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By (his) works and graces he is visible, even more evident than not; but his form82 and greatness are to us ineffable. 191For all material, however expensive it might be, is not honorable (enough) for an image of this One; every craft lacks the skill for contriving a representation. We have never seen a likeness nor have we invented one nor is the making of an image holy. 192We see his works: light, heaven, earth, sun, water, living created beings, the growth of fruit. God made these things not by hand, not by work, not by being in want of any fellow workers, but as he willed immediately they came into being beautifully. This is the One that must be served by the practices of goodness; for this is the holiest way to serve God Found in the midst of Josephus' argument for the supremacy of Jewish law and tradition,83 the above text is Josephus' restatement of the first commandment, the emphases being (1) that God's works are visible to humankind, but (2) humankind is unable to create or even to imagine an image of God, and (3) this God, who wills the world into being, is the one who ought to be served. In the midst of this argument comes a list of things that God has made and in which humanity has the ability to perceive the Creator. Central to Josephus' statement about who God is, is God's creative activity. The intertextual relation with LXX Gen 1.1-5 rests mostly in the list in C.Ap. 2.192 (fw/j( ouvrano,j( gh/( u[dwr( poie,w).
C.Ap. 2.145-286 Similarly, in the tapestry of chapter two, God creates everything by will (qe,lw) in LXX Ps 134.6, and later in this chapter, in 1 Clem 20.4.
LXX Gen 1.4, 8, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31.
No Hebrew survives of this portion of Sirach, though an attempt was made by P.W. Skehan, “Structures in Poems on Wisdom: Proverbs 8 and Sirach 24,” CBQ 41 (1979), to retrovert Ben Sira's grandson's Greek of ch.24 into Hebrew. (374) J. Ziegler, ed., Sapientia Iesu Filii Sirach, (Septuaginta - Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Acadamiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum., XII,2, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1965), prefers to read v.12b as above, whereas the textual evidence seems to point overwhelmingly to reading it klhronomi,aj auvtou/. (238)
The above pericope contains the introduction and the first two of six stanzas89 in Wisdom's poem describing her origins and person, a pericope that if not structurally dependent, bears a very close relationship to Proverbs 8.90 This portion regards the origins of Wisdom. The intertextual connections with LXX Gen 1.1-5 start with a creation theme and are substantiated by a common vocabulary (gh/( ouvrano,j( a;bussoj( avrch,).
In the poem Wisdom is the primary character. She is giving praise to herself, boasting of her place in the cosmos and tracing her place in the history of Israel from creation to Exodus to Temple, ultimately (though outside this pericope) associating herself with the Law/Torah of Moses.91 It is in the assembly of the Most High that she gives her speech. While Wisdom's creation is not explicitly mentioned until v.9, she does say that she came forth from the mouth of the Most High in v.3, covering the earth like a mist. Di Lella suggests that this is reminiscent of LXX Gen 1.2 when the pneu/ma qeou/ hovers over waters,92 which, while possible, is not borne out by any direct resemblance. Initially, Wisdom places her residence above the earth, pitching her tent in the heavens93 and her throne in a pillar of cloud.94 V.5, then, foregrounds Wisdom's place in creation insofar as she is the one who alone encircled the perimeter of heaven (ouvrano,j)95 and walked through the depths of the abysses (a;bussoj).96 In this verse, Wisdom appears to be the creator and boundary maker, not the Lord. Vv. 6-7 marks a shift from Wisdom's ubiquity (v.6) to her search for an earthly residence (v.7).
The poem, Sirach 24.1-33, can be subdivided into the introduction (vv.1-2), and six stanzas (stanza one 3-7, two 8-12, three 13-15, four 16-17 and 19-22, five 23 and 25-29, six 30-33). Vv. 18 and 24 are attributable to a later lengthening of the Greek text, a recension to which Di Lella refers as GII. Also, it should be noted that Di Lella suggests that Ben Sira in the composition of this chapter is mimicking Proverbs 8 using the same number of lines and poetic structure. Cf. P.W. Skehan and A.A. Di Lella, The Wisdom of Ben Sira, (AB 39; New York: Doubleday, 1987)331.
Skehan, “Structures in Poems on Wisdom,” 365-379.
Sir 24.23-33 Skehan and Di Lella, Ben Sira, 332.
Cf. LXX Isa 33.5, 57.15; Ps 113.5.
LXX Job 22.14 [asterisked].
Also, evn stu,lw| nefe,lhj is used to refer to God's leading presence in the Exodus event – LXX Exod 13.21, 19.19; Num 14.14; Neh 9.12, and in a revelatory presence – LXX Num 12.5, Ps 98.7 [99.7].
