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From generation to generation: The sage as father in early jewish literature

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Chapter Summary

The biblical book of Proverbs, perhaps the quintessential Israelite wisdom text, presents itself as homegrown wisdom given by a father to a son. The topics are varied - speech, wealth, relations with women, among others - but all get conveyed as parental instruction to a beloved child. Indeed, some scholars maintain that this literary device may actually reflect the original domestic context of ancient Israelite wisdom instruction. Whereas Ben Sira is the most obvious Second Temple period work in which to find the kind of discourse that Newsom identified in Proverbs, the sage in several other wisdom texts also constructs the reader as the child through the explicit use of the vocative "son(s)" and the consistent use of the pronouns "you". Most prominent in this group are 4Q185, 4Q412, 4Q525 and 4QInstruction. One additional work, the Damascus Document, although it is not a wisdom text, also addresses its readers as sons.

Keywords: 4QBeatitudes (4Q525); 4QSapiential Work (4Q185); Ben Sira; Damascus Document; Early Jewish Literature



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