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“The Law, The Prophets, And The Other Books Of The Fathers” (Sir, Prologue) Canonical Lists In Ben Sira And Elsewhere?

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Chapter Summary

The prologue to Ecclesiasticus was read as referring to a bipartite canon of law and prophets while the other books mentioned would designate non-canonical Jewish texts. But does the scholarly common opinion of a tripartite canon in the prologue to Ecclesiasticus stand scrutiny or are the few critical voices entitled to be heard? To answer this question, this chapter discusses some terminological issues and surveys the lists of Jewish authorities and Jewish literature from the 2nd and early 1st century BCE. Afterwards, it analyzes the three lists of Jewish literature in the prologue to Ecclesiasticus and its reception by the Letter of Aristeas. A second survey studies the lists of Jewish authorities in later Jewish literature. The most extensive list of categories of ancient Jewish literature is attested in Sir 38:34b-39:3. As part of his praise of the scribe, Ben Sira describes the different forms of literature studied by him.

Keywords: Ben Sira; canon of law; Ecclesiasticus; Jewish authorities; Jewish literature; Letter of Aristeas; prophets



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