Death and Symbolic Immortality in Second Temple Wisdom Instructions 公开

Williamson, Jr., Robert (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9019s278x?locale=zh
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Abstract


This study examines the transformations in the constructions of symbolic immortality in
the major wisdom instructions of the early Second Temple Period. As a theoretical
framework, it draws on a branch of experimental social psychology known as Terror
Management Theory (TMT), which builds on the work of social anthropologist Ernest
Becker. TMT argues that the natural state of humankind is a constant and debilitating
anxiety about death resulting from the combination of a biological predisposition toward
self-preservation awareness of death's inevitability. It claims that humankind overcomes
this terror of death by constructing cultural worldviews that enable individuals to view
themselves as beings of eternal significance capable of transcending death either literally
or symbolically.

The present study considers whether and how the various Hebrew wisdom instructions
function as buffers against death anxiety in the manner predicted by Terror Management
Theory. It begins with Proverbs 10-29, which serves as a baseline for the worldview of
traditional wisdom. It argues that Proverbs 10-29 offers its adherents the possibility of
death transcendence, primarily in the biological and creative modes. In Proverbs 1-9, the
worldview of traditional wisdom comes under threat from alternative worldviews, the
worldview defense mechanisms of exaggeration and derogation. Qohelet represents a
complete impairment of all modes of symbolic immortality. Having concluded that the
modes of death transcendence offered him by his tradition have failed, Qohelet is left
unbuffered against death anxiety, which threatens to overshadow him altogether. Ben
Sira and 4QInstruction representing competing attempts to resymbolize the wisdom
tradition, each preserving aspects of the traditional worldview but reconstituting it
through appeal to modes of symbolic death transcendence from outside traditional
wisdom-apocalyptic in the case of 4QInstruction and Torah traditions in the case of Ben
Sira.

The study suggests that that the process of symbolization, desymbolization, and
resymbolization of the wisdom worldview is consistent with the social changes taking
places in the Persian and Hellenistic Periods. During this period of cultural transition, at
least parts of the traditional worldview collapsed, as evidenced by Qohelet, while others
resymoblized, as in the cases of 4QInstruction and Ben Sira.

Table of Contents

CONTENTS Introduction:

Wisdom, Death, and Symbolic Immortality 1

Terror Management Theory 5

Empirical Evidence for Terror Management Theory 9

Terror Management Theory and the Ancient Near East 17

Terror Management Theory and the Transformation of Wisdom 22

Chapter 1:

Symbolic Death Transcendence in Proverbs 10-29 24

Date, Setting, and Purpose of Proverbs 10-29 24

Values, Success, and "Self-Esteem" in the Worldview of Proverbs 10-29 26

Order and Security in the Worldview of Proverbs 10-29 30

Proverbs 10-29 and the Tun-Ergehen-Zusammenhang 30 Yhwh's Protection of the Righteous 36

The Paths of the Righteous and the Wicked 38

Security of Motion 39

Direction of Motion 42

Symbolic Death Transcendence in Proverbs 10-29 44

Literal and Symbolic Immortality in Psychological Perspective 51

The Endurance of Memory in Proverbs 10:7 54

Symbolic Immortality in the Creative Mode 57

Symbolic Immortality in the Biological Mode 62

Symbolic Immortality in the Religious Mode 68

Do the Righteous Transcend Death? 70

Chapter 2:

Wisdom and Worldview Defense in Proverbs 1-9 77

Date and Setting of Proverbs 1-9 77

Symbolic Death Transcendence in Proverbs 1-9 81

Symbolic Immortality in the Biological and Biosocial Modes 81

Symbolic Immortality in the Creative Mode 85

Symbolic Immortality in the Natural Mode 88

Proverbs 3:19-20 90

Proverbs 8:27-29 92

Symbolic Immortality in the Religious Mode 97

Proverbs 8:22-31 98

Proverbs 3:13-20 103

Proverbs 4:5-7 104

Wisdom as Heavenly Archetype 106

Worldview Enhancement as a Response to Worldview Threat 108

Evidence of Competing Worldviews in Proverbs 1-9 110

The Dynamics of Cultural Worldview Defense 113

Derogation 115

Association of Worldview Violators with Death 116


Worldview Defense in Proverbs 1-9 118 The "Sinners" 120

The "Man Speaking Perversities" 123

The "Strange Woman" 124

Conclusions: Proverbs 1-9 as a Worldview under Threat 127

Chapter 3:

Desymbolization of Symbolic Immortalities in the Book of Qohelet 133

"What Profit is There?": A Search for Death Transcendence 137

The Failure of Symbolic Immortalities in Qohelet 140

The Failure of Symbolic Immortality in the 141

Biological/Biosocial Mode

The Biological Mode 141

The Biosocial Mode 142

The Failure of Symbolic Immortality in the Creative Mode 144

The Failure of Symbolic Immortality in the Natural Mode 151

The Failure of Symbolic Immortality in the Religious Mode 158

Humankind's Connection to God 158

Literal Immortality in Qohelet? 171

Death in Qohelet: The Broken Connection 174

Qohelet 2:14-16 174 Qohelet 3:18-21 178 Qohelet 9:1-3 180 Qohelet in Historical Context 182 Chapter 4: Reading Qohelet as a Desymbolized Worldview 189

Qohelet and Cosmic Death 189

The Incursion of Death into Life 200

Separation 205 Disintegration 206 Stasis 208

Life as Mimetic Death 212

Vitality in the Midst of Mimetic Death 216

Qohelet and Enjoyment 217

Qohelet 2:24-26 218

Qohelet 3:22 220

Qohelet 9:7-10 222

Enjoyment in Psychological Perspective 225

Qohelet's Counsel for Human Connections 227

Human Connection in Psychological Perspective 229

Qohelet and His Contradictions 231

The Collapse of Wisdom in Qohelet 237


Chapter 5:

The Resymbolization of Symbolic Immortality in 4QInstruction 240

Background to 4QInstruction 241

Symbolic Immortality in the Biological and Biosocial Modes 244

Symbolic Immortality in the Creative Mode 248

Symbolic Immortality in the Natural Mode 252

The Orderly Design of the Cosmos 252

Periodization of History 256

Creation and Eschatological Judgment 258

Esoteric Knowledge of the Order of Creation 261

Conclusions on the Natural Mode 264

Immortality in the Religious Mode: Literal Life after Death 265

The Final Destruction of the Wicked 265

Reward for the Righteous: Literal Life after Death 269

Conclusions on the Religious Mode 274

4QInstruction and the Wisdom Tradition 275

Chapter 6:

Resymbolizations of Symbolic Immortality in the Book of Ben Sira 280

Date and Social Setting of Ben Sira 281

Symbolic Immortality in the Biological and Biosocial Modes 283

The Biological Mode 283

The Biosocial Mode 283

Symbolic Immortality in the Creative Mode 287

The Survival of the Name 287

The Transmission of Instruction 292

Symbolic Immortality in the Natural Mode 294

Humankind's Place in the Cosmos 299

Creation and Human (Im)mortality 303

Symbolic Immortality in the Religious Mode 304

Personalizing God 305

Wisdom as God's Presence in Temple and Torah 307

God's Presence Embodied in the Priesthood 311

Literal Immortality in the Book of Ben Sira? 314

Death in the Book of Ben Sira 315

Conclusion 318 Conclusion:

Death and Symbolic Immortality 319

Works Cited 327

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