Thursday, June 26, 2008

July Quiz: Apocrypha or Deuterocanon

1. What does the term "Apocrypha" mean?

a) False Inscription
b) Inspired
c) Extraneous
d) Hidden

2. The term deuterocanonical means

a) having to do with the second coming of Jesus
b) hidden; not to be read
c) belonging to a second canon

3. What did Tobiah use to keep the demon from the bridal chamber when he married Sarah?

a) A sheep's gall bladder
b) Warm bird droppings
c) A magical incantation
d) A fish's heart and liver

4. Who was pulled by the hair of his head by God and taken from Judea to Babylon to give Daniel lunch when Daniel was in the lion's den?

a) Zerubabbel
b) Jeremiah
c) Habakkuk
d) Elijah

5. Why did Tobit send his son Tobia to Media?

a) To claim a fortune deposited there
b) To seek out and marry Sarah
c) To find a cure for his blindness
d) To avoid death at the hands of Sennacherib

6. How did Judith assassinate Holofernes?

a) She stabbed him during intercourse
b) She beheaded him while he was drunk
c) She prayed to God and he was miraculously killed
d) She drove a tent peg through his chest

7. Two Jewish elders, out of lust for this woman, tell her to have sex with them or risk being accused of committing adultery with a young man.

a) Susanna
b) Esther
c) Judith
d) Baruch

8. Verses from this passage are used in the liturgy of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A., as part of the "Rite One Morning Prayer."

a) Song of the Three Young Men
b) Susanna
c) Bel and the Dragon
d) Wisdom

9. In the additional parts of Esther, what character has a dream vision?

a) Esther
b) Mordecai
c) Vashiti
d) Haman

10. The Wisdom of Solomon is the only book of the Roman Catholic Old Testament that professes a belief that would have enormous importance in the history of the Christian West, namely,

a) Explicit monotheism.
b) A spiritual interpretation of the messianic hope.
c) The possibility of vicarious suffering.
d) The immortality of the soul.

11. What Deuterocanonical book is ascribed to the secretary of the prophet Jeremiah?

a) Baruch
b) Tobit
c) Sirach
d) Judith

12. Hellenistic culture

a) was the culture of classical Greece before the conquests that brought Greek language and customs to Israel.
b) was the culture of Mesopotamia and Canaan in the centuries immediately before Greek culture was introduced there.
c) resulted from the mixture of classical Greek civilization with the older cultures of the Near East.

13. Who was the conqueror who took Greek language, art, literature, philosophy, and social customs from Greece to the millions of people living in Egypt, Judea, Afghanistan, and all the way to western India?

a) Ashurbanipal III
b) Cyrus of Persia
c) Alexander the Great

14. General consensus regarding which books belong in the Hebrew Bible was reached at approximately

a) The time of Ezra, 400 B.C.E.
b) The time of the Maccabees, the second century B.C.E.
c) The end of the first century C.E.
d) The early Middle Ages.

15. The term diaspora refers to

a) a form of dress in ancient Israel
b) the war for independence from Seleucid rule
c) the distribution of Jews outside their Palestinian homeland

Short Answer:

1. According to Ben Sira, the chief function of a scribe is to ___________________.

2. If the Wisdom of Solomon exhibits respect for philosophy, it has scathing contempt for the Egyptians because of their ____________.

Longer Answer:

1. What is implied when we call the Bible “Sacred Scripture”?

2. What does it mean to speak of the “canon” of the Bible?

3. What enduring values can we hope to find in the Bible?

July Quick Guide: Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Literature (Part 1)

Tobit, Judith, Esther (Greek), The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch,
The Letter of Jeremiah, Azariah and the Three Jews, Susanna

These books did not make the canon of the Protestant Bible, but they are found in the sacred canons of other Christian traditions. These are the writings of Jewish people between the third century BCE and the first century CE. Many of these texts were written in Greek, some in Aramaic or Hebrew. Many respond to the Hellenization of the region since the conquest of Alexander the Great. While some of the writings incorporate Greek thought, much of it resists Hellenization and prizes faithful Jewish resistance.

The apocrypha includes some fun stories in the genre of historical romances:

Tobit is a found in the Roman Catholic canon. It is a fictional story that praises faithfulness and courage. Tobit gives us the concept of the guardian angel and provides a reason why young men may be frightened to death on their wedding night.

Judith is fiction in the form of history. Lest anyone doubt that women should be in combat, here is a how a brave, faithful, woman gets ahead.

In the Greek version of the Book of Daniel are three more stories not found in the Hebrew text. They are Azariah and the The Three Jews, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.

1) The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews is what the three men pray to the Lord when they were tossed into the fiery furnace.

2) Susanna is the story of a woman who is wrongly accused. Thankfully Daniel comes to her rescue--just like Matlock.

3) Bel and the Dragon tells the story of how Daniel outwits the religious phonies, kills a dragon, and survives six days in a lion’s den.

The Greek version of Esther is the same story as the canonical Esther with some additions. These additions are pious, in that they contain explicit references to God not found in the Hebrew text.

In addition to fun stories, the Apocrypha contains wisdom literature:

The Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus or The Wisdom of Jesus Son of Sirach is skillful literature. It is a blending of Greek and Hebrew thought. These two works as well as 2 Maccabbees 6-7 had a great influence on the theology of the early Christian church, including the doctrine of the immortality of the soul.

Baruch, named for the scribe of Jeremiah is really a praise for Wisdom and for Israel: “The woods and every fragrant tree have shaded Israel at God’s command.”

The Letter of Jeremiah was supposedly written by Jeremiah to the captives in Babylon. It is really a scathing attack on non-Jews: “Like a scarecrow in a cucumber bed, which guards nothing, so are their gods of wood, overlaid with gold and silver.”