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The Qumran Wisdom Texts And The Sapiential Tradition

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Chapter Summary

Five biblical documents represent the corpus of Jewish wisdom literature: Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth and, from the deutero-canonical writings, Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon. Of this material, only the last two are from the late Second Temple period. Comparing Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon to the older wisdom of Proverbs demonstrates that the sapiential tradition changed over time. Ben Sira equates wisdom with the Torah, which is not a theme in Proverbs. The Wisdom of Solomon is influenced by Hellenistic philosophy, an intellectual tradition unknown to Proverbs. The sapiential texts from Qumran provide additional evidence for understanding the nature of Jewish wisdom during the late Second Temple period. The Qumran wisdom texts exhibit correspondences with the five biblical wisdom texts. Some issues that are prominent in biblical wisdom are absent in the Qumran material, or muted. The Qumran sapiential works also attest departures from traditional wisdom.

Keywords: Ben Sira; biblical wisdom text; Jewish wisdom literature; Proverbs; Qumran wisdom texts; sapiential tradition; Second Temple period; Torah; Wisdom of Solomon



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