NT-In the Fullness of Time
“… when the time had
fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law , to
redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
God’s hand had been everywhere, shaping the course of human
history for the fulfillment of the promise.
1 – Creation and its Concepts
Hands lifting the earth out of hazy mist
God created the heavens and the earth.
Halo of white light circling the earth
God created all things good
Fingers opened on the right hand
God provided the earth as a training ground to help his
children decide whether to join Him in heaven and share with him Love, honor
White links attached to the arms and globe
God is bound to His creation through Love and/or honor and
Lettered Banner flying on the earth
God claims ownership of all he has created.
Figure grasping staff
Humanity, too, is owned by God and was created as his
children to choose to Love (Love is choosing to put the other person first)
Banner furling around figures
Humans have freedom only within the limits that reflect the
Love we are to share.
Halo or light behind figures heads
Humans are created in two parts; 1) a soul which is a spirit
that is in God’s image; 2) a physical body to be used on earth to make the
decision to join Him in heaven.
Figures holding crowns
In addition to making the decision to join him in heaven by
loving him and giving him complete control of our lives; we have four other
basic responsibilities toward the earth on which they live till He takes us to
First jewel in crown
We are to share in creating other humans
Second jewel in crown
To subdue the earth
Third jewel in crown
To take care of the earth
Fourth jewel in crown
To have dominion over the earth
2. Divine Intensions
Notes extended from heaven
God turned over to humans a training school to choose to
love Him which was in total harmony with all things.
Four fingers below note box
This harmony was in 4 parts.
Raised arms of central figures
Harmony with God
Banner enfolding central figures
Harmony with self.
Clasped arms of central figures
Harmony with others
Placid and peaceful lake scene
Harmony with nature.
Central figures with faces lifted upward
All this harmony was contingent upon Loving God with our
whole heart, mind, soul and spirit; turning control of our lives to Him and
Halos behind central figures heads
Created with a soul/spirit in the fullness of God’s image
and with human bodies (to be used to be trained to make the decision as to join
Him in heaven and share His love), male and female has the capacity for the
perfect relationship with God and to respond to His will.
The intent of God
was that His children goes through training to make the decision to join Him to
share his love in Heaven; in harmony but humans may choose not to love Him and
not to join him.
Figure facing away from outstretched hand
Most humans are choosing to not Love God with their whole
heart, mind, soul, and spirit, by disobedience.
Outstretched arms of central figure
Discontented and unsatisfied with the need to turn over
control of their lives to God, humanity denies His control.
Space between central figure and outstretched hand
This disobedience and revolt creates a separation from God’s
love and guidance.
Painful countenance on central figure’s face
This separation causes God to withdraw His love and guidance
causing disharmony with God.
Broken note penetrating flesh
Creates disharmony with self
Broken note striking second figure
Disharmony with others
Broken note penetrating earth
Disharmony with nature
Cracked earth and parched ground.
Creates misuse of creation
Yokelike appearance of broken note
All our actions and the disharmony it causes, leaves us with
much guilt and evil in our lives.
Large hand extended in beckoning position
God keeps trying to get us to need him and return to loving
him and turning control over to him .
4. Pronouncement of a Destiny
God took the initiative and introduced a plan designed to
save his world from the failure of humans to love him and to accept his control
over them. The plan began with the
formation of the nation of Israel starting with Abraham. Which Blessed Abraham and provided for him to
bless others and they were to pass it on.
14. Recalling a Destiny
Darkening sky in background.
The prophet spoke to Israel during the age of decline –
from the period of the monarchy under Solomon through the Babylonian captivity
in 586 B.C. The prophets spoke of
such things as Idolatry, spiritual blindness, and a complete breakdown of moral
integrity. The prophets, sick at heart
over the lack of obedience to God, came upon the scene and declared that
judgment would come upon his chosen people.
The Bible and prophets speak of the same things as was spoken to Israel.
Eyes of Israel centered on the words “I will bless you”
During the age of decline, Israel felt secure in the
promises of God. The prophet’s doom
preaching seemed like utter nonsense to a people who had begun to think of
themselves as God’s special nation. Confident that no evil could befall them, and
they refused to take the prophets seriously, as we do today.
