1.1 The text refers to itself as verbal entity (with implied or explicit boundaries): The Greek text of Sirach is extant in two forms, usually designated GkI and GkII, the latter somewhat longer than the former, including material not found in GkI which is probably derived from a second recension of the Hebrew original. The following profile is entirely based on GkII alone: this form of Sirach is the form most often used as a base text by commentators and other students. GkII is provided with a Prologue in Greek: this constitutes a different text from GkII, on which see further 1.1.5. below. Apart from this Prologue, the text acknowledges its own existence at 50:27.
1.1.1 The text refers to itself using a genre term, speech act term, verb or other term implying verbal constitution: Towards the conclusion of the text (50:27) it is stated that what has preceded is a book, "biblion". [The separate text of the Prologue, line 25, uses the same word biblion to describe Sirach.]
1.1.2 The text speaks of itself as dealing with an overall theme (subject matter) or purpose, or as consisting of coordinated parts making a whole: At 50:27, the "book" is described as "an instruction of understanding and knowledge", paideian suneseos kai epistemes; also indirectly in 51:22 as eloquent "praise". The word "paideia" occurs some 30 times in the body of Sirach's text [and three times in the separate Prologue]; "sunesis" is used also approximately 30 times; and "episteme" appears on some 16 occasions [and once in the Prologue].The extended definition of "book" in 50:27 makes room for the presence of a number of themes which treat various aspects of understanding, instruction, and knowledge, all of which contribute to the overall purpose of the single "book". In this respect, Greek SirII closely resembles the biblical book of Proverbs. This biblical text presents the reader with a variety of themes, which receive treatment in the light of an introductory preamble whose focus includes wisdom, instruction, knowledge and understanding (Prov. 1:1-3). Given the governing voice's statement that he had followed in the footsteps of others in the composition of his book (33:16-18), the similarities between Sirach GkII and biblical Proverbs may suggest that the Bible itself provided a literary model for this text.
1.1.4 The text introduces the governing voice, thereby indirectly marking its own boundedness: The governing voice, speaking in the first person, introduces himself as "Jesus son of Sirach Eleazar the Jerusalemite" at 50:27. This represents the reading of almost all the textual witnesses to GkII. A tiny minority of witnesses introduce the governing voice in the third person: "Jesus... wrote in this book", a formulation which compares with the extant Hebrew MSS of this verse. This identification of the governing voice in the first person at such a very late stage in the text is, to some degree, anticipated by the use of first person forms from a much earlier point. Thus the governing voice addresses "my children " at 4:1, and explicitly addresses the reader in the first person at 16:25, and regularly thereafter.
1.1.5 Important text witnesses attest to a heading which is not integrated with the body of the text or with any introductory frame, implying one or more of the kinds of information under 1.1.1–4: The text is immediately preceded by a Prologue consisting of a translator's preface. It is written from a perspective different from Sirach GkII, and is explicitly presented as not being part of Sirach's text: it therefore makes no claim to be in any way integrated into the body of Sirach GkII, and forms no part of its introductory frame. The governing voice of this Prologue speaks of Jesus as his grandfather, claims responsibilty for translating his grandfather's "book" from an original Hebrew into Greek, and dates the work of translation to sometime after 132 BCE.
1.7 The text’s Inventory profile should be seen in the light of the following further information on completeness, thematic progression, aesthetic effects, etc.: Overview of Parts: The text’s profile in the Inventory should be viewed in the light of the following information: The Greek text of Sirach is extant in two forms, usually designated GkI and GkII, the latter including material not found in GkI. For this analysis, the text of GkII has been chosen, as representing in all probability the most complete form of the text to survive from antiquity. The original Hebrew text from which Sirach was translated has survived only in fragmentary form; and there is evidence to suggest that the Hebrew itself existed in two recensions (see Skehan and di Lella, pp. 57-59). Greek Sirach represents the most ancient version of the "book"; and GkII seems to derive from the second, longer, Hebrew recension. The translator of GkII seems to have used the earlier GkI, adding to it materials deriving from the second Hebrew recension. For a convenient summary of discussion of the Hebrew text of Ben Sira and the Greek forms of Sirach, see A. A. di Lella, "Wisdom of Ben Sira", in (ed.) D. N. Freedman, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol.6 (New York: Doubleday, 1992), pp. 934-936.
Top of the Page
2.1 The information conveyed in the text defines the perspective of the governing voice in the following way:
2.1.2 The governing voice thematizes how it comes to know the text’s contents or its right to command obedience from the text’s addressee. Its perspective is presented as limited, referring either to evidence, or to personal experience (mere human knowledge): The governing voice’s knowing of the text’s contents, or its right to be obeyed, is presented as in principle limited, by thematizing evidence or argument (see further 5.9), and by projecting its persona as human. Sirach is explicit that its perspective derives from the gift of supernatural Wisdom, which comes from God (1:1) and is granted to humans (1:10) only under certain conditions. The principal condition is that humans should have "fear of the Lord" as a prerequisite for gaining Wisdom (1:14, 16, 18, 20); this involves (inter alia) the keeping of God's commands in true obedience (1:26; 21:11), the acceptance of discipline (4:17), and the acquisition of understanding (8:8-9). Wisdom is clearly identified as the Torah of Moses and its commandments (24:23), the intensive study and observance of which will provide its adherents with Wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (39:1-15). The first person governing voice further describes himself as labouring to acquire knowledge which others had also sought (33:116-18), standing as the most recent in a succession of workers.
126.96.36.199 The governing voice presents or discusses norms whose commanding force is unlimited, but speaks from a perspective clearly distinguished from that of the ultimate law-giver: The lawgiver's code, the Torah of Moses, is clearly distinguished from Sirach's Wisdom, which rather exhorts hearers to obey the commands of the former: see (e.g.) 3:1-16 (on honouring one's parents as laid down by Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16); 7:6 (impartiality in judgment, as required by Lev. 19:15); 7:29-31 (priestly dues, as demanded by Lev. 6:16; 7:1-17, 34; 2: 3, 10); 8:6 (respect for elders, as commanded at Lev. 19:32); 18:22 (promptness in fulfilling vows, required by Deut. 23:21); and many other commandments.
188.8.131.52 The governing voice suggests its information or advice is based on his or her own experiences, or on other knowledge filtered by reflections on personal experience: The governing voice is “personal” in presenting all information as having been filtered and unified by a person’s reflected life experience, wisdom, opinions; see in particular the "autobiographical" path to wisdom in Sirach 51:13–22 and 51:27. Also, Sirach explicitly attributes his knowledge to Wisdom identified as the Torah (24:30-34) and to learning he has gleaned from what has been left behind by others (33:16-18). The governing voice also speaks of knowledge and experience he has acquired through travel (34:11-12), and to the results of personal reflection on particular matters, as (strikingly) at 25:1-2, 7, 16.
2.1.3 Knowledge or authority of the text is presented as exceeding what the persona projected by the governing voice would ordinarily be able to achieve (e.g., supernatural or non-human mediators and informants): The governing voice projects the perspective of a person and explicitly accounts for information which would have exceeded that person’s experience and thoughts, this going hand in hand with being in the first person; the projected persona Sirach explicitly names the source of his knowledge as Wisdom (51:13-21). See also especially 51:20.
2.1.4 The governing voice explicitly acknowledges that something mentioned in the text cannot be adequately expressed or conveyed: The order of creation in particular cannot adequately be described (18:4; 42:17; 43:27-28). A famous passage (3:21-23) indicates the existence of things beyond mere human understanding, things "too hard", in which it is advisable not to meddle.
2.2 The text has a first person voice on a level higher than all reported speech, except for any frame position announcements. The first person governing voice is not explicit at the start of the text, but becomes so as the text proceeds. At 16:25, the governing voice speaks in the first person (and many times so thereafter), this speech taking up an earlier address to "my son" (16:24). This addressee has been mentioned as early as 4:1, and while the expression may be used in a figurative sense (see 39:13), it is nonetheless indicative of a first person stance on the part of the governing voice. The majority of witnesses to Sirach GkII 50:27 explicitly identify the governing voice, Jesus, as speaking in the first person. [The prologue of Sirach's grandson's is a separate text defining itself over against Sirach GkII by functioning as an introduction to the latter. This Prologue has a first-person governing voice throughout.]
2.2.1 The first-person governing voice is identified by an anonymous voice through a proper name or unique description. Points 184.108.40.206–3 are devoted to the anonymous voice; all other points presuppose the knowledge horizon of the first-person voice, unless otherwise indicated.
220.127.116.11 [The introduction of the first-person governing voice of the text has the following characteristics (also applies to self-identification 2.2.2): Framing information on the first person governing voice is presented by some MSS only as a heading to the final chapter of the book: thus these witnesses provide the title "Prayer of Jesus son of Sirach" at 51:1. This chapter's governing voice is in the first person, which presents a prayer (beginning 51:1, "I will thank Thee", and continuing to verse 12) and a Wisdom poem (51:13-30). Given the Psalm-like quality of the composition, the first person governing voice in this chapter may speak in the non-individual, non-historical character of the "I" of many biblical Psalms.]
2.2.2 The first person voice identifies itself by name or uniquely identifying expression (once or repeatedly): Although the precise identity of the first person voice is not revealed until 50:27, the "I" of the governing voice is first heard in 16:25 and regularly thereafter (e.g., 22:25-27; 23:3; 24:31-34; 25:2, 7, 16; 39:32; 42;15). As early as 3:1, the governing voice exhorts his addressees to "listen to me, your father".
2.2.4 The number and gender of the first-person governing voice are as follows: First person singular, male gender.
18.104.22.168 The first person singular is used.
22.214.171.124 The first person forms are marked for gender: The name "Jesus" is a well known male name; the Greek LXX translators of the biblical book Joshua make use of it to render the Hebrew name of the hero of that book.
2.4 The governing voice defines a horizon of knowledge as shared with the projected addressee by taking for granted the following linguistic usages or references (in selection):
2.4.1 Persons or unique objects referred to by proper name or by technical expression: Many biblical proper names, ranging in time from Adam (16:16; 49:16) to Nehemiah (49:13). Biblical names most commonly mentioned are Israel, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, and David. Non-biblical names are confined to Simon, son of Onias, the high priest (50:1), and Jesus Sirach himself (50:27; 51:1).
