The books of the Apocrypha (Titus 2)

Bilderesultat for apocryphal books

The books of the Apocrypha are as follows:

  • Tobit: Set during the Assyrian exile, Tobit is an implausible narrative about a pious Jew, Tobit, taken into exile in Nineveh, goes blind as a result of sparrow droppings falling into his eyes. He dispatches his son Tobias to Media to retrieve a stash of money, providing a guide, Azariah, who turns out to be the angel Raphael. Raphael instructs Tobias to catch a large fish and preserve its liver, heart and gall because of their magical powers. The two encounter a lovely Jewess, Sarah, whose seven grooms have died on their respective wedding nights because of the demon Asmodeus. Raphael instructs Tobias in how to thwart Asmodeus through ritual magic. Tobias then marries Sarah, retrieves the money, returns to Nineveh and heals Tobit with the fish gall.
  • Judith: This non-historical tale describes how a pious Jewish woman effects deliverance for her people. Written during the latter part of the second century B.C., it was unaccountably set in the days of “Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Assyrians” (Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon).
  • Ecclesiasticus/Sirach: This book is fundamentally a collection of hymns, prayers and instructions upholding traditional Jewish piety and wisdom. Written in approximately 180 B.C., it includes some justly celebrated passages, such as its catalogue of heroes of faith (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 44:1-49:16).
  • Wisdom of Solomon: Written at the earliest during the first century B.C., this work exhorts the reader to pursue wisdom and right behaviour.
  • Baruch: Although purported to have been authored by Baruch, Jeremias’ scribe, the book was probably written long after Baruch’s day. Drawing upon diverse parts of the Old Testament, it contains prayers, hymns and a passage that praises wisdom and claims to be the special possession of Israel (Baruch 3:9-4:4).
  • 1 and 2 Maccabees: These historical texts recount the persecution inflicted upon the Jews by Antiochus IV and the desecration of the temple that ignited the Maccabean revolt. 1 Maccabees was probably written about 100 B.C., while its counterpart may actually have come from a somewhat earlier date. Although the books are propagandistic in nature, they are a vital source for the history and religion of this period.
  • 1 Esdras: Written around 100 B.C., this is a loose retelling of Biblical history from Josiah’s celebration of the Passover to Ezra’s reforms. One part not copied from canonical Scripture is 1 Esdras 3:1-5:6, which records how a young Jewish man at the court of Darius solves a riddle about the strongest thing in the world (women are strongest, but truth conquers all). This Jewish man turns out to be Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2).
  • 2 Esdras: This book is a composite of three writings, the latest of which may have been penned as recently as the third century A.D. Apocalyptic in nature, it includes a reaction to the A.D. 70 destruction of the Jerusalem temple by the Romans. The central portion of the book (2 Esdras 3:1-14:48), dated to about A.D. 100, is a fictitious series of visions supposedly given by the angel Uriel to Ezra and dealing with such issues as the justice of Go. A Christian appendix (2 Esdras 15:1-16:78) was added during the third century A.D.
  • Epistle of Manasseh: Loosely based on Jeremiah 29, this short, pseudonymous essay denounces the folly of idolatry. The writing most likely came from the third century B.C. or later.
  • Prayer of Manasseh: A pseudonymous, penitential prayer beseeching God to cancel Israel’s exile, this book claims to be the prayer of Manasseh mentioned in 2 Chronicles 33:12-13; it comes in fact from the second or first century B.C. The writing draws upon a number of Biblical texts, especially Psalm 51.
  • Addition to Esther: This includes six supplements to Esther, adding pious language and motifs in an evident attempt to make up for the fact that the canonical book never mentions God.
  • Additions to Daniel: These supplements to Daniel include the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon (or Serpent). The dates of composition are unknown.

 

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