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Ben Sira 44:19-23—The Patriarchs Text, Tradition, Theology

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Chapter Summary

Compared to other portrayals of biblical heroes by Ben Sira, the presentation of the Patriarchs is remarkable. For within the "Praise of the Famous" (Sirach 44-50), Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are given only a dozen lines (Sir 44:19-23). Till now this passage has either been investigated from a mere text critical point of view or with attention only to Abraham. A full investigation into this small passage, however, reveals that Ben Sira's portrayal of the Patriarchs contains quite a lot of important and intriguing aspects. The Hebrew text of this passage is found only in MS B. However short Ben Sira's presentation of the Patriarchs in 44:19-23 may be, time after time one is struck by the author's method to adopt, on the one hand, traditional biblical concepts and notions and, on the other hand, to link them in a creative way with fresh and stimulating views of his own.

Keywords: Abraham; Ben Sira; Hebrew text; Isaac; Jacob; Patriarchs



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