James 1.27… and Sirach 4.10

English: introduction to Sirach, codex sinaiti...
English: introduction to Sirach, codex sinaiticus עברית: הקדמת הנכד לספר בן סירא, יוונית, מתוך “קודקס סינאיטיקוס” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In reading several commentaries, I keep seeing James 1.27 referred back to Isaiah 1.15-16. Admittedly, because I don’t have the time to search my entire library, I cannot tell you no one else has connected James 1.27 to Sirach 4.10. (Briefly looking at commentaries on Sirch, some have made allusions between the two.)

Read all of Sirach 4 here.

Sirach 4.10 reads,

Be like a father to orphans,
and take the place of a husband to widows.
Then God will call you his child,
and he will be merciful to you and deliver you from the pit.

James 1.27 reads,

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

You can easily see the connection. Not merely with the use of orphans and widows, but so too to the allusion of cleansing from sin.

Now, I’m not going to compare the rest of James 1 to Sirach 4, but you can.

This is important for several reasons. One, it informs James’s reception as part of the Wisdom tradition. This is really beyond doubt, in my opinion. Of course, in doing so, I am left to wonder how close a Jacobite Christology is to the Wisdom theology found in Sirach (Say, Sirach 24). Anyway, I would encourage you to read Sirach sometime.

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15 Replies to “James 1.27… and Sirach 4.10”

        1. Oh, my! Just think what would have happened if “Sirach”, instead of being titled “The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach”, was shortened to “The Wisdom of Jesus”! And he just used his single name throughout. We’d be debating if the author was Jesus. I would get a headache 🙂

          1. BTW, don’t get me wrong…
            Both James and Sirach have some good things in them. But I can’t let the enthusiasm of any content blur the lines between good words, and obvious history. Kind of like the secular difference between “good works”, and “works of the Law” (secular). I hope Paul would agree 🙂

      1. As Luther points out in his original preface of the book of James, if this is the Brother of Jesus, judging by the time of the writing of his book James must have written it from the grave (Acts 12).
        Also, from our foul mouthed, not so polite reformer we read: ” If anyone can harmonize them I will give him my Doctor’s Hood and let him call me a fool. …” – Dr. Martin Luther, One of the Reformers.

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