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.


  • I might have, if you hadn’t recommended it.


    • Well, in that case, I recommend that everyone reads it, except you.

  • […] Michael Barber has a post up, leading to another post, and was pointed out by this guy. […]

  • Already did. Too late. Even linked to you.

  • Thanks for the shout-out!

    • Sure thing, Michael. I just keep working on Joel, trying to get him to convert. That way he can finally change his blog name from “unsettled” to “settled” Christianity. 😉

  • Wounded! Hurt! Aghast! And, here I was, thinking that I would go to the 7:30 Mass Sunday when I was down, at the end of the month, March 27th at 7:30 am with you.

    • 7:30? Did I say we had a 7:30 mass? I meant that we don’t have anything before 11:30 ;-).

  • Is there a biblioblogger Eucharistic Liturgy I have not been informed of? : )

    • No, it just turns out that Joel’s wife’s family and my wife’s family are from the same little town in Louisiana. And he comes to visit sometimes because the food in West Virginia is terrible. He’s going to mass with me this time because last time they forced him to go to a Baptist church.

  • No, I wasn’t forced; I went willingly. However, after the first few minutes, my eyes rolled back in my head. I need liturgy!

    Besides, 7:30 in them morning means I get to leave early!

    • I thought I told you there was no 7:30, or if there was I just checked and it’s cancelled.