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Jewish Apocalyptic Literature: Book of Sirach/Ben Sira

Specific Approaches, Passages, and Themes

Book of Sirach/Ben Sira

In past decades the Book of Ben Sira, also known as Ecclesiasticus, has attracted a great deal of scholarly attention, both in its different Hebrew and Greek versions, as well as in its Syriac and Latin form. The book contains the sayings of Ben Sira, arguably the last of Israel's wise men and its first professional scribe, whose world was defined and dominated by Greek ideas and ideals. This Hellenistic worldview challenged the adequacy of the religion passed down to the Palestinian Jews of the second century B.C.E. by their ancestors. Ben Sira's training in both Judaic and Hellenistic literary traditions prepared him to meet this challenge. He vigorously opposed any compromise of Jewish values; and his teachings bolstered the faith and confidence of his people. Through its elegant poetry and vehement exhortations, The Wisdom of Ben Sira exposes the ill effects of sinful behavior on one's health, status, and spiritual and material well-being.

General Resources

Translations and Commentaries