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ANOTHEK EDITION OF THE HEBREW 
ECCLESIASTICUS.' 

By the Rev. Hope W. Hogg, 

Oxford, England. 

Quite a literature has gathered round the Hebrew Ecclesias- 
ticus since its publication in February, 1897 — though the daily 
press did not realize its importance (the Times, for example, not 
even reviewing it).^ There have appeared no less than four other 
editions (two in Germany and two in France), in addition to the 
cheap reprint of the English translation published by the Claren- 
don Press. Of the two which have been noticed in these pages 
(April, 1897, pp. 211-19)' one, that of Smend, embodied the 
results of a collation not only of the original photographs, but 
also of the original MS., for the carrying out of which all praise is 
due to Professor Smend for his enterprise and his careful work, as 
well as to those in the Bodleian Library, who generously afforded 
him such facilities as were necessary for the successful carrying 
out of his undertaking. The same praise is due to the edition of 
M. L6vi, which we are now to consider. 

1 L'EccLfisiABTiQXJE ou La Sagesse de J6sus, Pils de Sira. Texte original h6breu, 6dit§, 
traduit et comment6 par Israel L6vi, Maitre de conf6rences fc I'^cole des hautes etudes (Sec- 
tion des sciences religieuses) =Biblioth&que de I'ftcole des hantes 6tndes. Sciences rSligieuses, 
Xe Tolume, fasc. premier. Paris : Ernest Leroux, Editeur, 28, Rue Bonaparte, 1898. Paper. 
Ivii -f 149 pp. ; 8to. 

2 Of the many reviews of the editio princeps of Cowley-Neubauer may, perhaps, be 
singled out (without offense), as of special value, the two notices of Smend (TheoL Lit.- 
Zeitung, March 20 and May 15, 1897), and the reviews, in April, of Perles ( Wietier Zeitschrift 
fiir die Kunde des Morgenlandes) ; in May, of Fraenkel (Monatsschrift filr Oeschichte und 

Wissenschaft des Judenthums), of Mayer Lambert (Journal asiatique), and of Noldeke 
(Expositor); and, in July, of Bacher (Jewish Quarterly Review). In addition to reviews, 
there have appeared, besides notes on special points by different scholars (Bevan, Gray, D. S. 
Margoliouth, D. H. Moller, etc.), several extensive studies of the whole series of questions 
raised by the recovery of the Hebrew text. Such are the elaborate and valuable articles of 
M. Jules Touzard, Professeur d'&riture sainte et d'Hfibreu au Sfiminaire Saint-Snlpice 
(Revue biblique. Vol. VI, 271-82, 547-73 [1897] ; VII, 33-58 [1898]), since published as a volume 
(Voriginal Hibreu de VMcclisiastique, Paris : Librairie Victor Lecoffre, 1898, pp. 78, 8vo) ; 
the notes of Ludwig Blau (Bevue des itudes juives. Vol. XXXV, 19-29 [July-Sept., 1897]), and 
a series of articles (Revue des itudes juives, Vol. XXXIV, 1-50, 294-6 ; XXXV, 29-47 [both 
1897]), bythe author of the volume under review. [Attention is called to the former contri- 
butions on this subject by Mr. Hope W. Hogg, in the Expository Times, March, 1897, pp. 262-7, 
and The American Journal of Theology, Vol. I, 777-86 ; also to the summary of recent litera- 
ture by Professor Levias, Arr^rican Journal of Theology, II, 210-12 ; and review of Gowley- 
Neubaner, by Professor Ira M. Price, in this JouBNAL, Vol. XIV, pp. 49-50.— The Editoe.] 

3 Professor Price's review of Smend, Dcts hebrdische Fragment der Weisheit des Jesus 
Sirach, and Schlatter, Das neu gefundene Sebrdische StUck des Sirach. 

42 



The Hebrew Ecolesiastiods 43 

The book is a serviceable one. An introduction of fifty-three 
pages (v-lvii) discusses the problems solved or raised by the recov- 
ery of the text. In the body of the book (pp. 2-149) the upper part 
of the left-hand page gives the Hebrew text as M. L6vi has deci- 
phered it, and the upper part of the opposite page a translation 
in French, while the lower (and larger) part of each page is 
devoted to a critical commentary, chiefly of a textual nature. 

There is much that is interesting in the introduction. Many 
points that we had marked for notice must be excluded. We may 
pass over what is said of the oft-written history of the fragments 
(the still unwritten part of the story is romantic, but the time for 
telling it is not yet at hand) and of the appearance of the MS. 
(details must still be sought in Cowley -Neubauer and Smend), and 
come at once to what the author has to say of the remarkable mar- 
ginal notes which are one of its most interesting features (pp. xi- 
xviii) . Some of these notes, he says, are simply the copyist's cor- 
rections of his own mistakes : over a dozen of such are indicated 
(marked with an J.) in the commentary. In many more cases, how- 
ever, a second exemplar has furnished another hand with various 
readings — sometimes mere synonyms, sometimes distinct readings 
modifying the sense. Of these distinct readings M. L6vi gives a 
list of some eighty (pp. xii-xv). When, as in a majority of 
cases, the readings of the text and those of the margin, though 
distinct, can be traced to the same source, the original has gen- 
erally been better preserved on the margin, though it contains 
also readings that give no sense at all (p. xv). Comparing the 
really distinct readings with the Greek and the Syriac versions, 
our author comes to the conclusion that there were, probably 
before the third century A. D., at least two distinct recensions 
of the Hebrew text, represented by the text and the margin, 
respectively, of our MS. (p. xvi). These, however, are to be 
traced back to a common source already somewhat modified from 
the original (p. xvi).. In explanation of the presence on the 
margin of more than one variant recorded in the same hand- 
writing, M. L6vi assumes, not that the copyist who recorded them 
had more than one additional MS. before him, but that the sev- 
eral variants are (his?) repeated attempts to decipher a single 
ill-preserved original. 

The mere explanatory glosses are for the most part in Aramaic 
or late Hebrew (p. xvii), and words quoted from the context are 



44 Hebeaica 

frequently abbreviated. Sometimes, however (though rarely — 
only two cases being cited), the abbreviations represent some 
word other than that in our own present text. M. L6vi does 
not point out what this seems to imply, viz., that the reading 
is cited, not from the text, but from the margin of another MS. 
Moreover, he expressly declines to draw any conclusion (as M. 
Touzard has done) from the fact that, after the point at which, 
as the copyist himself tells us, the main source of the mar- 
ginal notes was exhausted, we have a gloss agreeing with the 
Greek (p. xviii). 

We need hardly say anything of the nature of the proof that 
has convinced M. L6vi (in spite of the initial skepticisili of his 
brief notice in the, Eevue des etudes juives, April-June, 1896, 
Vol. XXXII, 303 sg.), to which he naturally does not refer, and 
others that our Hebrew fragment is not a translation, but an 
original (pp. xviii sq.). He is tempted, however, to conjecture, 
as Blass does in the case of Acts, that the author himself may 
have revised his own work (p. xx). 

The language used by Ben Sira M. L6vi describes as biblical, 
but crammed (farcin) with Aramaic and Rabbinic modes of 
expression. He concludes that Hebrew was still in common 
use when Ben Sira wrote. The many misinterpretations of the 
younger Ben Sira, he argues, imply, not that he did not know 
Hebrew, but (from their occurring, for the most part, in passages 
resembling, or founded on, earlier writers) that the older Hebrew 
was not so well known to him as that of his own time — a thesis 
to which M. L6vi is constantly returning. He regards this as 
a serious difficulty in the way of assigning certain of the Old 
Testament writings to a very late date. He argues that the mixed 
classical and unclassical style of a well-educated man like Ben 
Sira makes it unsafe to assume that other writers could avoid 
betraying themselves in the same way. On this, however, two 
remarks may be made : firstly, it is one thing to write a large, 
independent treatise, and it is a very different thing to insert a 
few sentences in some other man's work ; and, secondly, is not 
M. L6vi coming very near erecting a fortress in order to have the 
satisfaction of demolishing it? It is surely misleading to speak 
of criticism bringing down "Job and Proverbs" to the time of 
Ben Sira — if by that is meant the second century B. C. — and is 
Ben Sira more or less unclassical than Chronicles or Ecclesiastes ? 



