Ecclesiastical (book of the Bible)

Book of the Wisdom of Jesus: The Book of the Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirac (abbreviation Yes, in Hebrew: חכמת יהושע בן סירא). Commonly and familiarly called Book of Sirácides, or, of the Sirácida. (The Syracid transcription —with e as the final vowel value, and without the final s—, is inappropriate in Spanish; although it has been derived from the usual French form of the term.) The Latin tradition has called it the Ecclesiastical Book. However, despite this name, it should not be confused with Ecclesiastes, which is another Old Testament wisdom book of a similar name. Nor should it be confused with the expression Ecclesiastical Books, used very late among Protestants to refer systematically to all Deuterocanonical writings (see).


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  • 1 General data
  • 2 Name of the book
  • 3 Author
  • 4 Text and dating
  • 5 Canonicality
  • 6 Contents
  • 7 Teaching
  • 8 Jews can define God
  • 9 Reward and punishment in this world and beyond
  • 10 Wealth is not virtue
  • 11 Influence
  • 12 Sources

General data

It is part of the Eastern and Western Broad Canon, sustenance of the Bibles of the Orthodox, Eastern Christian churches and of the Catholic Church . This includes it among the texts commonly considered “deuterocanonical”, that is, from the “Second Collection”. In Catholic Bibles it is usually placed at the end of the series of wisdom texts and writings (after Wisdom) and before the series of the Prophetic Books (before Isaiah).

Contemporary Jews do not include it in the Tanach, although there is evidence that at least some Jewish groups in Jesus’ time did include it among the Writings or Hagiographers, that is, the third section of the Tanach: “It is exposed in the Pentateuch by written, “And Esau came to Ishmael” [Genesis 28: 9], repeated in the Prophets, in writing, “A band of miserable people joined Jephthah, who raided him” [Judges 11: 3], mentioned in a third stage in the Hagiographers, in writing: “Every living man loves his fellow man, and every man loves his neighbor” “[Ecclesiasticus 13:15]. Gemara, Seder Nazikin, Baba Qamma 92b.

“There is yet another Paradise below the heads of living creatures, so it is written:” Above the heads of the being was a form of crystal-shining vault, spread above their heads “[Ezekiel 1:22]. Up to here you have permission to speak, from then on you do not have permission to speak, for what is written in the book of Ben Sirá: «Do not look for what surpasses you, or what exceeds your strength, try to scrutinize. That which is entrusted to you, meditate, that what is hidden is not necessary for you »[Ecclesiasticus 3: 21-22].” Gemara, Seder Mo’ed, Chagigah 13th.

Protestants mistakenly regard it as “apocryphal,” as do the other deuterocanonicals, though some view it as profitable reading, and certain important Protestant Bibles, such as the Luther Bible, the Bible of James VI of Scotland and I of England ( the famous English King James Version ), from 1611, as well as the Bibles of Cassiodoro de Reina, from 1569, and Cipriano de Valera, from 1602, recently reissued under the title of ‘The Bible of the Golden Age’, include this book and the other deuterocanonicals.

Name of the book

Its Castilian name, the Ecclesiastic, comes from the Latin voice Ecclesiasticus, a name that Jerónimo assigned to it in his Latin Bible, called the Vulgate, and which, in turn, comes from the Greek expression το εκκλησιαστικον (to Ekklesiastikón, the book of the church, assembly or congregation), name given to him by Cipriano de Cartago, father of the Church, who lived between the 2nd and 3rd centuries (160-258), in clear reference to the use that the Church made of it, because of its rich moral content, for the formation and edification of the catechumenate, that is, of the people who had previously been baptized.

In the Septuagint Bible, this book is entitled Wisdom of Jesus, son of Syrac, hence it received, as well as its author, the old nicknames of Syracids, or the Syracid. The author, in addition to the name, states at the end of the book that he is a Jew from Jerusalem. Some variant of the Greek texts also affirms that he is a priest.


Unlike other Wisdom Books (such as that of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or Wisdom, only pseudonymically attributed to the wise king Solomon) the Ecclesiastical Book is the only one among the Wisdom Books whose author we know with certainty the name . In chapter L, verse 27, it expressly says the following: “Doctrine of understanding and knowledge, recorded, in this book, Jesus, son of Syrac, of Eleazar, the Jerolimite who overflowed wisdom from his heart …” Syracids 50,27 This is possibly a wise man from Jerusalemthat wrote the work towards the year 190 a. C .; He dedicated himself from a young age to the study of Law and Wisdom, and sought salvation in prayer. Ben Sirac is a man who has traveled and has a rich life experience based on observation. He has been slandered with false accusations; clarified the truth by God’s work, he sings a song of thanksgiving that crystallizes in this book.

