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3 - Moral Virtues in Proverbs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 October 2020

Arthur Jan Keefer
Affiliation:
Eton College
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Summary

Biblical interpreters assume that the moral concepts in Proverbs resemble virtues as understood by moral philosophers, especially Aristotle. No study, however, has considered how the moral-philosophical criteria for defining virtue compare to the concepts in Proverbs. I argue that Proverbs’ moral instructions (focusing on Proverbs 10-29) cohere with Aristotle’s understanding of moral virtue and vice in the Nicomachean Ethics, including his notion of the mean. That is, certain concepts in Proverbs are virtues and vices in the Aristotelian sense. To demonstrate this, I argue that (1) virtues of action and emotion in Proverbs are identifiable through praise and blame; that (2) the vices reflect excess and deficiency in action and emotion; and that (3) the virtues “hit the mean” of these actions and emotions.

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The Book of Proverbs and Virtue Ethics
Integrating the Biblical and Philosophical Traditions
, pp. 42 - 92
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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