The Hebrew Ecolesiasticus 45 

In another respect M. L6vi sees an advance on the Old Testament 
writers also — in the ordering of the subject-matter and in the 
free use of titles of sections (p. xxv).* He may rather unduly 
accent the features that distinguish Ecolesiasticus from other 
Old Testament writings ; but it is perhaps well that attention 
should be directed to such points, since, with most who have 
written on the subject, the emphasis has naturally been laid on 
the other side. 

On the question of the date of Ben Sira, M. Levi's theory 
naturally makes it easy for him to meet the objection to the 
received view urged by M. Hal6vy, who demands a consider- 
able interval of time between the composition and the trans- 
lation of the book to account for the misunderstanding of the 
translator. 

Passing over what is said of the bearing of Ecclesiasticus 
on the history of the canon, which limits of space forbid our 
discussing, we note that M. L6vi points out the agreement, in 
the main, of the Hebrew text of the Old Testament writings 
used by Ben Sira with the present Massoretic text. With refer- 
ence, however, to the case adduced by him, where Ben Sira 
seems to follow the Ker& in preference to the Kethih, M. L6vi 
seems to go too far when he infers that there was already a 
Massoretic tradition : Ben Sira may have been following, not a 
tradition, but a text. 

We cannot stay to speak of M. Levi's suggestive discussion of 
the famous panegyric (chaps. 44-49) — note in particular the 
theory of 44:3-9 (pp. xxxix and 82), but must hasten on to what 
he has to say of the versions. After making allowance for cor- 
ruption of the Greek text in the course of transmission, L6vi 
finds that in some seventy-eight cases the translator has misread 
his original (pp. xlii-xliv), that in some cases he has misheard 
it (pp. xliv sq.), that he has repeatedly misresolved abbreviated 
forms, inverted the arrangement of words, and even shown his 
imperfect command of classical Hebrew by translating the first 
member of a construct phrase as a genitive. But, surely, any one 
of these blunders might be already present in the Hebrew MS. 
used by the translator (in the last case a simple accidental inver- 
sion of the order of two Hebrew wordd would explain his apparent 
blunder). When M. L6vi asks what way he learned of the 

< He also makes something of the abandonment of anonymity. 



46 Hebeaica 

condition of the Septuagint at the time of the younger Ben Sira, he 
does well not to attach too much importance to some resemblances 
in the Greek translation (note, however, that most of them are in 
passages omitted in the Septuagint) to certain phrases in the 
Greek Pentateuch (p. xlix). With regard to the very interest- 
ing verse 49:76, the close agreement of which with Jer. 1:10 is 
pointed out on p. 146, it should be noted that, in the Hebrew, it 
is not divided into hemistichs, and in the Septuagint it is omitted 
altogether. 

In the section devoted to the Syriac version (p. 1), after 
urging the critical treatment of its text (p. li), and enumerating 
passages where the translator shows, by misreading it, that his 
original was Hebrew (pp. Isq.), M. L6vi makes some interesting 
suggestions as to the many lacunse of the Syriac. Certain dif- 
ferences in the character of different parts he explains by sup- 
posing that the version is the work of several hands ; down to the 
end of chap. 42 the translation carefully follows the Hebrew; 
43:1-10 (which is all S. has of chap. 43) is a piece translated 
from the Greek ; * from chap. 44 onward the translation becomes 
less faithful ; finally the whole has been revised and brought into 
close agreement with the Greek. 

