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“Who has been tested by gold and found perfect?” Ben Sira’s discourse of riches and poverty

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Chapter Summary

The rich and the poor have always been part of the fabric of human society. For Ben Sira riches and poverty are not metaphorical concepts that apply, for instance, to those who are spiritually wealthy or impoverished in the way that the author of the gospel of Matthew redacts the Beatitudes in his Sermon on the Mount. In his analysis of poverty in the biblical book of Proverbs, J.D. Pleins argues that the understanding of poverty in this book is quite different from that of the biblical prophets. This chapter focuses on Ben Sira's general attitude toward wealth and poverty in order to see if it is similar to that which Pleins finds in Proverbs. This overview provides background for the discussion of the social location of Ben Sira and his students in relationship to the rich and the poor.

Keywords: Ben Sira; J.D. Pleins; poverty; riches



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