Fragments of torn manuscript spread on the ground
Israel spend little
attention to its responsibility to be a
liked the idea of being blessed but gave little evidence of being a
blessing. Marching to the music of
pagans, Israel inherited their kind of ethics and became a failure at being a blessing as we do today:
prevailed in the land.
priest were corrupt
interest in their faith by the people
others was missing
false prophets were misleading the people
Israel clasps mortar bowl and pestles to bosom
Israel’s institutions and traditions had become ends in themselves. Outwardly, at least, the chosen people
displayed all the signs of a religious people.
Israel worshiped things rather than the ONE who had given them that
which had been designed to be means to
an end had become an end in
itself. Aren’t we doing the same.
The Prophet saw Israel making ends out of things designed to be means to an
Tent of the tabernacle symbol
Israel made the temple a reason for false security. .
Thousands who said they were Jews/Christians; worshiped not God but the
temple/church itself. This approach led
them to forget their faith when they left.
Law symbol in mortar bowl
Israel/Christians made the law a stumbling block to justice.
Separation symbol in mortar bowl
Israel/Christians turned separation into a curse.
Circumcision symbol in mortar bowl
Israel made circumcision a fetish. It is implied that circumcision , too, became
an end in itself during the age of decline.
Mirror symbol in mortar bowl
Israel put the Holy Land to unholy use. Israel/ Americans had/have forgotten that the
land should be dedicated to God.
Prophet holds fragments of torn manuscript before Israel’s eyes
The prophet recalled Israel to a realization of its
destiny, to be a blessing. The prophet sickened by the failure to be a
blessing by the people, encouraged them to go back to what they were called to
be. The worthlessness of their
sacrifices and meaningless efforts could bring little of the blessing to the
world that was expected of them. The
message to both worlds is to turn back to God.
19. History Itself is the Judgment
God has a plan for his world. That plan provides for individuals to choose
to love him with their whole heart, mind, soul and spirit. He guides them to this decision by a training
program which breaks them of depending on their control of their lives and
depending on his control. God’s will requires
that his control must prevail,
Insofar as persons or nations violate the moral law and his control are
not accepted, they are judged. God provides
positive and negative circumstances to
reward, punish and bring about his will.
God administers judgment because of his desire to share his love with
20. The Restoration
Bondage under Babylonia is broken when Cyrus the Persian
destroys the Babylonian kingdom. Cyrus
issues the “Edict of Restoration” which frees the Hebrews to return to their
homeland. The prophets provide
encouragement and leadership to return and to rebuild their nation. This whole process provides for the Coming of
Jesus Christ, but we need a bridge between the worlds of OT and NT.
A world conqueror, a people and their faith, and a deep void
in human hearts – all were used by the Creator to make the bridge over to the
fulfillment of that promise. IT WAS THE FULLNESS OF TIME
Let us turn our attention then to the historical events and
circumstances which prepared the world for the coming of Jesus.
When we left the Old Testament; the Babylonians were in
charge of the world. They fell to the Persians. The Persians fell to the great Greek
Alexander destroyed the Persian empire in 330 B.C. and then
spiraled to a pinnacle of power . It is
even said that He wept for the lack of more worlds to conquer.
So he turned his interest to controlling people’s
minds. He worked to help all of the
people in his world to benefit from utilizing the Greek culture. He was so successful, that even his successors
tried to continue this effort (Greek Pillar ).
They even worked at promoting a common language(Greek
letters). This would allow anyone,
anywhere in the world could communicate
These efforts caused many problems for the Jews.
As example; their faith was carried around in papyri , written in Hebrew, and the young
people would not be able to learn and carry on their faith. Jewry had based on their whole existence on
their faith and traditions. Their whole
future was based on the coming of the Messiah and the implementation of the Kingdom of God.
Their faith and hopes had spread to much of the world
through the destruction of the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, exile of their
people and through inter-marriage; even
to the Gentiles.
On Alexander’s death in 332 B.C., his empire was divided
between four of his generals. In the
meantime, the Jewish land was squeezed
between two empires carved out by Alexander’s generals. To the south lay Egypt, under the rule of the
Ptolemies. To the north and east lay
Syria, dominated by the Seleucids.