126.96.36.199 for persons mentioned or presented in narrative usage; as characters; or topics, for example: These are all biblical names with the addition of Simon son of Onias, and they are for the most part concentrated in the section of text (44:1-50:24) headed "Hymn of the Fathers" (44:1, most MSS).
188.8.131.52 for Gods/mythical figures/supernatural beings, etc., for example: God is most commonly referred to as "Lord" or "God", but many other titles are used, of which the commonest is "Most High" (over 40 occurrences). Note also the titles "king" (18:3; 50:15; 51:5); "father" (23:1, 4); "Holy One" (23:9; 38:2; 43:10; 47:8; 48:20); "God of Israel" (47:18); "Almighty" (24:24; 42:17; 50:14); "maker" (32:1; 38:15); "God of all" (36:1; 50:22); "Saviour" (51:1), and "God of the ages" (36:22). Angels are referred to (most probably) as "holy ones" (45:2); Cherubim are noted at 49:8. The Satan is mentioned at 21:27, and the Giants at 16:17.
184.108.40.206 for locations, for example: Locations named are all biblical, with Zion (24:10; 36:19; 48:18, 22), Lebanon 24:13; 50:8, 12), and Jerusalem (24:10; 36:18) most prominent. Other locations tend to be named once only, like Ophir, Samaria, Shechem, Hermon, En-geddi, Jericho, Sinai, Horeb, and Jericho. The River Euphrates is named twice (24:26; 44:21); others, like Pishon, Tigris, Gihon, and Jordan once only. The most frequently occurring place name is Hades (9:12; 14:12, 16; 17:27; 21:10; 28:21; 41:4; 48:5; 51:5).
220.127.116.11 for documents, texts, books, etc. (identified through being referred to or quoted), for example: ["The Law, the prophets, and the other ancestral books" are referred to in Prologue lines 8-10: see also lines 24-25.] "The Law" is mentioned at 15:1; 24:23; 32:15, 24; 33:3; 41:48 and is almost certainly a document. At 24:23, it is placed in poetic parallelism with "the book of the covenant of the Most High God". The governing voice knows of poetic texts, which are not further defined (44:5); and Sirach's own work is referred to at 39:32.
2.4.3 The text as a whole routinely employs the following language(s), knowledge of which is taken for granted: Greek. [The Prologue, lines 15-16, indicates that the Greek represents a translation of an original Hebrew text, made with some difficulty]. The Greek preserves the formal parallelismus membrorum of the Hebrew original.
18.104.22.168 Additional language(s) taken for granted in quoted speech or certain parts of the text are: Occasional Hebrew terms may be taken for granted as, for example, "the Satan" at 21:27.
2.4.4 Special linguistic usages occur pervasively or prominently: The distinctive phraseology of Biblical Hebrew is sometimes reproduced in the Greek, suggesting that biblical linguistic usage is presupposed. Of note is the language used (1) to describe and discuss Wisdom. Sirach 24:1-22, and chapters 1-3, recall the phraseology of Prov. 8:12-36 and Job 28; (2) to recount the deeds of Israel's ancestors singled out in chapters 44-49. Here, the biblical books Joshua - 2Kings provide words and phrases, as (e.g.) at Sir. 46:15, compare 1Sam. 3:19-20; Sir. 47:6, compare 1Sam. 18:7; Sir. 47:17, compare 1Kings 4:31-34; Sirach 48:21. compare 2Kings 19:35; (3) to speak of major prophetic figures, as (e.g.) Jeremiah at Sir. 49:7 (see Jer. 1:5) and Ezekiel at Sir. 49:8 (see Ezek. 1:3-4); and (4) to reinforce the obligations of the legal requirements of the Torah, as at 4:1 (cf. Lev. 19:13); 8:30 (cf. Deut. 6:5); 8:32 (cf. Deut. 15:8); 11:7 (cf. Deut. 13:14); 18:22 (cf. Deut.23:21); and 28:7 (cf. Lev. 19:18). The language of the whole book is strongly redolent of the biblical book of Proverbs, and to a lesser extent of the language of the Psalms.
22.214.171.124 Technical expressions for a particular subject matter: The technical language of sacrifice and Temple Service is taken for granted: see 7:31; 45:8-12; and 50:12-21.
126.96.36.199 Biblicizing language, such that the text may be assumed to project itself as having a link to texts today known as biblical (see 188.8.131.52): Details are given at 2.4.4., since biblicising language is such a characteristic feature of the book.
2.5 The text contains deictic or other expressions referring to the governing voice’s time or place, or place it after/before some key event: Time and place of the speaking of the governing voice is mentioned/implied. [The Prologue composed by Sirach's grandson, who went to Egypt in 132 BCE, suggests that Sirach lived some sixty or so years before his time.] The praise of the high priest Simon (50:1-24) is often understood as directed towards a person known to the author of the Hebrew original of Sirach; whether Simon was alive or not at the time of the composition of the Hebrew original is disputed. In any event, the Simon who is mentioned was probably, though not certainly, the high priest in Jerusalem during the final decades of the third century BCE until his death in around 196 BCE.
