The discovery of Hebrew manuscripts of Ben Sira in the Cairo
Genizah has shaped and transformed the interpretation of the book.
It is argued here that a proper appreciation of the manuscripts
themselves is also essential for understanding this ancient work.
Since their discovery 120 years ago and subsequent identification
of leaves, attention has been directed to the interpretation of the
ancient book, the Wisdom of Ben Sira. Serious consideration should
also be given to the Hebrew manuscripts themselves and their
particular contributions to understanding the language and
transmission of the book. The surprising appearance of a work that
was preserved by Christians and denounced by some Rabbis raises
questions over the preservation of the book. At the same time,
diversity among the manuscripts means that exegesis has to be built
on an appreciation of the individual manuscripts. The contributors
examine the manuscripts in this light, examining their discovery,
the codicology and reception of the manuscripts within rabbinic and
medieval Judaism, and the light they throw on the Hebrew language
and poetic techniques. The book is essential reading for those
working on Ben Sira, the reception of the deuterocanon, and
Medieval Hebrew manuscripts.
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