Collective Accountability among the Sages of Ancient Israel

DSpace/Manakin Repository

Collective Accountability among the Sages of Ancient Israel

Citable link to this page


Title: Collective Accountability among the Sages of Ancient Israel
Author: Kapfer, Hilary Claire
Citation: Kapfer, Hilary Claire. 2013. Collective Accountability among the Sages of Ancient Israel. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
Full Text & Related Files:
Abstract: The purpose of this dissertation is to consider Israel's biblical wisdom traditions comments on collective accountability in a systematic way. In order to accomplish this, each of five biblical wisdom books--Proverbs, Job, Qoheleth, Ben Sira, and Wisdom of Solomon--will be examined individually. The investigation of each book will include an examination of any statement that refers to collective or individual accountability and of the author's position on the power of wisdom instruction to help the student overcome intergenerational punishment passed down to him by a sinful parent. In addition to a comprehensive look at biblical wisdom books, this study will also consider a proverb concerning collective punishment known from two prophetic books, Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 18, and the use of the divine attribute formula (Exod. 34:6-7), which describes YHWH as a deity who exercises collective punishment and reward, in wisdom texts. My analyses of these investigations produce the following conclusions: 1) The concept of collective accountability is not restricted to Israel's narrative, legal, and prophetic traditions. Israel's sages were familiar with and made use of the concept. 2) Israel's sages' use of collective accountability often differs from the concept's depiction in other parts of the Hebrew Bible. For the sages, collective accountability serves pedagogical functions and vindicates divine justice. 3) The representation of collective accountability in Israel's biblical wisdom tradition is not static. As the wisdom tradition itself undergoes developments, like including historical and literary references or drawing upon non-biblical philosophical positions, so too does its depiction of collective accountability. 4) Israel's wisdom literature is not, as is often claimed, concerned solely with the individual. Communal notions held importance for Israel's sages.
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at
Citable link to this page:
Downloads of this work:

Show full Dublin Core record

This item appears in the following Collection(s)


Search DASH

Advanced Search