Have you ever wondered what to make of the Apocrypha? Today I was asked, “Is it true they are not in the standard bible cos they were written in Greek not original Hebrew language?? What bible has them? How many books r there & r they bona fide??”
Now, I wouldn’t call myself an expert on the Apocrypha but this is what I know.
Firstly, when discussing texts, any texts, it’s always good practice to go to the primary sources and see for yourself, and not to rely exclusively on secondary sources (like me). So, with that in mind here are two sites where you’ll find the books of the Apocrypha available for reading. I personally found one read of “Bel and the Dragon” was all that was required for me to appreciate why that’s considered non “bona fide” by evangelicals. Why not read Bel (it doesn’t take long) and see what you think?
Sacred texts Archive: The Apocrypha
Secondly, when discussing controversial texts, it’s also good practice to explore each side of the argument and not just rely on one side. I’m a Protestant so you’re going to get a Protestant response from me. But I’m a thinking Protestant so I’d insist that you also familiarise yourself with Catholic, Orthodox and alternatives perspectives, and again, make up you’re own mind, not accepting what I say without testing it. So, here is some wider reading:
Wikipedia: The Apocrypha and Deuterocanonical Books (a mishmash view)
Catholic Encyclopedia: The Apocrypha (a Catholic Christian view)
Manachos.net (an Orthodox Christian view)
The Old Testament Canon and Apocrypha (a Protestant Christian view)
Now for my own opinion. I do not consider the Apocrypha to be inspired or authoritative. But, given the place of the Septuagint in Christian history, it can be helpful to have access to it. As for Catholic acceptance of the Apocrypha as deuterocanonical, well, though there are obvious doctrinal differences between Protestantism and Catholicism I think the more important causes lie elsewhere.
3 thoughts on “Books of the Apocrypha”
I made a point to read through those books many years ago. My sense was that there was a different tone or spirit to them. But having said that, I know that some of the “core” 66 books might have a tough time making it into the canon of scripture if we were deciding today.
I’m told the original KJV included the Apocrypha, an idea most right-wing, conservative, KJV-only types find repulsive!
I’ve read the Apocrypha. Found it very interesting, especially 1 & 2 Maccabees which occurs during the Greek occupation of Israel. It is particularly enlightening about the origins of movements such as the Pharisees, Essenes etc. Also forms the cultural & historical backdrop for the Gospels.
Several parts of it are extremely moving, such as when a woman and her sons were being tortured for their faith, but refused to give it up, eventually resulting in the martrdom of the whom family.
It also enlightens us as to why groups like the Pharisees highly valued and became extremely protective of their Jewish heritage and culture – it cost them so much in terms of suffering `to keep the faith’ in a situation where their faith was brutally repressed by Hellenizing Greeks and their collaborators coming from within their own kith and kin.
Andrew, we’ll you’re read more than me then! I haven’t read the Apocrypha in it’s entirity as, to be honest, I got bored and lacked the perseverance to finish it completely. Similar to yourself I found the Maccabees books interesting, if only for historical context. But like Paul I found the books had a different tone.