Derek Kidner on Understanding the Genre of Proverbs

Chris —  May 23, 2013

Don’t insist that the book of Proverbs be read in the same way that we read the 10 commandments. Kidner explains:

“Naturally [proverbs] generalize, as a proverb must and may therefore be charged with making life too tidy to be true. But nobody objects to this in secular sayings, for the very form demands a sweeping statement and looks for a hearer with his wits about him. We need no telling that a maxim like ‘Many hands make light work’ is not the last word on the subject, since ‘Too many cooks spoil the broth.’” Derek Kidner

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One response to Derek Kidner on Understanding the Genre of Proverbs

  1. Here’s another example of the apparent paradox of proverbs:
    Look before you leap.
    He who hesitates is lost.

    They only appear to be in conflict if you don’t understand the general and situational aspect of proverbs. This kind of stuff should stretch us in our understanding of hermeneutics, in that different genres can be true, yet each true in a different sense. For example, a parable can be fictional, yet true in its message.

    I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, Chris. I’m just adding to the conversation.