Essays in Folklore
(ed. Dundes; The Hague/Paris: Mouton, 1975) 103-118.
MOTIVATION AND ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM IN PROVERBS 10-15 437
Topic Comment Prov 10:1
A wise son (+ character) brings joy to his father (+ consequence);
a foolish son (- character) is a grief to his mother (- consequence).
+ Character --> + Consequence (10:1a) (CS) ++
- Character --> - Consequence (10:1b) (CS) --
It should be clear from Postel's categories listed above that the conse-
quence, while not in a Gemserian motive clause, acts as a motivation
drawing the son to be wise and driving him from becoming foolish. Its mo-
tivational force is unleashed by exposing the son to the emotive conse-
quences, whether joy or sorrow, that his character will have on his parents
(expectational aspect of motivation).
Topic Comment Prov 11:5
He who puts up security for will surely suffer (- consequence);
another (- act)
whoever refuses to strike hands is safe (+ consequence).
in pledge (+ act)
- Act --> -Consequence (11:15a) (AS)--
+ Act --> + Consequence (11:15b) (AS)++
In Prov 11:15 there is no motive clause, and yet its clear motivational in-
tent is to avoid suffering harm (11:15a) and to maintain one's safety
(11:15b). In the Appendix there is a semantic classification of the types of
deep-structure motives used in the sentence literature. Many of the mo-
tives used in the explicit motive clauses of Proverbs 1-9 are reiterated,
confirming our hypothesis that the sentences are motivational in charac-
ter even though an explicit motive clause has not been employed.
V. DEEP-STRUCTURE CLASSIFICATION RESULTS
In specifying the relationship between the topic and comment, most of
the sentences fit into one of the following eight categories:24
Character Consequence (CS) (152) 10:2b, 3a, 6a
Act (CA) (70) 10:12a, 14a
Evaluation (CE) (16) 10:20a; 11:1a
Character Consequence (CS) (152) supra
Act (AS) (62) 10:17a, 19a
Item (IS) (12) 13:2a, 8a
24R. B. Y. Scott, Proverbs (Garden City: Doubleday, 1965) 5-7; J. Berezov, Single-Line
Proverbs: A Study of the Sayings Collected in Proverbs 10-22:16 and 25-29 (dissertation;
Fontaine, Traditional 66-68.
438 JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
Item Evaluation (IE) (7) 10:15a; 13:19a
Act (AE) (13) 11:30b; 12:1a
Character (CE) (16) supra
Appearance Reality (PR) (4) 13:7; 14:13
While von Rad and others have emphasized the Act -->Consequence connec-
tion (62 found in Proverbs 10-15) as wisdom's core, the statistics reveal
that other frameworks may be more central (e.g. Character -->Consequence
 or Character -->Act ). Thus the first major hypothesis of this paper
is that Character -->Consequence is closer than Act -->Consequence to the
central core of the proverbial sentences.25
VI. THE MOTIVATION FOR ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM
Looking at the list of motives, we may suggest another hypothesis. The
binary valencing of the motivational items that Postel has labeled "promis-
sory" and "dissuasive" might better be coordinated with modern motivation
literature (promissory-->approach motivation; dissuasive-->avoidance mo-
tivation).26 This binary valencing, as Van Leeuwen and pareimologists
Dundes and Milner have noted, is descriptive of proverbial literature
cross-culturally.27 Many of the proverbial sentences are beautifully bal-
anced with an approach motivation drawing ("brings joy to a father,"
10:1a) and an avoidance motivation driving away ("is a grief to his
It is interesting that Kersovec's monograph on antithesis failed to treat
antithesis in the proverbial sentences. Although he acknowledges that
Proverbs contains "the greatest number of antithetic parallelisms," he de-
murs that they are "neither stimulating nor rewarding."28 Why should the
sages in producing wisdom literature show such a preference for antithetic
structures (90% of Proverbs 10-15; cf. also Psalms 1, 73)?29 Several hy-
potheses may be suggested. Atkinson and the massive literature on the
psychology of motivation conclude that there is an additive relationship
between approach and avoidance motivation.30 This paper contends that
antithesis provides a perfect psycholinguistic structure for doubling the
motivational potency of the sentences by combining in an additive sense
25Cf. Berezov, Single-Line 84; J. Gladson, Retributive Paradoxes in Proverbs 10-29 (disser-
26J. Atkinson and D. Birch, An Introduction to Motivation (
1978) 239, 288-289.
27Van Leeuwen, Context 48; Fontaine, Traditional 34-36; G. Milner, "Quadripartite Struc-
tures, Proverbium 14 (1969) 379-383.
28J. Kersovec, Antithetic Structure in Biblical Hebrew Poetry (Leiden: Brill, 1984) 17.
