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The Pre-Eminence Of The Hebrew Language And The Emerging Concept Of The “Ideal Text” In Late Second Temple Judaism

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Chapter Summary

The prologue to the Book of Ben Sira is one of the most important testimonies to the intellectual culture of Judaism in the 2nd century BCE, specifically in its second half. It reflects the concepts that were crucial for that milieu and may therefore serve as a starting point for its reconstruction. This chapter focuses on some of these concepts, especially regarding the pre-eminence of the Hebrew language as well as the "ideal text." The prologue's reflections about the restricted translatability of Hebrew texts should be seen in the context of the concept of the "ideal text" versus the "actual text," which seems to have been an innovation in 2nd century BCE Judaism. This concept of the "ideal text" was an important step towards the creation of the concept of "canon," leading to the stabilization of the wording of Hebrew texts from the 1st century BCE onwards.

Keywords: "ideal text"; Book of Ben Sira; Hebrew language; Judaism; pre-eminence



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