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Ben Sira, the Genesis Creation Accounts, and the Knowledge of God’s Will


Ben Sira renarrates the story of creation and the primal sin of humanity found in Genesis 2–3 in a striking and provocative fashion. He elides the story of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and instead insists that the human is created with the full knowledge of good and evil. In a bold collapsing of creation and the giving of the law at Sinai, Ben Sira even suggests that God makes the law available to the human. What seems to be at stake for Ben Sira is establishing forcefully that there is no basis for claiming that in creation God left the human without crucial knowledge of any part of God’s will as expressed in the law. Ben Sira may well be aware of sectarian claims to exclusive divine revelation that are legitimated by interpretations of the Genesis creation accounts. The Dead Sea Scroll wisdom text known as 4QInstruction provides an example of the sort of exclusivist religious epistemology that Ben Sira is seeking to refute.

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