Nothing was more sure than the certainty that the Jewish homeland would
once again be the focus of constant domination by one of the powers surrounding
For 122 years, from 320 B.C., to 198 B.C., the Ptolemies dominated
the land now known as Palestine. These
were good years for the Jews. The faith
of Israel was permitted and even encouraged, and the Jewish Scriptures were translated into Greek, in
order that the many Jews in Egypt who understood only Greek could study the OT.
But finally, in 198 B.C., one of the many attempts by the
Seleucids to win Palestine, succeeded.
Egypt was defeated and appointed a man named Jason. Jason was eager to make Palestine over on the
pattern of the Greek culture. Such a
revised culture would change the Jews dress, language, names, and faith. There was no way the Jews would allow
this. It would be the end of their
Revolt against the priest Jason, led to battles with their
Selecuid masters. A army was sent to take Jerusalem and the
practice of Judaism was made a capital
offense (death penalty).
These extreme steps failed to stamp out the faith. Instead it stimulated a heroic resistance
movement led by a man named Mattahias and his five sons. Two books were written about these efforts:
The Maccabean Books(Manuscript-The Hebrew Traditions)
BOOKS OF MACCABEES, the name
given to several Apocryphal books of the Old Testament. The Vulgate contains
two books of Maccabees which were declared canonical by the council of Trent (1546)
and found a place among the Apocrypha of the English Bible. Three
other books of this name are extant. Book iii. is included in the Septuagint but not
in the Vulgate. Book iv. is embraced in the Alexandrian, Sinaitic, and other
MSS. of the Septuagint, as well as in some MSS. of Josephus. A
“Fifth” book is contained in the Ambrosian Peshitta, but it seems to
be merely a Syriac reproduction of the
sixth book of Josephus’s history of the Jewish War.
Book 1 – It probably dates from about the beginning of the first
century B.c . It supplies a detailed and
accurate record of the forty years from the accession of Antiochus
Epiphanes to the death of Simon (175-135 B.C.), without doubt the most stirring
chapter in Jewish history, the book is one of the most precious
historical sources we possess. In its careful chronology, based
upon the Seleucid era, in
the minuteness of its geographical knowledge, in the frankness with which it
records defeat as well as victory, on the restraint with
which it speaks of the enemies of the Jews, in its command of
details, it bears on its face the stamp of
genuineness. Not that it is wholly free from error or exaggeration, but its
mistakes are due merely to defective knowledge of the outside world, and its
overstatements, virtually confined to the matter of numbers, proceed from a
patriotic desire to magnify Jewish victories. While the author presumably had
some written sources at his disposal,’ his narrative is probably for the most
part founded upon personal knowledge and recollection of the events recorded,
and upon such first-hand information
Although written in the style of the
historical books of the old Testament, the work is characterized by a religious
reticence which avoids even the use of the divine name, and by the virtual
absence of the Messianic hope. The observance of the law is strongly urged, and
the cessation of prophecy deplored (iv. 46; xiv. 41). There is no allusion
either to the immortality of the
soul or to the resurrection of the dead. The rewards to which the dying Mattathias
points his sons are all for this life. Many scholars are of opinion that the
unknown author was a Sadducee, 1 but all that can be said with certainty is
that he was a Palestinian Jew devotedly attached to the national cause.
