Questions of vocation and character formation become important to students as they continue to receive higher education. Jesus Ben Sira combines secular wisdom from Near Eastern wisdom sources and divine revelations from the Hebrew Bible to create the Book of Sirach. By applying form criticism to Ben Sira’s book, Daniel J. Harrington provides students with historical information of the psychological and sociological context underlying Ben Sira’s teachings, as well as an understanding of how Ben Sira’s ancient wisdom can contribute to personal and social formation in the 21st century.
Chapters include Ben Sira and His Book, Ben Sira and Other Wisdom Books, Reading Ben Sira’s Book, Ben Sira’s Ways of Teaching, Ben Sira’s Social World, Ben Sira’s Abiding Wisdom, as well as references, suggestions for further study, and an index.
Daniel J. Harrington, S.J., Ph.D., is a professor of New Testament at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He has written numerous scholarly works, including Paul on the Mystery of Israel, The Gospel of Matthew, and The Gospel According to Matthew published by the Liturgical Press.
This book is part of the series Interfaces.
The book is easy to read. It has a somewhat unexpected structure, and that method of surprise helps to make it a stimulating teaching tool for introducing the book of Ben Sira. The author's success in giving such a comprehensive presentation of both the history of transmission and the important themes within the book is very satisfying.
Review of Biblical Literature Newsletter
It is an excellent primer on this wisdom text that is unfamiliar to many readers of the Bible. . . . Harrington demonstrates that the book is a valuable source to anyone seeking a more comprehensive understanding of the genre of biblical wisdom literature.
Daniel Harrington is known for his meticulous scholarship, broad knowledge of ancient Judaism and Christianity, and exemplary teaching. All three come together in this book. Harrington's analysis of Ben Sira's literary forms, social environment, and world view paints a picture of a real human being grappling with the most important questions in life. The final chapter brings Ben Sira into dialogue with both ancient authors and modern readers on such questions. Students will find in Harrington's book a reliable and eminently readable introduction to the book of Sirach, and seasoned scholars will appreciate the opportunity to engage anew this important work of Jewish wisdom.
Professor Fredrick J. Murphy, Department of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts
This book is easy to read. Its rather surprising structure makes it a stimulating teaching tool for introducing the book of Sirach. The author presents a delightfully comprehensive and clear summary of both the history of the tradition and the important themes of the book.
Review of Biblical Literature
. . . a solid introduction to a wisdom book that in recent times is appreciated more and more.
International Journal in Philosophy and Theology
Ben Sira has found a worthy and congenial interpreter for his wide-ranging thought in H., and in the Interfaces series, an informative and readable text to raise questions in a new context.
The Catholic Biblical Quarterly
. . . opens up the corpus of ancient Jewish wisdom to beginners in biblical studies.
New Testament Abstracts
This is vintage Harrington: profound, clear, challenging, and creative. It more than merits inclusion in this fine series.
The Bible Today
Harrington's excellent focus of these teachings will open the body of Ben Sira's work to novice Scripture scholars and reintroduce these writings to more seasoned Biblical scholars. . . .Students of ancient civilization, Jewish history and culture, as well as the general liberal arts student will enjoy this book, either as a text or supplemental material.
Catholic Library World
A lifetime of first-rate scholarship informs this introduction. Harrington knocks the dust off of this ancient text, and challenges the modern audience not only to understand Sirach in its historical context, but also to engage it as it was intended-a guide to spiritual development in wisdom. These two approaches, far from competing with each other, are now seen to be mutually enriching. Old readers and new readers alike will find Harrington's introduction the best available.
Lawrence Wills, Professor of Biblical Studies, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
. . . is one of the best books available as an intorductory study to the Book of Sirach."
Catholic Studies An Online Journal
Dan Harrington has an exceptional talent for presenting complex scholarship in a lucid way that any student can follow. His treatment of the long and complicated book of Ben Sira is a model of pedagogical clarity. His organization of the material in terms of spiritual exercises that draw together themes scattered through the book will be illuminating for all students of Ben Sira, from beginners to experts.
John J. Collins
Harrington draws together themes from Ben Sira's work into spiritual exercises that can serve as a guide to personal and social formation in wisdom for modern readers.
Old Testament Abstracts