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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 leadership of Judas Maccabeus, so that the book overlaps mainly with 1 Maccabees chapters 1–7. The author indicates that his work is in fact an abridgment of a much longer five-volume description of the revolt by someone named Jason of Cyrene. He has condensed Jason’s work into a single volume. Unlike 1 Maccabees, this account was originally composed in Greek.

Whereas 1 Maccabees is a rather straightforward chronicle of what happened leading up to and during the revolt, 2 Maccabees takes a more impassioned …

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

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Comments

  1. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  October 22, 2018

    I have enjoyed this thread on the Apocrapha. My question is off topic. Jesus was referred to as Rabbi in the New Testament in several spots. Could anybody adopt the title/position of Rabbi in the times of Jesus, or was it a more official title/position that required an education or approval from a governing body such as the leaders of a Synagogue? Was it a formal or informal title in other words?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 24, 2018

      At that time, it was simply a generic term for a teacher/leader.

  2. JohnKesler  October 22, 2018

    “… whereas those who are not faithful will experience severe punishment in the life to come.”

    Here are the verses from 2 Maccabees 7 which mention punishment. I see none that suggests that the punishments will be postmortem; to the contrary, vv. 14, 17 seem to indicate that the punishments will occur in this life. Am I missing something?

    2 Maccabees 7:
    14 When he was near death, he said, “It is my choice to die at the hands of mortals with the hope that God will restore me to life; but for you, there will be no resurrection to life.”…17 Only wait, and you will see how his great power will torment you and your descendants.”…19 Do not think, then, that you will go unpunished for having dared to fight against God.”…31 But you, who have contrived every kind of evil for the Hebrews, will not escape the hands of God…34 But you, wretch, most vile of mortals, do not, in your insolence, buoy yourself up with unfounded hopes, as you raise your hand against the children of heaven. 35 You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty and all-seeing God. 36 Our brothers, after enduring brief pain, have drunk of never-failing life, under God’s covenant. But you, by the judgment of God, shall receive just punishments for your arrogance

    • Bart
      Bart  October 24, 2018

      Actualy, I’ve rethought my views of 2 and 4 maccabees, in writing my new book. Maybe I’ll post on it.

      • dankoh  December 31, 2018

        I’m not completely making sense of 2 Macc. 7; maybe you can clear it up. The fourth brother says that God will punish the king by denying him resurrection, while the fifth says the king and his descendants will be tortured. That could be either in this world or the next; though he mentions “descendants,” I think it is still ambiguous. The seventh brother promises that God will send “trials and plagues” (7:37), suggesting punishment in this world – but that affects the nation, not the king specifically.

        Since by this time there were some texts, such as 1 Enoch, that did speak specifically (and graphically) of tortures after death, I wonder if the author of 2 Macc. was trying cover that base as well. Or am I off-base here?

        • Bart
          Bart  December 31, 2018

          I deal with this a bit in my forthcoming book. My sense is that 2 Maccabees is referring only to future punishment in this world. The striking thing is what happens to the same traditions as they come to be mediated much later in 4 Maccabees, where this worldly punishments are transformed into postmortem punishments.

  3. doug  October 22, 2018

    Those tortures of Eleazar and the seven brothers and their mother are horrible. Do you think they were actual historical events? If not, were there other such tortures of Jews going on at that time?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 24, 2018

      It’s hard to know whether there is a historical root to these traditions or not.

  4. Pattylt  October 22, 2018

    Even though the Jews did not include the apocrypha in the canon, we did study these books in Sabbath school, particularly the Macabees After all, Hanukkah comes from them! I never even thought to ask the Rabbi at the time why they weren’t included in the Canon. Is it do to the only copies being in Greek so they thought they were original to that language or maybe due to not trusting a Greek translation? Do you or anyone know?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 24, 2018

      Yes, in part it was because they were not being widely circulated in Hebrew, and in part because they were written later than the books that were considered Scripture.

      • dankoh  December 31, 2018

        I think it may also be that the Pharisees and the rabbis didn’t want to give too much honor to the Hasmoneans by that time.

  5. John Murphy  October 22, 2018

    Bart.

    The link is not related to the topic, but I thought I’d post it here in case you or any of the blog members didn’t see this in your local papers.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/22/museum-of-the-bible-dead-sea-scrolls-fragments-forgeries-fake

    • Bart
      Bart  October 24, 2018

      Yeah, I’d say it was pretty amazing, if it weren’t something most of us already thought! Still, pretty amazing….

  6. DavidNeale  October 23, 2018

    It looks like I was right that 1 Enoch is considered canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (at least according to the church’s website https://www.ethiopianorthodox.org/english/canonical/books.html ) As I understand it, they also maintain that Ge’ez, not Hebrew or Aramaic, was the original language of the work. (And I have read that some people believe that Ge’ez is the original antediluvian language, although I’m not sure if that’s actually an official doctrine.)

    Is there anyone from an Ethiopian Orthodox background on the blog who can explain more about this? I find it such an interesting book. And as I understand it, it’s the only one of the Apocrypha to be actually quoted in the New Testament (in Jude).

  7. dankoh  December 30, 2018

    FYI, my wife just showed me a table of contents (the rest is long gone) from an 1889 Swedish bible that had belonged to her parents. It has the apocrypha as a separate section, including most of the standard texts (but not the Letter of Jeremiah). Interestingly, it also includes the Prayer of Manasseh. Any idea how that wound up in a Swedish Lutheran bible (there is a sketch of Luther as the frontispiece)?

    Oh, and – Happy new Year!

    • Bart
      Bart  December 31, 2018

      Interesting. I’ve heard of something similar but can’t remember what the answer is. Would be interesting to know.

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