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Fr. Dariusz DZIADOSZ – „I am not ashamed to shelter a friend” (Sir 22:25): Friendship, as seen in the Biblical Tradition of the Old Testament


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Friendship as a Biblical idea is relationship based in attraction in which persons are drawn together by the recognition of, and desire to share, something good and appealing in each other. The distinctive mark of friendship is that each person not only wishes for the good of the other but also actively works to achieve it and, because of affection for the friend, finds joy in doing so. Friends have similar interests, beliefs, goals, cares, and commitments.

While many Biblical traditions realized that friendship enriches human life, as a subject of serious theological refl ection the theme of friendship is not developed in the Bible – in contrast to the Greek and Roman literature. Where the covenant concept prevails, natural attraction and personal preference appear to be less important than covenant obligations as the bases of relationships between persons. The benefits and requirements of friendship are among the subjects addressed by Israel’s wise men, especially in Proverbs and Ecclesiasticus.

The sage stresses loyalty and steadfastness as marks of the true friend (cf. Prov 17:17; 18:24; Eccl 6:14-16) but warns that poverty or adversity often reveals people to be friends in name only (cf. Prov 19:4. 6-7; Eccl 12:9; 13:21; 37:4-5).

However, the entire Biblical story of salvation can fittingly be read as a chronicle of God’s befriending love. In creating humans in the divine image and helping them in attaining grace, God calls men and women to friendship with one another and to friendship with God. The covenant that God makes with Israel bespeaks both the affection and intimacy characteristic of friendships, and the expectations and responsibilities that are part of friendships.

Keywords: friend, friendship, Old Testament, wisdom traditions, David and Jonathan

Contact:
Department of Exegesis of Historical and Didactic Books of the Old Testament,
Institute of Biblical Studies, Faculty of Theology, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin,
Al. Racławickie 14, 20-950 Lublin, Poland
E-mail: dariuszdzi@op.pl
http://www.kul.pl/ks-dr-hab-dariusz-dziadosz,art_446.html



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  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 20.00
  3. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  4. DOI Prefix 10.12887