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Barber on Sirach’s status within Judaism

Michael Barber has an interesting post up, which also links to another interesting post on the status of the Book of Sirach within Ancient Judaism.  Possibly this is inspired by the fact that the first readings in our lectionary are currently being taken from the Book of Sirach.

The post that Michael links to is written by Dr. Jeff Morrow of Seton Hall University.  It’s not really an apologetic post for the inclusion of deuterocanonicals as a part of the canon.  It simply serves to muddy the waters a bit.  Here’s a snippet:

What complicates matters further is that different groups within Second Temple Judaism apparently considered different books canonical. Although the biblical books used by the Pharisees is likely identical to Josephus’, which looks like the Old Testament of most Protestants, and, it should be noted, the Hebrew Bible (Tanak) of the majority of contemporary Judaism, this is not for certain. Sadducees, on the other hand, had a much smaller list of biblical books (only including the Penateuch, according to New Testament evidence). It is difficult to determine what canon was in  use among the Jews at Qumran—where Esther has not been discovered but Tobit and Sirach from the deuterocanon have been found (in Aramaic and Hebrew no less)—but it appears they likely considered some of their own community’s texts as canonical. The question of canon at such an early stage, however, is complicated by the fact that we are not even sure what a canon would mean at that point within Judaism. Would they have understood those texts as divinely revealed, as inspired? And what would inspiration mean for them? Would there have been a canon-within-a-canon? These questions remain unresolved.

Anyway, I’d recommend you check it out.

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Additions to Daniel in Today’s Liturgy

Today’s responsive reading involves part of the additions to Daniel considered canonical by Roman Catholics and some of the other more liturgically oriented traditions.  That is very fine and well (at least in my opinion, but I’m Catholic).  Yet here’s the footnote from the New American Bible:

[24] 3,24-90: These verses are inspired additions to the Aramaic text of Daniel, translated from the Greek form of the book. They were originally composed in Hebrew or Aramaic, which has not been preserved. The church has always regarded them as part of the canonical Scriptures.

Nothing like oversimplifications.  And, people wonder why Catholics and Protestants represent each other with caricatures.  How about mentioning that the additional texts in Catholic Bibles are called Deuterocanonical in order to recognize their contested status.

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