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27

NOTES ON THE APOCRYPHA.

These books form part of the sacred literature l held in high esteem by the Alexandrian Jews, and appended by them to the LXX. translation of the Old Testament. They are lor the most part, if not wholly, the product of the era subsequent to the commencement of the Captivity; part having their origin in Babylonia, during or after the Captivity, part belonging to the last three centuries B.C., when prophecy, oracles, and direct revelation had ceased. They form the historical link between the Old and New Testament, and have also a linguistic value in connection with the Hellenistic phraseology of the latter. They differ from the former in the marked absence of prophetic teaching, of Divine revelation, and of Hebrew poetry; while they point (as in the Book of Wisdom) to a spiritual kingdom which shall be eternal. The account there given of the "Exodus" suggests the existence of traditionary narratives, besides those from which Moses' record was written, but from which certain additions found in the New Testament (e.g. in Stephen's speech), were derived. The LXX. had been formed on a Hebraic mould, so that Hebraisms were sure to manifest themselves; but in the Apocrypha (much of which was written in Greek) we find the same Hebraic cast of thought and expression. Thus the Hellenistic phraseology of the New Testament was not a new thing, even when applied to the original composition, but had become habitual.

As to their Canonical authority, Josephus seems to reject it. The early Christians differed in opinion respecting them, but received them as part of the sacred literature. Melito, referring to the Hebrew Canon, separated them from the authoritative and Divine records. Jerome called them "apocryphal," affirming, as stated in Article VI., "the Church doth read them for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine."

In the Western Church they gradually rose in esteem, until the Council of Trent affirmed the Canonicity of the major part; but they are treated by the more critical Roman divines as Deutero-canonical.

It is not generally supposed that the books were written by those whose names they bear, but rather that the names of those illustrious in Hebrew history (e.g. Esdras and Solomon, whose writings were most in accord with these,) were affixed to them by the writers. They are valuable historically, as supplying us with the struggles of the Jews under the Syrian Kings, of which the records elsewhere are scanty.

THE BOOKS OF ESDRAS, although quoted largely by Josephus, Athanasius, and some early Christian writers, do not seem to have been ever regarded as strictly " Canonical."

THE FIRST BOOK OF ESDRAS appears to be a compilation of narratives by different authors, the original part of the document being confined to chapters iii.— v. 6. Chapter i. is a repetition of the last two chapters of 2 Chron., with some abridgments and variations of text. The rest of the book is a transcript of portions of Ezra and Nehemiah, with the apparent intention of narrating the legend about Zerubbabel, and of explaining the great obscurities of the Book of Ezra; but it is impossible to reconcile the various parts either with Holy Scripture or with one another, and therefore the latter portion of the

book is thought by many not to be the work of a single author. Only Greek and Latin versions of the book are known to exist.

THE SECOND BOOK OF ESDRAS. The more ancient title was, the " Revelation of Ezra," but it is more commonly known as the " Fourth Book of Ezra." The original text seems to have been in Greek, from ?hich Arabic, Ethiopic, and Latin translations have been made; and the English version has been entirely taken from the Latin, which contains the following interpolations (chaps, i., ii.; xv., xvi.), which seem to be of Christian origin, and also the omission of a long passage after chap. vii. 35, on the " intermediate state" and "intercession of departed souls," probably rejected on dogmatic grounds. From internal evidence it would seem to have been written in Egypt, by a Jew, between B.C. 100 and A.D. 100. It consists of angelic revelation and a series of visions, teaching some of the mysteries of the moral world, and the final triumph of the righteous.

Revelation I. On the unsearchableness of God's purposes, and the signs of the last age.

II. On the progress of the plan of Providence, and the growth of evil.

III. Answers objections to the narrow limits prescribed for the hope of regeneration; and foretells the second advent of the Messiah.

Vision I. A woman (Sion) lamenting the death of her only son on his bridal day (i.e. the city of Solomon); but her sorrow is turned into joy at the appearance of a newly built city.

II. An eagle (Rome), rising from the sea, spreads its wings over the earth, undergoes various transformations, is rebuked by a lion (Messiah), and is burnt up.

III.   A Man (Messiah), flying on the clouds, destroys by the blast of His mouth the opposing powers of the world, gathers the lost tribes of Israel, and gives them the city of Sion.

The last chapter records the appearance of the Lord in a burning bush, who gives to Ezra the books of the law which had been burnt; and Ezra dictates to the scribes the twenty-four Canonical books, and seventy books of secret mysteries.

THE BOOK OF ESTHER consists of certain interpolated passages found in the Septuagint Version of Esther, which are not in the original Hebrew copy. They fill up the narrative, and supply the Name of God as the Prime Mover in the events, which Name nowhere occurs in the original. These interpolated passages are supposed to have been inserted at a later date by the Alexandrine Jews. Jerome removed them from the text, and placed them, with some explanations, among the uncanonical books; but his notes have been swept away and these disconnected fragments printed consecutively, as if they formed a complete continuation of the Canonical book.

THE BOOK OF WISDOM. The original seems to be in Greek, which is found in the Codex Sinaiticus; but there is an ancient Latin version older than the time of Jerome, and translations in Armenian, Syriac, and Arabic (of which the last two are paraphrastic).

It consists of two main parts: I. (Chaps, i.-ix.). The praise of Wisdom in its moral and intellectual aspects: 1st, as the source of immortality in contradiction to the theory of sensualists; 2nd, 28 as the practical guide of moral and intellectual life. II. (Chaps, x.-xix.). The doctrine of Wisdom in its historical aspect: 1. An illustration of the influence of Wisdom in the reward of the virtuous and the punishment of the vicious, both in the case, of individuals (from Adam to Moses), and of nations (e.g. the Egyptians and Canaan-ites); followed by (chaps, xv.-xix.) a contrast between the fortunes of idolatrous and religious people. The harmony pervading the whole book contradicts the opinion that it is a compilation of different authors and at distinct times, though some have attributed the former part to Solomon, and the latter to a subsequent translator of his work. It possesses the highest literary excellence, equal in rank for sublimity of language, rhetorical eloquence, and command of language, to the productions of classical antiquity.

Its diction, as well as its doctrine, points to a Greek original, unfettered by Hebrew idioms. The doctrine of the creation of the world from uncreated matter, the pre-existence of souls, the pervading influence of the Divine Spirit throughout the universe, the absence of the Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body, and of any reference to the regeneration of humanity by the Messiah, while vividly depicting immortality as the reward and consequence of wisdom, all point to Alexandria as the place of its composition, and to a period anterior to Christianity, when Hebrew thought and Greek philosophy of various schools had become fused together.

Its date is variously conjectured, from B.C. 150—B.C. 50; but its style and diction seem to point to an earlier date than that of Philo, to whom it has been ascribed. Passages in Paul's writings suggest his acquaintance with this book, but no quotation is found from it earlier than the second century A.D., when it is treated as authentic inspired Scripture. With Proverbs and Ecclesiastes it forms a sacred trilogy, in which the doctrine of Wisdom is developed, as an eternal existence with the Creator, acting on created matter, as the source of life, and continuing in the land of spirits; thus laying the foundation for the Christian doctrine of the existence and influence of the Divine Word and Holy Spirit. All the questions connected with this book are fully treated bv the Rev. W. J. Deane, in his edition recently published.

ECCLESIASTICTUS is so called in the Vulgate and A.V. from its local name in the African Church, gained from its practical use as a Church Lectionary or "Reading Book." Its more general name is that of "The Wisdom" or "the Proverbs of Jesus the Son of Sirach." Both internal evidence and the testimony of Jerome sufficiently attest the existence of a Hebrew original (now lost), which was subsequently translated, with some additions, by the grandson of the author, resident in Alexandria, in the reign of Euergetes (see the Prologues). The date of this translation is rendered uncertain from there being two monarchs bearing that title, viz. Ptolemy III. and Ptolemy VII.; and this uncertainty is not corrected by the mention among Hebrew worthies of "Simon, the son of Onias" (chap. 1.1), since this appellation would apply equally to Simon I. and Simon II.

The book was not placed by the Hebrews among the Canonical Scriptures, nor is it so classed by Jerome; but it is quoted as such, and even attributed to Solomon, by many Christian writers after the second century. The version in the LXX., Vulgate, and A.V. is taken from the Alexandrian translation, but the order of its various portions is not uniform. It consists of a number of proverbs and wise sayings of ancient Hebrews, collected together by the compiler, who has appended to them additional ones of his own.