It is notable that LXX Isa 40.22 has God occupying the circle of the earth (o` kate,cwn to.n gu/ron th/j gh/j).
In the Hebrew text of Sir 43.23ff, Rahab (absent in the Greek) and the abyss are stilled and become messengers of God, all of this done because of God’s reasoning (logismo,j in v.23) and word (lo,goj in v.26).
CHAPTER FOURIn v.8, the beginning of the second stanza, the Lord intervenes to inform Wisdom that she is to pitch her tent (kataskhno,w)97 in Israel.98 In v.9, there is a return to creation language with Wisdom describing her creation as before the age, from the beginning (pro. tou/ aivw/noj avpV avrch/j). An intertextual connection with LXX Gen 1.1-5 comes in avpV avrch/j, which is reminiscent of evn avrch/| in LXX Gen 1.1 and LXX Prov 8.23, the connection with the latter being the closer of the two (pro. tou/ aivw/noj evqemeli,wse,n me evn avrch/) differing only in verb.99 The final three verses (vv.10-12) reiterate the earthly placement of Wisdom in Israel. This relocation, or maybe more appropriately, re-tenting, to Jerusalem geographically places Wisdom's residence in the Temple (evn skhnh/| a`gi,a – v.10a). This ministering (leitourge,w) in the Temple ultimately finds expression in the Law of Moses (24.23-33).
In its intertextual relation to LXX Gen 1.1-5 and additionally to LXX Proverbs 8 and other creation/wisdom texts,100 Sir 24.1-12 is a colorful piece of the tapestry. While LXX Proverbs 8 attempts to portray Wisdom's role in creation as passive, Sirach gives her a more, if only slightly, active creative role in her action of encircling of the heavens and traversing the abyss.
4.2.11 2 Maccabees 7.28 avxiw/ se( te,knon( avnable,yanta eivj to.n ouvrano.n kai. th.n gh/n kai. ta. evn auvtoi/j pa,nta ivdo,nta gnw/nai o[ti ouvk evx o;ntwn evpoi,hsen auvta. o` qeo,j( kai. to. tw/n avnqrw,pwn ge,noj ou[tw gi,netai)
This verse comes toward the end of a story101 about a mother and her seven sons who are martyred for refusing to apostasize by eating pork.102 The tone of the narrative is set by the spokesperson of the group who responds on their behalf to their torturers, e[toimoi ga.r avpoqnh,|skein evsme.n h' parabai,nein tou.j patri,ouj no,mouj – ‘For we are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of our fathers.’103 In the midst of this narrative, which is more about martyrdom, faithfulness, and resurrection than creation, there is a grounding of the hope for resurrection in the idea that God, the creator (o` tou/ ko,smou kti,sthj – v.23), King of the universe (o` tou/ ko,smou basileu,j – v.9) and giver of life (vv.22-23), is the God who created heaven and earth out of nothing and therefore is certainly then Also used above in v.4.
There is a similarity between Ben Sira's understanding here of wisdom's taking up residence / tenting in Jerusalem with the langauge in Wis 9.8, which sees the Temple as a copy (mi,mhma) of the holy tent (skhnh. a[gia) which is from the beginning (avpV avrch/j).
It seems relatively clear that v.9 intends to chronologically place wisdom at the beginning of creation; whereas a similar statement in Sir 1.4, prote,ra pa,ntwn, reads more like a statement of rank, i.e., the superior thing of the first things created. See below, p. 166.
Cf. LXX Jer 10.12, 28.15; Ps 103.24; Prov 8.22-31; Job 38.37.
2 Maccabees 7 As with other so-called Apocryphal texts in this list, I include 2 Macc 7.28 given that it can be dated sometime from mid- to late-second century BCE (cf. APOT 1.128-129; and G.W.E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981) 121), and as such, was likely used by interpreting communities as scripture. Again, it should be noted that this is a fuzzy distinction. Canon is not yet a category.
Yet, assuming a date in the second century BCE places 2 Maccabees in the ‘pre-canonical’ mix.
2 Macc 7.2c –174 –
CHAPTER FOURable to resurrect or recreate human life. There is a confessional quality to the creation statement, bolstered in its intertextual relationship with LXX Gen 1.1-5 by common vocabulary (ouvrano,j( gh/( poie,w, with the word-pair ouvrano,j/gh).
