Tuesday, August 12, 2008

August Quick Guide: Apocrypha/Deuterocanon

1, 2, 3, 4 Maccabees, 1 & 2 Esdras, The Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151

These are important works that tell of the period in which Hellenization (Greek culture and language) dominated the known world. These works describe the various responses to this influence. Greek thought and culture was both welcomed and feared. It also tells of persecution by Greek rulers and Jewish response. These works cover the period from the death of Alexander the Great in the 3rd century BCE to the first century CE.

1 Maccabees is history that recounts the origins of the Hasmonean Dynasty. It begins with the death of Alexander the Great and the rise to power of the Seleucid King, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Here you will discover the origins of Hanakkuh.

2 Maccabees tells the same history of the first eight chapters of 1 Maccabees with a unique literary style. It is like a blog versus a news story! The martyrdom of the seven brothers is important for later Christian developments regarding resurrection.

1 Esdras reproduces 2 Chronicles 35:1-36:23, Ezra, and Nehemiah 7:38-8:12. If you have already read the canonical works, you might skim 1 Esdras and notice differences. Read 3:1-5:6 as this passage is unique to 1 Esdras.

The Prayer of Manasseh is a touching prayer of confession by the “wicked” king Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1-18). It is a prayer of hope that even the most evil among us are capable of redemption.

Psalm 151. And you thought there were only 150 Psalms! This one isn’t too long. It is a psalm of David.

3 Maccabees is not about the Maccabees at all. It is about another bad guy, King Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-203 BCE) and the struggle that Jews living in Egypt had with him.

2 Esdras is the only apocalypse in the Apocrypha. It reads like the book of Revelation and chapter 7-13 of Daniel. A heavy dose of this will give you bad dreams. Apocalyptic literature told of troubles and of future hope of God’s victory through complex symbols revealed in dreams. The word apocalypse means revelation.

4 Maccabees is a philosophical treatise written around the time of Jesus. It is an interpretation of Judaism using Greek philosophy.

August Quiz: Apocrypha/Deuterocanon

1) The Septuagint was
a) a Hebrew translation of the Latin Bible
b) a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible
c) a Latin translation of the Greek Bible

2) The Hellenistic ruler who tried to destroy Judaism in the second century BCE by persecuting Jews was
a) Ptolemy I
b) Seleucus II
c) Alexander of Macedonia
d) Antiochus IV

3) When did the Seleucid persecutions of the Jews begin?
a) 70 CE
b) 167 BCE
c) 538 BCE
d) 333 BCE
e) 587 BCE

4) Who was Mattathias?
a) The Hasmonean ruler who forced the Syrians to sign a treaty of non-aggression.
b) The priest of Modein who started the Maccabean Revolt.
c) A prominent resident of Jerusalem, in the Persian province of Yehud at the time Alexander imposed Greek rule there.

5) The Hasmonean Period was
a) a time when Israel was dominated by Rome.
b) a time of peace, when Israel was free from external pressures and able to pursue its own interests.
c) a time of independence for Israel, but not a time of peace.

6) The Maccabean Revolt began when
a) The Seleucid kingdom took Israel away from the Ptolemaic kingdom.
b) Mattathias, the priest in the small Judean village of Modein, refused to perform a sacrifice to the Greek god Zeus.
c) Judas Maccabeus marched into Jerusalem and rededicated the temple there to the worship of Yahweh.

7) Who led the Jewish forces in the recapture of Jerusalem in 164 BCE?
a) Judas Maccabeus
b) Antiochus IV
c) Simon
d) Alexander

8) Which of the following is not one of the typical characteristics of apocalyptic writing?
a) violence
b) tolerance
c) predestination
d) exclusivism
e) dualism

9) The people of Israel lost their independence at the end of the Hasmonean Period. What foreign power controlled Israel after that point?
a) The Greeks
b) The Romans
c) The Persians

10) Who was installed as ruler of the Jews when the last Hasmonean ruler died?
a) Pontius Pilate
b) Herod the Great
c) Herod Antipas

11) When were the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls produced?
a) Between 100 and 223 CE.
b) Between 250 BCE and 68 CE.
c) Between 500 and 415 BCE

12) A document that is pseudonymous is one that
a) now has a title other than the one originally assigned to the document
b) was written by a community of editors rather than a single author
c) was composed by an unknown writer in the name of a famous person

13) A canon is
a) the official list of books that a religious community accepts as authentic and binding
b) a list of books that are rejected by a religious community as unfit for divine instruction
c) an authoritative group of clergy who must decide on such issues as which books are to be read by a religious community

14) The term Tanak refers to the same collection of documents as which of the following?
a) The Septuagint
b) A Catholic Old Testament
c) The Hebrew Bible

15) Which of the following is NOT one of the major sections of the Tanak?
a) Kethuvim (Writings)
b) Neviim (Prophets)
c) Torah (Teaching, Law, Instruction)
d) Apocrypha (Hidden)

16) The Tanak ends with
a) the book of Malachi
b) the books of Chronicles
c) the book of Psalms

17) The Old Testament ends with
a) the book of Malachi
b) the books of Chronicles
c) the book of Psalms