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This chapter introduces the book’s argument and provide the necessary context for it, addressing ethics in the Old Testament, virtue ethics, objections to this project, the moral philosophers used therein, including Aristotle, Aquinas and MacIntyre, as well as an outline of chapters and methodology.
After a brief summary of the book’s argument, I suggest how understanding Proverbs as a tradition of virtue helps to address other questions about the ethics of the book, such as recent discussions about character. Specifically, I draw together and draw out the book’s conception of human nature, moral action and character, the relation of moral and theological virtue, the human problem, and how Proverbs relates to its moral rivals.
In this book, Arthur Keefer offers a new interpretation of the book of Proverbs from the standpoint of virtue ethics. Using an innovative method that bridges philosophy and biblical studies, he argues that much of the instruction within Proverbs meets the criteria for moral and theological virtue as set out in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. Keefer presents the moral thought of Proverbs in its social, historical, and theological contexts. He shows how these contexts shed light on the conceptualization of virtue, the virtues that are promoted and omitted, and the characteristics that make Proverbs a distinctive moral tradition. In giving undivided attention to biblical virtue, this volume opens the way for new avenues of study in biblical ethics, including law, narrative, and other aspects of biblical instruction and wisdom.
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