What topics, themes, and books are contained in Apocrypha, and how might they be similar to later Christian writings such as Revelation?

  • The books in the apocrypha are excluded from the rest of the Hebrew bible/ TNK because they are in Greek and because they are considered too late to be canonical.
  • The apocrypha has stories that emphasize martyrdom and Jewish separatism, but they also contain stories that reflect interest in Hellenistic (Greek) philosophy from the period.
  • These books include Greek additions to books like Esther and Daniel, created to make the stories more acceptable to Jewish people in the late second temple period. For example, the Greek additions to Esther include prayers by Esther and Mordecai that show their dependence on Yahweh. These prayers assign “inner states” to Esther or Mordecai, states that make their attitudes more mainstream. Esther reveals in one that she refuses to eat the impure diet of the Persians she lives among.
  • The books also include additional chapters of standard texts, such as the additions to Ezra (Esdras) which show him to be a prophet.
  • They contain wisdom literature such as the Wisdom of Solomon, attributed to Solomon of the Hebrew bible.
  • They contain stories such as Maccabees, which chronicle the military resistance of the Jews to their Hellenistic oppressors. The Maccabees story contains the origin of Hannuka.
  • The story of Tobit in the apocrypha tells us about attitudes toward magic and the supernatural in the late second temple period; they also introduce named angels like Michael and Raphael.
  • The apocrypha doesn’t contain apocalyptic stories like Daniel and Revelation. However, several other works that didn’t make it into the apocrypha (sometimes called the Pseudepigrapha because they are always attributed to famous biblical figures pseudonymously) are apocalyptic. Some of the most famous of these are the book of Enoch and the Coptic Apocalypses of Peter and Paul.
  • This group (the Pseudepigrapha) also contains gospels that didn’t make it into the New Testament, such as the gnostic  gospels and works like the Acts of Thomas, etc.
  • In the Christian canon, these works were widely accepted. While St. Jerome first suggested that these stories should be taken less seriously because the Jews did not include them in their canon, Martin Luther is the first to bracket them in a separate book, following Jerome’s authority. Later Protestant bibles excluded them completely.
  • See more here: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/ and here: http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *