Thursday, January 22, 2009

Biblical Literature: Apocrypha (2)

10-Second Literature Reviews

Biblical Literature: The Apocrypha (2)

The Wisdom of Solomon. Most important of apocryphal books. Does not use brief, pithy, didactic epigram. More in style of literary essay. Different in purpose from Proverbs. Not designed to prepare young men for service in stable, homogeneous environment. Tries to preserve transplanted way of life and thought in alien environment, i.e., Hellenistic Egypt where Jews were in danger of losing their identity.

Ecclesiasticus or the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach. By sage or wisdom teacher who lived in Jerusalem in 2nd century BC. Wisdom literature. Essays, brief discourses. Revised edition of his oral teaching? Diverse content. No brief summary is possible. Man-centered and practical wisdom, but “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Identifies wisdom with the law. Learning, study, interpretation, exposition of Scriptures.

Baruch. Three parts. Prays on behalf of Jerusalem’s conquerors. Equates wisdom with possession of the Torah, i.e., the Pentateuch. Lamentation for captivity of Zion’s children.

Letter of Jeremiah. Rambling, repetitious attack on idols and idol worship. Appeal not to succumb to worship of Babylonian deities.

Prayer of Azariah or the Song of the Three. Additions to the Book of Daniel. Azariah (nicknamed Abednego) in fiery furnace—prayer. Blessing God, not thanksgiving. Willingness of Almighty to receive blessing from man is significant. Song of Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego in fiery furnace.

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