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Ecclesiasticus 9:10 - not very good advice on friendship

Discussion in 'General Religious Debates' started by ideogenous_mover, Aug 21, 2019.

  1. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    This is from a book that I think may be primarily considered canonical by Catholics I believe, not sure about others. I recall that the sentiment might turn up elsewhere as well, maybe one of you knows where. Anyway the verse reads “Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure.”

    I for one think that this may be one of the poorest articles of biblical wisdom that is provided. We modern people know that old friendships can fail, that we can learn over time that old friends might not be treating us as well as others might. Rather than state that an old friend might be holding you back, it states that you should keep your connection with them. Perhaps the verse made sense in the bronze age, where perhaps very few people could be trusted anyway, and it was best not to hedge your bets with new people. But in the modern age the goal is often to grow and learn, that often that only comes about easily if you form new connections when you can.
     
  2. Desert Snake

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    Forsake seems to be the word that needs to be defined, here.
     
  3. Desert Snake

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    However I don't feel the need to reconcile or explain verses like that, also.
     
  4. InChrist

    InChrist Free4ever

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    When the Bible uses the word friend or in this case "old friend" it likely means a real friend who has demonstrated real and sincerely trustworthy friendship over the years. I highly doubt it is saying anything about keeping a connection with someone who holds you down, discourages, or is merely a fair-weather fake friend.
     
  5. 1213

    1213 Well-Known Member

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    In that case, are they really friends?

    I think Bible is correct in this case. Old friend knows you and you know him and it can have many benefits that new friend doesn’t have. It doesn’t mean new friends are not good, they just are not as good.
     
  6. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    So then I surmise that neither of you would agree that friendships can actually conclude naturally? (to change the goal post here slightly) Friendships can run their course, maybe bronze age people didn't live long enough to see it that way. What were once good friendships a decade ago, might not be good friendships now. Interests change. Views on things change. People get sick of each other and sometimes they should probably find totally new people to grow with. Whoever wrote this verse is not really grasping that kind of nuance, it is a verse with dull purview of the modern human social condition.
     
    #6 ideogenous_mover, Aug 21, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
  7. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    Some translations say 'abandon.'
     
  8. Desert Snake

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    Could probably be argued both ways. I agree though, I don't like some of these absolutisms.
     
  9. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    If this was "scripture" then it might have some value, but since Ecclesiasticus is not recognised as part of the Hebrew canon, you cannot take what it says as coming from God. This is at best human wisdom, and as experience tells us, even old friendships can sour.

    Ecclesiasticus was originally written in Hebrew in the early part of the second century B.C.E. and quotations from it are found in the Jewish Talmud, which is interesting considering that it was not part of the Jewish canon.
     
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  10. InChrist

    InChrist Free4ever

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    Certainly friendships can run their course. I don't think the Bible is saying otherwise. I believe it simply means don't abandon a real friend just for continual new ones that may appear more exciting. Whether you understand the meaning of the scriptures or not, I think it is pretty arrogant to keep referring to "those bronze age people" as if you are so far superior.

    By the way, when I look up Ecclesiastes 9;10 it is not the same verse you posted. So where exactly are you quoting from?
     
  11. Desert Snake

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    And this has occured before. Yes, buddha as essentially an atheist, is faced with his destination, 'the big nothing', or whatever.

    Balievers have an afterlife, [heaven and hell, and therefore that analogy doesn't make any sense cross religion wise.
    Who cares if buddha had to realize the big nothing he was going to face?
    Has nothing to do with the religious context we're taljing about.
     
  12. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    Ecclesiasticus.. and by the way you might not even be arguing for a book that your denomination deems as canonical unless you are a Catholic or an Orthodox Christian, though I'm not sure
     
  13. exchemist

    exchemist Well-Known Member

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    On the contrary, I think it is absolutely true that old friends are a great blessing and precious. With old friends you can be closer and more at ease. There is nothing here to say you should not form new friendships as well. But you are right in that not all friendships survive to become old ones: there is a sorting process in life, by which the ones you like and trust or have some special bond with are the ones that become the old friends later, while others fall by the wayside.

    I had a powerful reminder of the power of old friendships when I went to a funeral last year and met again, after a gap of 40 years, a woman who had been my first semi-girlfriend when we were teenagers. Our lives had drifted apart and we lost touch in our early 20s. We saw each other, embraced and it was instantly as if we had never been apart. And now we keep in touch - and tease each other, just as we did back then. A delightful surprise, when one is over 60!
     
  14. 1213

    1213 Well-Known Member

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    I agree that it is from human. But I think it is still correct. But obviously it depends on how a “friend” is defined.
     
  15. 1213

    1213 Well-Known Member

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    In that case I think the person was and is not really a friend.
     
  16. Deeje

    Deeje Avid Bible Student
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    In today's world, the definition of friendship has been terribly distorted. Young people are raised not knowing what true friendship is....it is not close and personal, but remote and delivered through their mobile devices. They are losing the ability to communicate face to face.

    Proverbs gives us a better definition of friendship I think....
    “There exist companions disposed to break one another to pieces, but there exists a friend sticking closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
    When that was written, Jewish families were large and close knit. But again, these days, so many children have lost that sense of family, with divorce rates high and families often fractured. How sad that modern experience takes so much of the Bible out of the actual experience of so many people....:(
     
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  17. ideogenous_mover

    ideogenous_mover Well-Known Member

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    Here's more of the way I kind of look at it. To me, once I have a fight with a friend, something is never really right with the whole thing from then on. I don't really care if years pass, there's always something in the back of my mind reminding me that lines were crossed at some point. These kind of people I want to demote back to acquaintances, but you can never totally do that.

    Another kind of friend is someone with whom your familiarity has simply worn out any spark of interest. I think maybe as people become 'old friends,' you have to kind of give them space. If they don't give you enough space, the familiarity transforms into repeating conversations, and maybe too much familiarity with this other person's life that is not really part of your family. I know there are exceptions, but I'm talking about how I feel about this generally.
     
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