Reaching for the Tree of Life: The Role of Eating, Drinking, Fasting, and Symbolic Foodstuffs in 4 Ezra

In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
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  • 1 VU University/Utrecht University/University of Pretoria

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This paper considers the role of foodstuffs and their (non-)consumption in 4 Ezra. While foodstuffs figure prominently in 4 Ezra, no prior research has been conducted on food and 4 Ezra. The paper argues that both the narrative progression of the work and significant parts of 4 Ezra are expressed through foodstuffs.

  • 3

    See, e.g., Hogan, Theologies, 35-40; also Kerner, Ethik, 175-76, as well as Esler, “Function,” 99-123.

  • 7

    See, e.g., Smit, Food, 95.

  • 8

    See, e.g., Smit, Food, 28-30, 94-95.

  • 19

    See Steffen, “Banquet,” 47-48.

  • 21

    See also Steffen, “Banquet,” 48.

  • 24

    See Steffen, “Banquet,” 68-70.

  • 25

    See, in general, Silvia Schroer, “Lebensbaum,” Neues Bibel-Lexicon 2:602-3.

  • 28

    See, e.g., Aune, Revelation 1-5, 153-54. See also 4 Macc. 18:16, quoting Prov 3:18, where the one who does God’s will is compared to a tree of life.

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  • 31

    See, e.g., Stone, Ezra, 50-51.

  • 35

    See the discussion by Stone, Ezra, 118-19.

  • 42

    Stone, Ezra, 437. For tradition- and motif-historical considerations, see p. 440; cf. also Hogan, Theologies, 214-17.

  • 45

    Stone, Ezra, 178; for a comparison with the Genesis account see K. William Whitney, Two Strange Beasts: Leviathan and Behemoth in Second Temple and Early Rabbinic Judaism (hsm 63; Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2006), 35-38.

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  • 46

    See Schreiner, Esra, 339.

  • 50

    Stone, Ezra, 73. Schreiner, Esra, 374, notes the reference to fruits of the Law in 2 Bar. 32:1

  • 52

    See Stone, Ezra, 73.

  • 53

    See the discussion by Stone, Ezra, 73, 123, 198-99, 259, 266, 286. This connection seems to be primary for 4 Ezra, but see also the broader overview provided by Veronika Bachmann, “Rooted in Paradise? The Meaning of the ‘Tree of Life’ in 1 Enoch 24-25 Reconsidered,” jsp 19 (2009): 83-107, which may be applicable to 4 Ezra as well.

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  • 55

    See Burkes, God, 194-96.

  • 57

    See Stone, Ezra, 94-95.

  • 58

    Stone, Ezra, 163. Schreiner, Esra, 337, notes that the “truth” that is referred to here is probably synonymous with the Law.

  • 59

    See Stone, Ezra, 266. See also Shannon Burkes, “ ‘Life’ Redefined: Wisdom and Law in Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch,” cbq 63 (2001): 55-71 (esp. 59-61), who argues that the new understanding that Ezra receives is an indication for a renewed giving of the Law, so that Israel may keep it and live.

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  • 62

    Whitney, Beasts, 33. In fact, the remark about Leviathan and Behemoth is, as Whitney rightly notes, an expansion of the note in Gen 1:21 about the creation of the “sea monsters.” See ibid., 34.

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  • 64

    Whitney, Beasts, 38.

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