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Where Does Ben Sira Belong? The Canon, Literary Genre, Intellectual Movement, And Social Group Of A Zadokite Document

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Chapter Summary

An introduction to the Old Testament Apocrypha may serve practical purposes, but superimposes on the text an anachronistic and misleading category. A definition of Ben Sira as an apocryphal or deuterocanonical document tells us a lot about the history of the text and its fortune (and misfortune) over the centuries but tell us nothing about where the document belonged. In order to identify where Ben Sira belongs we need to compare his attitude toward the major institution of the early Seleucid period: the power of the ruling high priesthood of the House of Zadok. We can conclude that the now apocryphal or deuterocanonical Ben Sira was a sapiential text, a second-century BC Jewish document, written by a supporter of Zadokite Judaism, and the product of a social group of scribes who enthusiastically backed the Zadokite order.

Keywords: Ben Sira; early Seleucid period; Old Testament Apocrypha; sapiential text; second-century BC Jewish document; social group of scribes; Zadokite Judaism

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