Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Deed-Consequence Nexus

Continuing my exploration of the issue of reward and retribution in wisdom literature, here is a quote from Michael V. Fox on the so-called "deed-consequence nexus."
Wisdom literature does tend to formulate retribution as an automatic process of cause and effect. Warnings thus formulated are more believable One need not feel God's immediate presence to get the point: Bad deeds hurt you. Rather than excluding divine judgment, the formulation of retribution as a causal connection, which I would call "intrinsic retribution," emphasizes the omnipresence and immediacy of God's justice in human affairs. Since God created a just world and rules it constantly, any deserved consequence can be regarded as divine judgment (thus in Pss 7:11-14; 9:16-17). In other words, God's judgment subsumes natural causality rather than the other way around.
A favorite means of encapsulating the idea of intrinsic retribution is the "pit" topos: "He who digs a pit will fall into it" (Prov 26:27; cf. Pss 7:16, 17; 9:16; Sir 27:25-27). Various images are used to elucidate this principle, such as the net catching the one who spread it (Ps 9:16) and a stone falling down on the head of the one who threw it up (Sir 27:25).
Reference: M.V. Fox. 2000. Proverbs 1-9. Anchor 18A. New York: Doubleday, 91-92.

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