Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Thoughts on Ben Sira

Ben Sira (also known as Ecclesiasticus or Sirach) is part of the Apocrypha, or more accurately the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible. I've only been in one Bible study that even mentioned this lovely collection of proverbs, wise sayings, advice and counsel to all types of people from physicians to fool. And the female leader (on video) of that class railed against the writer/translator as being a misogynist. Not so. It's a lovely book, and I really like the longer advice pieces. As far as being anti-female, what's wrong with this advice? It's directed at men and how they behave around women.
Chapter 9: 3 Keep away from other men's wives or they will trap you. 4 Don't keep company with female musicians; they will trick you. 5 Don't look too intently at a virgin, or you may find yourself forced to pay a bride price. 6 Don't give yourself to prostitutes, or you may lose everything you own. 7 So don't go looking about in the streets or wandering around in the run-down parts of town. 8 When you see a good-looking woman, look the other way; don't let your mind dwell on the beauty of any woman who is not your wife."
That advice would work in the 21st century.

But more to the point. If 7% of Sirach is addressed to problems with women, then that means the other 93% is addressed to problems with men. What do Paul and Jesus lay at the feet of men (to whom they were talking) Well, how about Mark 7: greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, arrogance, folly, evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, and blasphemy for starters. Paul was just as straightforward as Jesus: Colossians 3: 8: "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips. "

Abraham was a liar; Noah was a drunkard; Moses lost his temper and killed a man; Elijah was despondent; David was an adulterer and murderer; Peter denied his Lord; Paul (Saul) chased down Christians and killed them. Thomas doubted. So, it seems the Bible doesn't always reflect well on men, yet they were all part of God's plan of redemption.

I don't recall where I read it, but Luther and Calvin didn't remove those 7 books from the Protestant canon. Later Reformers did that.

No comments: