What is the Book of Sirach?  


By BibleAsk Team

The Book of Sirach

The Book of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus is a wisdom Jewish work from approximately 200 to 175 BC. It was authored by the Judahite scribe Ben Sira of Jerusalem, on the inspiration of his father Joshua son of Sirach (sometimes called Jesus son of Sirach or Yeshua ben Eliezer ben Sira). In Egypt, it was translated into Greek by the author’s unnamed grandson. 

The authorship of Sirach is traditionally ascribed to Jesus ben Sirach, a scribe and sage living in Jerusalem around 180 BCE. Dating from the early 2nd century BCE, Sirach reflects the Hellenistic influence on Jewish thought during a period marked by political upheavals and cultural encounters. The Book of Sirach is organized into 51 chapters, each presenting a collection of proverbs, maxims, and exhortations.

The Deuterocanonical Books

The Book of Sirach appears in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible and is used in their Church liturgy. The Roman Catholic Bibles have books in the Old Testament that are not found in the Protestant Bible. These books in the Catholic Bibles are called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. Apocrypha means “hidden,” while the word deuterocanonical means “second canon.”  

The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals were written during the era between the Old and New Testaments, as well as additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. In addition to the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), the Apocrypha contains: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees.  

The Deuterocanonical books teach many things that are not true and are not historically accurate. While many Catholics accepted these books previously, the Roman Catholic Church officially added the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals to their Bible at the Council of Trent in the mid 1500’s A.D. because of the Reformation. 

The Catholic church included the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonicals because these books in general support some of the beliefs that it teaches and practices which are not in agreement with the Bible. It is because of the historical and theological errors, which the Apocrypha contains, that these books must be regarded as fallible and not authoritative as the inspired Scriptures. The Hebrews never accepted these books as part of their canon. And the New Testament writers never quoted from Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books simply because these books contained many doctrinal errors. 

Why the Book of Sirach Is Not Part of the Bible?  

Although the Book of Sirach may have some truths, it does contain unbiblical teachings that is why it is not part of the accepted canon of Scripture. It teaches that works can merit favor with God and mitigate our sin in His eyes. And it also teaches that we should expect reciprocal responses from those we help (chapters 3, 7, 12, 17, and 22).

But this clearly opposes what the Bible teaches. For salvation is gained by faith alone and not by works. The Word of God stresses that, “by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). And it also teaches that a Christian should give without expecting anything in return. Jesus said, “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back” (Matthew 6:3). And that “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7),   

The Bible gives us the test for deciding between truth and falsehood: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20). The Word of God is the standard of truth and the guide to right living. God has revealed Himself in His Word. Whatever men may speak or write that is not in harmony with that Word is because they have “no light” in them.  The inspired books of the Bible must contain God’s truths which are “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). 

In His service, 

BibleAsk Team 

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