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Ben Sira's Use of the Adam Story in Gen 1-3

박장훈 1

1백석대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

A wisdom writing in the Apocrypha, Ben Sira differs from the OT wisdom literature in explicitly identifying wisdom with the Torah. However, might it not be possible that Ben Sira was influenced by the Torah in a more comprehensive way? This question was not sufficiently explored especially in the Korean scholarship. The present article seeks to answer this question by exploring the ways in which Ben Sira uses the Genesis Adam story in the Torah. The findings of this exploration are threefold. First, Ben Sira interprets the Adam story in Gen 1-2 as revelatory of God’s creational intentions for humanity while representing Israel as specially embodying those creational intentions. Ben Sira does this by using the language and images of Gen 1-2 to depict Israel as an Adamic people and Jerusalem as an Edenic place. Second, Ben Sira interprets Gen 1-2 also as the story of Adam as the first human being and portrays Simon, Israel’s high priest at that time, as Adam’s counterpart. These two conclusions suggest that the Torah’s focus on the temple-centered Israel as Adamic in status and morally paradigmatic towards the world is similarly at work in Ben Sira. Third, Ben Sira interprets Gen 3 as the story of the primeval couple who, through their fall, brought about the epochal changes in the moral conditions of the world, not least the universalization of death. It is in this post-fall world of inevitable human mortality that Israel succeeds to Adam’s status and vocation. These findings show that the Genesis Adam story shaped Ben Sira’s understanding and portrayal of the vocation of the contemporary Israel and humanity and the state of the world.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.