The Apocrypha Proved Helpful!

Today I was preparing a class on Revelation 13:11-18, and I found the apocrypha to be quite helpful in understanding why the inhabitants of the earth will need either a mark on their right hands or their foreheads.

He proposed to inflict public disgrace on the Jewish community, and he set a stone on the tower in the courtyard with this inscription: “None of those who do not sacrifice shall enter their sanctuaries, and all Jews shall be subjected to a registration involving poll tax and to the status of slaves. Those who object to this are to be taken by force and put to death; those who are registered are also to be branded on their bodies by fire with the ivy-leaf symbol of Dionysus, and they shall also be reduced to their former limited status.” (3 Macc. 27-29, NRSV)

This was decreed by the Egyptian ruler, Ptolemy Philopator, a devotee of the Greek god Dionysus and who himself received a brand on his body, which was associated with the worship of Dionysus.

My New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, 3rd ed., NSRV, proved quite helpful today.

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25 Responses to The Apocrypha Proved Helpful!

  1. Well, just as “in the name of Jesus” can be seen as meaning “belonging to Jesus” according to ancient banking practices, wearing a brand or tatoo presumably marks one as belonging to someone as well.

    Ancient history had plenty of examples for the AntiChrist to be compared to. Modern history hasn’t done too badly that way, either.

    Hmm. Modern history has plenty of AntiChrist prototypes as well. That’s more like it.

    Apocrypha. Did you wear gloves and goggles while reading it? 🙂

    Truthfully hisotrical background is one of my main ideas of the Apocrypha/ Deuterocanonicals’ usefulness. Mind you I always liked Tobit. Great story.

  2. Bryan says:

    There’s also the well-attested allusion to Deuteronomy 6.8

  3. tc robinson says:

    Apocrypha. Did you wear gloves and goggles while reading it? 🙂

    Truthfully hisotrical background is one of my main ideas of the Apocrypha/ Deuterocanonicals’ usefulness. Mind you I always liked Tobit. Great story.

    Chuck, the NT commentators I enjoy reading brought the usefulness of the Apocrypha to my attention. At one point, like most I guess, I thought they were useless. I was so wrong.

    I haven’t read any of them in their entirety. Just portions.

    Bryan, I just read Deut 6:8. Thanks for the reference.

  4. Nick Norelli says:

    That’s the same ‘apocrypha’ that I have — I love it! But I want to just get an NRSV that has it included (all of it, not just the deuterocanon) and be done with it — that would be so much more convenient.

  5. tc robinson says:

    Nick, that will be one big book. I like to keep them separate.

  6. Nick Norelli says:

    TC: My copy is like ½ an inch thick. What’s an extra ½ inch added to a Bible?

  7. tc robinson says:

    Nick, that’s doable then. I guess no publisher has seen the need to do one. I don’t know why?

  8. It’ll be interesting to hear your comments comparing the NRSV Apocrypha with the REB Apocrypha…

  9. tc robinson says:

    Is there really an REB Apocrypha? I’m still learning.

  10. Yep. In addition to the NRSV and KJV Apocrypha, there are the versions with the NEB/REB, JB/NJB and NAB translations. Not sure about others…

  11. tc robinson says:

    Thanks, El. I’ve always associated the Apocrypha with the NRSV and the KJV. I was so wrong.

  12. Iyov says:

    There are many, many Apocrypha editions in English — far more than you indicate.

    Major English translations of the “canonical” Deuterocanon/Apocrypha include the NETS, Geneva, Douay-Rheims, KJV, Knox, Bretton, Orthodox Study Bible, RSV, NRSV, JB, NJB, NEB, REB, NAB, GNB-TEV Catholic Edition, NLT Catholic Edition.

    Looking at the broader Apocrypha, here are some of my favorites:

    A New English Translation of the Septuagint ISBN 0195289757

    The Complete Parallel Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books (NRSV, REB, NAB, NJB) ISBN 019528318X

    The Parallel Apocrypha (Greek, Douay-Rheims-Challoner, KJV, NRSV, NAB, TEV, Knox Bible) ISBN 0195284445

    Abegg et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible ISBN 0060600632

    Braude, Pesikta De-Rab Kahana ISBN 0827606796

    Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (2 vols) 0974762342, 0974762377

    Charlesworth, Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (2 vols) ISBN 0300140193, 0300140207

    Coogan et al, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Augmented Third Edition, New Revised Standard Version ISBN 0195288815