2.5.2 as part of the words of a quoted character, but with probable implications also for the governing voice: Sirach's grandson features as author of a separate text, the Prologue to Sirach in all extant witnesses to the text of Sirach GkII. The evidence of this separate text indicates that Greek Sirach II came into existence some time after 132 BCE].
2.6 The text presents itself as speaking to certain persons, groups or entities, explicitly projecting a certain image of its addressee.
2.6.1 The governing voice uses apostrophe, second-person grammatical forms or first-person exclusive or inclusive “we”: Imperatives are pervasive in the text. The most commonly evoked addressee is "child", teknon: 2:1; 3:12, 17; 4:1; 6:18, 23; and elsewhere: this expression is likely to be figurative, referring to students or pupils of Sirach. Occasionally the plural "children", tekna, is used, as at 3:1; 23:7; compare 39:13, "sons". Also addressed are "you that fear the Lord" (2:7-9); the elder (32:3/4); and the young (32:7). Directly addressed are Solomon (47:14-20); Elijah (48:4); and death (41:1-2). The address to "you that fear the Lord" (2:15-17) moves directly to a first person plural jussive, "let us fall into the Lord's hands" (2:18). There is also a direct apostrophe of Solomon in Sirach 47:14–21, one of the biblical "heroes", whose main characteristic was, in his youth, wisdom (and whose moral failure is thus important thematically, and is perhaps for this reason marked out rhetorically by this apostrophe).
2.6.2 The projected addressee is characterized as having a certain moral or epistemic stance, or as standing in contrast to another group’s moral or epistemic stance: The addressees are assumed to share, or to be under an obligation to share, the epistemic character of the governing voice.
2.6.3 The governing voice uses verbs of epistemic or moral exhortation or employs a “focus marker": Exhortations to listen, be attentive, and to obey are the positive counterparts of repeated negative imperative forms, "do not do..."; "do not say..."; etc. They are very frequent.
2.6.4 The governing voice directs questions at the projected addressee which are marked as rhetorical or as suggesting the audience assume a particular epistemic or moral stance: (Not self-answered questions). These are very frequent, even to the point of being pervasive. See further 8.2.2.
2.6.5 The governing voice employs exclamatory or declamatory modes of speech (cf. 8.1.13): The poetic character of the original Hebrew is reproduced to some degree in the Greek of Sirach. For a fine declamatory passage, see 39:1-15.
Top of the Page
3.6 The language of a text whose boundaries are not determined by poetic formation or by contrast in adjacency (3.2–4 does not apply) exhibits poetic formation as follows: Where it is possible to compare and contrast Greek SirII with Hebrew NSS of Ben Sira, the translator's Greek appears to represent, sometimes quite woodenly, the form of the original Hebrew with its poetic parallelism and distinctive linguistic usages.
3.6.1 There is pervasive use of rhyme and/or metre: This may be so, if it be assumed that the Greek translator has attempted in some way to reproduce, in whole or in part, in Greek, the metre of the Hebrew original. But in the nature of things it is not possible to determine with any degree of certitude whether this is so.]
3.6.2 There is pervasive use of parallelism: Where it is possible to compare the Greek of Sirach with surviving Hebrew text of Ben Sira, the poetic parallelism of the latter seems generally to be faithfully transferred to the Greek rendering. Indeed, parallelism is present in Greek SirII throughout the text.
3.6.3 There is pervasive use of other features that can be interpreted as defining poetic formation, such as heightened or figurative language, repetitions of key phrases, short or otherwise poetically defined lines, etc.: Where it is possible to compare surviving Hebrew of Ben Sira with Greek Sirach, the latter appears (i) to keep close to Hebrew word order and (ii) to use as far as possible numbers of words comparable to the Hebrew.
Top of the Page
5.8 The bulk of the text consists of small forms and patterns drawn from a limited set of formats for thematic articulation or for discussion (further section 8).
5.9 The text’s governing voice projects the accuracy or validity of its statements as:
5.9.1 Being taken for granted or being self-evident: In almost every case. The governing voice has the persona of a teacher offering instruction to students ("my children, sons") with the expectation that the teacher's epistemic and moral stance will be accepted and obeyed. See especially 39:13-15, where the first person governing voice directly addresses these "children".
5.9.2 Admitting discussion or disagreement, or the need for argument and evidence in principle: The possibility of disagreement with the stance of the governing voice is admitted in some units of discourse which describe the attitudes of those who stand opposed to wisdom. Examples of such attitudes include those of the "fool", who is to be avoided (22:13-15), along with the "sluggard" (22:1); and the text can mention types of persons who stand in disagreement with the Wisdom offered by the governing voice on several occasions.
5.9.4 The following argument types occur:
184.108.40.206 Predominantly or exclusively conceptual arguments (e.g. inferences, analogies, or references to evidence): using analogies as at 3:30; 11:30-31, and also making some use of inferences, as at 13:1-2; 5:3-8. The style of these arguments is often quite reticent, deriving its force either from description of kinds of behaviour to be avoided while implying that the opposite is to be followed, or by delineating proper conduct and allowing the reader to infer what would result from following a contrary course.
5.10 The governing voice ascribes statements about the text’s thematic substance pervasively or prominently to speaker characters as utterances: arguments are sometimes presented, even obliquely, using characters representing various types of persons as speakers:
5.10.1 Isolated utterances (or dialogues) are presented without a unifying emplotment, but tacitly presuppose a unified grid of story/history.