Of particular importance in this passage is the advent of the idea that the world was created ex nihilo. By looking upon the first elements (to.n ouvrano.n kai. th.n gh/n) and all that is in them, it is evident that God did not make (poie,w) out of that which already existed (evx o;ntwn). According to 2 Macc 7.28, creatio ex nihilo is obvious in the evidence. If 2 Maccabees can be dated to the first half of the first century BCE, two things follow. The first is that the writer of 2 Maccabees likely had access to the OG of Genesis, as it appears that 2 Macc 7.28 is dependent on LXX Gen 1.1. The second is that 2 Macc 7.28 provides another104 expression of the creatio ex nihilo thread in the intertextual tapestry of LXX Gen 1.1-5.
From the Prayer of Manasseh, an expansion of the prayer mentioned in 2 Chron. 33.18,108 these opening lines109 begin what is a marked penitential shift from Manasseh's wicked, idolatrous ways to worship of the Lord the Also, Jub. 2.2, Jos.Asen. 12.4, Pr.Man. 2, Philo, Opif 29, and possibly Josephus, Ant. 1.27-29.
Greek text in Apos.Con. 2.22.12a, per Denis, ed., Fragmenta Pseudepigraphorum Graeca, 115-116.
Codex Alexandrinus adds evpoura,nie, though Rahlfs thinks this is misplaced from Od.14.11, cf. A. Rahlfs, ed., Psalmi cum Odis, (Septuaginta - Vetus Testamentum Graecum: Auctoritate Acadamiae Scientiarum Gottingensis editum., 10, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1931) 362.
The 7th c. ms, T (Municipal library, Zürich), reads )))kai. sfragisa,menoj auvth.n))), see Rahlfs, Psalmi cum Odis, 362.
W.M. Schneidewind, “A Qumran Fragment of the Ancient "Prayer of Manasseh"?,” ZAW 108 (1996) notes that on 4Q381 33,8 (cf. E.M. Schuller, Non-Canonical Psalms from Qumran: A Pseudepigraphic Collection, (HSS 28;
Atlanta: Scholars, 1986) 267-283, plate IX) there is a superscription reading h#nml hlpt - The Prayer of Manasseh – though the prayer that it heads bears no further resemblance to the Greek Pr.Man. What is of interest is his suggestion that the Qumran Prayer of Manasseh could be a different interpretive tradition about Manasseh parallel and possibly pre-dating the Chronicler's reworking of 2 Kings 21.10-18. (105-107) On the structure of Pr.Man. D.J. Harrington, “Prayer of Manasseh,” in The Harper Collins Bible Commentary (ed. J.L. Mays; San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000) notes that vv.1-7 function as an invocation, with v.1 as a naming of God and vv.2-3 as an accounting of creation (798). For some reason, he treats v.4 separately, a choice which does not seem in line with the text, as v.4 describes the effects of the divine name. It may be that he is –175 –
CHAPTER FOURGod of Israel.110 It is likely that it was originally composed in Greek.111 It is also preserved in other languages and is found in the psalm-like addition to LXX Psalms called Odes, a collection of songs and prayers from Hebrew Bible, New Testament, with the one exception being Odes 12 – the Prayer of Manasseh. Odes, a compilation of prayers from both Hebrew Bible and New Testament, is used liturgically in Orthodox Churches112 and is in all Greek Psalms manuscripts from the 5th c. CE.113 It is somewhat misleadingly included in modern critical editions of the LXX, including Rahlfs’.114 Pr.Man. most likely falls within the historical scope of this study, as it is used in Didascalia Apostolorum, giving it a terminus ante quem of third century CE.115 While many scholars are eager to ascribe Jewish authorship, it seems an open question.116 The above pericope is an intertext with LXX Gen 1.1-5 (poie,w( ouvrano,j&gh/( a;bussoj).117 While repentance is the primary theme of the psalm as a whole, Pr.Man.1-4 is a theological statement about the one to whom Manasseh is repenting – the God of the Patriarchs and the Creator God. LXX Gen 1.1 bears close resemblance with Pr.Man. 2, absent any temporal reference. In addition to the all-encompassing nature of God's creative influence, the author of the Prayer of Manasseh is also concerned with creation by limitation, specifically of the sea (qa,lassa) by ‘the word of your command’ and the abyss (a;bussoj)118 by the fear- and glory-inspiring name of God.119 In this there are intertextual links here with LXX Job 26.10, where the divine command (pro,stagma) encircles the face of the water (evpi. pro,swpon u[datoj – cf. LXX Gen 1.2),120 and more generally with creation by enclosing the waters such as in LXX Job 38.8.10, 11 and LXX Ps 103.7, 9 (MT Ps 104).
following the punctuation in Rahlfs, ed., Psalms - Göttingen, which places a high-dot at the end of v.3 and a comma at the end of v.4 (362).
The Chronicler's expansion of Manasseh's legacy is considerably kinder than the account in 2 Kings 21.10-18, where there is no record of his Babylonian captivity or change of heart.