Until the council of Trent 1 Maccabees had only ”
ecclesiastical ” rank, and although not accepted as canonical by the Protestant
churches, it has always been held in high estimation. Luther says ” it
closely resembles the rest of the books of Holy Scripture, and would not be
unworthy to be enumerated with them.” 2 Maccabees, the epitome of a
larger work in five books by one Jason of Cyrene, deals
with the same history as its predecessor, except that it begins at a point one
year earlier (176 B.C.), and stops short at the death of Nicanor (161
B.C.), thus covering a period of only fifteen years. Originally written in
excellent Greek, from a pronouncedly Pharisaic standpoint, it was possibly
directed against the Hasmonaean dynasty. It shows no sympathy with the priestly
class. Both in trustworthiness and in style it is inferior to 1 Macc. Besides
being highly coloured, the narrative does not observe strict chronological
sequence. Instead of the sober annalistic style of the earlier historian we have
a work marked by hyperbole,
inflated rhetoric and
homiletic reflection. Bitter invective is heaped upon the national enemies, and
strong predilection is shown for the marvellous. The fullness and inaccuracy of
detail which are a feature of the book suggest that Jason’s information was
derived from the recollections of eye-witnesses orally communicated. In spite
of its obvious defects, however, it forms a useful supplement to the first
The writer’s interests are religious rather than historical. In 1
Macc. there is a keen sense of the part to be played by the Jews themselves, of
the necessity of employing their own skill and valour; here they are made to
rely rather upon divine intervention. Fantastic apparitions of
angelic and supernatural beings, gorgeously arrayed and mostly upon horseback,
are frequently introduced. In general, the views reflected in the book are
those of the Pharisees. The
ungodly will be punished mercilessly, and in exact correspondence to their
sins.’ The chastisements of erring Jews are of short duration, and intended to
recall them to duty. If the faithful suffer martyrdom, it is in order to serve
as an example to others, and they shall be compensated by being raised up
” unto an eternal renewal of life.” The eschatology of 2
Macc. is singularly advanced, for it combines the doctrine of a resurrection
with that of immortality. It is worthy of note that the Roman
Church finds support in this book for its teachings
Prefixed to the book are two spurious letters from Palestinian
Jews (i., ii. 18), having no real connexion with it, or even with one another,
further than that they both urge Egyptian Jews to observe the Feast of the Dedication. Between
these and the main narrative is inserted the writer’s own preface, in which he
explains the source and aim of his work (ii. 19-32).
References to prayers
for the dead and purgatory (xii. 43
seq.) are made. An allusion to Jeremiah as
” he who prayeth much for the people and the holy city ” (xv. 14) it
likewise appeals to as favouring its views respecting the intercession of the
Neither of Jason’s work, nor of the epitomizer’s, can the precise
date be determined. The changed relations with Rome (viii. io, 36) prove,
however, that the latter was written later than r Macc.; and it is equally
clear that it was composed. before the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70.
The account given of the martyrs in chs. vi. and vii. led to
frequent allusions to this book in early patristic literature. Only Augustine,
however, was minded to give it the canonical rank to which it has been raised
by the Roman Church. Luther judged of it as unfavourably as he judged of I
Macc. favourably, and even ” wished it had
1st Book of Maccabees
The First book of Maccabees is a book written in
Hebrew by a Jewish author after the restoration of an independent Jewish kingdom, about the
latter part of the 2nd century BC. The original Hebrew is lost and the most
important surviving version is the Greek translation contained in the Septuagint. The Septuagint, is an Ancient
Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. But came in time to refer to
the Greek translation of the Old
Testament adopted by Christians, incorporating the translations of all the
books of the Hebrew Bible and books later considered apocryphal or deutero-canonical, some composed in Greek
and some translations The book is held as canonical
scripture by some Christian churches (including Catholic,
churches), but not by most Protestant groups. Such Protestants consider it to be
an apocryphal book (see also Deuterocanon). In modern-day Judaism, the book
is often of great historical interest, but has no official religious status.
The setting of the book is about a
century after the conquest of Judea by the Greeks under Alexander the Great, after Alexander’s empire has been divided so that Judea
was part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.
It tells how the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes attempted to suppress the practice of basic Jewish
religious law, resulting in a Jewish revolt against Seleucid rule. The book
covers the whole of the revolt, from 175 to 134 BC, highlighting how the
salvation of the Jewish people in this crisis came through Mattathias‘
family, particularly his sons, Judas Maccabeus,
Jonathan Maccabaeus, and Simon Maccabaeus,
and Simon’s son, John Hyrcanus. The doctrine expressed in the book reflects traditional
Jewish teaching, without later doctrines found, for example, in 2 Maccabees.
The First Book of Maccabees also gives a list of Jewish colonies scattered
elsewhere through the Mediterranean at the time.
In the first chapter, Alexander the
Great conquers the territory of Judea, only to be eventually succeeded by the
Seleucid Antiochus IV Epiphanes. After successfully invading the Ptolemaic
kingdom of Egypt, Antiochus IV captures Jerusalem and removes the sacred
objects from the Jerusalem temple, slaughtering many Jews. He then imposes a tax
and establishes a fortress in Jerusalem.