Die altesten Spruchsammlungen
Ruprecht, 1962) 68; Berezov, Single-Line 84.
30Atkinson and Birch, Introduction 50-52.
MOTIVATION AND ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM IN PROVERBS 10-15 439
approach and avoidance motivations (10:1, 3, 5; 142/184 = 77% of Proverbs
10-15 are approach/avoidance type). Rather than being nonmotivationally
oriented because the sentences lack surface motive clauses, the deep-
structure analysis suggests that the sage's use of antithetic structure is
extremely potent motivationally.
VII. PROVERBS AND THE PSYCHOLOGY OF MOTIVATION
The final area of discussion involves the nature of motivation in Prov-
erbs in light of the vast literature on the psychology of motivation.31 A
brief browsing of the Appendix reveals the wide range of ways in which
the sage/father motivates his student/son. It is interesting, for example,
how well Bandura's social learning theory of modeling fits the sage's ap-
proach: attention processes ("Listen, my son") --> + retention processes ("do
not forget") --> + motor reproduction processes (Proverbs 5 and 7 walk the
son through the situation with the admonition "do this") and motivational
processes (abundance of motive clauses in Proverbs 1-9).32
VIII. APPROACHES TO MOTIVATION
Motivational studies treat the initiation, intensity, direction and per-
sistence of behavior.33 Motivational theory has gone far beyond naive he-
donism (pleasure/pain as motivators) through Hullian drive reduction
theory (drive x habit) to the more cognitive value x expectancy (incentive)
theories, including achievement, attribution, and intrinsic motivational
theories.34 Proverbs does not ignore the basic motivational drives (hunger,
10:3b; 13:25; 15:15b, 17a; harm, 10:7b, 15b, 16b, 29b, 31b; death, 10:21b,
27b; 11:3b, 19b; 13:9b). Indeed Maslow's hierarchy of needs and motiva-
tion in Proverbs intersects at many points.35 Heider noted that man has
two basic needs: to understand his world, and to control it.36 Both of these
are employed motivationally in Proverbs.
Proverbs, however, goes beyond drives to tap the student's cognitive
evaluations. Proverbs affirms man's ability to choose and unleashes a
31D. McClelland, Human Motivation (Glenview: Scott, Foresman, 1985); B. Weiner, Human
Motivation (New York: Holt, 1980); J. Houston, Motivation (New York: Macmillan, 1985); At-
kinson and Birch, Introduction.
32Cf. Houston, Motivation
334; A. Bandura, Social Learning Theory (
Prentice-Hall, 1977) 23.
33Houston, Motivation 6-7; Atkinson and Birch, Introduction.
theory cf. Atkinson and Birch, Introduction 47, 15-16;
value expectancy theory cf.
duction 75; for achievement motivation cr. McClelland, Human; for attribution theory cf.
for intrinsic motivation cr.
Determination in Human Behavior (New York: Plenum, 1985); M. Lepper and D. Greene, The
Hidden Costs of Reward: New Perspectives on the Psychology of Human Motivation (Hillsdale:
35Houston, Motivation 215-216.
440 JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
whole cluster of motivational incentives-not only rousing personal drives
but also social concerns (friendships, 14:20; honor/disgrace, 12:8; 14:18;
15:33; status, 12:24; blessing/curse, 11:26; 14:17b, 21b, 22b), altruistic con-
cern for others (10:21a; 12:18; 15:4) and theological motivations (14:2;
14:31; cf. Appendix).37 Gordon is correct that the ultimate motive is life
(8:32-36).38 Self-preservation, the desire for well-being and the avoidance
of harm underlie much proverbial motivation. Rather than demeaning
such motivational forces by labeling them as adolescent or crassly egocen-
tric, such "worldly" motivations need to be embraced as having been uti-
lized in Proverbs, the law (Deuteronomy 28; Leviticus 26), and even the
NT (cf. Austgen's demonstration of such "worldly" motivation in the
Pauline epistles: 1 Tim 5:23; Titus 2:5; cf. Matt 6:33; Acts 16:3).39
IX. COGNITIVE MOTIVATIONAL FACTORS
Atkinson's “value x expectancy” theory may be summarized by the for-
mula Ms x Ps x Ins ([individual's motive for success = Ms] x [probability of
success (task difficulty) = Ps] x [incentive = Ins]).40 When the Mf> Ms (mo-
tive to avoid failure > motive to achieve success) a person will attempt to
avoid failure. On the other hand when the Ms > Mf a person will strive for
success. Motivational theorists have discovered an inverted U-shaped
curve relating optimal arousal level, task difficulty, and risk levels.41 If
tasks are too easy (Ps high) or impossible (Ps too low) motivation will be
minimal, but if the task is mid-range the motivational challenge will be
maximized. Wisdom is both challenging and costly (Prov 4:7-8). She is
not, however, unattainable but graciously offers herself to those who will
pursue her (1:20-33; 9:1-5). In order to shape character, wisdom digitizes
reality into discreet, well-defined choices. This helps the son to recognize
more easily characterological patterns of behavior, making choices more
accessible although by no means easily attained.
