Peter Beckman

The Reader of Sirach's Embodiment of Paideia, Ethics, and Worship


In this paper, we will briefly introduce the book of Sirach. Sirach is a piece of Jewish wisdom literature that was originally written in Hebrew in the early 2rd Century BC. A Greek version was completed cir. 132 BC for the purpose of religious, educational, and ethical formation of young students in Ptolemaic Jewish Egyptian communities. This study will demonstrate that Greek Sirach intended to inculcate divine wisdom inspired formation (paideia) in its reader which resulted in the student’s embodiment of ethical actions and lifestyles from observations of the book’s genre, prologue, literary format, as well as interpersonal linguistic features that address the reader in its final two chapters. The study of wisdom formed paideia, which in the Hellenistic world was the educational and cultural formation and development of the student. Sirach claims that its readers ethical paideia formation culminates in their worship of God. We will see that Sirach claims that the internalization of its wise practical instruction leads to its reader’s present worship of God with his people. Paideia forms ethical virtues that culminate in adoration.