"The teeth of poisonous dragons" : the dialogue between divine judgement and divine benevolence in the Book of Wisdom
The purpose of this thesis is to examine the dialogue that exists between the themes of divine judgement and divine benevolence as they are presented in the Book of Wisdom. I hope to demonstrate that these themes provide continuity, coherence, and an integrated reading of the text. The methodology by which I explore these themes is an examination of the literary genres employed by the author, as well as the techniques, structures, vocabulary, and verbal repetitions. I also make comparisons with other contemporary literature where this is significant. The background to this examination is set out in the Introduction in which I have discussed the issues of the unity of the text, its genre, and possible provenance and dating. I have, further, attempted to present the literary and philosophical world from which the text emerged. The Book of Wisdom falls naturally into four sub-divisions, with a fifth section providing the theodicy which underpins the action and reflection of the other four. In fact, because of the complexity of the structure of the book, three of these units form part of one larger unit. For purposes of clarity, I have retained five-fold division for the analysis, each of the five divisions forming a chapter of the thesis. In the first chapter, I have highlighted the section in which the judgement/benevolence themes are focused in a series of questions and answers. In this section, the Mercy Dialogue of 11.15-12.27, I look at the origin of justice and mercy in the creative power of God, and the ways in which retribution is tempered and the merciful principle established. It is also in this section that we encounter God's elected people, and their exclusive status but equally exclusive responsibility. This theodicy, I have used to underpin the other sections of the text.