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
June 13, 2014
When Concordia sent a copy of The Lutheran Study Bible in the English Standard Version (ESV) for me to review, I noticed the heft, of course, but, more importantly, the sturdiness and quality of this hardback edition, which I later discovered was printed, Smyth-sewn, and manufactured in the United States. Yea!
I greatly appreciated, too, how Concordia wasted no time or space getting to basic beliefs by printing “The Lord’s Prayer” on the inside hardcover followed by a “Brief Service of the Word” (order of worship) and prayers such as this “Prayer to See God’s Ways:”
“Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears. Please show me
now Your ways, that I may gain Christ and be found in
Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes
from the Law, but that which comes through faith
in Christ. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light
to my path. Give me life, O Lord, according to Your
Word, and I will declare Your greatness. Amen.”
In the high quality opening pages, you’ll also find clearly labeled maps of the Holy Lands and a moving painting portraying Jesus, while the back matter include blank pages for writing notes. In between, the paper seems a bit thin, presumably to lessen the overall thickness and weight of the book, but, even with a little bleed-through, the text is easily readable.
As mentioned, the text chosen by Concordia is the ESV, known for accuracy and poetic grace when read aloud. With that translation literally in hand, hundreds of workers from Lutheran churches around the world were asked to read portions of the Bible and present questions, which a team of Bible scholars then addressed in the footnotes. Those questions numbered under 1,500 but resulted in over 26,500 study notes from a Lutheran perspective.
Other unique features to this impressive edition reportedly include “Insights from early church, medieval and Reformation era church fathers,” over 200 informative articles, and “over 2,000 application notes and prayers for every part of the Bible.”
Since I’ve been studying biblical wisdom, I turned to the Book of Job where I found interesting information on the “Legal Language in Job,” which helps to place that poetic debate into context. For ex., “In the ancient Near East, the elders of a community would typically hold court in a city gate (Jb 29:7). In the ancient city of Gezer, archaeologists have found stone benches in the gate chambers where the elders sat…. Parties in dispute would approach them at the gate, explain their case, and count on a wise ruling…. Job served as such an elder, and his friends likely did as well… The Book of Job never mentions that its setting is the city gate, but its dialogues are filled with the legal language of such proceedings (e.g., 10:2, 23:1-7; 29:7-17, 21-25; 31:11, 13, 21, 35-37).”
In Job’s case, however, his “friends” ruled against him. Although Job “was famous for defending the defenseless (29:15-17), he did not have the skill to argue his case before the ultimate judge: the Lord.” When he eventually realized he needed an arbitrator or mediator, he cried, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives’ (19:25).” As a note in chapter 28 attests, “People cannot find wisdom by their own reason or strength. God alone can give it through His declaration – His Word. St. Paul calls Christ Jesus ‘our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.’ (1 Co 1:30).”
To better grasp such terminology common to the Christian faith, a concordance in the back offers scriptural references while, in the front pages, “Luther’s Small Catechism” addresses issues of his day and ours.
For instance, in asking “What does this mean?” of sanctification, the catechism explains: “I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith./ In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith./ In this Christian church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers./ On the Last Day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ./ This is most certainly true.”
The many prayers, quotes from church fathers, and contemporary articles in this highly recommended edition consider the challenges we all have as Christians while letting us know that members of the clergy, laity, academia, and community of faith around the world join us in our struggles and our common faith.
© 2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer, is a lifelong lover of the Bible and traditionally published author of 26 books in all genres, including two poetry books, the Bible-basedOutside Eden and environmentally-oriented Living in the Nature Poem.
The Lutheran Study Bible, hardcover
The Lutheran Study Bible, black bonded leather, thumb-indexed