Antiochus then tries to suppress
public observance of Jewish laws, in an attempt to secure control over the
Jews. He desecrates the Temple by
setting up an “abomination
of desolation” (that is, establishing rites
of pagan observance in the Temple, or sacrificing an unclean animal on the altar
in the Holy of Holies). Antiochus forbids both circumcision and possession of Jewish scriptures on pain of death. He
forbids observance of the sabbath and the offering of sacrifices at the Temple. He also
requires Jewish leaders to sacrifice to idols. While enforcement may be
targeting only Jewish leaders, some Jews (and children) are killed as a warning
to others. Antiochus introduces Hellenistic
culture; this process of Hellenization
included the construction of gymnasiums in Jerusalem. Among other effects, this discouraged the
Jewish rite of circumcision even further, which had already been officially
forbidden; a man’s state could not be concealed in the gymnasium, where men
trained and socialized in the nude. But 1 Maccabees also insists that there
were many Jews who sought out or welcomed the introduction of Greek culture.
According to the text, some Jewish men even engaged in foreskin restoration in order to pass as fully Greek.
Mattathias calls upon people loyal
to the traditions of Israel to oppose the invaders and the Jewish Hellenizers,
and his three sons begin a military campaign against them. There is one
complete loss of a thousand Jews (men, women and children) to Antiochus when
the Jewish defenders refuse to fight on the Sabbath. The other Jews then reason
that, when attacked, they must fight even on the holy day. In 165 BC the Temple
is freed and reconsecrated, so that ritual sacrifices may begin again. The
festival of Hanukkah is instituted by Judas Maccabeus and his brothers to
celebrate this event (1 Macc. iv. 59). Judas seeks an alliance with the Roman Republic
to remove the Greeks. He is “succeeded” by his brother Jonathan, who
becomes high priest and also seeks alliance with Rome and confirms alliance
with Areus of Sparta (1 Macc. xii. 1–23). Simon follows them, receiving the
double office of high priest and prince of Israel. (Simon and his successors
form the Hasmonean dynasty, which is not always considered a valid kingship by
the Jews, since they were not of the lineage of David.) Simon leads the people in peace and prosperity, until he
is murdered by agents of Ptolemy, son of Abubus, who had been named governor of the region by the
Macedonian Greeks. He is succeeded by his son, John Hyrcanus.
The Maccabean revolt was not simply
a war of liberation. It was also a civil
war – a struggle between those committed to the ancient faith and the God of
Israel, against the Hellenistic Jews who wanted to adopt the dominant world
culture. Years of guerilla warfare
preceded the decisive battle which defeated the Syrians. The Hasmonean family took back the high
priesthood, purified the temple, which has been desecrated by the Syrians, and
began to rebuild Jerusalem. Within the
country’s opposition grew from the “pious” who had supported the revolt. Ambitious, the family did maintain a kind of
independent rule in Palestine for about
100 years (143-37 B.C). By the time
Jesus was born, power has passed out of Jewish hands entirely into the grip of
The name Maccabee in Hebrew,
means “hammer”. This is properly applied to the first leader of the
revolt, Judas, third son of Mattathias, whose attacks were
“hammer-like”. The name came to be used for his brothers as well,
which accounts for the title of the book. The Name “Maccabee” can
also be derived from the first letters of each word מי כמוכה באלים
יהוה Who is like You from amongst the mighty, the LORD?
The narrative is primarily prose
text, but is interrupted by seven poetic sections, which imitate classical
Hebrew poetry. These include four laments and three hymns of praise.
language and author
Though the original book was written
in Hebrew, as can be deduced by a number of Hebrew idioms in the
text, the original has been lost and the version which comes down to us is the
Septuagint. Some authors date the original Hebrew text even closer to the
events covered, while a few suggest a later date. Because of the accuracy of
the historical account, if the later date is taken, the author would have to
have had access to first-hand reports of the events or other primary sources.
Only the Greek text has survived,
and this only through its inclusion in the Christian canon.
The book’s author is unknown, but
some suggest that it may have been a devout Jew from the Holy Land who may have
taken part in the events described in the book. He shows intimate and detailed
geographical knowledge of the Holy Land, but is inaccurate in his information
about foreign countries. The author interprets the events not as a miraculous
intervention by God, but rather God’s using the instrument of the military
genius of the Maccabees to achieve his ends. The words “God” and
“Lord” never occur in the text, always being replaced by
“Heaven” or “He”.