5.10.3 The governing voice quotes a character with a direct speech of such length that it constitutes a significant proportion of the text overall: Although the speech is not "extended" in comparison with the whole text, the self-description of Wisdom (24:4-22) occupies the very centre of the text both physically and conceptually, and thus has a position of overwhelming importance.
5.10.4 Hypothetical speech is routinely or prominently put into the mouth of hypostasised or generic characters: Examples of this occur particularly in the first third of the text, as, for example, at 15:11, 12; this also includes warnings to addressees introduced by "do not say" and containing a speech report of an anonymous speaker with whom the governing voice wishes particularly to take issue, thereby putting forward a norm (e.g., 5:3, 4-6; 7:9; 11:23-24; 16:17, etc.; characters represent types such as the fool (20:16; 22:10), the adulterer or fornicator (23:18), the householder (29:26-27), the ruler (36:12), or the friend (37:1).
Top of the Page
7.1 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between a non-biblical text and one or more biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive: Examples of this occur particularly in the first third of the text, as, for example, at 7:9; 11:23, 24; 15:11, 12; 16:17.
7.1.4 The text shares features of language with the Hebrew Bible, or exhibits tacit overlap with specific biblical wording, whether narrative or not.
220.127.116.11 There are pervasive biblical linguistic features (vocabulary, morphology or syntax) or a pervasive use of unspecific biblical language, such as generic biblical phrases or single words: The language of Greek SirII is strongly redolent of the biblical book of Proverbs, allusions to which characterize the work as a whole. Merely a few examples of such allusions are 13:3 (see Pr. 18:23); 20:7 (see Pr. 15:23); 21:11 (see Pr. 1:7); 22:27 (see Pr. 21:23); 25:16 (see Pr. 21:19); 27:22 (see Pr. 10:10); 28:10-12 (see Pr. 26:20-21); and 31:12 ff. (see Pr. 23:1-3).
18.104.22.168 The text contains prominently, but not necessarily frequently, the wording of specific biblical passages such as whole sentences or unique biblical phrases, used in a tacit manner. See also 22.214.171.124: There is specific or unique biblical wording which is not reformulated in the text’s “own” words. A set of detailed examples of such wording is given at the entry under 126.96.36.199.
188.8.131.52.1 The tacit overlap of specific wording extends regularly to whole sentences or to extensive sentence groupings, found alongside sentences or sentence parts not found in that biblical partner text: Examples of this would include 6:26 (compare Deut. 6:5); 22:27 (compare Psalm 141:3); 27:26 (compare Psalm 7:15); 34:19 (compare Psalm 34:15); 36:29 (compare Gen. 2:18); 36:30b (compare Gen. 4:12, 14; and 45:8-12 (compare Exodus 28:4-38, the high priestly vestments).
184.108.40.206 The tacit overlap of wording takes place across language boundaries, with respect to the current language of the text (this point does not apply to 6.13 cases): This applies to the extent that Sirach GkII represents a text translated from an original Hebrew. The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible (LXX) has had some influence on this translation, and reference should be made to the monograph by B. G. Wright, No Small Difference: Sirach's Relationship to Its Hebrew Parent Text for a detailed discussion.
7.1.5 The projected persona of the governing voice of the text, whether a narrative or not, is also known from a biblical text, or the governing voice assumes an epistemic stance similar to that of a biblical text.
220.127.116.11 The epistemic stance of the governing voice (narrative or not, first person or not) can be interpreted as falling into the same generic category as one of the following stances also adopted in biblical texts:
18.104.22.168.4 The conveyance of wisdom on the basis of personal experience or learning, as in Proverbs, Qohelet: The particular epistemic stance of the governing voice is that of personal experience, and this is made explicit at a number of points in the text. See for example, 16:24-25; 24:30-34; 33:16-19; 39:12-13 (in a section where the ideal wise person is described); and 50:27.
7.1.6 The range of themes in the non-narrative text is wholly or nearly contained within the specific range of themes found also in a biblical text: The themes in Sirach GkII are also found in the biblical book of Proverbs in particular, although Proverbs has nothing to compare with the section 44-50, including the "Hymn of the Fathers". But Greek SirII 1-43 contains themes known from Proverbs, and, to a lesser degree, themes represented in Job, the Psalms, and Qohelet.
7.1.8 The non-narrative text pervasively or prominently presupposes the narrative fabric of biblical events/reported speech, beyond the contents of any specific biblical quotations that may occur: This is so as regards the section headed "Hymn of the Fathers" (44:16-49:16), where biblical events and reported speech, in biblical sequence, are presupposed. The biblical narrative of the creation (Gen. 1-2) is presupposed at 16:6-10.
22.214.171.124 The text presupposing biblical narrative fabric has a thematic structure of discourse or description: With or without explicit quotations from the Hebrew Bible.
