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the Apocrypha has been highly regarded by the Reformers and was considered by many to be the most important historical document outside of the Bible itself. Most agree that the Apocryphal books are valuable historical documents, but since it wasn't considered canon it was not included in the Protestant Bible and it's 66 books.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,