Its whole tone is Palestinian, without any trait of Greek philosophy. God is the Creator, Preserver, and Governor of the universe; the hope of restoration rests upon the future advent of Elias, and that of a resurrection seems fading away; religion has degenerated into minute external ritual observances: righteousness is imprisoned in innumerable legal enactments; and there is a tone of despondency underlying the exhortations to cheerfulness and resignation, which seem to point to a period between the termination of the "Great Synagogue" and the rise of the Maccabees.

THE BOOK OF BARUCH. This book, which bears the name of the companion of Jeremiah, was not regarded by the Jews as Canonical. No reference is made to it in the New Testament, or by the Apostolic Fathers; but subsequent Christian writers refer to it as the work of Jeremiah. No Hebrew version of it is known, and all others seem to be derived from a Greek original. It consists of two parts, the style and diction of the former being Hebraistic, and of the latter Hellenistic, which suggests that the former had a Hebrew original, and was probably written during the Persian period, and the latter in Greek, at Alexandria, about the time of the Liberation.

From the unity of the book, as it now stands, the writer of the second portion would seem at the same time to have translated the former; but the Epistle of Jeremiah (chap, vi.) is considered t© be the work of a later writer, not earlier than the first century B.C.

It is the only book in the Apocrypha formed on the model of the ancient prophets.

The first part (chaps, i.-iii. 8) consists of an introduction, followed by a confession and prayer. The second part (chap. iii. 9 to the end) contains a rebuke of Israel for their sins, with a lamentation of Jerusalem over her children, followed (by an abrupt transition) by a triumphant apostrophe to Jerusalem, foretelling the return of her children and their abiding glory.

APOCRYPHAL ADDITIONS TO DANIEL. These three fragments are not found in the original text of the Book of Daniel, but have their origin in the LXX. version, and seem to embody certain popular traditions, embellishing historical facts.

1. SONG OF THE THREE CHILDREN supplements the narrative in Daniel iii., and gives a supposed prayer of Azarias for deliverance from the fiery furnace, an account of the means by which the Three Children were saved* followed by a hymn of thanksgiving, sung by them in the fire, and which has been used in Christian worship, under the name of the " Benedicite," ever since the fourth century A.D. Both this prayer and hymn seem to have been similarly used in the Jewish Church after the Captivity.

2. HISTORY OF SUSANNA does not pretend to form part of the Book of Daniel, but only to be an appendix to it. It is, doubtless, founded on an historical fact of Daniel's early career in Babylon, which has been embodied in a narrative for moral purposes, and seems to have an echo in an incident in our Saviour's life, especially in the moral appeal which He emphasises in John (viii. 7 and 9). By Christian writers it is made to bear an allegorical form, Susanna representing the Church, tempted to infidelity by Jewish and Pagan adversaries, and crying to God for help.

3. BEL AND THE DRAGON, called in the LXX. "Part of the Prophecy of Habakkuk," forms a preface to the plot against Daniel to cast him into the den of lions, and supplies the motive, which seems wanting in the original narrative, 29 with which, however, it incidentally coincides in one important feature, viz. a threatened revolution of a council of the people against the king, unless he ratifies what the popular assembly has decreed, which, in the Book of Daniel, appears a startling change from the autocratic power of his predecessors.

THE PRAYER OF MANASSES. The original prayer of the penitent king of Judah existed when the Book of Chronicles was written (2 Chron. xxxiii. 18), but is lost. This version is found in some copies of the LXX., and in the "Apostolic OonstAtttiions," with a legend of his miraculous deliverance from captivity. Its date and authorship are both uncertain; but it is thought, from internal evidence, to have been written by a Jew, well acquainted with the LXX. only; and the doctrine of repentance, therein displayed, suggests a date approximating to the Christian era.

TOBIT. The standard text is that of the LXX., from which all other known versions are derived; but the style and subject of the story would suggest a Hebrew or Chaldee original. It has the appearance of an Oriental story, as a medium of moral and religious instruction, rather than of an embellished historical event; but its general agreement with fact seems not to have been doubted until modern times, although no cor-roboration of any portion of the narrative is to be found in any historical work. The influence of good and evil spirits, here pourtrayed, on human affairs, belongs to the belief of a period later than the Babylonish Captivity.

