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The categories of rich and poor in the Qumran sapiential literature

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Chapter Summary

One observation that scholars have made about the Qumran texts is that they cover a number of subjects familiar from other Jewish wisdom literature. Indeed, the third of Harrington's ten reasons is that "[t]hey provide further treatments of standard wisdom topics". This chapter focuses on questions about the Qumran sapiential texts similar to those Camp and about Ben Sira, in order to see if any answers might be ventured. Does the language of riches, poverty and financial dealings provide access to the social contexts of the Qumran wisdom texts? Do the sages who produced these texts intend the terms to denote actual circumstances of rich and poor? Is the language ever used metaphorically? Do the sages represented in the Qumran texts think that God favors one group or the other?.

Keywords: 4QInstruction; Ben Sira; Qumran sapiential literature



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