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Ben Sira and the Election of Israel
This monograph interprets the theme of election in the book of Sirach. Previous scholarship has often understood Ben Sira’s worldview to be dualistic, and has approached the sage's correlation of Wisdom and Torah as either a nationalization of Wisdom or a universalization of Torah. By probing Ben Sira’s ideas about election, this book suggests that Ben Sira does not collapse the traditional sapiential dichotomy wisdom/folly into a dualistic worldview, and that his understanding of the relation between Wisdom and Torah proves to be far more subtle than previous interpretations have allowed. The study demonstrates that the concept of election enables a profitable discussion of the relation of Wisdom and Torah in the thought of this pivotal Second Temple sage.

The similarities between Judah’s speech before Joseph in Genesis 44 and Esther’s series of requests before Ahasuerus in the book of Esther provide an unusual opportunity for an intersectional exploration of multiple identities as reflected in persuasive discourse. The speeches of the two figures not only contain verbal similarities but also occur at decisive moments in the narratives, when hidden identities are revealed, and they even share a set of rhetorical tactics. Each speech unfolds in a setting where the speaker’s identity is shaped by a combination of intersecting factors involving class, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and relatedness. Judah and Esther both model ways in which Jews who inhabited these intersecting categories could shape social realities in their diasporic communities despite structural constraints on their status. Subtle differences between the rhetorical strategies of the two figures provide further clues to the ways in which persuasive discourse and intersecting identities mutually influenced one another.


In: Biblical Interpretation
In: Studies in the Book of Wisdom