Tuesday, January 16, 2007

In What Sense Are Proverbs True?

I recently posted a question on the nature of proverbs over on John's blog, Beginning of Wisdom. Proverbs to the effect that the wise prosper and the wicked suffer do not work well as simple empirical observations. How then are we to understand their quality of truth?

I found John's answer helpful. To check out his full reply, click here. Here is a brief excerpt from what he writes:

...like the Psalmists I think the sages as often base their advice on what the world’s structure should be as what it actually is. Although this may appear to dodge the question, I think it points to the power of the sayings of the sages as “world making,” just as the Psalms are often described as being (e.g., Brueggemann). Proverbs, like Psalms, sometimes present the world with all its injustices but other times portray the world as it should be. In so doing they confront and challenge our own (often cynical and faithless) conception of God’s justice in the world.

Turns out, John has written a full article in this area, which is available in following collection:

Seeking Out the Wisdom of the Ancients:

Seeking Out the Wisdom of the Ancients:
Essays Offered to Honor Michael V. Fox on the Occasion of His Sixty-Fifth Birthday

Edited by Ronald L. Troxel, Kelvin G. Friebel, and Dennis R. Magary
Eisenbrauns, 2005
xxviii + 507 pages, English
Cloth
ISBN: 1575061058
List Price: $59.50
Your Price: $53.55

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