My studies have, as of late, taken many unexpected turns. One of these, about which I am elated, concerns my total rejection of what some call the Christian canon, or canonical literature. I now have no room in the inn for any of that literature, and I would like to share (in brief) some of the reasons and conclusions that led me to what I now call “Sophic Deism” (Wisdom-tradition, and light of nature based Deism, but not Solomonic Deism).
- First, I have come to believe that neither Solomon (nor David), nor any other OT hero or villain, represents anything but legend (as with “Jesus and the Apostles”) similar to Achilles and Hector being born of Homeric tradition. This includes Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, etc.
- Next, chapter 24 suggests that the “wisdom” maxims originate from observation and induction. I no longer believe this either. Most are simply rabbinical tradition “hand-me-downs” from previous generations, a fact suggested by the arbitrariness of their arrangement (no topical order, or any other order seems to attended their “groupings”).
Also note that many of them overlap redundantly, either repeating or else reiterating in part, or else occasionally in whole — see “There is a way that seems right to a man, but there end thereof is death.” This happens 3 times, word for word, in the proverbs.
3. Many of the categorical designations of the Proverbs (wicked, righteous, etc) are treated as unchanging, monolithic and uniform realities. This is simply not true to the complexities of life. These qualities in people actually wax and wane, present themselves unevenly and flourish lopsidedly, so that a man may be wise in many ways, but foolish in others.
4. The ten commandments seems to be at odds with the Proverbs in several ways. First of all, the most desperate concerns of the decalogue — to avoid worshipping false gods or making idols — have almost nothing to do with the priority scheme of the Proverbs, which do not mention the first four commandments or refer to them hardly at all. Rest, in the proverbs, brings poverty and scarcity in like an armed bandit. Here, spending an entire day resting (Sabbath) would be folly in the extreme.
5. In fact, not only do the proverbs not have a Sabbath, they do not mention the priesthood, high priest(s), Temple, Passover, holidays, the six days of creation, offerings and sacrifices for atonement, circumcision, no dietary or “kosher” law about clean or unclean foods, no mention of the (nation of Israel as) holy land or the seven nations to be ruined under Joshua to preserve its “sanctity.”
Not only do the proverbs fail to presents anything a useful guide for wise or skillful living in the modern world (as I will show momentarily), but they would not have been in the least useful for skillful and wise living in ancient Israel, as shown above because of the prolific omissions to the entire liturgical life of Israel. It even forbids prophecy in the OT in these words, “Do not boast about tomorrow; for you do not know what a day might bring forth.” So much for the prophets.
This means that, according to the Proverbs, neither the ten commandments nor the Torah can count as wisdom, since these flourish with just the liturgical and priestly considerations carefully omitted by the Proverbs.
6. The Proverbs make no mention of anything like, or analogous to, the major institutions, agents and cultural developments and features of the modern world. This makes them today irrelevant. Here are cultural features very important to us about which the Proverbs have nothing whatever to say:
Stocks, futures, investing, proper or improper taxation, today’s law codes, constitutions, architecture, music and the literary arts, cinematography, sports and leisure (football, soccer, etc), highways, satellites, the power grid, skyscrapers, aircraft, spacecraft, restaurants, amusement parks, voting, nutrition, laser dentistry, and the internet and connectivity. Here, the Proverbs are worthless.
Conclusion: the proverbs run close to frighteningly irrelevant and woefully deficient as a guide that is supposed to teach us to live wisely and skillfully in the modern world. This shows that they bear no marks of transcendence as the supposed “Word of God,” but rather display all the silliness and weaknesses of ordinary human construction.
It is instead, the word of tribal, and agrarian nomads. The “Word of God” itself another nomadic fantasy actually originates in the library of glyphs used by the Egyptians, and was borrowed by the Hebrews and stamped upon its developing written records of self-memory to ensure the perpetuity and stability of an apodosis (sacred or received tradition) designed to retain the status quo in the holy land and maintain its national integrity and reputation.
The Book of Proverbs does not enable where it must, in so many places, to fulfill even in part its intended purpose(s). If for no other reason, time itself severely limits the usefulness and relevance of the book. The minor scope and lack of cultural diversity shown by the Proverbs testifies to Sophic Deism as the better way to approach the questions generated by the wisdom quest I have undertaken as a lifelong endeavor.
The above calls for a complete divorce from the Jewish and Christian literature for Deists who would be wise. We must find divine wisdom in the light of nature by careful analysis of the world around us, employing all the rational and empirical devices of excellent studies, and of innovation even coming up with new studies of our own — i.e. patent studies, stochastic geometry (I’m still working on it), etc.
I shall be treating the topic at some length later, but I now work with the hypothesis of the ahistorical character of the heroes and villains of the OT, as well as those of the NT. More about this later.