7.2 Narrative or thematic correspondences, or overlap of specific wording, occur between the non-biblical text under discussion and other non-biblical texts in a manner that is prominent or pervasive. Additionally, individual verses of Hebrew versions of Ben Sira are quoted in rabbinic texts (a very exceptional fact for a non-canonical text of Second Temple times), and partly introduced by a terminology that is otherwise only used for biblical texts. For these, see the profiles of BerR, LevR, yBer and Tan, as well as of some Bavli Tractates. See also the overview given in T. Ann Ellis, "Negotiating the Boundaries of Tradition".
7.2.4 The wording or specific theme of self-contained thematic units is occasionally identical to those of another non-biblical text (or part-text), without being marked as quotations from that other text (does not apply if 7.2.6, 7.2.8 or 7.2.9 applies; not applied to Mishnah/Tosefta Tractates): there are a number of thematic points of contact with Ahiqar (Proverbs), including Ahiqar 12:176 (disciplining children; Sachau 53/44; cp. Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche, pp. 451–63, including comparison with Sir. 30:1–13); for the topic of honouring father and mother (Ahiqar 9:137) considered as overlapping with Prov. 20:20 and Sir 3:10, 16, see Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche, pp. 321–4; see also ibid. 749–53. These overlaps between Ahiqar and Sirach at the same time tend to constitute overlaps with biblical books (Proverbs in particular).
Top of the Page
8.1 Standard forms or contents formulated in set phrases, set sentence formats, or clauses in a standard syntactic connection.
8.1.1 Conditional norm or hypothetical legal case: These are found occasionally, as at 5:12; 31:21 (a most interesting norm about vomiting); 32:1; and 33:31. The hypothetical case at 34:21 is central to Sirach's teaching on ethics and sacrifice.
8.1.2 Unconditional norm: These are frequent, and include 3:8 (command to honour one's father); 4:1 (command not to cheat the poor); 7:29-32 (rulings about priestly dues); 14:11 (demand for worthy offerings to God); 18:15 (rule about not mixing good deeds with reproach). The catalogues of negative commandments, noted below at 8.1.10, also fall into this category. Positively expressed norms include 29:9; 32: 11-13; and 35:6, 12.
126.96.36.199 The expressive use of unmarked biblical wording whose function in the text’s discourse is enhanced or achieved by it being recognised as coming from a Scripture: Use of biblical wording, unmarked, is pervasive. Examples include 2:11 (compare Exod. 34:6-7); 4:6 (compare Deut. 15:9); 15:17 (compare Deut. 30:19); 16:10 (compare Exod. 12:37); 16:26 (compare Gen. 1:1; Ps. 104:9); 17:3 (compare Gen. 1:28; 9:2); 33:10 (compare Gen. 2:7); 33:13 (compare Jer. 18:1-4); 34:4 (compare Job 14:14); 34:26-27 (compare Lev. 19:13); and 38:5 (compare Exod. 15:23-25). Expressive use of wording from the book of Proverbs is commonly found throughout the text: some examples have been given in this Inventory at 188.8.131.52.
8.1.6 Speech report: See also 5.10.4.
8.1.10 List sentence enumerating items by words or phrases: This is common: see (e.g.) 17:5; 23:6, 16-17; 25:1, 2, 7-9; 26:5, 28; 45:8-9; 50:25-26. Expressive use of biblical language may be evident in these lists, e.g. 26:5, "Of three things my heart is afraid, and of a fourth I am in terror" (cf. form of Prov. 30:15-19). Catalogues of "negative commands", prohibitions of certain forms of speech and conduct, are common: see 5:1-9; 7:1-21; 8:1-9; 9:1-12; 11:7-9; 31:32, 34; 37:10-11.
8.1.12 Explicit claim that in a particular formulation other information in the immediate co-text is being summarized or generalized: This is occasionally found, as at 24:23, summarizing Wisdom's speech as "all these things are the book of the covenant of the Most High God"; 42:24-25, summarizing observations on creation as "everything is in pairs, one opposite the other"; and 43:27, again summing up remarks on creation, "we might say many things...but the sum of the words is 'He is the all'".
8.1.13 Declamatory sentence, confession, proclamation or affirmation: These occur occasionally. For declamatory sentences, see 1:1, 11-12; 42:15. Confession is the subject of the prayer in 51, opening with the words "I shall confess/acknowledge you, O Lord and King". The poem in 39:16-31 is described (39:15) as exomologesis, "confession" which includes the element of praise, ainesis. "Beatitudes" are found occasionally, as at 14:1-2, 20; 25:9-10; 26:1; and 31:8.
8.1.14 Prayer, doxology, valediction or blessing: Prayers at (e.g.) 23:1-6; 36:1-22; 51:1-12; with blessings at 45:26, 50:22-24, and at 50:28-29 in frame position immediately preceding the final additional prayer in chapter 51. We may include here also the command at 43:30 to glorify God.
8.1.16 Descriptive sentence of a static (ocular) structure or "scientific" descriptive sentence: Rare, occurring at 50:2 for description of Temple walls, and in parts of chapter 43 where brief descriptions are provided of sun, moon, stars, clouds, and the rainbow (43:1-12).
8.1.17 Report sentence of a singular event in the past which is not part of a narrative unit, nor of a mashal: Such sentences are mainly confined to the "Hymn of the Fathers", with examples as follows: 45:3 (the giving of the commandments to Moses); 45:18 (the incident of Dathan and Abiram); 46:4 (the sun's standing still for Joshua); 48:2-3 (incidents in the life of Elijah); 48: 23 (Hezekiah and the Assyrians); and 49:12 (Joshua ben Jehozadak and the rebuilding of the Temple). Outside this unit, such sentences are rare; but note 16:7-10.
