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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Have you read your Apocrypha today?

Typically you would hear me say "Have you read your Bible today?"...... :O)

However, yesterday while driving home from work I am came across R.C. Sproul's radio program, Renewing Your Mind on KVTT 91.7 FM. RC was just beginning a series of talks on the Apocrypha, and it's value to understanding the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Surprisingly, RC shed quite a positive light on a subject you usually either hear nothing about, or mostly negative commentary.

Even though I have learned a little about the Apocrypha during my studies at the Center for Biblical Studies at DTS, and now my coursework at Criswell, I have never read it for myself. I guess mostly because it is not included in most English versions of the Bible, but also because I have never heard anything too positive about it.

However, it is included in the online version of the NET Bible, which is the version I am using this year and last year. Some of the Apocrypha is in the Catholic version of the Bible, but not all of it (did I mention that it is a disputed group of texts?)

(NOTE: I only started reading the Bible after accepting Christ as Lord and Savior 5 years ago. My born-again day is March 13, 2001. I will be celebrating my "Bjorn-again" birthday in 4 days! Praise the Lord, thank You Jesus!).

RC was saying that historically the Apocrypha has been highly regarded by the Reformers and was considered by many to be the most important historical document outside of the Bible itself. Most agree that the Apocryphal books are valuable historical documents, but since it wasn't considered canon it was not included in the Protestant Bible and it's 66 books. It could have been included (it was included in the Septuagint), but in thinking that it could be mis-interpreted as equal to the inspired, authoritive Scripture texts, it wasn't (there are many Bible versions that include non-canon texts: commentary, study notes, archaeological notes, poems, etc.). Consequently, since the Reformation, in trying to avoid any misconceptions, it seems the extreme has taken place and the Protestant church has all but done away with associating with any of the Apocryphal books.

I listen to a lot of different preachers: on the radio, at my church, at churches I visit from time to time, and churches I have been a part of in my Christian walk. But, it seems to me that I haven’t heard any preaching that includes any quotes, references or allusions to the Apocrypha. I have heard countless quotes from various Barna polls, Bible commentaries, Newsweek, CNN, Oprah, dictionaries, Lincoln, Einstein; you name it, pretty much from every popular secular frame of reference, but nothing from the Apocrypha. That’s fine and all, but I imagine we can learn something from the Apocrypha as well.

Now the Apocrypha does have some stories that have caused some to create bad church doctrine, so we need to have a discerning Spirit and be careful not to confuse it or go astray by giving it authority over Scripture. I am also not saying we need start preaching from every pulpit using the Apocrypha.

So, despite the Apocrypha not being considered canon, and despite all the differences of who uses it and who doesn't, and why, it seems that the Apocryphal books offer a meaningful, worthwhile and exceptional insight into God's Word in the Bible. Isn’t that great?

That is why I am going to read through the Apocrypha, and I really look forward to it.

Have you read the Apocrypha? If not, are there reasons you haven’t? If you did, what is your impression of it?

Grace and peace,


At 09 March, 2006 14:41, Blogger Ryan said...

Hey Mark, I listened to the same broadcast of renewing your mind, only it plays in the mornings down in Houston. I too have never read the apochrypha but would be interested to read it as a purely historical document.

At 10 March, 2006 06:20, Blogger Mark said...

Hey Ryan,

Good to hear from you.

Since you listened too, did I portray what RC said correctly, did I miss anything? I didn't get to heat the whole thing since I was on the phone once, and I basically just went from memory.

I am going to start the Apocrypha this weekend, so I might post on some of the things I read.

In which translation do you have the Apocrypha? Are you familiar with teh NET Bible? With all of it's translators notes, textual criticisms, and study notes, it is hard to beat for depth and understanding of translation. Plus you can dowload a free e-copy of it for your desktop.

Have a great weekend!

Grace and peace,

At 14 March, 2006 12:13, Blogger Ryan said...

Hey Mark, I didn't get a chance to listen to all of R.C's talk, so I'm kind of in the same boat as you. I don't have a copy of the apocrypha, but I will check out the NET bible. I'm currently doing the theology program online which is offered by bible.org. They are big proponents of the NET bible. I would be interested to hear more about what you learn after you get a chance to study it.


At 14 March, 2006 12:40, Blogger Mark said...

hey Ryan. Just came from your blog. you have some great posts, keep it up.

The TTP looks like a good program. I met some of the guys that are involved with TTP during the NRB Convention a few weeks back. They were doing a promotion of the TTP and NET Bible while supprorting NeedHIM, an evangelism ministry I have volunteered with. Great guys.

I have the NET Bible First Edition and am surprised that the Apocrypha is only in the online (or downloadable) version of the NET.


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