The Hebrew Bible (Sir 0:1-0:4)

“Many great teachings have been given to us

Through the Law,

Through the Prophets,

Through the other books that followed them.

For these,

We praise Israel for instruction.

We praise Israel for wisdom.

Now those who read the scriptures

Must not only themselves understand them.

They must also,

As lovers of learning,

Be able

Through the spoken word,

Through the written word,

To help the outsiders.”

The first question that we face with this book of Ecclesiasticus is its role in the Biblical canon since it was not part of the Hebrew cannon, but certainly part of the Greek Septuagint. Thus it is often considered deutero-canonical. There is even a question as to whether this prologue is canonical since it clearly was added on later by the translator. No other book has this clear delineation between author and later translator. However, what is extremely interesting is the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible that still exists today, the Law, the Prophets, and the other Writings. This would seem to indicate that the canonical Hebrew Bible had been completed when this writing took place. This statement is generally considered the earliest witness to a Hebrew canon of the books of the Prophets. This author praised Israel for its instruction and wisdom. He was quite aware that most people did not read these holy writings or scripture. Thus, those who read these scriptures must not only understand it themselves, but also help others. These lovers of learning must help with the written and spoken word to spread the message of the great teachings.

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