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The sapiential background of the conflicting theologies in the dialogues of 4 Ezra

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Chapter Summary

This chapter describes the sapiential background of the theological arguments advanced by both Uriel and Ezra in the dialogues. Their theologies are both rooted in the Jewish wisdom tradition, but that tradition branched off in several different directions in the Hellenistic period. The author of 4 Ezra appears to have had either no knowledge of or no use for the type of Jewish wisdom that was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, represented by texts like 4 Maccabees, the sentences of Pseudo-Phocylides and the Wisdom of Solomon. The first portion of the chapter focuses on the longest example of eschatological wisdom, 4QInstruction. The second half of the chapter is devoted to establishing the background Ezra's theology in the dialogues: covenantal wisdom, another branch of Jewish wisdom that is first attested in the early second century B.C.E. in the books of Sirach and Baruch, although it has its roots in Deuteronomy.

Keywords: 4QInstruction; Baruch; Ezra's theology; Hellenistic period; Sirach



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