The proverbial sentences use approach/approach incentives (better-
than proverbs: Prov 22:1, 4), avoidance/approach (most antithetic sen-
tences: 10:1, 3, 5), and avoidance/avoidance (22:16; 21:27; cf. Atkinson's
concept of "negaction" or inhibitory motivation).42 Through the use of an-
tithetic parallelism the sages maximize the motivational forces by pre-
senting the negative and positive consequences of both wisdom and folly.
Thus the approach motivation draws the son to the desired wise choice
(10:la), while the avoidance motivation in the next line drives the son
away from the corresponding foolish choice (10:1b).
37R. N. Gordon, "Motivation in Proverbs," Biblical Theology 25 (1975) 55-56.
Austgen, Natural Motivation in the Pauline
and Birch, Introduction 94-96;
and Birch, Introduction 65, 106;
42Atkinson and Birch, Introduction 50-53.
MOTIVATION AND ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM IN PROVERBS 10-15 441
X. ATTRIBUTION THEORY MOTIVATION
Weiner and others have stressed the importance of attribution theory
in motivational studies.43 The basic premise of the theory is that man is
motivated to seek causes.44 This aspect of motivational theory is sensitive
to the personal attributions made after a task success or failure (why I
succeeded/failed = ability, effort, luck, task difficulty).45 It is noted that
success for males leads to effort attributions while they favor ability
praise as informational. Females, on the other hand, make ability attribu-
tions more naturally but they prefer effort praise, perceiving ability praise
as controlling.46 Thus, some tasks are ego-involving (resulting in attribu-
tions about ability, feeling controlled and high personal risk), while others
are merely task-involving (attributions made about task difficulty, more
informational, less risky).47
Though Proverbs relates many tasks to character (10:3, 5) and hence is
ego-involving, one must clearly note that the sentences' third-person style
is more informationally directive, leaving the choice to the son. These
choices result in character attributions and consequences (10:5, 18, 23, 32;
11:12-13; cf. Appendix, evaluations section). By teaching these proverbial
sentences the sage builds an attributional set into his student. When the
student engages in a particular behavior, having internalized the evalua-
tive wisdom grid, he will be able to reward himself by evaluating his
choices as wise or foolish.48
Proverbs also builds the son's internal locus of control.49 He must choose.
The outside forces do not determine his character. Thus the father avoids
a learned helplessness response where the son gives up because the situa-
tion has a locus of control beyond his ability.50 This internal control builds
the son's self-esteem, which is critical to all forms of motivation as the son
realizes he must take charge of his world through making responsible
43Weiner, Human 275-277.
44Houston, Motivation 254-255.
46R. Koestner, M. Zuckerman and J. Koestner, "Attributional Focus of Praise and Chil-
dren's Intrinsic Motivation: The Moderating Role of Gender," Personality and Social Bulletin
15/1 (1989) 61-72; C. Dweck, "Motivational Processes Affecting Learning," American Psycholo-
gist 41/10 (1986) 10-43; C. Sansone, "A Question of Competence: The Effects of Competence
and Task Feedback on Intrinsic Interest," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51/5
47S. Harter, "A Model of Mastery Motivation in Children: Individual Differences and Devel-
opmental Change," Aspects of the
Development of Competence: The
Child Psychology 14 (ed. W. A. Collins; Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1981) 252; Koestner, "Attribu-
48Sansone, "Question" 918.
49Atkinson and Birch, Introduction 140; B. Earn, "Intrinsic Motivation as a Function of Ex-
trinsic Financial Rewards and Subjects' Locus of Control," Journal of Personality 50/3 (1982)
360-363; D. Tzuriel and H. C. Haywood, "Locus of Control and Child Rearing Practices in In-
trinsically Motivated and Extrinsically Motivated Children," Psychological Reports 57 (1985)
888; J. Condry, "Enemies of Exploration: Self-Initiated Versus Other-Initiated Learning," Jour-
nal of Personality and Social Psychology 35/7 (1977) 459-477.
50Houston, Motivation 276.
442 JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY
choices. The ultimate results/consequences, however, must be released in
the fear of the Lord, whose ways are beyond calculation (1:7; 21:31; 20:24).