What we have said shows that M. L6vi has made a useful 
contribution to the critical study of Ecclesiasticus. His defense 
of the readings on the margin is in striking contrast to the 
depreciatory estimate of Smend, who describes them as meistens 
werihlos. Fraenkel ( Wiener Zeitschrift filr die Kunde des 
Morgenlandes, Vol. XI, 96) takes a medium course, urging that, 
where the margin gives an older or a rarer word than the word 
in the text, the latter is an interpretation, while D. H. Mailer 
{ibid., pp. 108 sg.) urges the converse. 

Whether L6vi is justified in his estimate of the Hebrew of 
Ben Sira is doubtful. He seems to exaggerate, being, per- 
haps, tempted to do so by his theory of the deviations of the 
Greek. 

Having said so much of the first part of Levi's work, we have 
little room to deal with the second. This is naturally much more 
technical. The text and commentary are a careful and discrim- 
inating piece of work. The text is, as in the case of the editio 

5 So Fraenkel in his review of Cowley-Neubauer in the Monatischrift /Ur Beech, u. Wiss. 
d. Judenthums, Vol. 41, 384 (May, 1897), who suggests that the passage (he says vss. 3-10) 
may have been inserted later to fill up the lacnna. So also Schlatter, p. 5. 



The Hebeew Eoclesiastious 47 

prtnceps, that of the MS. : doubtful letters are overlined ; purely 
conjectural restorations of lacunae are in brackets ; proposed 
emendations are reserved for the notes. The purpose of the 
author differs, therefore, fundamentally from that of Hal6vy, 
who describes his object as being to restore the Hebrew "sous 
la forme qu'il devait revStir h I'^poque oti il servit de base aux 
versions grecque et syriaque." There is room for all workers. 
The great agreement between the texts of the editio princeps, 
of Smend, and of L6vi gives confidence that a strong founda- 
tion is being laid on which to rest such hypothetical construc- 
tions as Hal6vy's. On the other hand, the fact that the Oxford 
editors have accepted some of Smend's readings in place of 
their own, and have admitted the uncertainty of others of those 
challenged by him, shows the positive gain of such laborious 
work. M. L6vi frankly discusses suggestions of other scholars 
when they appear to him to merit such attention, and his notes 
are useful for a study of the versions, though they hardly 
lend themselves easily to a general account. The author's 
critical judgments will be valuable, even where they are not 
accepted. We have already had occasion to refer to the brief 
introductions to the different sections. They show careful work. 
On p. 62, however, as we may note in closing, there seems to be 
a lack of clearness of view in the representation that "n6olo- 
gismes " abound in chap. 43, and that, therefore, the Greek trans- 
lator has gone astray. Has not M. L6vi told us that it is the 
" n^ologismes " that the translator understood best? Or does he 
mean a different translator? 

The printing of the volume is accurate — such misprints as 
we have noted being rarely of a kind to mislead anyone — and 
the type is clear. 

We shall welcome with interest the second half of M. Levi's 
work. Meanwhile all who are interested in the subject, as any 
real student of the Old Testament must be, are eagerly awaiting 
the appearance of the late Cambridge fragments — detached 
pieces of earlier chapters of the book° — the text of which is, we 
believe, now in type. 

Mention may, perhaps not inappropriately, be made here of an 
interesting fact to which my friend Dr. Neubauer has very kindly 

• The leaf immediady following the fraements discovered in 1896 was published by 
Dr. Schechter in the Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. X, 197»a. (1898). It contains Eoclus. 
49:12—50:22. 



48 Hebeaioa 

called my attention. From a passage in Harkavy's edition of 
"Responsen der Geonim, zumeist aus dem X.-XI. Jahrhundert " 
[Studien und Mittheilungen aus der Kaiserlichen Oeffentlichen 
Bibliothek zu St. Petersburg : Vierter Theil, Erstes Heft, p. 145, 
1. 13) it appears that, in the tenth-eleventh century, of several 
works entitled *lD1"J ''"QT > there was one known as "ji "10*153 ''"iSI 
i^T'D . This may, accordingly, be the real Hebrew title of the 
work.' 

' Cf. the remark in Cowley-Neubauer, p. ix, note 4.