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The dialogues of 4 Ezra as a wisdom debate

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Chapter Summary

Despite the fact that the first three episodes have been the primary focus of many scholarly treatments of 4 Ezra, the implications of the author's choice of the dialogue form have received relatively little attention. The dialogue between a visionary and an angel can be found in many apocalypses, but the character of much of the dialogue between Ezra and Uriel in the first three episodes of 4 Ezra is quite different from the interludes of reassurance or the question-and answer exchanges of other apocalypses. This chapter argues that the first three episodes are essentially a wisdom dialogue or debate. The chapter analyzes the debate between Ezra and Uriel on five theological topics: 1) anthropology and moral responsibility; 2) epistemology; 3) election, covenant and salvation; 4) the significance of the Torah; and 5) divine justice and mercy.

Keywords: 4 Ezra; Torah; Uriel; wisdom dialogue



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