Some exponents suggest that Syracids must have belonged to the Sadducee Jewish school, or perhaps sympathized with his ideas. But given that the book was found among the Manuscript Scrolls of the Dead Sea, as well as in the ruins of the Masada fort, it is much more likely that his work had been a universally accepted text that was used to encourage the faith of different schools of dissident Jews, and even disagreeing with each other.

Text and dating

The original was written in Hebrew; the Greek translation is considered the work of a grandson of Ben Sirac some 60 or 70 years later. Today, copies of the Hebrew text handwritten by the Karaite Jews in the 9th century are available, found in the repository of a synagogue in Cairo in 1896 (3,6-16,26; 18; 19; 20; 25; 26; 36 ; 37; 35,11-38,27; 39,15-51,30), in 1931 (32,16-34,1) and 1958, as well as fragments of manuscripts copied in the 1st century or earlier, found in Qumran (6,14-15; 6,20-31; 51,13-19) and in 1964 in the fortress of Masada (39,27-32; 40,10-19,26-44; 17,6). 7 Two thirds of the Hebrew text are currently available: 1,108 verses, compared to 1,616 of the total of the Greek text.

Jerónimo de Estridón mentions having had the Hebrew text, but in the end he chose to only review and correct the Latin translation (called Vetus Latina), which already existed previously, to include it in his own version of the Vulgate.

In the Prologue of the Greek version it is expressly mentioned that it is a translation of the Hebrew by a grandson of Ben Sirac himself, in order to cultivate and build that of the Jews of Alexandria and gives a date: the year 132 a. C.

Despite all of the above, the Hebrew origin of the text has been much disputed. Others have argued that the Hebrew texts found in Cairo were a translation, but after the discovery of the Qumran and Masada manuscripts it is undoubtedly known that it was written in Hebrew.

The dating can be fixed with some certainty because Jesus Christ praises the High Priest Simon, second of this name (Sirocides 50), who seems to have been his contemporary. The translator of the book into Greek states that Jesus was his grandfather, and that he – the translator – left for Egypt in the year 38 of King Evergetes (also second of that name), that is, in 132 a. C.

On the one hand, the author knows nothing about the persecutions of the Jewish people by Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and has not heard of the conquest of Jerusalem or the looting of the Temple, events that began in 170 BC. Therefore, the book must have been written before, around 180 a. In those times Hellenism had preyed upon the Jewish nation, and Ben Sirac would have advocated against this invasion of foreign culture.

It is possible that originally the book was not composed as a whole, but rather resulted from the joint edition of a collection of several texts, properly assembled. For a long time, scholars such as Nicholas of Lira, Cornelius of Lapide, and Eichhorn have proposed that they assemble at least four blocks: the first, chapters 1 to 23; the second, 24 to 42.14; the third, a Laus Patrum 42.15 to 50.24; and the fourth the poem on the search for wisdom 51,13-30.

The book constitutes an invaluable and almost unique testimony of the reality of its time and of the Jewish customs and customs from the date of the original composition to that of the translation of the grandson of Syracids (130 BC).


It has not been included in the Jewish Tanach. The Synod of Jamnia (Iavne), in which the Pharisee Jews finally attempted to define their own collection of religious texts held to be sacred, as late as AD 95. C., decided not to include it in Tanach. It has been argued that the book of Syracids contains expressions of contempt for the female figure, or anti-feminism as well as influences from the philosophy of the Epicurean school. Although it has already been demonstrated that such ideas exist in several other texts of the Bible, and of the Jewish and Christian thinkers through the times.

It was used, however, by the Essene communities of Qumran, and there are citations from Syracid’s work even in the Talmud and in rabbinical literature. The Babylonian Talmud (Baba Qamma 92b) quotes Chapter XIII of the Book of Syracid as if it came from the Jewish Tanach. And several of the marginal Jewish groups, through the ages, have accepted it as such: the ancient Essenes of Qumran, the Zealot revolutionaries of Masada, the Karaite Jews during the Middle Ages, and the Beta Israel in Ethiopia. It has been included in the Alexandrian Greek Israelite Bible, called the Septuagint, with the name of the Book of Wisdom and Virtue and, as a result, it has been included in all the ancient known codices of Greek Scripture, and in all versions and editions copied from those same codices.