8.1.19 Prediction of reward or punishment of behaviour in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: These are not uncommon, including promises of reward for honouring parents (3:4-5), and for loving and adhering to Wisdom (4:10-19); and indicting punishment for certain defects in character (5:6; 15:1-6). The references to Hades (see 184.108.40.206.) carry with them indications of future punishment.
8.1.20 Recommendation of a particular behaviour or statement of an ideal type of person in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: This is pervasive: in a sense, the whole text is concerned with behaviour and ideal types, and key examples of Wisdom statements might include 6:5, 34-37; 9:14-16; 10:1; and all the negative commands. See also 13:2, 8; 14:11; 17:25, 26; 18:19, 22; 19:17; 22:13 (avoid the fool!); and 23:9.
8.1.21 Statement describing a reality (nature, creation, human nature) in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: This is frequent. Human nature is the theme of statements in (e.g.,) 15:14-20; 17:1-20; 33:10-13; and of the sentences about creation in (e.g.,) 16:26-30; 42:13-44:33.
8.1.22 Statement praising Torah in a “wisdom” or similar formulation: The single, extended poem at 24:1-22 is the most comprehensive of these, in which Wisdom speaks in the first person as a character extolling her qualities; but see also (e.g.), 19:20; 45:5.
8.2 Non-narrative small literary forms that impose on their components a standard functional relationship to each other, while grammar and syntax may vary:
8.2.2 Self-contained question-answer unit in anonymous discourse: These are common, and include such examples as 7:22-26; 10:19; 13:17-18; 21:1; 24:7-8; 31:12; and 33:7-8. With these should also be mentioned the large number of rhetorical questions whose answer (by definition) is implied in the question, and whose presence in some numbers in the last two-thirds of the text is striking. See (e.g.,) 14:3, 5, 15; 18:4, 5, 17; 19:16; 20:30; 22:14; 25:11; 28:4; 30:19; 31:8, 10; 34:4, 31; 38:5.
8.2.5 The summary exposition, in a number of sentences, of theological ideas: This is occasional; note especially 15:17-18; 24:23; 33:14-15; 39:32-35; 44:23-25.
8.3 Forms with internal emplotment relationships, or character-centred small literary forms or motifs:
8.3.2 A mashal or other minimal (two-stage) narrative employed to model the emplotment of a biblical or other event: If mashal is understood as an aphorism, gnomic utterance, maxim, or pithy sentence conveying instruction of some kind, then this form is pervasive for much of the text. The "proverb" in Sirach, in this sense, is of similar form to the "proverb" in the biblical book Mishle, LXX Paroimiai; there are, however. no examples of the form of the mashal as it is found in Rabbinic texts. The ideal wise person is said (39:2-3) to be conversant with, and skilled in, parables (parabolai); see also Sirach's description of Solomon at 47:15, 17, where the latter's competence in parabolai is noted.
8.3.4 A narrative unit which is schematic or presents unspecific characters (other than 8.3.2):
8.4 Small poetic form:
8.4.1 Occurrence of a song, poetic piece, rhythmic unit: The following units are explicitly introduced by the governing voice: 24:1-22 entitled "Praise of Wisdom"; 39:16-31 mentioned in 39:15 as a confession or acknowledgement in praise of God; 44:1 ff. entitled "Hymn of the Fathers".
Top of the Page
9.1 An extended portion or substantial proportion of the thematic text (or thematic part of a non-thematic text) projects its selection and sequence of themes as mirroring an objective order in the projected world, by one of the following means:
9.1.1 By dividing a larger topic by a constant principle (or set of principles) of subordination/coordination: While there seems to be no particular order for themes in this text, passages dealing with particular, defined topics are easily recognizable. Some thematic clusters are explicitly indicated by headings in some of the extant MSS of Sirach GkII (see below, 9.14.); these appear first in chapter 18, and correspond in general terms to the themes they announce. For the first 18 chapters of the book, thematic clusters are perhaps indicated by the inventories of negative commands beginning "Do not...", which catalogue unconditional norms of conduct, as noted at 8.1.2. Other themes which form recognizable clusters are "Fear of the Lord" (e.g., 1:11-20; 2:1-18; 34:14-20); maxims on friendship (e.g., 6:5-17; 9:10-16; 19:13-17); and autobiographical items (e.g., 24:30-34; 33:16-19; 39:12-13; [51:13-30]).
9.1.3 By progressing from the more general to the more specific, or vice versa if accompanied by explanation.
9.1.4 By mirroring a temporal or spatial order, or the order of units of meaning in a pre-existing text: In the "Hymn of the Fathers", from 49:16 until 49:16, there is use of temporal order for the sequencing of themes, which are all derived and selected from biblical narrative and follow exactly the sequence of that narrative.
9.11 An extended part of the thematic text (or a part-text in the sense of section 10) is structured by an extra-thematic principle of order, as follows: A number of sections of text consist of poems apparently consisting of 22 or 23 lines each, elaborating sub-topics: see (e.g.) 5:1-6:4; 6:18-37; 12:1-18; 21:1-21; 38:24-34; 49:1-16.
