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14 - Ben Sira

from Part III - Wisdom Literature beyond the Hebrew Bible

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2022

Katherine J. Dell
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
Suzanna R. Millar
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Arthur Jan Keefer
Affiliation:
Eton College
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Summary

Seth Bledsoe introduces the 2nd century BCE wisdom book of Ben Sira. While not forming part of the Tanakh or Protestant Old Testament, Ben Sira appears in the LXX and subsequently the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canons. The book presents itself as the words of a well-educated scribe, and draws on both Jewish and Greek traditions. Central to the book is Wisdom, which is intimately connected to creation, fear of the Lord, Torah, and tradition. It also contains advice on practical matters, such as finance (it both respects wealth and advocates generosity) and relations with women (it is in places decided misogynistic). Although generally optimistic that good deeds will lead to positive consequences, Ben Sira also grapples with the problems of theodicy and death, concluding that righteous persons can live on through the legacy of a good name.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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References

Further Reading

Adams, Samuel L.Reassessing the Exclusivism of Ben Sira’s Jewish Paideia’. Pages 4758 in Second Temple Jewish ‘Paideia’ in Context. Edited by Zurawski, Jason M. and Boccaccini, Gabriele. BZNW 228. Berlin: 2017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Askin, Lindsey. Scribal Culture in Ben Sira. JSJSup 184. Leiden: 2019.Google Scholar
Beentjes, Pancratius C. The Book of Ben Sira in Hebrew: A Text Edition of All Extant Hebrew Manuscripts and a Synopsis of All Parallel Hebrew Ben Sira Texts. VTSup 68. Leiden: 1997. Repr. and rev. ed. Atlanta: 2006.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Balla, Ibolya. Ben Sira on Family, Gender, and Sexuality. DCLS 8. Berlin: 2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Camp, Claudia V. Ben Sira and the Men Who Handle Books: Gender and the Rise of Canon-Consciousness. HBM 50. Sheffield: 2013.Google Scholar
Ellis, Teresa Ann. Gender in the Book of Ben Sira: Divine Wisdom, Erotic Poetry, and the Garden of Eden. BZAW 453. Berlin: 2013.Google Scholar
Goering, Greg Schmidt. Wisdom’s Root Revealed: Ben Sira and the Election of Israel. JSJSup 139. Leiden: 2009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gregory, Bradley. Like an Everlasting Signet Ring: Generosity in the Book of Sirach. DCLS 2. Berlin: 2010.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Skehan, Patrick W., and Lella, Alexander A. Di. The Wisdom of Ben Sira. AB 39. New York: 1987.Google Scholar
Wright, Benjamin G. III. ‘Biblical Interpretation in the Book of Ben Sira’. Pages 363388 in A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism. Edited by Henze, Matthias. Grand Rapids: 2012.Google Scholar

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