By John Denham Parsons
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Extra resources for The Non-christian Cross
The L a w , ever growing in bulk, was a c tually largely the applied record of these prophetic insights granted in the past. As it was further and further removed from the human experiences that produced it, it came to ap pear more and more transcendent in character. This moral and dependable concept of deity developed by the prophets made optimism possible. Most primitive reli gions assume an element of caprice in their gods. The irra tional behavior of the gods caused by jealousy or vengeance, or even by uncontrolled whims, makes the human lot terri fying and uncertain.
6 Like the Book of Proverbs, J o b contains vague reflections of Hebrew religious institutions and language. God is the dispenser of rain and snow; he has stretched out the heavens and treads upon the billows. Sheol lies open before him. 6 P r o v . 3 0 : 5 , Crawford H . , pp. 8 7 f. Exc&ctical Y o r k : Charles Scribner's Sons, 1 9 0 8 ) , pp. ; and Fichcncr, op. THE NATIONALIZATION OF WISDOM 25 God's reproof and instruction are a sign of his favor and a blessing to the man w h o receives them ( 5 : 1 0 , 17; 9 : 8 ; 2 6 : 6 ) .
God's Covenant binds him to Israel as to no other people; it is an everlasting relationship ( 1 7 : 1 2 ; 2 8 : 7 ) . Ben Sira even seems to envisage the traditional final judg ment by which God will usher in the triumph of Israel over its enemies. ; 1 7 : 2 9 ; 2 8 : 2 - 5 ; 5 1 : 8 ) . This consciousness of national election also helps to ex plain Ben Sira's emphasis upon the divine mercy. We have seen that this was absent in the canonical wisdom writers. For this writer God is as great in mercy as he is in righteous ness; there is mercy for those w h o adhere to Yahweh and also for those who return to him.