Questions about Sirach 35 - 30th Week Ordinary Time


#1

I am a newly trained Lector in my Parish. As of yesterday.

I am taking this responsibility seriously.

I probably won’t be called to proclaim until Advent, but I am in a small parish and it is unfortunately not unusual for the Priest to come out before Sunday Mass and ask: “Are there any Lectors here?” Because someone misread the schedule, or didn’t show up or whatever so I decided to prepare for every Sunday Mass.

On top of that, for the last few years I’ve been like a lot of American Catholics where I open the Scriptures only when the reading of specific passages are assigned to me as penance. So I thought if I prepare every week this bad practice of mine might end, and help me build at least one good habit for my personal Spiritual journey. If I force myself to be prepared, I will feel like I have no excuses and choice but to crack open the Scriptures every day.

The workbook Father gave us in the class suggests we start preparation for next Sunday Mass after this Sunday Mass.

The first reading for next week is Sirach 35:12-14, 16-18

Under advice from LectorPrep.com I read all of Sirach chapter 35.

The first reading for next week looks like it is actually from Sirach 35:15-17, 20-22 the way the verses are labeled on the USCCB website.

But my old Confraternity Edition Douay Rheims version and my New American Bible seem to match the verse numbering of the reading and not the USCCB website, save the first part of verse 19 is included.

AND the reading cuts off mid-sentence: “…and the Lord will not delay.” when the chapter continues: “…and like a warrior, will not be still; Till he breaks the backs of the merciless and wreaks vengeance upon the nations; Till he destroys the scepter of the proud, and cuts off the staff of the wicked;…”

First, I’m curious about the verse number differences. Is Sirach one of those books that can be numbered differently depending on which edition of the Bible you have?

Second, I mean, WOW! Why cut off the passage at “…and the Lord will not delay?” I mean, to me the following few words change the entire tone of the reading. I mean, really change it. Or why not end at the end of verse 18?

Can anyone help me with these questions?


#2

In preparing a Scripture study on the Readings for next week, I've noticed those very things about the first Reading.

Unfortunately, I don't have any definite answers for you; I searched around a bit on line and didn't find any references to these apparent discrepancies. I've noticed that in many cases the Readings are often "chopped up" to skip sections not considered relevant to the overall theme of that weeks readings, or due to time considerations, but I don't think that's the case here.

I *suspect *it has something to with, as you said, differences in Bible translations that don't always mesh perfectly with one another. Even though pretty the same lectionary is in use and the same readings are read in Catholic churches around the world each Sunday, a particular local translation might not match up perfectly. The official Vatican Bible translation is the Latin one from the New Vulgate. The official ENGLISH version for documents coming out of the Vatican is the Revised Standard Version. Here in the States, we use a Lectionary based on the New American Bible as it was presented a few decades ago. And this is different from the Bible currently used on the USCCB website, which is the newer New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE).

I'm just speculating here, of course. Perhaps someone else here knows, or either of us can find out more about this during the coming week. God bless!


#3

I don't know if this is the reason but I notice that the numbering of the verses of chapter 35 of Sirach found at the USCCB website is consistent with the numbering found in the Nova Vulgata at the Vatican website, which also divides the chapter into 26 verses. My NABs (1971, 1991) divide the same text into 24 verses. The difference seems to arise from the way the first four lines are divided; the NAB divides them into two verses, with two lines per verse; the USCCB website and Nova Vulgata divide them into four verses, with one line per verse.


#4

Besides the differences in different Editions and Versions of the Bible, please be aware that Sirach is part of the Old Testament. In the original Torah & Prophets (in Hebrew) there was no numbering system for verses, or even for chapters. These were added during the era of the Church. In Hebrew, the entire Book of Sirach is continuous, though there is a sentence structure to differentiate sentences (subjects, verbs, etc...), but the "verses" as numbered were not numbered, nor were the chapters. The Latin Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims is the more accurate of the translations, unless you read it in the Ancient Hebrew, and for that you need original texts, which are at least 2,000 years old (existing portions of texts). We use the Workbook for Lectors to prepare for each Sunday's readings, and read what is there, since that is also what will be shown in the Lectionary at the Ambo near the Altar. You'll catch on to it. It the lack of a partial verse bothers you, ask your Priest why the partial verse, or end of a verse was dropped or skipped over to another verse. He will likely have a reasonable answer, since this would have been part of his Theology and Bible training in the Seminary.

God bless you for preparing ahead "just in case"!! I schedule the Lectors and other Ministers at our Parish for each week, and notify everyone one to two months ahead, and I still end up having to suddenly "grab" someone to "fill in" because the scheduled person was either ill or forgot to check the schedule and come, or sometimes due to serious family problems or illnesses. Be patient, being a Lector is a great Blessing! You are being allowed to proclaim the Word of God (although not the Gospel, of course), and this is something that wasn't permitted to laypersons 50 or 60 years ago! It's a blessing to all of us who are allowed to serve as Ministers at any position at the Altar!:)


#5

Thanks guys, I guess at least this chapter can have the verses divided differently.

