Contradiction in the book of Proverbs

Peter T.H. Hatton in his new book Contradiction in the Book of Proverbs takes an interest in the (banal) wisdom literature of Proverbs, among a minority to be sure, and refreshingly avoids many of the inconsistencies and unreasonableness found in other studies of Proverbs. In fact, Hatton embraces and develops the inconsistent nature of Proverbs. He argues that the flat contradictions and inconsistencies among the “cobbled-together miscellany of material form a variety of sources” is the deliberate intention of the highly-skilled author. His thesis is that this ‘heteroglossaic text’, to steal a term from Bakhtin, reveals the difficulty besetting humanity to pin down wisdom.

…the Book of Proverbs intentionally causes its reader to blink, to stumble, to acknowledge the limits of humanly produced literature to capture the mysteries of the cosmos and man’s place within it… Proverbs…is far from the settled, self-satisfied text that many scholars have taken it to be


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