Wisdom, Cosmos, and Cultus in the Book of Sirach

Wisdom, Cosmos, and Cultus in the Book of Sirach

by A. Jordan Schmidt

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Overview

Despite the attention that has already been paid to the theme of creation in the book of Sirach, scholarship has yet to provide a comprehensive analysis of Ben Sira's instruction regarding the cosmic order and its role in the divine bestowal of wisdom upon human beings.
This book, which consists of two parts, fills a lacuna in scholarship by offering such an analysis. The first part of this study examines Ben Sira's three main treatments of the created world, thus providing a comprehensive description and synthesis of Ben Sira's doctrine concerning the created order of the cosmos. The second part of this work analyzes the place of human beings in general, and the Jewish people in particular, within the cosmic order. This second part includes an analysis of the role of the created order in Ben Sira's wisdom instruction in 1:1-10 and 24:1-34 as well as an elucidation of the way in which his treatments of various kinds of people—civic leaders, wives, doctors, manual laborers, scribes, and cultic personnel—are integral to Ben Sira's doctrine of creation. This study demonstrates that the created order is a fundamental category that Ben Sira relies upon in articulating his instructions about wisdom and wise behavior.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9783110600179
Publisher: De Gruyter
Publication date: 03/04/2019
Series: Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature Studies , #42
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 518
Sales rank: 877,040
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A. Jordan Schmidt, The Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC.

Table of Contents

Preface v

Abbreviations xii

1 Introduction 1

I Preliminary Matters 2

I.A Authorship and Historical Setting 2

I.A.1 Ben Sira the author 2

I.A.2 The date of composition 4

I.A.3 The imperial context of the 3rd-2nd cent. BCE 5

I.B Social Setting 7

I.B.1 Ben Sira the scribal sage 7

I.B.2 Ben Sira and Hellenism 10

I.B.3 Ben Sira's conflict with other forms of Judaism 12

I.C Textual Considerations 14

I.C.1 The textual situation 14

I.C.2 The structure of Sirach 19

II Previous Scholarship on Creation in the Book of Sirach 24

III Method of Study 30

Part 1 Ben Sira's Instruction Concerning the Cosmos

2 The Well-Ordered Cosmos 37

I Translation & Notes for Sir 16:24-17:14 37

II Exegetical Analysis of Sir 16:24-17:14 44

II.A Structure of the Pericope 46

II.B Context 47

II.C The Objection of the Fool (16:17-22) 49

II.D Ben Sira's Dogmatic Instruction on the Created Universe 52

II.D.1 The creation of the Cosmos (16:26-30) 54

II.D.2 Parallels between 16:26-30 and Genesis and the Psalms 57

II.D.3 The creation of humanity and comparison to luminaries (17:1-4, 6-10) 61

II.D.4 Israel's particular task (17:11-14) 68

II.E The Moral Order of the Cosmos 72

III Concluding Remarks on Ben Sira's Answer to the Fool 78

3 Ben Sira's Instruction About God's Works 81

I Translation & Notes for 39:16-31 82

II Exegetical Analysis of 39:16-31 92

II.A Structure and Context 92

II.A.1 Differences in the structures of H, G, and S 95

II.B Sir 39:16-31 as a Sapiential Hymn on the Created World 98

II.B.1 The first strophe (vv. 16, 17-21) 100

II.B.2 The second strophe (vv. 22-27) 101

II.B.3 The third strophe (vv. 28-31) 117

An Excursus on Theodicy in Ben Sira 121

II.B.4 The epilogue (w. 32-35) 129

II.C Sir 39:16-31 as building on 16:24-17:14 130

II.D Ben Sira on Providence 132

III Concluding Remarks on Ben Sira's Praise of God's Works 139

4 The Wondrous Beauty of the Cosmos 140

I Translation & Notes for Sir 42:15-43:33 141

II Exegetical Analysis of Sir 42:15-43:33 161

II.A Context and Structure 161

II.B The Introduction of Ben Sira's Hymn (42:15-25) 163

II.B.1 The opening theme (w. 15-16) 164

II.B.2 The perfection of God (vv. 17-21) 166

II.B.3 Focusing the theme (vv. 22-25) 170

II.C Ben Sira's Praise of God's Created Works (43:1-26) 175

II.C.1 The sun (vv, 1-5) 176

II.C.2 The moon (and stars) (w. 6-10) 178

II.C.3 The rainbow (vv. 11-12) 181

II.C.4 The weather elements (vv. 13-22) 182

II.C.5 The sea (43:23-26) 185

II.D Ben Sira's Praise of the Creator (43:27-33) 189

III Sir 42:15-43:33 & Connections to Biblical Poems about Creation 193

III.A A Short Analysis of Psalms 104 and 148 195

III.A.1 Parallels among Psalm 104, Sir 43:1-26, & Job 38:1-41 197

III.A.2 Parallels among Psalm 148, Sir 43:1-26, & Job 38:1-41 200

III.A.3 The distinctiveness of Sir 43:1-26 vis-à-vis biblical poems about creation 201

IV Concluding Remarks on Ben Sira's "Hymn to the Creator" 202

Conclusion to Part 1: Ben Sira's Instruction about the Cosmos 204

Part 2 The Role of Human Beings within the Created Order

5 Ben Sira's Presentation of Wisdom 213

I Ben Sira & Wisdom Literature 213

I.A The Core of Israel's Wisdom Tradition: A Successful Life 216

I.B Theoretical Wisdom 219

I.C Wisdom in the Framework of Cosmic Order 220

II Translation & Notes for Sir 1:1-10 225

III Wisdom's Place in God's Creation (Sir 1:1-10) 228

III.A God, the Source of Wisdom 229

III.B Human Limitation 234

III.C The Importance of Creation for Wisdom 238

III.D Preliminary Conclusions: Wisdom as a Principle of Relationship 241

IV Translation & Notes for Sir 24:1-34 242

V Wisdom as Israel's Inheritance (Sir 24:1-34) 249

V.A Structural Considerations 250

V.B Introduction to Lady Wisdom's Praise (24:1-2) 251

V.C Lady Wisdom's Speech 252

V.D Ben Sira's Description of Wisdom (24:23-29) 267

V.E Ben Sira's Outpouring of Wisdom 276

VI The Manifold Manifestations of God's Wisdom According to Ben Sira 279

VI.A The Concept of Oikonomia and God's Wisdom 281

VI.A.1 The human focus of wisdom 284

VI.A.2 The special place of Torah and piety in the oikonomia 286

VI.A.3 A qualitative difference: The cuitic law & the right time 289

VII Acquiring Wisdom within the Oikonomia 291

VII.A The Central Role of Ben Sira as Sage 292

VII.B The Importance of Company in Acquiring Wisdom 293

VII.B.1 Ben Sira's bet midrash 298

VIII Concluding Remarks on Ben Sira's Understanding of Wisdom 300

6 Human Contribution to the Cosmic Order 302

I The Universal: Human Work as a Contribution to the Cosmic Order 302

I.A Translation & Notes for Sir 9:17-10:5 303

I.B Human Leaders and Societal Order (Sir 9:17-10:5) 306

I.B.1 Retribution and the political order 310

I.C Translation & Notes for Sir 26:13-18 313

I.D The Good Wife as a Source of Domestic Order (Sir 26:13-18) 315

I.E Translation & Notes for Sir 38:1-8 319

I.F The Doctor's Wise Work (Sir 38:1-8) 320

I.G Translation & Notes for Sir 38:24-34ab 324

I.H The Wisdom of Manual Laborers (Sir 38:25-34ab) 329

I.I Preliminary Conclusions 333

II The Particular: Jewish Scribes' Contribution to the Cosmic Order 334

II.A A Sketch of Judean Society in the Time of Ben Sira 335

II.A.1 Foreign Rule and the Governance of Judea 335

II.A.2 Sira's Allusions to Societal Problems in Judea 338

II.B Translation & Notes for Sir 38:34cd-39:11 340

II.C Ben Sira's Presentation of the Ideal Scribe (Sir 38:34cd-39:11) 343

II.D Translation & Notes for Sir 7:18-36 346

II.E Ben Sira's Exhortation toward Orderliness (Sir 7:18-36) 351

III Concluding Remarks on Human Labor and Societal Order 363

7 The High Priest, the Cultus, and the Cosmic Order 365

I Ben Sira's Praise of the Ancestors 365

I.A Structure & Component Segments 367

I.B Purpose of the Praise 371

II.A Ben Sira's Presentation of Aaron and Phinehas 375

II.B Translation & Notes for Sir 45:6-26 375

II.B The Priesthood as a Principle of Order (Sir 45:6-26) 384

II.B.1 Ben Sira's presentation ofthe Aaronide priesthood (45:6-22) 384

II.B.2 Preliminary conclusions about Ben Sira's presentation of Aaron 398

II.B.3 Ben Sira's presentation of Phinehas 399

II.C Concluding Remarks about Aaron, Phinehas, and the ρπ of the priesthood 406

III Ben Sira's Presentation of the High Priest Simon 408

III.A Translation & Notes for Sir 50:1-24 408

III.B The High Priest and the Cosmic Order (Sir 50:1-24) 414

III.B.1 Ben Sira's presentation of Simon the high priest 415

III.B.2 The establishment of the cultus and the completion of the cosmic order 428

III.C Differences between the Greek and Hebrew of Sir 50:1-24 433

III.C.1 Differences in the divine titles 434

III.C.2 Differences in the depictions of Simon 435

IV Concluding Remarks on the Role of the High Priesthood in the Created Order 437

8 Conclusion 440

I Summarizing Ben Sira's Doctrine Concerning the Cosmos 440

II The Created Order's Role in Making Humans Wise 443

III Created Works and Human Beings in the Oikonomia of God's Wisdom 446

IV The High Priest and the Scribe in the Oikonomia of God's Wisdom 449

V Contributions of this Study and Directions for Future Research 450

Bibliography 451

Index of References 483

Index of Topics 503

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