Apocrypha, Edited by Sever Voicu

While the canonical status of the Greek and Latin Old Testament texts commented on within this volume has been understood differently within Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox traditions, their longstanding use within the Christian churches makes them worthy of careful study and reflection. As noted in the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, Jerome says that the church reads the Apocrypha "for example of life and instruction of manners." As a result their influence extends well beyond ecclesiastical use to literature, hymnody, music, and art.

Their questioned authority has nevertheless affected the choice of books included here, not by a priori judgment but by the paucity of comment from which to choose. None of the early fathers dedicated commentaries to these texts as a whole. Despite the length of 1 and 2 Maccabees and the model they presented for Christian martyrdom, they were rarely cited or commented on. The Wisdom books received the most comment and are those best represented here.

In particular, readers will find ample comment on Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah, and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon (the latter three all found as additions to the Hebrew and Aramaic book of Daniel). Among commentators readers will find Origen, John Chrysostom, Theodoret of Cyr, Hippolytus, Jerome, Augustine, Julius Africanus, Athanasius, Palladius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Clement of Alexandria, Bede, Rabanus Maurus, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Cassiodorus, Ambrose, and others.

This Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture volume presents a worthy feast of patristic comment on these ancient and important texts, some of which is presented here in English translation for the first time.

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Sever Voicu is Scriptor Graecus at the Vatican Apostolic Library and Guest Professor at the Augustinian Patristic Institute in Rome. He has published mainly in the area of Greek Patristics and New Testament Apocrypha.