Yet Other Apocryphal Books

OK, this will be my last post for now on the apocrypha.  Here is the final (and particularly intriguing) book accepted in the Roman Catholic church, and a few others accepted in Orthodox Christian circles.


2 Maccabees

The book known as 2 Maccabees is another account of the history of the Maccabean Revolt. Its author did not have 1 Maccabees as a source but was writing independently of it. His interest is principally with the events that transpired under the ...

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More Apocrypha: A Letter of Jeremiah, (Fascinating) Additions to Daniel, and 1 Maccabees

Here is another installment on my discussion of the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books.  The first of the three I discuss here is not well known, but the second and third are historically quite significant.


The Letter of Jeremiah

This is one of the shortest books of Apocrypha—it is only one chapter long, and in the Latin tradition of the Roman Catholic Church it is included as the final chapter of the book of Baruch. The book is allegedly written by the prophet Jeremiah, sent ...

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More Books of the Apocrypha: Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, and Baruch

In this post I continue discussing the books of the Apocrypha, accepted as part of Scripture by Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches.  These are important books, historically and culturally – but hardly known among Protestant readers.   Here are three more!  Descriptions are taken from my introduction to the Bible.


The Wisdom of Solomon

The Wisdom of Solomon is a book of positive wisdom (recall Proverbs), which claims to be written by the great king of the United Monarchy. In fact it was ...

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Some of the Apocrypha: Tobit, Judith, and Additions to Esther

Yesterday I answered briefly a question about the Old Testament Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books.  I’ve decided to go ahead and describe each of the ten.   This will take several posts.   These are very interesting books, well worth reading, and canonical Scripture for some parts of the Christian church.

My summaries here are taken from my Introduction to the Bible.





Tobit is a work of historical fiction—by which I mean it is a fictional tale set within a real historical context. Originally the book was ...

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What Is the Apocrypha (of the Old Testament)?

Here is a recent question I have received about the “Old Testament Apocrypha.”



Bart, I hope you won’t mind me asking a totally unrelated question: At the beginning of the Christian Era – how many books of the Hebrew Old Testament did the Greek Septuagint translation contain?



This is indeed an important topic, one usually overlooked completely by Protestant readers of the Bible.  Here is what I say about the apocrypha in my textbook on the Bible:


          In addition to ...

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The Historical Significance of Contradictions

I have been talking about the contradictions in the Bible and why they matter – not simply to problematize assumptions about the inerrancy of the Bible (“See: there are contradictions!”) but also for other things.  My overarching point is that they matter both for understanding the historical value of the biblical narratives and for appreciating their literary quality.

In terms of historical value, many people read the Bible to know what actually happened in biblical times.  But if the accounts are ...

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Sources for the Hebrew Bible: A Blast from the Past

I was fishing around for something different to post today, and came across this Q & A from exactly six years ago.  I get asked the question a lot, and I would answer it the same way even now, despised my advancing age…




Do you have a suggestion for a book concerning the OT’s construction? I believe in the History of God (by K. Armstrong) she mentioned that there were about five distinct writers for the OT. Is this ...

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Are Jews and Christians Monotheists? Mailbag October 15, 2017

I will be dealing with an unusually important question in this week’s mailbag:  is it right to consider Judaism and Christianity monotheistic?



Aren’t Judaism and Christianity really henotheistic rather than monotheistic? For example, even in the 10 Commandments it merely says YHWH is the only god to be worshiped, not that He is the only god. And in Christianity there is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, Satan, angels and demons, and in some sects, Mary the queen of heaven. ...

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Reviewing the Afterlife

I want to return now to the main thread that I left off a couple of months ago about developing views of the afterlife in ancient Judaism and then in early Christianity.

I didn’t actually leave that thread – I simply moved deeper into a specific aspect of it.  If you’ll recall, the broader thread is simply about where the modern notions of heaven and hell came from; the specific aspect I’ve been covering involved the “otherworldly journeys” that you find ...

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Life in Hades

In my previous post I discussed Odysseus’s encounter with his mother in Hades, where we learn that the “spirits,” “shades,” “ghosts,” “souls” (they are called a number of things) there do not have any physical characteristics – no flesh or bones, even though they can be seen and can drink blood and are afraid of swords.   I think, at the end of the day, this is not a coherent picture.  If they can drink blood but don’t have bodies, where ...

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