Tag Archives: Apocrypha

What About Daniel and Esther?

The discussion of the text that is not found in all Bibles concludes by addressing the books of Daniel and Esther.

In some versions of the Bible, the book of Daniel contains 12 chapters, while in others there are 14.  These two chapters are both interesting and insightful.

Daniel 13 is the story of upright Suzanna, who is falsely accused of adultery and sentenced to death.  God intervenes by revealing to a young Daniel the duplicity of her accusers; Daniel is able to expose their false testimony and save Suzanna.

Daniel 14 contains two stories of Daniel later in his life.  First, he shows that the Babylonian god Bel is not living; he then kills Bel’s prophets and destroys the temple.  Second, he proceeds to kill a dragon that the people worship.  His detractors throw him in a pit of lions for a week; God again intervenes to save Daniel.

As far as Esther, the two accounts seem like a condensed version and an unabridged version.  The longer version contains a prelude and a postscript, along with helpful insertions throughout, including the edicts that where issued and the prayers of Mordecai and Esther.  The result is a fuller and more detailed understanding of what took place.

These additional passages are found in The Jerusalem Bible, as well as other versions.

There’s More to Discover in the Bible

Check out these books of the Bible, which are not found in all versions, but are in others, such as The Jerusalem Bible:

Tobit is a story of Tobiah who journeys with Raphael to retrieve some money for his father (Tobit).  Along the way he is attacked by a fish and gets married; when he returns home, he restores his father’s eyesight.

Judith is an account of beautiful and pious women, who daringly and single-handedly delivers the Jewish people from their enemy, using her beauty and charm, while remaining pure and chaste.

1 Maccabees is both a historical and literary work about stoic faith; it addresses the politics and military situation around Israel circa the second century BCE.

2 Maccabees covers approximately the same time as First Maccabees, but from a different perspective and includes signs, wonders, and miracles.

Wisdom (aka The Wisdom of Solomon) is like other wisdom literature in the Bible.

Sirach (aka Ecclesiasticus, not to be confused with Ecclesiastes), is a compilation of sayings similar to Proverbs, concluding with a tribute to notable Jewish figures.

Baruch, written by Baruch (Jeremiah’s scribe), is effectively a sequel to the book of Jeremiah, written after the people are exiled.

In or Out?

While the New Testament of the Bible has small phrases or scattered verses that are not found in all of the ancient manuscripts, the Old Testament has a slightly different issue of inclusion or exclusion, which mostly relates to entire books.

Here’s the short version of what happened.  The Old Testament was written in Hebrew.  It was translated to Greek a couple of centuries before Jesus.  The Greek translation is used when the New Testament quotes from the Old.

For some of the books in the Greek Old Testament, either the original Hebrew version was lost or it was first written in Greek.  It is these books that are in question.  For most of history, Christians have accepted and embraced these writings, but during the modern era, some have opted to remove them from the Bible, in part because there are no original Hebrew manuscripts, viewing them as superfluous or even heretical.  (Jews likewise dismiss these books.)

It has been only recently that I have discovered these books, feeling sad for what I have missed over the years.

The question becomes is it wrong to include them or wrong to exclude them?  Again, as with the New Testament consideration, I opt to include them.  I do this primarily because most Christians, for most of the past 2,000 years have deemed them as part of the Bible, so I feel safe to do so as well.  As a result, my appreciation for God’s word and understanding of him is heightened in the process.

Perhaps these have likewise been missing in your Bible; future posts will provide an introduction to these fascinating books.

The Apocrypha

New information is added to A Bible A Day, seemingly on a weekly basis.

One such example is the initial adding of information about the Apocrypha books. These books are found in some versions of the Bible, but not all.  It is important to have them covered, since some tenets of Christianity deem these writings as holy and inspired. They have been added to allow A Bible A Day to be more inclusive, better representing all who read and revere the Bible.

The first group of Apocrypha books have been included in A Bible A Day. These are Old Testament writings that are not included in the Jewish and Protestant Bibles, but are part of the Roman Catholic Bible and others; they are Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch.