Jeremy Corley and Bradley C. Gregory

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online February 2012 | | DOI:


This article deals with a 2nd-century bce Jewish wisdom book, known variously as Ben Sira (its Hebrew name), Sirach (its Greek name, also “Siracide” in French or Italian), or Ecclesiasticus (its Latin name). This long book deals with many theological issues (e.g., creation, divine election and providence, prayer, theodicy, death), as well as many topics of social ethics (e.g., poverty and wealth, women, family and friends, honor and shame). The educational teaching is significant for its personification of wisdom (e.g., Sirach 24) and for its close connection of wisdom, Torah, and fear of God (Sirach 19:20). Moreover, the Praise of the Ancestors (Sirach 44–50) offers a review of Israel’s history not found in earlier Hebrew wisdom writings. As a whole, Ben Sira’s work is historically and theologically important in filling the gap between earlier Hebrew wisdom books (e.g., Proverbs and Qoheleth) and later writings (e.g., the New Testament gospels and the Mishnah tractate Pirqe Abot). Sirach is regarded as deuterocanonical by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches, but apocryphal or noncanonical by Jews and most Protestants. The first wave of revived studies of Sirach came in the two decades after 1896, following the discovery of several medieval Hebrew Ben Sira texts in the storeroom of the Cairo synagogue (Cairo Genizah). Modern research on Sirach began in 1965, the year of publication of both the Hebrew Masada Scroll of Ben Sira and a critical edition of the Greek version.

Article.  13473 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »