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The Dynamic of Wisdom Texts in the Second Temple Period: Was Israelite Wisdom Transformed to Torah?

English title The Dynamic of Wisdom Texts in the Second Temple Period: Was Israelite Wisdom Transformed to Torah?
Applicant Römer Thomas
Number 182850
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut romand des sciences bibliques(IRSB) Faculté de Théologie Université de Lausanne
Institution of higher education University of Lausanne - LA
Main discipline Religious studies, Theology
Start/End 01.04.2019 - 30.04.2021
Approved amount 201'863.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Religious studies, Theology
Ancient history and Classical studies

Keywords (6)

Persian period; Scribal practices; Canonization; Pentateuch; Wisdom; Hellenistic Period

Lay Summary (German)

Diese Projekt stellt ein Grundaxiom der biblischen Forschung in Frage, nämlich dass der Pentateuch und die sogennaten Weisheitstexte von verschieden "Schulen" redigiert und kompiliert wurden. Es soll aufgezeigt werden, dass es im alten Israel keine selbstständige Weisheitsschule gegeben hat.
Lay summary

Diese Projekt untersucht die Beziehung zwischen der Entstehung der Torah (des Pentateuch) und den sogenannten Weisheitstexten der hebräischen Bibel. Diese beiden literarischen Ensembles sind hauptsächlich in der Perserzeit (also im 5. bis 4. Jh. v. Chr.) Kompiliert worden (für die Weisheitsbücher gilt das für das Proverbienbuch und für das Buch Hiob), obwohl beide Korpora in der hellenistischen Zeit noch revidiert und redaktionnel bearbeitet wurden (bei den Weisheitsbüchern des hebräischen Kanons kommt dazu noch das Buch Qohelet dazu, das erst unter den Seleukiden verfasst wurde). Es steht ausser Frage, dass der Pentateuch und die Weisheitsliteratur sich in vielen theologischen und anthropologischen Konzepten voneinander unterscheiden, was dazu geführt hat für die Entstehung der Torah und der Weisheitsliteratur verschiedene Milieus zu postulieren. Diese Theorie soll in Frage gestellt werden. Die spätere Weisheitsliteratur, die keinen Eingang in die Hebräische Bibel gefunden hat, Jesus Sirach, die Weisheit Salomos und die weisheitlichen Texte von Qumran bezeihen sich auf die Torah in sehr unterschiedlichen Weisen, die sich zum Beispiel in der sogennanten Torah-Frömmigkeit aber auch im apokalyptischen Diskurs zeigen. Es soll aufgezeigt werden, dass sich diese Vielfältigkeit aus einer sehr konnektierten Entstehung von Pentateuch und den frühen Weisheitstexten erklären lässt. Demzufolge muss die klassische Theorie, die für die Weisheitsbücher eine selbststänige literarische Gruppe postuliert, aufgegeben werden. Die Idee, dass sich das Buch Deuteronomium und die deuteronomistischen Texte aus einer Abhängigleit von dieser Weisheitsschule erklären lassen muss ebenfalls kritisch hinterfragt werden.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 15.01.2019

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Although there have already been many intertextual studies of ancient wisdom texts comparing biblical and non-biblical sources, research on the association between “Wisdom” and “Torah” has recently been undertaken by scholars who study the reception history of the Torah in the Second Temple sapiential texts outside the Hebrew Bible as well as in the canonical wisdom corpus. As a matter of fact, there is substantial agreement about the reception history of the Torah in Judaism: the Torah-whether it is known in a written or an oral form-and its central ideologies were so widespread in the Jewish communities during the Second Temple period, so that they were likely to be employed in producing and reformulating Jewish wisdom texts. There is no doubt that the authors of the wisdom texts were aware of texts like patriarchal stories, priestly rituals, and Deuteronomistic laws. Nonetheless, although the combination of priestly and non-priestly Pentateuchal sources already occurred in the Persian period-non-priestly and priestly Pentateuchal sources possibly existed before and after Babylonian Exile-the Pentateuch, as a collection of Mosaic laws added and redacted by Priestly and Deuteronomistic groups, might not gain authority, until the harsh measure under the campaign of Antiochus Epiphanes IV and the religious rejuvenation caused by the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire (167 BCE); this does not mean the Pentateuch was only compiled in the second century BCE. If that is the case, when dealing with literary and historical relationships between Torah and Wisdom, several practical questions arise and it is necessary to re-examine the assumption of literary quotations and allusions to the Torah in the Persian and Hellenistic wisdom tradition. By exploring and examining relationships between Wisdom and Torah, the major question is: “Was Israelite Wisdom finally transformed to Torah in the Hellenistic period?” This project will uphold the distinctiveness and diversity of the Second temple wisdom literature in theological perspectives and interests as compared to the Torah, and will scrutinise some scholarly assertions in terms of the transformation of wisdom texts that allegedly occurred from the Achaemenid period to the Hellenistic period. One can claim that even if it is convenient to assume a “torahized” wisdom (Toraweisheit) in the Second Temple wisdom literature, this literature differs compared to the Torah in regards to its understanding of God, humanity, and a divine-human relationship. More specifically, while considering multifaceted characteristics of the late Second Temple wisdom texts-e.g., deuterocanonical literatures such as Ben Sira and Qumran sapiential texts (e.g., 4QInstruction, 4Q525, 4Q184, 185)-and noticing how specific texts related to the Mosaic Torah were appreciated amongst literary wisdom materials, this project will attempt to demonstrate that it is hard to sustain that the Second Temple wisdom texts adopted the Torah-in particular, the book of Deuteronomy-as a normative authoritative source; although authors of wisdom materials were least aware of the historical and theological ideas in Deuteronomy. The major claim is that there is little evidence to tell that biblical wisdom texts (Proverbs 1-9, Job, and Ecclesiastes) in the early Second Temple period are in tune with the Mosaic Torah, and that the supposition according to which Wisdom was transformed and converted to Torah, is highly misleading for the understanding of the Hellenistic sapiential texts. Through this project, we expect to reach an important milestone in understanding the dynamics and functions of Israelite/Jewish wisdom literature and its socio-historical background(s) and to challenge a long-standing assumption with regard to the formation of the Hebrew Bible, according to which “Wisdom” is finally subjugated to a Torah-centred theology. Besides, our investigation will demonstrate that the diversity of scribal ideas among Jewish wisdom literature can be compared to the broad intellectual background in ancient Near Eastern wisdom literature.