GET OVER IT: APOCRYPHA EDITION

  • AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Bible Talk

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    Contemporary American Evangelicalism leads to many different things, both good and bad.  Whenever I heard about the Apocrypha I often tied it with a negative reaction.  Everybody knows that it is not truly Scripture like those Roman Catholics would have us believe!  Instead, it is something that should be removed from our Bibles and taken away from our collective sight.  Turns out this is just throwing out the Maccabean revolt with the bathwater.

    Using the devotional device of the Daily Office (i.e., devotional plan) for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer it led me into reading I Maccabees as a part of this plan.  (Typically, you read Psalms and passages from the Old Testament, New Testament and Gospels to start and end your day. ) And as I have been working through the text of I Maccabees, I have encountered some positive examples.  I have discovered new stories about having zeal for God’s Law.  When the Greek ruler stopped the worship of God, Matthias and his sons wouldn’t take it anymore.  Instead of passively standing by, they rose up to throw the shackles off their nation.  Their zeal led to liberation and provoked in me to be more passionate toward devoting myself to the Kingdom of God.

    This read-through led to making me wonder why I have been so obstinate in reading these books.  After all, Evangelicals read devotional literature all the time!  Why shouldn’t I place these books up on the same level as reading CS Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Oswald Chamber and other Christian writers?  If we read subpar books like from certain authors who write about having your best life now, why can’t we read literature to help our faith that is rooted in history and depth?

    So basically put, I have decided that I’m going to get over it and read the Apocrypha (which is not on par with Scripture but is still helpful in growth).

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    So, what have you gotten over in your faith?

  • Jesse

    Great stuff Jeremy, and I am interested to hear what you think about the Apocryphal books. I haven’t really read too much myself, but I would be interested to hear what you think about them. Also I kind of want to check out this Anglican Book of Common Prayer, if only to keep my theological learnings more open and respectful as I head off to seminary.

    Oh and I wonder if the Maccabean revolt had anything to do with the Jews gaining religious freedom from the Roman Empire, I know the story is that it helped them gain it from the Syrians (I believe that’s right…) because ultimately this religious freedom from the pagan practices of Rome, allowed Christianity to stabilize in its early years because it was considered a sect of Judaism. And if that were the case, it would show how God was still very much active in the Jewish nation up until the time of Christ, and maybe even make us consider looking at the book of Maccabees differently…

    In terms of something I had to get over in my faith, it would definitely have to be my differences I originally had with the reformed tradition haha. I remember having some sharp debates with my college group leader over in Australia over certain doctrines, but I soon grew to respect and admire their views very much after seeing the kind of spirit filled lives that they lived, and I think in turn I was opened to learning from them and am excited to see how that plays out now that I am attending seminary!

    • Thanks Jesse! The Book of Common Prayer is fascinating, not just with the Daily Office and Lectionary. It also has the order of services for a wide range of events (burials, consecration of bishops, liturgy, etc.). It’s worth to have on the seminarian bookshelf or nightstand, even a Pentecostal.

      I think that God was active in Judaism up through the time of Christ. Ultimately, Christ is the one who fulfilled the messianic hope of the people of Israel, although he did it in such a way that nearly everybody didn’t get it! I will post some of my thoughts on that during the Advent season…

      In regards to the Rome issue, I am not certain if that played a part. Zeal for the Law definitely helped define them as a people group.

      I’m still getting over issues with the Reformed Tradition, so you are in good company! It at least forces you to confront your own tradition in light of the others while recognizing that they are brothers/sisters. The diversity of the church is beautiful in a way.

  • Steve Brule

    Get out and go do it! For your Apocrypha!

  • Buy it and read it! Sirach is Proverbs on steroids.

    I had a similar experience to you. I was reared as Evangelical but as adult became an Orthodox Christian.

    For the Orthodox, these books are Scripture because they are part of the LXX, but it wasn’t until several years ago that I gave the books much attention.

    I teach Adult Education at our church, and after the Orthodox Study Bible was published, I had several adults approach me with the questions: “What are these extra books?”, and “Can you teach on them?”

    My answer was, “I have never really read or studied them, but I will try.” So I spent about a year studying to be able to teach. One of the best resources I found was deSilva’s Introducing the Apocrypha. He is a conservative Methodist scholar, and while he doesn’t regard as canonical, he treats the books with respect and values them for their practicality and illumination they bring to the NT.

    Eventually, I published a short book introducing each of these books based on my Sunday School notes, and have an article about the books being published by an Anglican magazine, Forward in Christ.

    As you read through, you will have to post more thoughts. Oh and btw, did you hear that Mel Gibson plans on filming his version of the Maccabean story.

    • I borrowed a copy of the Apocrypha at the library to use for a paper in seminary, so I think I will take up your advice and purchase a copy. Without reading it, I think I might be in the same camp as de Silva’s work. I’ll add that to my Amazon list too. 🙂

      Please post the link to your article when it is published, I would be interested on seeing what you have to say about the books, especially from an Orthodox perspective.

      I heard about the Gibson film, but am a little hesitant due to the backlash over those anti-Semitic rants. Although the story is perfect for a great film!

  • It is ironic that Gibson would choose to do a movie about a Jewish Braveheart, considering his supposed anti-Semitic nature.

    Send me an email I will send you a copy of the article.