The Catholic University of America

 Final Examination of 

Andrew Jordan Schmidt

for the degree of

Doctor of Philosophy

 Abstract

Wisdom, Cosmos, and Creation in the Book of Sirach

 Director: Bradley Gregory, Ph.D.

 

Despite the attention that has already been paid to the theme of creation in the book of Sirach, scholarship has yet to provide a comprehensive analysis of Ben Sira's instruction regarding the cosmic order and its role in the divine bestowal of wisdom upon human beings.  In particular, a detailed analysis of Ben Sira's understanding of the place of human beings within the created order remains a desideratum of Sirach studies.

A crucial question for examination is how, concretely does Ben Sira view the relationship between human beings and the cosmic order in which God has placed them?

This dissertation, which consists of two parts, fills a lacuna in scholarship by answering the aforementioned question. After an introductory chapter, the first part of this study (chapters 2–4) examines Ben Sira's three main treatments of the created world (16:24-17:14; 39:16-31; 42:15-43:33), thus providing a comprehensive description and synthesis of Ben Sira's doctrine concerning the created order of the cosmos, i.e., that the universe is a well-ordered whole and that every work within it is good, purposive, timely, and beautiful. 

The second part of this dissertation analyzes the place of human beings in general, and the Jewish people in particular, within the cosmic order. Whereas chapter 5 examines the role of the created order in Ben Sira's wisdom instruction in 1:1-10 and 24:1-34, chapters 6 and 7 elucidate the way in which his treatments of various kinds of people—including civic leaders (9:17-10:5), wives (26:13-18), doctors (38:1-8), manual laborers (38:24-34ab), scribes (38:34bc-39:11; cf. 7:18-36), and cultic personnel (45:6-26 and 50:1-24)—are integral to Ben Sira's doctrine concerning creation.  My analysis shows that the created order is a fundamental category that Ben Sira relies upon in articulating his instructions about wisdom and wise behavior.  Further, Ben Sira's presentation of vocational labor reveals that for him the cosmos is a medium through which God bestows wisdom upon humankind as well as the means by which people grow in wisdom and contribute to the cosmic order.

 

More About Schmidt

 

 

Fr. Andrew Jordan Schmidt, OP, grew up in North Dakota and received a Bachelor’s degree in English and East Asian Studies from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN in May 2002.  After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural China, he entered the seminary, studying for the diocese of Bismarck at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, MO from 2004-2006.  He joined the St. Joseph province of the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) in the summer of 2006, and moved to Washington, DC to study at the Pontifical Faculty Immaculate Conception where he earned an STB and MDiv in 2009.  In the Fall of 2009, he entered the STL program in Biblical Theology at The Catholic University of America.  Upon completing his Licentiate degree in 2012, he was ordained a priest at St. Dominic’s parish in Washington, DC after which he was assigned as associate pastor to St. Mary’s parish in New Haven, CT.  In the Fall of 2013, he returned to Washington to pursue a doctorate in Biblical Studies at The Catholic University of America. During his time at The Catholic University of America, Fr. Jordan has served as a teaching assistant and teaching fellow in addition to taking on various posts in the STRS student association.