From internal evidence the writer seems certainly to have been a Jew, resident in the East (probably at Babylon), while the kingdom of Media was still standing, and the complete restoration of Jerusalem not yet effected. The date, therefore, must be fixed between Nehemiah and Alexander, the Great, most probably about B.C. 350,

The book has been more highly esteemed by Christians than by Jews. It presents a most vivid and pleasing picture of domestic life, and the influence of religion upon it, among the cap-* tive Jews, and in this respect has a strong affinity to the historical part of the Book of Job.

JUDITH. Of existing texts, both a Greek and a Latin version seem to have equal claims to be regarded as genuine, since neither is a transla-: tion of the Qther, but they differ materially in words and expressions, and especially in names and numbers. Jerome mentions a Chaldee version, with which he had compared the others; and there vrould seem to have been some earlier original, most probably in Syro-Chaldaic. The geo-graphieal and historical references in the book are so irreconcileable with known facts, that there is little doubt that the book is an historical fiction, intended to revive a spirit of heroism in the Jews of Palestine, when it had been completely crushed out by a long period of oppression. It would seem as if the invasion of Judea by Anti-ochus Epiphanes (B.C. 168), and the atrocities committed by Athenaeus at Jerusalem, with the heroic resistance offered by the unknown mother and her seven sons., who all suffered martyrdom (2 Mace. vii. 27, &c., suggested this story, to stimulate others to follow their example, and that to it is due the patriotism which resulted in their deliverance under the Maceabees. It is probable that the leading characters were taken from real individuals of the period, disguised under fictitious names, though some have regarded them as purely allegorical.

MACCABEES. There are four books bearing this title, but only the first and second have beea regarded as worthy of a place among the sacred writings, because they supply the Hebrew history of the second century B.C., written after the model of the Books of Chronicles, though not under Divine inspiration. The origin of the name is doubtful, some attributing it to the initial letters of the war-cry, vide infra, p. 31, others to the final letters of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

FIRST BOOK OF MACCABEES. Both ancient testimony and internal evidence point to a Hebrew original, written in Palestine, most probably between B.C. 120 and 100; but the English version is taken from a Greek translation, made at Alexandria (by some unknown hand), and annexed to the LXX. It consists of an introduction, containing a brief sketch of Alexander's conquest, followed by the invasion and oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes, culminating in his attempt to extirpate Hebrew nationality and worship. The main body of the work narrates the struggle for independence, beginning with Mattathlas, and ending with Simon. It comprises a period of 33 years (B.C. 168-135). After an enumeration of the Maccabsean family, it relates-the exploits of Mattathias and bis five sons, by whom the struggle is carried on to a successful issue. The history divides itself into three distinct epochs, each stamped with the individuality of its leader,—first, Judas; second, Jonathan; third, Simon,—each of whom fell a victim to* his patriotism.

SECOND BOOK OF MACCABEES seems to be a compilation, made from some extant materials, furnished to the compiler at Alexandria. The main portion of the book is dernred from, a previous work, called the "Five Books of Jason, of Cyrene " (probably the son of Eleazar). From internal evidence these books appear to have been written in Greek, between B.C. 125 and A.D. 70. The source from which the first two chapters are taken is very doubtful; and, from the extravagance of the legends contained in them, they are not believed to be authentic, but to be the work of the unknown compiler, who is supposed to have written his book at Alexandria about the end of the second century B.C.

It is the main sour.ee from which the history anterior to the Maccabees is derived, comprising, a period of 25 years from B.C. 185 (?)-161, so, that a portion of the narrative is chronologically anterior to the 1 Mace, another is contemporaneous, with it, and a third is supplementary. It may be thus divided:—1. The two introductory chapters, addressed by the Council at Jerusalem to the Jews at Alexandria. 2. The history of Heliodorus (chap. iii.). 3. The beginning and course of the great persecution (chaps, iv.-vii.). 4. The fortunes of Judas to. the restoration of the Temple service (chaps, viii,-x 9). 5. Reign of Antiochus Eupator (chaps, x. 10r-xiii.). 6. From the treachery of Alcimus to, the finaj triumph, of Judas (chaps, xiv. and xv.).

The main feature in the book is its high religious tone. In it are pourtrayed the Divine influence over human events, retributive justice, 'the connection between the visible and spiritual world, and the doctrine of a future resurrection. Holding these opinions, the compiler seems to* have used historical events in support of them rather than to have adhered to strict accuracy of detail, and hence there are many discrepancies between it and the 1 Maec. which are otherwise inexplicable*

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