XI. EXTRINSIC/INTRINSIC MOTIVATION
Deci has championed the notion of the possible undermining effects of ex-
trinsic motivation.51 It has been found that if a child is paid money (extrinsic
reward) to engage in a particular behavior (puzzles) he will make the mental
attribution that he is doing the puzzles not because they are enjoyable but
because he is being paid (overjustification).52 Once the payments stop, the
behavior will be quickly extinguished. But if the child does a puzzle without
pay, he will tell himself that the reason he is doing it is because it is inter-
esting. This intrinsic motivation leads to greater creativity and persis-
tence.53 At the core of intrinsic motivation is a feeling of self-determination
and autonomy. Some of this seems to be developmental since young children
are more intrinsically motivated than adolescents.54
Superficially, Proverbs appears to be extrinsic in its motivational orien-
tation (10:3). The notions of self-determination are highlighted, however,
as each sentence presents the student with a choice whereby he is able to
determine his own character and consequences. While Proverbs utilizes
the potency of extrinsic rewards (e.g. wealth/poverty), it highlights such
intrinsic benefits of character development as that its own reward is more
valuable than rubies (4:7; 31:10; cf. evaluation section in the Appendix).
Indeed, wisdom itself is used as a motivating goal (11:2b; 13:20a; 14:6-7,
18, 23; 15:33). Again the point is to build informational Gestalts for mak-
ing self-attributions rather than to control, which will result in resentment
and lack of internalization.55
Some have empirically established that the impact of others-oriented
motivation leads to more empathic and altruistic behavior.56 Proverbs
clearly employs this type of motivational strategy (10:21; 12:18; 13:22;
14:25; 15:4; cf. Appendix).
XII. MOTIVATION AND EMOTION
Lastly, the bond between emotions and motivation links the affective do-
main with values motivation at the levels of the individual (10:28a; 12:20b;
15:23a), others (10:1; 11:10; 15:30a) and even for Yahweh (11:1, 20; 12:2,22;
51Deci and Ryan, Intrinsic; Lepper and Greene, Hidden; Condry, "Enemies."
52M. Lepper, D. Greene and R. Nisbett, "Undermining Children's Intrinsic Interest with
Extrinsic Reward," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 28/1 (1973) 129-130.
53T. Amabile, "Motivation and Creativity: Effects of Motivational Orientation on Creative
Writers," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48/2 (1985) 393-399.
54Harter, "Model" 237.
55M. L. Hoffman, "Parent Discipline and the Child's Moral Development," Journal of Per-
sonality and Social Psychology 5 (1967) 45-57.
56L. Kuczynski, "Reasoning, Prohibitions, and Motivations for Compliance," Developmental
Psychology 19/1 (1983) 126-128.
MOTIVATION AND ANTITHETIC PARALLELISM IN PROVERBS 10-15 443
15:8-9, 26) Emotional anticipation is a key factor in the motivation of be-
havior. The connection of values motivation and affective responses warns
against a cognitive belittling of the emotions. Wisdom also includes such re-
sponses as desirable and functional in motivational contexts.57
XIII. CONCLUDING SUMMARY
This paper has proposed a methodology for exposing the motivational
forces hidden in the sentence literature deep structures that often lack ex-
plicit Gemserian motive clauses. It has been suggested that rather than
seeing act --> + consequence as the core of the proverbial sentences, charac-
ter --> + consequence may be closer to its center.
A motivationally based explanation was given for the sages' frequent
use of antithetic parallelisms. This poetic structure often unleashes a pow-
erful motivation combination: approach (10:1a) + avoidance (10:1b).
While the discussion of the psychology of motivation and proverbial
motivation has merely been introduced, it is hoped that it will be found to
be a fertile frontier for further exploration. Drive reduction, cognitive ex-
pectancies, characterological attributions, and intrinsic/extrinsic motiva-
tional strategies, as well as the nexus between emotion and motivation,
provide rich areas for further study.
Much of the motivation literature reveals the need for a value-based
motivational theory that can promote moral/faith development.58 Proverbs
presents a value-based motivation that includes a rich variety of intrinsic
and extrinsic motivations including personal this-worldly, altruistic/socio-
logical and theological motives. Indeed, both God and the teachers/sages of
nition," Psychological Review 74 (1967) 29-39; I. J. Roseman, "Cognitive Determinants of Emo-
tion: A Structural Theory," Review of Personality and Social Psychology 5 (1984); N. L. Stein
and L. J. Levine, "Making Sense Out of Emotion: the Representation and Use of Goal-
Structured Knowledge," Psychological and Biological Approaches to Emotion (ed. Stein, B. Lev-
enthal and T. Trabasso; Hillsdale: Erlbaum, 1990) 45-73.
58 L. Kohlberg, Essays on Moral Development: The Philosophy of Moral Development (New
tian Belief (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985); J. Fowler, Stages of Faith (
1981); C. Dystra and S. Parks, Faith Development and Fowler (
444 JOURNAL OF THE EVANGELICAL THEOLOGICAL SOCIETY