Sunday, March 10, 2013

Onchsheshonqy 7/4

Do not instruct a fool lest he hate you (P. Onch. 7/4).
The term translated instruct can also mean to bear witness as in giving testimony in court. The term for fool refers not so much to the uninformed as to the willfully misinformed.

On the one hand, Onchsheshonqy is right.  It often seems counterproductive to try to reason with fools. They do not seem to learn anything. They rarely change their ways. And they just hate and despise anyone who tries to teach them what is right.

On the other hand, Onchsheshonqy may be wrong here. Even an idiot deserves a chance to change his mind. (We might recall that Greek metanoia refers to both changing one's mind and repentance.) Though that may not lessen the hatred, at least it lessens the culpability that we have to try to warn our neighbor, even when they choose to deliberately ignore the warning.

Jesus teaches something similar in Matthew 7:6 when he talks about the folly of casting pearls before swine. We tend to overlook, however, the less common metaphor immediately before that, the one about giving things that are holy to the dogs. The holiness aspect is probably the more important one for Jesus.While we may not give that which is holy unto the dogs, the dogs can still eat of the crumbs that fall from the Master's table (Matthew 15:27).