9.11.2 An alphabetical or alphanumerical sequence (not if a 3.2 text): 51:13-30 was originally an alphabetic acrostic in Hebrew; but this acrostic sequence is no longer visible in the Greek translation of Sirach GkII.
9.14 There is sporadic use of mnemonic indications of text contents and sequence at the beginning or end of passages, consisting of sequences of words, letters, or short sentences (simanim): In some MSS of Greek Sir II, there are headings of text parts which appear after the first third of the book. These occur before 18:30, "self control of the soul"; before 20:27, "words of parables"; before 24:1, "Praise of Wisdom"; before 30:1, "Concerning children"; before 30:18, "Concerning foods"; before 44:1, "Hymn of Fathers"; and before 51:1, "A Prayer of Jesus, son of Sirach".
Top of the Page
11.1 The non-narrative text projects its thematic concern as being mainly one or more of the following:
11.1.1 Description of a reality, including a physical reality: (But not a future world).
11.1.2 Moral values or value judgments, including practical instructions on proper behaviour or self-preservation: These pronouncements include the articulation of divine commandments and norms for conduct in the governing's particular perspective.
Top of the Page
12.1 Sampling of genre labels applied to the text in secondary literature: Wisdom book; anthology made up of (e.g.) aphorisms; hymns; prayers; lists; didactic narrative; autobiographical narrative.
Top of the Page
Text: J. Ziegler, Septuaginta: Vetus Testamentum Graecum Auctoritate Academiae Litterarum Gottingensis editum XII.2: Sapientia Iesu Filii Sirach (Goettingen: Vandehoeck & Ruprecht, 1965); A. Rahlfs, Septuaginta, 2 vols (Stuttgart: Wuerttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1935), vol. 2, pp. 345-471; F. Vattioni, Ecclesiastico: Testo Ebraico con apparato critico e versioni greca, latina e siriaca (Naples: Instituto Orientale di Napoli, 1968). Cp. also for the Hebrew: Z. Ben-Hayyim, The Book of Ben Sira: Text, Concordance, and an Analysis of the Vocabulary (Jerusalem: Academy of the Hebrew Language, 1973); P. C. Beentjes, 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 (Leiden: Brill, 2006); for images of the Hebrew manuscripts, see http://www.bensira.org (accessed 11/12/2013).
Translations: G. H. Box and W. O. E. Oesterley, "The Book of Sirach", in R. H. Charles (ed.), Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913), pp. 268-517; B. G. Wright, "Sirach", in A. Pietersma and B. G. Wright (eds.), A New English Translation of the Septuaginta (New York; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 715-762; B. G. Wright III, "Wisdom of Ben Sira", in L. H. Feldman, J. L. Kugel and L. H. Schiffman (eds.), Outside the Bible. Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society/University of Nebraska Press, 2013), pp. 2208–2352.
Studies: Th. Middendorp, Die Stellung Jesu ben Siras zwischen Judentum und Hellenismus (Leiden: Brill, 1973); J. T. Sanders, Ben Sira and Demotic Wisdom, SBLMS 28 (Chico: Scholars Press, 1983); P. W. Skehan and A. A. di Lella, The Wisdom of ben Sira, Anchor Bible 39 (New York: Doubleday, 1987); M. D. Nelson, The Syriac Version of the Wisdom of Ben Sira Compared to the Greek and Hebrew Materials (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988); B. G. Wright, No Small Difference: Sirach's Relationship to Its Hebrew Parent Text (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989); D. J. Harrington, "Sirach Research since 1965: Progress and Questions", in J. C. Reeves and J. Kampen (eds.), Pursuing the Text: Studies in Honour of Ben Zion Wacholder on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), pp. 164-176; A. A. di Lella, "The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Resources and Recent Research", Currents in Research: Biblical Studies 4 (1994), pp. 161-181; R. A. Argall, 1 Enoch and Sirach (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995); J. Marboeck, Weisheit im Wandel, BZAW 272, 2nd ed. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1999); G. Sauer, Jesus Sirach/Ben Sira, Das Alte Testament Deutsch. Apokryphen, Band 1 (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000); A. Passaro, The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Studies on Tradition, Redaction, and Theology (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2008); J. J. Collins, Jewish Wisdom in the Hellenistic Age (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox, 1997); M. Weigl, Die aramäischen Achikar-Sprüche aus Elephantine und die alttestamentliche Weisheitsliteratur (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2010); T. Ann Ellis, "Negotiating the Boundaries of Tradition. The Rehabilitation of the Book of Ben Sira (Sirach) in B. Sanhedrin 100b", in J. H. Charlesworth and L. M. McDonald, with B. A. Jurgens (eds.), Sacra Scriptura. How "Non-Canonical" Texts Functioned in Early Judaism and Early Christianity (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 46–63; Jenny R. Labendz, “The Book of Ben Sira in Rabbinic Literature,” Association of Jewish Studies Review , 30 (2006), pp. 347–92.
*Awaiting decision on 5.2–5.7*quot;The Wisdom of Ben Sira: Resources and Recent Research
Top of the Page