March 14, 2015
Apocrypha, apocryphal books, deuterocanonical books, literature from intertestamental times, or whatever you call it, this highly recommended edition is unique!
Edited by Edward A. Engelbrecht, The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes published by Concordia Publishing House fills the gap between Jewish and Catholic Bibles, between Catholic and Protestant Bibles, and between Old and New Testaments.
Why is that important? Each gap can cause us to slip away from one another or get trapped in debates, but this edition can help us to see where each other is coming from as we build new bridges and do what we can to administer healing to the church.
Similar in appearance to The Lutheran Study Bible, also edited by Rev. Engelbrecht, this slimmer, hardcover edition includes reader-friendly articles on “The Holy Scripture and Other Ancient Writings,” “The Apocrypha in Modern Bible Publications,” “The Historical Setting of the Apocrypha,” and the Judeans during various times in world history.
Before you get to the text itself – or even the Introductions and outlines of each book, you’ll discover “Theological Teachings of the Time between the Testaments,” which, as it suggests, gives insight into the ongoing development of theology. Under the heading “The Doctrine of God,” for example, we’re told that “In the Intertestamental literature, there is a tendency to think of God in terms of His transcendence, of His remoteness from the world. There is also a hesitancy to use the divine name directly, and in its place circumlocutions are employed,” such as referring to God as “heaven,” “the Dwelling Presence” (Shekinah), or “the Name.”
Another heading “The Role of Angels,” tells us that “Instead of God having direct contact with creation, the apocryphal writings assign to the angels the responsibility for lightning, snow, rain, clouds, darkness, cold, heat, and frost. As a caution, one should note that many passages of the Old Testament refer to the role of angels and divinely appointed leaders. The change is one of frequency and emphasis.”
In addition, “The literature from the Time between the Testaments of the postcanonical biblical period has many references to the existence of evil spirits or demons.” This biblical era also develops beliefs in life after death, the Kingdom of God, and the Messianic hope, bringing continuity and bridging the gap between testaments.
Other features in this edition include “Apocrypha Prayers,” variations in titles and arrangements of the books, “The Apocryphal Books in Other Christian Traditions,” and “The Apocrypha and the New Testament,” which I found especially interesting as the article charts possible influences of Apocryphal texts on Jesus and New Testament writers.
Also, in the back matter, appendices give a brief summary of such important documents as “The Dead Sea Scrolls,” the development of midrash, and the biblically relevant writings of Philo, Josephus, and others. “Apocrypha Chronology and World History” charts major events from the fall of Samaria centuries before Christ through the martyrdom of the Apostles, destruction of the Temple, and subsequent revolts. And, for a bridge into our times, “Key Terms and Phrases" provide definitions whereas the section on “Apocrypha Topics” lists citations of the relevant book, chapter, and verse beneath the subject of interest.
Although I've read other apocryphal books I recommend, this unique edition, which Concordia kindly sent me for review, not only includes a highly recommended encyclopedia on the Apocrypha, it presents a heavily footnoted translation of the text in the English Standard Version (ESV), known for its accuracy and beauty.
©2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, poet, writer, and reviewer, is a lifelong lover of Christ, the Bible, and the church in all its parts.
The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes, hardcover