A wise fool

It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise
than to hear the song of fools
(Ecclesiastes 7:5)

The quote above is from The Revised Standard Version, printed by Oxford University Press, copyright 1971. My copy has no print year (!) but it is about twenty-five years old. There are different translations online, so there are probably different English version of this. The Swedish official version (2000) is slightly different, “wise” and “fools” are in singular, and “song” is replaced by “praise”. As Biblical Hebrew makes distinction between singular and plural, it does seem a bit odd there is a difference. I assume the translations are not from Old Greek or Latin. It gives a distinct difference; the Swedish is less poetic and with a tinge of humor, even sarcasm, in it. Maybe I am overlooking eventual humor in the English above, after all I am not a native speaker.

The more odd difference is that the above verse is 7:6 in the Swedish one, because the 7:1 in the Swedish is 6:12 in the Oxford one. There is no 6:12 in the Swedish one. The text is the same, grouping is different. I have no idea about why it would be so. I do not have a clue about history of Bible translations. Maybe Anglicans and Lutherans count in different ways? :-p The Hebrew originals are divided up differently. It must be a fascinating, but very hard, job to translate and interpret ancient texts. Latin is still used, but it is not a native language to anyone.

I started off with a digression or two, and that is just because the things I noted when looking what the English version might be. The irony of the verse is that if one agrees to it, it makes one feel smart, and maybe praise it (e.g. putting it up on a blog). But my praise (I like that verse!) does not confirm anything. It might be an indication of that I am a fool. Anyone can praise. And how do I know if anyone is wise?

Another conclusion from the verse is that both wise and fools can read any text and react to it. Texts have effects.

If you read this far you are persistent! Though perhaps none the wiser.

4 Comments

    • Hi Luke.
      Thanks for the comment!
      Long time no hear. I am ok, duffering along. Hope you are well 🙂

      Very interesting article! Thanks!
      The interpretation is really hard, also to understand things in context. Over the past few years I’ve read some academics complaints that students (e.g. in literary studies) cannot read texts even a hundred years old without putting their own moral glasses on, instead of truly reading the text. It is hard for anyone to avoid both one’s cultural and personal preconceptions. But, textual interpretation, e.g. hermeneutics, has a very long history in the Judeo-Christian world.

      The debt thing is very interesting. And we live an a gross debt society. Keeping interests low is a way to lure people into huge debts. And there is no inflation to eat the debts. As the article mentions, there is the same word for debt and sin in many languages. In Swedish we have “skuld”, which is the common word for both debt and guilt. We also have the word “gäld” which means debt, and the verb “gälda” that means pay or repay (same origin as English “yield” it seems). Interesting enough, Skuld is one of the norns in Norse mythology https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skuld.

      The banksters have great power, e.g. they have been integral to the US empire for a hundred years. I am currently reading Nomi Prins’ “All The Presidents Bankers”. A thorough historical analysis of big banks and politics.

      The article’s pointing out of feudalism is interesting. There is neo-feudalism, which is quite similar to what many dystopian visions are, a world where the serfs are connected to huge global corporations rather than to landed gentry.

  1. Oh, I have noticed that too! The way some of it sometimes translates is a mystery.

    I often have an easier time grasping it in English than my own language as well.

    I do feel wiser after having read this! At least, my thoughts are carrying me off to places, that I did not think of.

    Persistent and wise. Can you have one, without the other? 😉

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