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|The Old Testament of the Protestant Christian Bible,
the Apocrypha, and the Pseudepigrapha
Summary by Michael McGoodwin, prepared 1989, 1999,
slightly revised 2005
Acknowledgement: This work has been summarized using The New International Version Study Bible (NIV translation 1973--84, published Zondervan 1985). Quotations are for the most part taken from that work, as are paraphrases of its commentary--thus the notes reflect the devoutly evangelical flavor and point of view of that commentary. Other sources are explicitly cited below.
Overall Impression: The early books of this great work are at the heart of three great world religions and no other work has had such a profound influence on subsequent Western literature.
Notes My choices of what to include in this summary are undoubtedly idiosyncratic but reflect my efforts to understand the Bible--especially the relationships between the Old Testament and New Testament, between the Bible and "modern" man, and between the Bible and literature and other works that allude to it. I have tried to achieve conciseness, clarity, and consecutiveness, generally at the expense of literary merit.
The Protestant Old Testament consists of thirty-nine books in Hebrew or Aramaic and constitutes the Jewish and Protestant canon (termed "TaNaK" or the Hebrew Scriptures" by Jews). Catholics add the seven deuterocanonical books (listed below), which were written in Greek and included in the Septuagint. The OT is subdivided into the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Wisdom Writings, and the Prophets.
Representative translation versions of the Bible have included (among many hundreds):
[Information extracted from The NIV Study Bible and supplemented with (1) John Romer's Testament, and (2) notes in The Holy Bible with the Apocrypha, New Revised Std. Edition, Oxford.]
The Deuterocanonical ["deuter"=secondary or twice-declared] works accepted in the Catholic, Anglican, and Eastern canon were affirmed as canonical at the council of Trent in 1546. They were written in Greek and are found in the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew canon--they were also included in the King James Version. They are said by Protestants to have been written in the Intertestamentary period. They consist of Judith, Tobit (Tobias), Baruch [of which chapter 6 is the Letter of Jeremiah], 1 and 2 Maccabees, Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach), additions to the book of Esther, additions to the book of Daniel [The Prayer of Azariah and the song of the Three Jews; Susanna; Bel and the Dragon], and the Wisdom of Solomon. They were not included in the Hebrew scriptures/canon at the Council of Jamnia (c. 90 A.D.), and were rejected by the Protestants during the Reformation. According to the Protestant NIV Study Bible, Jesus and his apostles did not quote them.
[From The Holy Bible with the Apocrypha:] The Greek and Slavonic Bibles also add the following books not found in the Catholic canon: 1 Esdras [= 2 Esdras in Slavonic Bible, = 3 Esdras in Appendix to Vulgate], Prayer of Manasseh (in appendix to Vulgate), Psalm 151 (following Psalm 150 in the Greek Bible), and 3 Maccabees. The Slavonic Bibles and Latin Vulgate Appendix also add these books: 2 Esdras [ = 3 Esdras in Slavonic, = 4 Esdras in Appendix to Vulgate]. Note: In the Latin Vulgate, the Protestant Ezra is named 1 Esdras and the Protestant Nehemiah is named 2 Esdras. 4 Maccabees is found in the Appendix to the Greek Bible.
The Pseudepigrapha (or Pseudepigraphon) are other quasi-biblical works purported by some to be ancient but not accepted in any traditional canon. These include Enoch, The Assumption of Moses, a fraction of the Apocalypse of Moses, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, the Sibylline Oracles, Psalms of Solomon, The Book of Jubilees, The Books of Adam and Eve, Life of Adam and Eve (Slavonic Version), The Martyrdom of Isaiah, The Letter of Aristeas, The Apocalypse of Adam, The Revelation of Esdras, Joseph and Aseneth, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, The Testament of Abraham, and many others.