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Sargon

The Book Of Sirach In Early Christianity

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To my knowledge, the Book of Sirach was included in the common canon of scripture in 1st century Christianity. I was recently reading portions of this book, and it was very interesting to me what the introduction of this book written by Sirach's grandson says:

Many important truths have been handed down to us through the law, the prophets, and the later authors; and for these the instruction and wisdom of Israel merit praise. Now, those who are familiar with these truths must not only understand them themselves but, as lovers of wisdom, be able, in speech and in writing, to help others less familiar. Such a one was my grandfather, Jesus, who, having devoted himself for a long time to the diligent study of the law, the prophets, and the rest of the books1 of our ancestors, and having developed a thorough familiarity with them, was moved to write something himself in the nature of instruction and wisdom, in order that those who love wisdom might, by acquainting themselves with what he too had written, make even greater progress in living in conformity with the divine law.

You therefore are now invited to read it in a spirit of attentive good will, with indulgence for any apparent failure on our part, despite earnest efforts, in the interpretation of particular passages. For words spoken originally in Hebrew are not as effective when they are translated into another language. That is true not only of this book but of the law itself, the prophets and the rest of the books, which differ no little when they are read in the original.

I arrived in Egypt in the thirty-eighth year of the reign of King Euergetes,2 and while there, I found a reproduction of our valuable teaching.3 I therefore considered myself in duty bound to devote some diligence and industry to the translation of this book. Many sleepless hours of close application have I devoted in the interval to finishing the book for publication, for the benefit of those living abroad who wish to acquire wisdom and are disposed to live their lives according to the standards of the law.

Is this evidence that to the first Christians who accepted this book as inspired writing, innerancy was not an issue?

I am hoping for differing opinions.

Thanks.

Sargon

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Alright, I know it isn't the most stimulating subject.

Bump.

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It reminds me somewhat of some BoM authors, who ask forgiveness for their weakness in writing, especially with a language in which they feel they can't fully express themselves.

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Out of curiosity, was a quote in a somewhat recent conference talk responsible for you reading Ben Sira? :P

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Out of curiosity, was a quote in a somewhat recent conference talk responsible for you reading Ben Sira? :P

Nope. Reading Margaret Barker convinced me that if I was to understand what the heck she was talking about I needed to read Wisdom literature first.

Which conference talk? You have piqued my interest.

Can anyone confirm that this book was ever considered scripture by ancient Christians?

Sargon

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Nope. Reading Margaret Barker convinced me that if I was to understand what the heck she was talking about I needed to read Wisdom literature first.

Which conference talk? You have piqued my interest.

There is a line from the Apocrypha which puts the seriousness of this issue better than I can. It reads, â??The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones.â?

Jeffrey R. Holland, â??The Tongue of Angels,â? Ensign, May 2007, 16â??18

Can anyone confirm that this book was ever considered scripture by ancient Christians?

Sargon

As I understand it, it is still part of the Catholic canon (albeit in the deutero-canon).

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You therefore are now invited to read it in a spirit of attentive good will, with indulgence for any apparent failure on our part, despite earnest efforts, in the interpretation of particular passages. For words spoken originally in Hebrew are not as effective when they are translated into another language. That is true not only of this book but of the law itself, the prophets and the rest of the books, which differ no little when they are read in the original.

Well, at least we now know where JS got two interesting BoM ideas from--mistakes of men, and losing power because of the language. And what do you know, both of them show up in Ether 12, among other places. Fodder for the anti's! Why is it we always have to do their best work for them? :P Either that, or it just lends more credence to the BoM. Seriously, I think it's a cool thing.

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To my knowledge, the Book of Sirach was included in the common canon of scripture in 1st century Christianity. I was recently reading portions of this book, and it was very interesting to me what the introduction of this book written by Sirach's grandson says:

Is this evidence that to the first Christians who accepted this book as inspired writing, innerancy was not an issue?

I am hoping for differing opinions.

Thanks.

Sargon

As a Catholic, and therefore as someone who accepts that Sirach is inspired by God... and also as someone who believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, I do not see the problem here. He says that he doesn't translate things perfectly. So what? Does that mean that what he is writing is untrue or has error? He nowhere admits this. He just says that translating is an imperfect science and so things will come across a little differently from time to time... differently, but not wrongly.

No problem!

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As a Catholic, and therefore as someone who accepts that Sirach is inspired by God... and also as someone who believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, I do not see the problem here. He says that he doesn't translate things perfectly. So what? Does that mean that what he is writing is untrue or has error? He nowhere admits this. He just says that translating is an imperfect science and so things will come across a little differently from time to time... differently, but not wrongly.

No problem!

The Marshallese translation of the Bible has many verses that are completely opposite of the KJV. I realize that the Marshalls are a small group of Island (actually atolls) and is insignificant but I wonder if they did it just to fit their theology.

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The Book of Sirach is included in the Catholic canon, alongside Maccabees, etc.

It is a marvelous book and, with insights gleaned from reading Margaret Barker, can be read as one of the deepest Wisdom literature books of all.

Sargon's question about inerrancy is interesting. I think inerrancy was not an issue with early Christians. I doubt that they even thought about it.

I remember that line about translation since I am a translator by profession (Japanese to English). Sirach lived at a time when the scriptures were just beginning to move out of the original tongues of Hebrew and Aramaic into other languages (mainly Greek, as in the Septuagint, but also Coptic) and he was acutely aware of the difficulties of bringing them into the broader world.

Beowulf

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