Gerald T. Sheppard, "Wisdom as a Hermeneutical Construct"
1980 | pages: 194 | ISBN: 3110075040 | PDF | 13,5 mb
Behind this study stands the guru figure of Brevard S. Childs whose creative influence is acknowledged in the author's foreword. To Childs Sheppard owes not only a hermeneutical approach to the Old Testament but also the more mystical modes of expression noted by Professor James Barr in his review of Childs's Introduction to the Old Testament as Scripture (London, 1979) in JSOT 16 (1980), pp. 12-23. But whereas Childs could do no more than sketch outlines, Sheppard's more restricted undertaking, like earlier studies by his mentor, allows a detailed sampling of the canonical approach. Chela and mantra have come down from the mountain!
Sheppard proceeds by two stages: first, to outline the ways in which Torah (= Pentateuch) was interpreted from a "wisdom perspective" in intertestamental writings, here represented by Sirach and Baruch, and then to present evidence of a similar tendency in the canonical shaping of various Old Testament books. The method is sound and there are palpable results. In the first place, while the sapientializing of Torah tradition is a feature of Sirach which has already benefited from the attention of a number of scholars (e.g. E. G. Bauckmann, J. Fichtner), Sheppard descries the phenomenon in Baruch, which indeed he sees as representative of a more widespread tendency than has previously been recognized.
The three intertestamental texts on which Sheppard builds his case (Sir. xxiv 3-29, xvi 24-xvii 14, and Bar. iii 9-iv 4) were chosen because they incorporate or recall Old Testament material in the epic tradition and thus display the metamorphosis to best advantage. At the same time, it is acknowledged that not every use of the Old Testament in Sirach constitutes a wisdom interpretation; neither is it assumed that Sirach qualifies at every point as wisdom literature.
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