    Ehrman, The Apostolic Fathers (2 vols) ISBN 0674996070, 0674996089

    Ginzburg, Legends of the Jews ISBN 0827607091

    James, New Testament Pseudepigrapha ISBN 0974762369

    Josephus, Jewish Antiquities (9 vols) ISBN 0674995759, 0674995392, 0674995767, 0674993608, 0674995775, 0674995384, 0674995783, 0674994779, 0674995023

    Lauterbach, Mekhilta De-Rabbi Ishmael ISBN 0827606788

    May et al, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha, Revised Standard Version, Expanded Edition ISBN 0195283481

    Meeks et al, The Writings of St. Paul, Norton Critical Edition, 2nd edition ISBN 0393972801

    Meyer, The Nag Hammadi Scriptures ISBN 0060523786

    Nelson, Mekhilta De-rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai ISBN 0827607997

    Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch ISBN 0800636945

    Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah ISBN 0800637798

    Robinson, The Nag Hammadi Library ISBN 0060669357

    Schneemelcher, New Testament Apocryhpa (2 vols) ISBN 066422721X, 0664227228

    Wise et al., Dead Sea Scrolls: New Translation ISBN 006076662X

  13. Iyov says:

    Oops, I forgot to mention the Catholic Living Bible as a major canonical translation.

    Another apocryphal work that recently has attracted wide attention is the Gospel of Judas.

  14. tc robinson says:

    Wow! I have so much to learn.

  15. Nick Norelli says:

    I’m interested especially in something with all of the books in the New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha, not just Bibles with the deuterocanon (I have at least that with Brenton’s translation of the LXX). Iyov, do any of the volumes you listed include all of these books in addition to the standard Hebrew canon and New Testament? Perhaps The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha?

  16. TC: You can move slowly on Gospel of Judas. They’re gonna be arguing over how to translate that one a while yet.

    Nick: NRSV with Apocrypha is generally considered the standard Bible with the most apocryphal books, I think, adding some from the Ethiopian canon to the usual suspects. To really get into that stuff you need the two volume sets of OT and NT pseudipegrapha.

    At bare minimum, past the “complete” NRSV, you’d want say, Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees, perhaps.

  17. Nick Norelli says:

    Chuck: I definitely want the 2 volume pseudepigrapha, but basically what I’m looking for is the volume mentioned in the post bound with the Protestant canon. I don’t actually consider these writings to be ‘apocryphal’ which is why I place the term in quotations when talking about these books.

  18. Iyov says:

    Nick —

    The fullest version of the Apocrypha bound with the Protestant Canon is the NRSV. I survey a variety of NRSV editions here. There are numerous editions available.

    If you are looking for a nice, cheap, bare-bones edition, I recommend the NRSV XL (ISBN 0061244872) which I discuss here.

    The best cross-reference edition is the Oxford Anglicized Cross Reference NRSV (ISBN 0191000167).

    For study editions, there are a wide range available. The HarperCollins has the fullest and most detailed notes, but also has a large number of errors. (ISBN 006078685X)

    The New Oxford Annotated Bible is the most popular, and has briefer notes than any of the others. (ISBN 0195288807). I really like the binder version of this volume, which I review here. However, some claim it is too liberal. I don’t think this is true, but if this is a concern for you, may want to look for earlier editions edited by Metzger. (ISBN 0195283821).

    The New Interpreters Study Bible has a mix of scholarly and pastoral (and definitely liberal) notes. (ISBN 0687278325).

    The Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible breaks up the text into brief passages and has running commentary on those passages. It is highly pastoral and aimed at Bible beginners. (ISBN 0060671084).

    If you prefer the RSV, the “expanded” edition of the RSV Apocrypha includes almost everything in the NRSV Apocrypha (notable exceptions are that only the additions to Daniel and Esther are translated, rather than the entire Greek versions of these books.) It is available in the New Oxford Annotated version of the RSV. (ISBN 0195283481)

    However, I think that Chuck is right. If you are seriously interested in the Apocrypha, you’ll want to at least get Enoch and most likely the Charles, Charlesworth, James, and Schneemelcher texts. In fact, I think you’ll want to go to your library and look at all the texts I cite.

  19. tc robinson says:

    I thought so myself, Iyov. I just received the REB Oxford Study Bible w/ Apocrypha, and it doesn’t appear to have the complete Apocrypha.

  20. Iyov says:

    I’m sorry, I gave incorrect information about the Renovare Spiritual Formation Bible. First, that edition only contains the Catholic Deuterocanonicals, and also has notes on the bottom.

    The version that has notes at the end of passages is the Access Bible (ISBN 0195282191).

