436 Review of Books / Journal for the Study of Judaism 41 (2010) 366-438 Praise Israel for Wisdom and Instruction: Essays on Ben Sira and Wisdom, the Letter of Aristeas and the Septuagint. By Benjamin G. Wright III. (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 131). Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2008. Pp. xv, 361. Cloth with dust jacket. €119.00 / US$ 189.00. ISBN 978-90-04-16908-1. This volume contains 15 articles written between 1997 and 2007 by Benjamin G. Wright III (Lehigh University). These articles have in common not only the time frame but also a curious quality that the author describes as “boundary crossing” and that has everything to do with methodology. The articles revolve around three main themes: translation technique, social location, and transmis- sion of tradition, but they can also be, and in fact are, grouped as studies in the ﬁeld of “Ben Sira and Early Jewish Wisdom” (9 articles) and “The Letter of Aristeas and the Septuagint” (6 articles). The decade in which the articles were written has seen a lot of development in the ﬁeld of Old Testament and cognate studies. Leo Perdue ( The Collapse of His- tory , 1994) wrote about this development in terms of a kind of paradigm shift: in his evaluation the normative context and method for Old Testament study was no longer provided by historical criticism; instead, he pointed out a variety of new approaches moving into new and exciting directions. In some points the evaluation by Perdue may have been more construction than description, but the way in which B. G. Wright III approached all of the three aforementioned themes certainly testiﬁes to the application of new methodologies and to “bound- ary crossing.” He has successfully investigated old texts with new questions in creative ways that cross traditional dividing lines and has brought out interesting viewpoints. For example, with regard to translation techniques B. G. Wright III tried to demonstrate—diﬀerent from what the Letter of Aristeas claims—that although the translation naturally reﬂects something of the overall viewpoint of the trans- lator it was never intended to be a stand-alone replacement for the Hebrew text. In the area of social location he investigates both wisdom and apocalyptic texts; an attentive evaluation of the commonalities of such texts provides a new insight in the social landscape of Second Temple Judaism. He warns that these texts more often than not reﬂect ideology instead of social reality. With regard to transmission of tradition B. G. Wright III is especially attentive to discursive and pedagogical strategies employed by Second Temple authors. He has, e.g., an interesting reading of the use of the ﬁrst person by Ben Sira as a care- fully constructed ideal for students to emulate. An overview of one’s work is always an important moment and in the case of B. G. Wright III it has resulted in an engaging and stimulating collection of articles. Jan Liesen Rolduc Seminary, Kerkrade © Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2010 DOI: 10.1163/157006310X504017
Journal for the Study of Judaism – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2010
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