The Apocrypha

The Apocrypha are the lost books between the Testaments and other Christian and Jewish writings that did not find their way into our Bible. The term apocrypha properly signifies "hidden" or "concealed." Many apocryphal books are mentioned in the Bible by name but are now lost. The lost book of the Wars of the Lord, the book of Jasher, the historical Annals of King David, the books and records of Nathan the prophet, Shemaiah the prophet, the book of Gad the Seer, the annals of Solomon, the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, the visions of Iddo the sear, the apocalypse of Enoch. The Book of the Covenant mentioned in Exodus is probably one of the other canonical Mosaic Books but may be a source from which he drew upon for his own writings. Most of these books are histories and not inspired scripture. God has protected what He has truly brought forth for us to read. Prophecy however, has never ceased at any time in history, even for brief periods.

The Book of Enoch is quoted in the New Testament and by many early church writers who considered it inspired, but considered heretical by many because of it reference to fallen angels and copies were destroyed. Its existence was virtually unknown until the nineteenth century when a copy was translated, its antiquity confirmed by many fragments found at Qumram and also the Testaments of the 12 Patriarchs. Whether the Book of Enoch was penned by the actual pre-flood Enoch or the pretense of a later writer is unknown but in the book of Jude, verse 14, Jude the brother of Jesus seemed to think it was the original Enoch. Scholars have speculated that a portion of the Book of Enoch may also contain fragments of the lost Apocalypse of Noah. I speak as an observer, not an authority but if this Enoch really received from an angel that the sun and moon were of the same dimensions, you would think that the angel would have access to a more scientific approach to the luminaries. Enoch swears to the fact that he had access to tablets that gives him this hidden information but if it was written at a later date, which I believe it was, wild claims to visions after the fact are meaningless. Without judging the book one way or another, it looks like it was written by someone who already had access to sacred scripture and prophecies after they had already been written, nothing new is revealed except commentary on what had already been revealed. The writer of Enoch also gets into some trouble swearing upon its own authenticity which would not be necessary if it was truly genuine. Whatever is true concerning its authenticity does not obscure the fact that the Book of Enoch is great reading, reflects much truth and the reader can be blessed by it.

The Wisdom of Solomon harmonizes Judaism and Platonism. Some others are the Psalms of Solomon, the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the Odes of Solomon are said to have been written by a first century Gentile convert to Christianity. Many of these are apocalyptic authors that thought the Messiah to triumph speedily but Isaiah wrote that He was despised and rejected by men and the validity was misunderstood. Obviously, last day visions are visible in many of the works rather than the first coming of Christ. Many are prophetic and apocalyptic in nature, adding much insight to the end-time reader. The rejection of these books in modern day canons may be due to their veiled and lofty nature, the essence of being "hidden." The gospel of Nicodemus consisted of two books: the Acts of Pilate, and the Descent of Christ to the Underworld.

The commonly called apocrypha is the several books at the end of the Old Testament. The King James version of 1611 contained these books as well as the English Revised Version of the last century and the new Revised Standard Version. They are included in the Catholic Douay Version of 1609-10. Protestants rejected them as uninspired but a study of them reveals much wisdom and prophetic insight. Any spiritual person that reads First Esdras and Second Esdras with an open heart cannot escape the prophetic message for the end-time church but yet it may have been written much later than the time of Ezra. The Maccabees especially are good reading for those interested in Jewish history and are totally genuine. Baruch seems to contradict Jeremiah but still makes good reading, the letter of Jeremiah does not appear genuine and Judith sounds like a made up play but a great story none the less and an insight into the period.

The longest of the apocrypha is the Wisdom of Jesus, the son of Sirach. It is a typical piece of Jewish Wisdom Literature, like Proverbs, written by a Jewish Scribe of Jerusalem before the outbreak of Maccabees perhaps around 180 BC. The Wisdom of Solomon is the work of two authors, written in Greek probably about AD 37-41 for Egyptian Jews, to safeguard them against the perils of skepticism, materialism, idolatry, and persecution. The Book of Susanna was set apart from the beginning of Daniel, because it is in Greek rather than Hebrew, as is the Narration of Bel and the Dragon, cut off from the end of Daniel and many of the others, including the Greek Additions to Esther. They were included in the Septuagint however, giving them much valid authority to have been included in the King James canon.

The styles of Baruch, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Judith, First Maccabees, Second Maccabees, Song of the 3 children, Susannah, and Bel and the Dragon seems to be Alexandrian. The common mark of the Jewish apocalyptic writings is their dismal vision of the present and their radiant hopes for the future: they welcomed the night because it appears to bring the dawn nearer. Prayers are included from Azariah and Manasseh. Another is the sixth chapter of Baruch called the Epistle of Jeremiah.

Eusebius lists those books of the Bible that are canonical and those that were not accepted in those days. Among the rejected writings, he lists the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd, the Apocalypse of Peter, the extant epistle of Barnabas, and what he calls the Teachings of the Apostles, the (Didache). He also mentions the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias and the Acts of Andrew and John. Many can be judged by the discerning mind as not inspired but many are authentic and just what they are purported to be.
[351, 304, 345, 15, 334, 374, 377, BD, 380, 401]

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