A deuterocanonical collection of proverbs from the intertestamental period, the Book of Sirach has been treated by many Protestants as a bit of Catholic trivia. Yet careful study of Sirach reveals fascinating insights into Jewish thought two centuries before Jesus. Walter T. Wilson invites scholars and nonspecialists alike to discover the wisdom of this important yet under-studied text.
A temple scribe writing in the second century BCE, Ben Sira aimed to instill fear of the Lord and discipline in his community. Interweaving practical advice and theoretical wisdom, his book instructs readers—then and now—in the principles of wisdom so that they may apply them to right action and lead the good life.
Based on the New Revised Standard Version, Wilson’s commentary explicates the translated English text with careful attention to its historical and religious contexts, formal qualities, prevailing themes, and place in the canon (or lack thereof). The volume includes a helpful bibliography and notes.
Walter T. Wilson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of New Testament at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. In addition to teaching New Testament at Candler, he coordinates the scripture and interpretation concentration as part of the Master of Divinity program. Prior to joining the Candler faculty in 1997, he taught at Yale Divinity School and the University of Chicago Divinity School. Wilson is the author of nine books dealing with the world of the New Testament and the editor of New Testament Interpretation: A Practical Guide.
“Wilson’s study is a welcome publication on the book of Sirach/Ben Sira. It is clear, insightful, and richly informed by both relevant ancient literature and contemporary scholarship. The volume is a valuable and perceptive vade mecum that will expertly guide readers, students, and lay readers alike chapter by chapter as they work through the complex, engaging, and at times controversial book of Ben Sira.” —Matthew Goff Florida State University
“Focusing on the rhetorical strategy of the sage, Walter Wilson places Sirach in the mainstream of gnomic literature of the Greeks and Romans in the early second century BCE where mentors taught the young to respect God, speak wisely and persuasively, and uphold the social order. The result is a splendid book for general readers, a pleasure to read because of the wit and wisdom of ancient authors.” —James L. Crenshaw Duke University
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