which is further illustrated by the way in which he identifies the Law with Wisdom, which was also eternal.
It is of special interest to note that the doctrine of the existence of the Law before the creation was taught long before Christian times. The doctrine also reappears later in Rabbinical literature.
Another important point concerning the Law is Ben Sira's teaching on the spirit in which legal ordinances should be observed. 'It might seem doubtful', says Toy, 'whether the introduction of the finished Law was an unmixed good from the ethical point of view. The code was largely ritualistic; it fixed men's minds on ceremonial detail, which it in some cases put into the same category and on the same level with moral duties. Would there not hence result a dimming of the moral sense and a confusion of moral distinctions? The ethical attitude of a man who could regard a failure in the routine of sacrifice as not less blameworthy than an act of theft cannot be called a lofty one. If such had been the general effect of the ritual law we should have to pronounce it an evil. But in point of fact the result was different. What may be called the natural debasing tendency of a ritual was counteracted by other influences, by the ethical elements of the Law itself, and by the general moral progress of the community. The great legal schools which grew up in the second century, if we may judge by the sayings of the teachers which have come down to us, did not fail to discriminate between the outward and the inward, the ceremonial and the moral; and the conception of sin corresponded to the idea of the ethical standard.'1 Now the teaching of Ben Sira on the spirit in which the sacrifices prescribed in the Law are to be observed is a striking illustration of what is here so truly said: in 3918, 19 (Greek, 3121-3) he urges:
The sacrifice of the unrighteous man is a mocking offering
And unacceptable are the oblations of the godless,
The Most High hath no pleasure in the offerings of the ungodly,
Neither doth He forgive sins for a multitude of sacrifices.
(a) ECCLESIASTICUS: Prologue.
By the law and the prophets and by the others that have followed in their steps: the well-known division of the Hebrew Canon into the Law, the Prophets and the Writings seems clearly indicated here,____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Judaism in the Greek Period, from the Rise of Alexander the Great to the Intervention of Rome (333-63 B.C.). Contributors: G. H. Box - Author. Publisher: The Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford, England. Publication year: 1932. Page number: 164.
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