2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the Jews‘ revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes and concludes with the defeat of the Syrian general Nicanor in 161 BC by Judas Maccabeus,
the hero of the
Unlike 1 Maccabees,
2 Maccabees was written in Koine Greek,
probably in Alexandria,
Egypt, c 124 BC.
It presents a revised version of the historical events recounted in the first
seven chapters of 1 Maccabees, adding material from the Pharisaic
tradition, including prayer for the dead and a resurrection on Judgment Day.
Catholics and Orthodox consider the work to be canonical and part of the Bible. Protestants and Jews reject most of the doctrinal innovations present in the
work. Some Protestants include 2 Maccabees as part of the Biblical Apocrypha, useful for reading in the church. Article VI of the
Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England
defines it as useful but not the basis of doctrine and not necessary for salvation.
The author of 2 Maccabees is not
identified, but he claims to be abridging a 5-volume work by Jason of Cyrene.
This longer work is not preserved, and it is uncertain how much of the present
text of 2 Maccabees is simply copied from that work. The author wrote in Greek,
apparently, as there is no particular evidence of an earlier Hebrew version. A
few sections of the book, such as the Preface, Epilogue, and some reflections
on morality are generally assumed to come from the author, not from Jason.
Jason’s work was apparently written sometime around 100 BC and most likely
ended with the defeat of Nicanor, as does the abridgement available to us.
The beginning of the book includes
two letters sent by Jews in Jerusalem
to Jews of the Diaspora in Egypt concerning the feast day set up to celebrate the
purification of the temple (see Hanukkah) and the
feast to celebrate the defeat of Nicanor. If the author of the book inserted
these letters, the book would have to have been written after 124 BC, the date
of the second letter. Some commentators hold that these letters were a later
addition, while others consider them the basis for the work. Catholic scholars
tend toward a dating in the last years of the 2nd century BC, while the
consensus among Jewish scholars place it in the second half of the 1st century
Unlike 1 Maccabees,
2 Maccabees does not attempt to provide a complete account of the events of the
period, instead covering only the period from the high priest Onias III and
King Seleucus IV (180 BC) to the defeat of Nicanor in 161.
In general, the chronology of the
book coheres with that of 1 Maccabees, and it has some historical value in
supplementing 1 Maccabees, principally in providing a few apparently authentic
historical documents. The author seems primarily interested in providing a
theological interpretation of the events; in this book God’s interventions
direct the course of events, punishing the wicked and restoring the Temple to his
people. It has been suggested that some events appear to be presented out of
strict chronological order in order to make theological points, but there seems
little reason to expect a sequential chronology anyway, and little evidence for
demonstrating the point one way or the other. Some of the numbers cited for
sizes of armies may also appear exaggerated, though not all of the manuscripts
of this book agree.
The Greek style of
the writer is very educated, and he seems well-informed about Greek customs.
The action follows a very simple plan: after the death of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple is instituted. The newly dedicated Temple is
threatened by Nicanor, and after his death, the festivities for the dedication
2 Maccabees demonstrates several
points of doctrinal interpretation deriving from Pharisaic
Judaism, and also found in Catholic belief.
Doctrinal issues that are raised in
2 Maccabees include:
- Prayer for the dead and sacrificial offerings, both to free the dead from sin
- Merits of the martyrs
- Intercession of the saints (15:11-17) (at least as seen from a Christian viewpoint) 
of the dead
In particular, the long descriptions
of the martyrdoms
of Eleazar and of a mother with her seven sons (2 Macc 6:18–7:42) caught the imagination of medieval
Christians. Several churches are dedicated to the “Maccabeean
martyrs”, and they are among the few pre-Christian figures to appear on
the Catholic calendar of saints’ days (that number is considerably higher in
the Eastern Orthodox churches’ calendars, where they also appear). The book is
considered the first model of the medieval stories of the martyrs.
Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox
regard 2 Maccabees as canonical. Jews and Protestants do not. 2 Maccabees,
along with 1 and 3 Maccabees, appeared in the Septuagint,
the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible completed in the 1st century BC.
