The Apocrypha, Lutheran Edition
God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and
clouds and stars.
How many of you reading this have ever heard of the Apocrypha? Well, the word Apocrypha literally means things that are hidden. They often refer to what is sometimes spoken of as the “hidden books of the Bible“. Some of these books are considered to be “Canonical”, or texts that were, at one time, a part of the Bible but which were, for reasons that seemed appropriate at the time, omitted from officially sanctioned versions that were disseminated. Others are referred to as “Deuterocanonical” which means that they were books of a biblical nature and were interspersed within the existing texts of the Catholic version of the Bible but generally omitted from inclusion in the Protestant versions of the Bible.
When the Bible was being translated into Latin, some texts were omitted because while the information they contained could be found in the Greek testaments of the day, there was no supporting version to be found within Hebrew texts. And while most did receive approval for inclusion, it was during the Protestant reformation that they were rejected again since it was believed they were lacking divine authority! Despite the ruling of the Council of Trent which did declare them to be divine, only the books, Tobias, Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Baruch, and Maccabees, remain in the Catholic Bible. First Esdras, Second Esdras, Epistle of Jeremiah, Susanna, Bel (and the Dragon), Prayer of Manasseh, Prayer of Azariah, and Laodiceans have not been included. Nearly all the Apocrypha are Old Testament scripture except for Laodiceans, which was considered to be part of the Epistles of Paul!
Suffice it to say that the debate over whether the Books of the Apocrypha should be considered as God’s inspired word is as heated today as it was during the Reformation. However, as an aide in understanding the Jewish roots of Christianity, and filling in certain theological and historical facts that remain in question as the result of the huge gap of somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 years between the ending of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, a basic understanding of the Apocrypha might just be worth exploring. Just let your fingers do some walking on the keyboard of your computer and enter Apocrypha into your search engine for more information into these lost testimonies from established as well as some lesser known Biblical figures!
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