Reflections: Ancient Christian Commentary – Apocrypha (1)

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Any one who reads this blog for any amount of time knows that I have no Protestant qualms about using the Apocrypha, rather, the Deuterocanon. As a matter of fact, I am pretty adamant about using it to shed light into the thought-world of the New Testament. Let’s be honest: Paul didn’t have a closed canon. Instead, he used ‘other’ books for his dictionary and lexicon. Some of those books are no doubt in the Deuterocanon. Easily seen to my readers are my favorites – Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch and 1st Maccabees.

One of the great services that InterVarsity Press has given us is a wide range of collections centered on the ancient Christians. These series, such as the series on the Creeds and this voluminous set, provides for modern Christians a touchstone to the past, a hallmark of those who have gone before. In doing so, they shed light on modern beliefs that ‘have always been.’

This week, I intend to shed some light from this particular volume on the Apocrypha. It doesn’t cover all of the books, leaving out 1st Maccabees, however, it does get to the core of those which still provide liturgical uses for even Protestant denominations.

Then all the Gentiles will turn to fear the Lord God in truth, and will bury their idols. (Tobit 14:6 RSV)

While there are numerous writers mentioned, I thought we might go with a personal favorite, Athanasius:

See then what human beings considered the foolishness of God because of the cross, how this has become above anything else the most honored. For our resurrection is stored up in it. No longer Israel alone, but from this time forward all the nations, as the prophet has foretold, abandon their idols and acknowledged the truth God, the Father of Christ. The illusion of demons has come to nothing, and he alone who is truly God is worshiped in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. – Athanasius, Discourses Against the Arians, 1.43.1 (p33)

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