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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Use of the Apocrypha in the Early Church.

1.

There is no direct quotation from the apocrypha in the NT, and it is difficult to be certain whether parallel expression and allusions, of which many can be identified, show use of the apocrypha by the authors of the NT or the influence of a common tradition. Thus, for instance, many expressions in the letters of Paul and in Hebrews use imagery close to that in Wisdom of Solomon (e.g. Heb 1:1–3 = Wis 7:25–7 ), and Heb 11:35–7 alludes to the martyrdom story found in 2 Macc 6–7 . Direct borrowing is not, of course, impossible, but these themes may have had much wider currency than just the surviving literature.

2.

In contrast numerous quotations from the apocrypha can be found in patristic writings. Among Greek-speaking Christians, Wisdom of Solomon was quoted by 1 Clement at the end of the first century and in the Epistle of Barnabas from the early second; Ecclesiasticus and 2 Esdras were also quoted by Barnabas; Tobit was quoted by Polycarp in the mid-second century; the stories of Susanna and the other apocryphal Additions to Daniel were included by Hippolytus of Rome in his commentary on Daniel. These citations generally treated the text of the apocrypha as inspired like the rest of Scripture. In the fragmentary Muratorian Canon, to be dated probably to c.200, the Wisdom of Solomon actually appears as part of the NT, albeit with an indication that this is not certain. Among Latin Christians, such as Tertullian and Cyprian, the apocryphal books were accorded even higher esteem, doubtless encouraged in the view by their inclusion in the Old Latin version of the OT, which was translated from the Septuagint. The main dissenting voice was that of Jerome, who made much use of the HB in creating his new Latin translation, the Vulgate, in the early fifth century. Jerome was persuaded to include some of the apocrypha in the Vulgate on the grounds that these were popular books, but in the margins he marked as missing in the Hebrew the Additions to Daniel and Esther, and, although he translated Tobit and Judith, later MSS of the Vulgate imported into Jerome's corpus the Old Latin versions of the other books. This ambivalent attitude was best summed up by Jerome himself in the Prologues to a number of these books: in his view the apocryphal books might be read by Christians and contained much of value, but they were not canonical and thus should not be used to establish the doctrines of the church. This view coexisted unhappily among Latin Christians with the powerful advocacy of the canonical status of these books urged by Jerome's contemporary Augustine. Among Greek Christians canonical status was generally taken for granted, but early Syriac patristic authors used an OT even more restricted than the Hebrew—of the apocrypha they knew only Ecclesiasticus, which they treated as canonical.

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