Saturday, February 15, 2014

Sunday Knox: Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) 15:15-20

"Those commandments if thou wilt observe, they in their turn shall preserve thee, and give thee warrant of his favour.* It is as though he offered thee fire and water, bidding thee take which thou wouldst; life and death, blessing and curse, man finds set before him, and the gift given thee shall be the choice thou makest; so wise God is, so constraining his power, so incessant the watch he keeps over mankind.   The Lord’s eye is watching over the men who fear him, no act of ours passes unobserved;  upon none does he enjoin disobedience, none has leave from him to commit sin."

Knox Note:
* The rendering given above is an attempt to combine the Greek and the Latin versions, either of which, taken by itself, is untranslatable.


"If you choose you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Immense is the wisdom of the Lord; he is mighty in power, and all-seeing. The eyes of God are on those who fear him; he understands man’s every deed. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin."


David Brainerd said...

" either of which, taken by itself, is untranslatable."

That's not true. The Greek is perfectly translatable, and translates to "If you want you can keep the commandments, and perform acceptable faithfulness." For some reason the Latin adds in a "they will preserve you." But there is no "if you trust in God" in the Latin nor Greek; the NAB made that up out of nowhere. The same goes for Knox's "give thee warrant of his favour." That Latin plainly says "perform acceptable faithfulness" as does the Greek. These guys are paraphrasing.

David Brainerd said...

Oh yes, and it would obviously be better for the Lectionary to start with verse 11. And for the Revised Common Lectionary which gives a choice between Sirach 15:15-20 and Deuteronomy 30:15-20, it would be better to start both with verse 11. The idea that you can't blame God when you sin (Sirach 15:11-14) and the idea that the commandments are not impossible to keep (Deut 30:11-14) should not be excised from the context here in the public reading.