Thursday, July 22, 2010

Terminology - Apocrypha

I must apologize for being so sporadic of late; it seems circumstances have conspired to prevent any real consistency; nevertheless let’s take a quick stab at it.

Many have heard of the Apocrypha and may have even seen bibles that contain these mysterious books; however you may not  know how they came to be or why they not recognized in the Protestant bible but are recognized by the Roman Catholic church.  So today we want to give a brief look at this subject.

Apocrypha (a-pa-cra-fa)

Webster’s 1828 states:
Literally such things as are not published; but in an appropriate sense, books whose authors are not known; whose authenticity, as inspired writings, is not admitted, and which are therefore not considered a part of the sacred canon of the scripture.

So the issue is one of verifiable authenticity or knowing who wrote them.  Most commonly the Apocrypha is comprised of 14 books more or less depending upon the bible edition used; and are noted to be:

1 Esdras 
2 Esdras 
Rest of Esther 
Ecclesiasticus aka. Sirach
Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy 
Song of the Three Children 
Story of Susanna 
The Idol Bel and the Dragon 
Prayer of Manasses
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees

As far as Protestants are concerned though Luther c. 1534, published a German translation from the Vulgate leaving the apocryphal books in a section between the OT and NT as many do today.  It was Luther’s conviction that since the Masoretic Text of Judaism did not include these they did not therefore rise to the level of being canon and should not be included.  But he could not bring himself to remove them completely.

His position was/is not without biblical merit though since Jesus in teaching His disciples and in rebuking the Pharisees did so on many grounds pertaining to the Law (OT canon) (Mt 7:12; 12:5; 22:36-40; 23:23; Jn 7:19; 8:17; 10:34), but never for not having a complete work or for having added to it.  So today the apocryphal books are received by the church of Rome as canonical, but not by Protestants.

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