The Orthodox Christian Churches, as well as the different Eastern Churches, and the Catholic Church recognize it as an integral part of the Canon of the Bible. Because it has not been included in the Canon of Jewish Tanach, which is the official holy book of contemporary Judaism, its canonicity has been rejected by Protestant churches, which by default exclude deuterocanonicals from their own versions and editions of texts. sacred.


As Syracid’s own grandson points out in the Prologue, the Book is addressed to pious Jews desirous of ruling their own lives in accordance with the Law, without forgetting the pagans who wish to know what awaits them by assuming God, faith and the traditions of the Jews. Sirácides tries to maintain the integrity of the religious faith yahvista, and to be able to contribute to the purification and purification of uses and customs, that increasingly were dyed more of Hellenistic infiltrations.


The Sirácida contains mainly ethical maxims, reason why it resembles the Proverbs considerably. It is unknown whether Syracid was the original author or was only a compiler. Although the uniform style shown by the book seems to indicate the former. It deals with various topics, from simple rules of courtesy, humanity and civility, precepts on worship, passing tests and the fear of the Lord, to the rules regarding duties towards the state, society and neighbor.

The very nature of the text, which seems to be a selection of phrases, proverbs and poems from many different sources, gives rise to disputes about the unity of its origin, as well as the language in which it was written. Apparently, some hymns to wisdom, or to God the creator, serve as a link between the different sets of texts. The first, which deals with wisdom, and the fear of God, which is followed by various sentences and recommendations on how to acquire it. The second, on the difference between the path of good and that of evil, passing through various states of life, and then trades, and temperaments. In the third set, discretion and greed are discussed extensively. And it ends with a hymn of wisdom that praises itself.

The epilogue invites the reader to turn to the sources of wisdom. Two supplements follow: one, on the fear of God, and another, on death. Although, the Ecclesiastic does not present an organized and premeditated plan; Since it deals with diverse subjects, and it jumps from one to the other, at least some four main doctrinal lines can be identified in it.

Jews can define God

The teaching about God is only imparted by the Jews of Israel, who teach that God is our father, that He created the world and all that it contains, that it is good, moral, and infinitely wise, that it knows whether we are just or unjust, and who rewards the good, and punishes with great severity the wickedness of the unjust and wicked.

Reward and punishment in this world and beyond

Like other authors of wisdom literature, Syracids faces the problem of which in Judaism emphasis is often given to rewards and punishments. As Proverbs 3:33 says, “The curse of Jehovah is in the house of the wicked, but he will bless the abode of the righteous,” Syracids states that “there is a wage for him who practices righteousness” (16:14); however, he takes on the dramatic experience outlined in the book of Job and openly says:

If you decide to serve the Lord, prepare for the test. (2: 1) As in the book of Job it is established that even the righteous suffer and suffer calamities, but that there is a God who appreciates man’s insistence on trusting in him, in his good will despite, in his wisdom, and as a reward after death.

Far from assuming that retributions and punishments are only temporary, that is, that each one receives in this life all the consequences of his own acts, he emphatically declares: For God it is an easy thing to pay man on the day of death what he deserved for his conduct. (11:26) Look at the sky and the sky of the heavens, the abyss and the earth will be shaken at the time of your visit. (16:18) In everything you do keep your end in mind, and you will never sin. (7:36) Although Sirachides does not know how God will repay each one according to his works, he points out that “Enoch pleased God and was taken away, an example of science for the nations” (44:16) and Elijah was “taken away to heaven in a whirlwind amid floats of fire “(48: 9). So believe both in retribution after death and point to examples of a heavenly reward. Call to repentance to avoid punishment: Convert to the Lord and leave your sins, plead before his face and remove the obstacles … How great is the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness for those who turn to him! (17: 25,29)

Wealth is not virtue

Disregarding all nihilism, the Ecclesiasticus proceeds to make a moderate criticism of the wealthy: wealth can denote intelligence on the part of the one who has amassed it, but does not guarantee virtue, piety or justice. It has a very relative value and is extremely dangerous for the spiritual health of those who rejoice in it. The true path, then, is moderation and especially solidarity with the needy: Do not outwit the poor their livelihood, nor despise the one who pleads bitterly. Do not let the hungry suffer or turn away from the dejected. (4: 1-2) Declares that pride is an offense to humans and also to God (10: 7), who chooses the humble: The bigger you are, the more you should humble yourself; thus you will please God. For great is the Lord’s mercy and he reveals his secrets to the humble. (3: 18-20)


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