  21. Sage ESq says:

    hi tc, i just got on to your blog and read thru’ the comments. i think we should exercise caution here concerning the apocrypha and stick with objective truths. the apocrypha i would hazard should concern anyone is the original translation that accompanied or were contained in the earliest English translations culminating in the original 1611 KJV.
    there are 14 books in the apocrypha that were always authorised out of about 101! there is the book of adam etc amongst others…a quick search on google should give you the rest. the thing is not to get carried away with this type research and forget the basis of one’s quest for truth and knowledge. concentrate on the 80 books that Godly decent men shed their blood to get to us and not the adulterated modern versions that deny the Authority and deity of Christ.
    you will discover that in the original kjv over 102 references in the OT and 11 references in the NT were made to apocrypha but these have been expunged from the ‘modern’ kjv bible and of course were not included in the other versions who’s validity i fear i have to doubt in light of research as to the basis for their own translations and these include the new living translation, niv, nasb, asv, rsv, nrsv, nkjv, etc etc…go and do some study. indeed the original Word of God is being tampered with…
    i discovered that the Bible always contained 80 books until the late 19th century when someone rather shadowy and unknown decided that 80 books were too many for us and since the 14 were not divinely ‘inspired’ they should not be a part of the modern Bible thus depriving us of a veritable font of knowledge! pls do your research and then respond.
    it makes me wonder why…there indeed is no justification because king james himself said that if anyone should exclude any one of the 80 books in his authorized translation, the offender will be gaoled and also fined!! people died in their thousands and millions to preserve this Holy Book…i cannot believe that modern day Christians are being hoodwinked even from the bible colleges and pulpits around the world into thinking that they have ‘complete’ bibles and that indeed it is right to EXCLUDE the apocrypha. in fact you are made to feel as if you are satanic for even wanting to discuss this issue!

  22. Sage ESq says:

    in my humble view i believe that our parsonages have been deceived too and they are spreading what they have thought amongst the Body of Christ. thankfully we can choose to investigate these things for ourselves. the truth is out there and we should ensure that the truth be known all round. that is my belief and my objective. God bless.

  23. tc robinson says:

    Sage, the Apocryphal works are good for some history, theology, and so on.

  24. Bob Burns says:

    If you delve into the books erroneously called “Apocrypha” before long you will notice a confusing array of differences between translations of them. For instance, Roman Catholic bibles contain no 1 & 2 Esdras, the King James Bible contains a shorter version of 2 Esdras than others, the version of Ecclesiasticus in the New Revised Standard Version is longer than that found in most other Bibles.

    I have created a table to compare these and other differences in order to track and evaluate the particulars of each Bible’s “Apocrypha” in translation. I have also developed a non-scientific scale upon which the relative merits of each can be judged.

    In the chart linked below, the various differences of the Apocrypha in 12 versions of the Bible is tracked and compared. More can be added as they become available to me. If a version of the Bible containing these books contains a translation based upon the “best” text we now have for that book, they are given a score of “1”, if it contains a translation based upon an inferior text of that book they get a score of “0.5”. Any translation lacking one of these compostitions received a score of “0” for that book.

    At the bottom of the table the scores are tabulated so you can see which bibles have the most complete and/or optimal collections of the biblical books under consideration. Since the translators of the NRSV seem to have gone the extra mile to acquire the best texts to translate and since they translated more of these books than the others, the NRSV became a sort of benchmark for this whole exercise.

    Adding NEB, REB, LB and Goodspeed soon.

    Some explanatory notes:

    The line items highlighted in blue represent the preferred available text tradition for each book in the collection. For the 3 additions to Daniel, for instance, the preferred text tradition is “Theodotion”. In this analysis, the Latin Vulgate (with the exception of 2 Esdras) is never viewed as a preferred text tradition, because it is itself a translation of the Greek; also it is known that Jerome, the translator of the Vulgate, paraphrased and abridged a number of these books.

    Esther poses the highest number of ways in which it has been handled by translators. For instance, the translators of the KJV, EV and RSV did not restore the portions from Greek Esther into the narrative sequence of the book, so one is left with a jumble of incoherent chapters out of their context.

    Some translators DID reinsert the chapters, such as the NAB, NJB and the NRSV-CE, but within the context of a translation of Esther from the Hebrew.

    Few translators, such as NETS and NRSV, have translated all of Greek Esther as a unit, thus giving us a better picture of what ancient readers of Esther in Greek would have been reading.

    Three compositions, 2 Esdras, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) and Psalm 151 have been enlarged with previously lost portions. 2 Esdras had a portion of chapter 7 recovered from versions of that book found outside of the Vulgate. In the case of Psalm 151, its longer original form was recovered from the Dead Sea Scroll caves. Sirach had portions recovered from Hebrew fragments found in the Cairo Geniza.

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