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Introduction to the ApocryphaJewish Books in Christian Bibles$
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Lawrence M. Wills

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780300248791

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300248791.001.0001

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Wisdom Texts

Wisdom Texts

(p.124) Three Wisdom Texts
Introduction to the Apocrypha

Lawrence M. Wills

Yale University Press

Chapter three addresses the texts of the Apocrypha related to Jewish wisdom. In ancient Israel wisdom was associated with Proverbs and the education of elite males, especially scribes. But there were important developments in wisdom, each phase expanding on the previous one without rendering it obsolete. The wisdom texts of the Apocrypha are analyzed both in terms of how they fit within the earlier history of wisdom genres, and how they reflect the changes of the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Theological themes such as revelation are expanded within these texts, and social issues such as gender, class, and Jewish identity come into sharper focus. Wisdom is more present as a female figure and is at times a cosmic savior figure or involved in creation (similar to Isis). Wisdom is also identified with law (Ben Sira and Baruch), and is seen as a force in Israelite history (Ben Sira and Wisdom of Solomon). In these texts Wisdom is also personified as Woman Wisdom. Texts treated here are Ben Sira (or Sirach), Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, Letter (or Epistle) of Jeremiah, Fourth Maccabees, and Fourth Baruch (or Paralipomena of Jeremiah).

Keywords:   Jewish wisdom, Ben Sira, Sirach, Baruch, Wisdom of Solomon, Letter of Jeremiah, 4 Maccabees, 4 Baruch, Woman Wisdom, scribe

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