Apocrypha: Ecclesiasticus

Also sometimes known as the Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach, this is an example of the literary genre wisdom literature.  And I have to admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of this genre.  The name Ecclesiasticus evolved because this work is  considered by  some a good collection of teaching, appropriate for church  use and spiritual discipline.  However, it wasn’t considered canonical by the Jews and therefore enjoyed a conflicted status among Christians as well.  Overall, they could affirm it as having a lot of good wisdom in it even as they cautioned against some of it’s blatantly unScriptural teachings (particularly in regards to women and their status compared to men, the freedom of the human will to not sin, and a very limited view of life after death).  It was composed sometime in the early second century BC and was translated into Greek about 132BC.

There are slightly different versions of this book, some shorter and some longer.  Mostly I see wisdom literature as reiteration or summary of what should have been taught to you as you were growing up.  Modeled  by parents and other elders and authority figures.  To come to it late would be confusing and probably not very helpful, unless you had reached a point where you knew you needed some other form of wisdom than whatever you were currently equipped with!

Many of the admonitions are good.  But helpful strategies for living are hardly new and hardly exhausted.  While it’s good such compendiums exist for the confused, they just aren’t very interesting to me.  And frankly, that’s because nearly all of the wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach is found already in Scripture, making this particular piece of literature redundant.  Particularly this is seen in the final few chapters, where a series of Biblical personages are each praised through a short list of their accomplishments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s