Proverbs 26:4-5 contradictions

 
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Istra



Joined: 26 Oct 2004
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Oct 26, 2004 6:19 am    Post subject: Proverbs 26:4-5 contradictions Reply with quote

Hello, I was reading my Bible and ran across these verses.

Proverbs 26:4-5
"Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
(5) Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes." [NIV]

Well, that didn't make any sense, because it seems to be a direct contradiction, so I looked it up in the KJV
"Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
(5) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit."

That wasn't much better. There has to be a logical reason for this incongruency, and I'm betting on something getting lost in the translation. Since I don't speak hebrew (or greek) and don't have a hebrew dictionary either, I'd appreciate a little help. Thank you!

~Istra~
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mattrose



Joined: 23 Oct 2004
Posts: 349
Location: Western NY

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think part of the answer to your question speaks to your view of the Proverbs. Proverbs are not absolute truths, they are general principles.

Supposed contradictions in the Bible are usually when one book says something different than another book in Scripture and skeptics attack the overall unity of Scripture as a whole. Here, the 'supposed' contradiction is contained in 2 consecutive verses and so it is obviously not a 'mistake' so to speak. It was worded this way on purpose. And you are right, it does, at first, sound contradictory. It's almost startling. And I think that's what proverbs are supposed to be.

To answer your questions, I believe both statements are made because both statements are sometimes true.

For example....

I post a lot of a message board where I am one of the few Christians. On this board there are some who simply mock Christianity every chance they get.

90% of the time I believe, it is best to ignore these people and simply focus on those genuinely curious/interested in the debate. Sometimes I have made the mistake of addressing every absurd comment they made, and I ended up looking just as foolish as them. Just like Proverbs 26:4 warned me about.

10% of the time, however, when their statements are especially foolish, I think it is wise to expose their foolishness for all to see. Otherwise they AND those observing might think you don't have a response to their statements.

The general principle is....many things should not be dignified with a response, but every once in a while a fool needs to be exposed for who he is.
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Steve



Joined: 17 Feb 2004
Posts: 1178
Location: Santa Cruz, CA

PostPosted: Wed Oct 27, 2004 5:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is precisely my understanding of this phenomenon. It is not a matter of knowing the original language better, but of recognising the author's purpose. I think the opposite statements are placed back-to-back for effect, and to show that neither is to be taken as an absolute rule.
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Steve
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eppsjason



Joined: 29 Oct 2004
Posts: 13

PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2004 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Proverbs 26:4-5 are not contradictions. Verse 4 "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him" is saying don't stoop down to a fool's level. It relates to Titus 3:9 "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain."

Verse 5 "Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit" is saying don't let the fool continue in his ignorance and wrongness or he'll continue to think he is right. If you have the truth, you are obligated to tell him because you have the love of God in you. Read James 2:9 "But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors." In other words, don't think that a person is "too lost" or "too saved" to be preached The Word. If you have the truth, and see your neighbor is lacking the truth, and you don't share it with him, then the sin lies on you as well as him.

All scripture is true and for instruction, read 2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness". There shouldn't be any guessing or hesitance on scripture if you're saved and led by The Spirit.

May you be a hearer and doer of The Word.
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