Wisdom in the funerary inscription of Demas at Leontopolis: A lexical analysis of σοφία in Hellenistic Jewish sources

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Abstract

The Leontopolis epitaph of a Jewish man, Demas (117 BCE), speaks of the sophia of its owner yet remains silent regarding his lifetime occupation. However, while the word sophia is partially damaged, scholars have been quick to propose possible lifetime occupations for Demas such as physician or magistrate. Thus, Demas’ epitaph challenges whether the epithet of sophia is solely restricted to scribes, learned professions, and elites in Hellenistic Judaism. This study explores via lexicographic and historical analysis to determine 1) whether sophia or a cognate alternative is justifably reconstructed in the inscription, and 2) whether calling Demas "wise" or similar gives us any indication of his lifetime occupation. The analysis finds that while sophia or a similar cognate word is likely, Demas' occupation still remains a mystery.sophiasophiasophiasophiasophia
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalHenoch
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 17 Nov 2019

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