CBS: Wisdom Reaffirmed: Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 1-4, 14-18, 20-23

Recorded November 21st 2013

After the skepticism of Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes) Wisdom is rehabilitated by Sirach (confusingly, Ecclesiasticus). ‘Ecclesiates’ is a very approximate translation of the Hebrew term ‘Qoheleth’ which could be translated ‘The Preacher’ (hence, in Latin, ‘The Churchman’).  ‘Ecclesiaticus’ gets it’s name because it is more-or-less ‘The Church Book’, as it was used by early Christians for instructing catechumens (candidates for Baptism). Thus the book was seen by those early Christians as a fine instruction in wisdom, piety, honesty and justice.

The origin of the book, as recounted  in the prologue, is that the author Jesus ben Elizar ben Sirach has translated the work of his grandfather, who had gathered together many wisdom sayings in Hebrew, into Greek for the benefit of the Jewish community in exile in Egypt. The book is said to be “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.


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