A New Fragment of Ben Sira

Via Jim Aitken notice of a new manuscript of Ben Sira that’s been uncovered in the archives of the Taylor-Schechter Geniza Research Unit at Cambridge-

The importance of the book of Ben Sira, composed shortly before the Maccabean revolt, for the study of early post-biblical language and literature cannot be overestimated. It provides evidence of the transition from Biblical Hebrew to the Hebrew of the Rabbinic sages. Furthermore, it constitutes a link in the chain of development leading from the poetics of biblical verse to those of the Hebrew liturgical poetry (piyyuṭ) that emerged in Palestine in the Byzantine period.  With the great progress made in the systematic investigation of the Genizah materials in the latter part of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries, the prospects of finding further Ben Sira fragments in the various collections have dwindled significantly. It is against the background of this fact that we must judge the excitement of the discovery of a new fragment in the Additional Series of the Taylor-Schechter Collection: T-S AS 118.78. Here one is reminded of a judgment offered over a decade ago by Stefan Reif: ‘There may be other Ben Sira items lurking among the smaller and less legible contents of some of the Additional Series binders’ (Reif 1997). It is, furthermore, particularly gratifying that this latest fragment bears the name of Schechter, whose life-work is so intimately connected with the discovery of the Genizah in general and the Hebrew Ben Sira in particular.

The new fragment contains Ben Sira 7:18-8:18.

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6 thoughts on “A New Fragment of Ben Sira

  1. […] new fragment of ben sira discovered (via Zwinglius Redivivus) Posted on January 17, 2011 by bobcargill A new manuscript of Ben Sira has been uncovered in the archives of the Taylor-Schechter Geniza Research Unit at Cambridge: The importance of the book of Ben Sira, composed shortly before the Maccabean revolt, for the study of early post-biblical language and literature cannot be overestimated. It provides evidence of the transition from Biblical Hebrew to the Hebrew of the Rabbinic sages. Furthermore, it constitutes a link in the chain of development leading from the poetics of biblical verse to those of the Hebrew liturgical poetry (piyyuṭ) that emerged in Palestine in the Byzantine period.  With the great progress made in the systematic investigation of the Genizah materials in the latter part of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first centuries, the prospects of finding further Ben Sira fragments in the various collections have dwindled significantly. It is against the background of this fact that we must judge the excitement of the discovery of a new fragment in the Additional Series of the Taylor-Schechter Collection: T-S AS 118.78. Here one is reminded of a judgment offered over a decade ago by Stefan Reif: ‘There may be other Ben Sira items lurking among the smaller and less legible contents of some of the Additional Series binders’ (Reif 1997). It is, furthermore, particularly gratifying that this latest fragment bears the name of Schechter, whose life-work is so intimately connected with the discovery of the Genizah in general and the Hebrew Ben Sira in particular. … Read More […]

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  2. Jewish Ideas Daily 18 Jan 2011 at 7:15 am

    This post has been linked to from today’s Jewish Ideas Daily.

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  3. Mark Glickman 18 Jan 2011 at 10:13 am

    Thanks for your important post about this discovery. If you are interested in the story of the Cairo Genizah, you may want to consult my new book, “Sacred Treasure – The Cairo Genizah.” It is the first widely accessible account of the fascinating story of the Cairo Genizah – why it was amassed, how it was discovered, where its documents are now, etc. Surely, it will help put this most recent Genizah discovery into the context of the overal Genizah story.

    Rabbi Mark Glickman
    Woodinville, WA
    USA

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    • Jim 18 Jan 2011 at 10:16 am

      if i might ask, what in particular qualifies you to write such a book?

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  4. […] Cargill notes, courtesy of Jim West, the discovery of a new manuscript of Ben […]

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  5. ANE News – 01.28.11 28 Jan 2011 at 7:17 am

    […] A New Fragment of Ben Sira …It provides evidence of the transition from Biblical Hebrew to the Hebrew of the Rabbinic sages. Furthermore, it constitutes a link in the chain of development leading from the poetics of biblical verse to those of the Hebrew liturgical poetry (piyyuṭ) that emerged in Palestine in the Byzantine period. […]

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