Saturday, January 21, 2017

Inaugural Apocrypha

OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA WATCH: Trump Inauguration’s Bible Reading Is Not in Your Bible. Why it's good for Protestants to hear from the Apocrypha (David deSilva, Christianity Today).
When Cardinal Timothy Dolan moved to the podium to pray at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, his prayer may have struck you as oddly familiar.

The passage he prayed from is very similar to Solomon’s prayer for wisdom in 1 Kings 3. But, it’s not the version Protestant Christians know, because it’s not in the Bible that we read.

It comes, instead, from the Wisdom of Solomon, a book included in the Catholic and Orthodox churches’ Old Testament, but not included in Protestant churches’ Old Testament.

No reading from 1 Enoch this time. Maybe someday.

The Old Testament Apocrypha are (at least almost entirely) ancient Jewish texts, but they are not part of the Jewish biblical canon (or the Protestant one), although they are included in the Catholic and Orthodox canons. Professor deSilva focuses in this article on why they are important for Christians, which is appropriate for Christianity Today's audience. But the OT Apocrypha are also important for the history of Judaism. In fact, it happens that just yesterday I wrote up a lecture for my new course on Ancient Jewish Literature (DI4731) on what the Old Testament Apocrypha contribute to our knowledge of Second Temple Judaism. It's actually quite a bit.