In Jamnia c 90, according to one theory now largely
discredited, rabbis endorsed
a narrower canon, excluding deuterocanonical works such as 2 Maccabees. This
had little immediate impact on Christians, however, since most Christians did
not know Hebrew and were familiar with the Hebrew Bible through the Greek
Septuagint text of Hellenistic Jews, which included 2 Maccabees and other deuterocanonical
works. When the texts were translated into Latin in the early fifth century by
Jerome, he noticed that they were absent in the Hebrew but, not wanting to
remove them from the canon entirely, coined the term deuterocanon[dubious – discuss] (Greek second
canon) for them. Used in the Catholic liturgy, and containing so many
elements hallowed by long use in the Church, there seemed little reason to
question this undoubtedly ancient, instructive and inspiring book. Also,
although not canonical to the Jews, it contains part of the history of the
Jewish people, a history considered essential for a fuller understanding of the
Christian Revelation. In the early 1520s, however, Martin Luther found much of
the contents of, particularly, 2 Maccabees, to disagree with his doctrines and
removed the book on the grounds that it was absent from the Masoretic text,
along with the Epistle of James.
2 Maccabees was condemned in
Martin Luther said: “I am so great an enemy to the second book of
the Maccabees, and to Esther, that I
wish they had not come to us at all, for they have too many heathen
Other evangelical writers have been more positive towards the book: James B. Jordan,
for example, argues that while 1 Maccabees
“was written to try and show the Maccabean
usurpers as true heirs of David and as true High Priests”
and is a “wicked book,” a “far more accurate picture of the
situation is given in 2 Maccabees.”
God Used Rome (Golden Eagle)
in the interim, under the leadership of Judas Maccabeus, had promoted a revolt
against the Seleucids and won independence.
But a power struggle within the Jewish house soon led one of its kings
to seek aid of the Roman General Pompey; and in 63 B.C. Palestine, too became a
kind of climate, the Savior came. A new
message in a unified world would travel fast.
With all the barriers down, the appealing message of Christianity would
travel swiftly into the far reaches of the empire. It was the fullness of time.
The Pax Romana (White Flag)
Not before or since in the annals of recorded human history
has the world enjoyed such an extended period of peace. How easy then for the world to hear the good
news of God’s Love through His son Jesus
Christ. No longer preoccupied with a struggle for survival, mortals at
peace could lay down their swords and listen to the angels sing. It was the fullness of time.
The Roman Roads (Roads and Coliseum)
The very roads, built to speed Roman soldiers, should be
used by the spreaders of the Good News of the promise being fulfilled. It brought the news of the risen Lord to the ends of the Roman world. It was the fullness of time.
People were searching – Small figure with clasped hand.
What the Roman gods didn’t deal with the issues of life, the philosophers of the
day did. And as a result great spiritual
and intellection attention and confusion
caused great hunger for answers.
Moral Deterioration-Figure with Bowed Head
Rome showed the signs
of moral deterioration. While
manifesting strength on the outside, it was marked for collapse. The blatant idolatry, approved of any action
but not being a committed Roman. All the
splendor of the empire couldn’t hide the moral corruption, the sensuousness,
the depression and despair, the cheapness of life (unless you were a Roman),
and the injustice offered to non-Romans.
Hunger for Decency and Justice-Upraised arms figure
Many cures were tried – self-discipline, flesh-flogging, self-abasement,
and the pursuit of secret knowledge (like Apocryphal Literature). But all were without power to heal. Injustice was rampant. People were hungry for answers and light in
their darkness. Each in it’s own way,
prepared the world for the coming of Christ.
It was the fullness of time.
The Talmud was completed after the days of Jesus. But a number of religious writings did exist
in the first century. These were read as
religious treatises or moral instruction but were never considered to be
“Scripture” by the Jewish community.
None of them are quoted in the NT, as are the books of the OT.
The history of the earlier usage of the term “Apocrypha”
(from 6.7roxpb7rreev, to hide) is not free from obscurity. We shall
therefore enter at once on a short account of the origin of this literature in
Judaism, of its adoption by early Christianity, of the
various meanings which the term ” apocryphal ” assumed in the course
of its history, and having so done we shall proceed to classify and deal with
the books that belong to this literature. The word most generally denotes
writings which claimed to be, or were by certain sects regarded as,
Apocrypha in Christianity. – Christianity as it springs from its Founder
had no secret or esoteric teaching. It was essentially the revelation or
manifestation of the truth of God. But as Christianity took its origin from
Judaism, it is not unnatural that a large body of Jewish ideas was incorporated
in the system of Christian thought. The bulk of these in due course underwent
transformation either complete or partial, but there was always a residuum of
incongruous and inconsistent elements existing side by side with the essential
truths of Christianity.
