How does the author of the book justify the goodness of God in the face of the evil present in the world?
Ben-Sira’s theology, though not systematic, offers a coherent presentation of the sets of belief necessary in understanding and living the Jewish faith (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 940). In this regard, one important question that has been addressed by the author is the presence of God vis-à-vis the presence of evil in the world. In addressing the question the author has laid down his Doctrine of God and from there explain how evil is present and persist in the face of the goodness of God.
Ben-Sira’s doctrine of God affirms the Judaic concept that there is only one God. This becomes significant not only because it re-echoes the Jewish faith but because it counters the notion of the belief on pluralist God, which was the dominant notion or belief during the ancient period. This concept is significant in understanding of the notion of god vis-à-vis evil because as it removes the plurality of gods, it opened the tension between the goodness of God and the presence of evil. This tension necessitates justification as the presence of evil in the world does not only posits a contradiction to the goodness of God but it also acts as a counter-claim for the one God being all-powerful.
Ben-Sira claims that there are certain attributes ascribed to God alone. These are God is one and the same (42:21). God is eternal (42:21). God is the all and in all (43:27). This means that God is both transcendent and immanent in all creation (The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 940). God is the creator (G:1). God is powerful and His power is manifested in the creation when He created everything out from His words (39:17-1...
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...ce ill-gotten goods!
Presents from the lawless do not win God’s favor
The Most High approves not the gifts of the godless,
nor for their many sacrifices does he forgive their sins
On the other hand,
To keep the law is great oblation
And whoever observes the commandments sacrifices a peace offering
In works of charity one offers a fine flour
And when he gives alms he presents the sacrifice of praise
To refrain from evil pleases God
And to avoid injustice is an atonement (35: 1-5)
For the author the goodness of God remains despite the reality and face of evil in the world because evil is the result of man’s weakness, of man using his free will to veer away from the laws and opt to live in sin. God in all his power shows the utmost respect on man’s freedom by not imposing his will on men but by respecting his choice – to be good or to be evil.
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