I suppose - hypothetically - if the USCCB were to start using the NABRE for readings next year the Lectionary for 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time in 2016 would read something like:

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time

First Reading Sirach 35:15-17, 20-22 (35:12-14, 16-18)

or something similar.

If the RSV, and the NAB, and the Douay Rheims Bibles, and maybe the New Jerusalem (but I didn't check that one) use different verse separations from the Nova Vulgata it is probably easier, and also better to avoid confusion, to use the verse separations that have become traditional for English language services in the Lectionary and Missals, so everything in the resources continues to match.

Now... on chopping off the reading mid-sentence before the Lord breaks the backs of the merciless and wreaks vengeance upon the nations and destroys the scepter of the proud, and cuts off the staff of the wicked ...

I'm going to venture a guess that this may be because this portion of the Sirach passage, after the reading ends, may not be the just punishment for the Pharisee in the Gospel. The Pharisee may merely have his rewards on Earth. The Pharisee's situation is very much more like what Jesus describes in Matthew 6:1-8 than what Sirach describes in Sirach 35. The prayer of the lowly that pierces the clouds in the first reading in Sirach is like the Tax Collector's prayer in the Gospel reading, so that might be the link.

OK- That's my guess.

Please correct me or offer other suggestions if my guess makes no sense. Or bad sense.

And I know I won't be called to proclaim next week, I'm out of town on business and will attend Mass at a parish I've never been to. But already in this first passage I am studying I am achieving one of my goals when I offered to fill a need in my parish and become a Lector.

BTW - I read the Scripture Study for Catholics meditations for this passage. I'm guessing you wrote that Fidelis? I like the questions a lot. These will be neat to read right before Mass, so I can think about them during the readings.


#6

[quote="Todd977, post:3, topic:342675"]
I don't know if this is the reason but I notice that the numbering of the verses of chapter 35 of Sirach found at the USCCB website is consistent with the numbering found in the Nova Vulgata at the Vatican website, which also divides the chapter into 26 verses. My NABs (1971, 1991) divide the same text into 24 verses. The difference seems to arise from the way the first four lines are divided; the NAB divides them into two verses, with two lines per verse; the USCCB website [the NABRE] and Nova Vulgata divide them into four verses, with one line per verse.

[/quote]

That does make sense, especially if the Lectionary as we have it now was based on the 1971 NAB, which probably agrees with the formatting of the RSV, which is as follows:

[quote]1 He who keeps the law makes many offerings; he who heeds the commandments sacrifices a peace offering.
2 He who returns a kindness offers fine flour, and he who gives alms sacrifices a thank offering.
3 To keep from wickedness is pleasing to the Lord, and to forsake unrighteousness is atonement.
4 Do not appear before the Lord empty-handed,
5 for all these things are to be done because of the commandment.
6 The offering of a righteous man anoints the altar, and its pleasing odor rises before the Most High.
7 The sacrifice of a righteous man is acceptable, and the memory of it will not be forgotten.
8 Glorify the Lord generously, and do not stint the first fruits of your hands.
9 With every gift show a cheerful face, and dedicate your tithe with gladness.
10 Give to the Most High as he has given, and as generously as your hand has found.
11 For the Lord is the one who repays, and he will repay you sevenfold.

[Here begins next Sundays Reading:]

12 Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality.
13 He will not show partiality in the case of a poor man; and he will listen to the prayer of one who is wronged.
14 He will not ignore the supplication of the fatherless, nor the widow when she pours out her story.

16 He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds.
17 The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord; * he will not desist until the Most High visits him, and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment.
18a And the Lord will not delay...
[/quote]

[The rest of verse 18 is omitted from next Sundays Ready but continues thus: "neither will he be patient with them, till he crushes the loins of the unmerciful and repays vengeance on the nations; till he takes away the multitude of the insolent, and breaks the scepters of the unrighteous;"]

So, while the USCCB site has now switched to the NABRE as it's featured Bible, the Lectionary Readings based on the 1971 NAB (including the numbering) have been retained.


#7

[quote="speters33w, post:5, topic:342675"]

BTW - I read the Scripture Study for Catholics meditations for this passage. I'm guessing you wrote that Fidelis? I like the questions a lot. These will be neat to read right before Mass, so I can think about them during the readings.

[/quote]

You're welcome. I also have been starting a thread here in the Sacred Scripture forum every Friday which offers more resources on the Sunday Readings, so you might want to check that out too. Here's the one for today's Readings:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=831105


#8

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.