This was no isolated phenomenon; for in
every progressive period of the history of religion we have on the one side the
doctrine of God advancing in depth and fullness: on the other we have
cosmological, eschatological and other survivals, which, however justifiable in
earlier stages, are in unmistakable antagonism with the theistic beliefs of the
time. The eschatology of a
nation – and the most influential portion of Jewish and Christian apocrypha are
eschatological – is always the last part of their religion to experience the
transforming power of new ideas and new facts.
Now the current religious literature of Judaism outside the canon was composed
of apocryphal books, the bulk of which bore an apocalyptic character, and dealt
with the coming of the Messianic kingdom. These naturally became the popular
religious books of the rising Jewish-Christian communities, and were held by
them in still higher esteem, if possible, than by the Jews. Occasionally these
Jewish writings were re-edited or adapted to their new readers by Christian
additions, but on the whole it was found sufficient to submit them to a system
of reinterpretation in order to make them testify to the truth of Christianity
and foreshadow its ultimate destinies. Christianity, moreover, moved by the
same apocalyptic tendency as Judaism, gave birth to new Christian apocryphs,
though, in the case of most of them, the subject matter was to a large extent
traditional and derived from Jewish sources.
Another prolific source of apocryphal gospels, acts and apocalypses was Gnosticism. While
the characteristic features of apocalyptic
literature were derived from Judaism, those of Gnosticism sprang partly from
Greek philosophy, partly
from oriental religions. They insisted on an allegorical interpretation of the
apostolic writings: they alleged themselves to be the guardians of a secret apostolic
tradition and laid claim to prophetic inspiration. With them, as with the bulk
of the Christians of the 1st and 2nd centuries, apocryphal books as such were
highly esteemed. They were so designated by those who valued them. It was not
till later times that the term became one of reproach.
We have remarked above that the Jewish apocrypha – especially the apocalyptic
section and the host of Christian apocryphs became the ordinary religious
literature of the early Christians. And this is not strange seeing that of the
former such abundant l See Porter in Hastings‘ Bible Did. i.
113. use was made by the writers of the New Testament. 2 Thus Jude
quotes the Book
of Enoch by name, while undoubted use of this book appears in the four
gospels and i Peter. The
influence of the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is still
more apparent in the Pauline Epistles and the Gospels, and the same holds true
of Jubilees and the Assumption
of Moses, though in a very slight degree.
The genuineness and inspiration of Enoch were believed in by the writer of the
Ep. of Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement
of Alexandria. But the high position which apocryphal books occupied in the first
two centuries was undermined by a variety of influences. All claims to the
possession of a secret tradition were denied (Irenaeus ii. 27.2, iii. 2.1, 3.
1; Tertullian, Praescript. 22-27): true inspiration was limited to the
apostolic age, and universal acceptance by the church was required as a proof
of apostolic authorship. Under the action of such principles apocryphal books
tended to pass into the class of spurious and heretical writings.
OLD Testament Apocryphal Books We shall
now proceed to enumerate the apocryphal books: first the Apocrypha Proper, and
next the rest of the Old and New Testament apocryphal literature.
i. The Apocrypha Proper,
or the apocrypha of the Old Testament as used by English-speaking Protestants,
consists of the following books: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions
to Esther, Wisdom
of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Epistle
of Jeremy, Additions to Daniel (Song of the Three Holy Children, History of
Susannah, and Bel and the Dragon), Prayer
of Manasses, i Maccabees, 2
Maccabees. Thus the Apocrypha Proper constitutes the surplusage of the Vulgate
or Bible of the Roman
Church over the Hebrew Old Testament. Since this surplusage is in turn
derived from the Septuagint, from which the old Latin version was translated,
it thus follows that the difference between the Protestant and the
Roman Catholic Old Testament is, roughly speaking, traceable to the difference
between the Palestinian and the Alexandrian canons of the Old Testament.
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