As we wind down the Old Testament in Come Follow Me here are some of the things you missed because we don't include the Apocrypha.
Tobit: Do you have a hankering for historical fiction set in the time between the Old and New Testaments with a supernatural aspect and a side of moral preaching? Look no further than Tobit.
Judith: Still interested in historical fiction, but with a female protagonist who chops off a guy's head, and a plot and characters symbolizing Judah and its enemies? Judith is your book.
Esther: Are you disappointed because Esther is just too short? Did you know that there is more? Here's six more chapters worth of material.
Wisdom: Are you the kind of person that can't get enough of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, and you want another book full of pithy little sayings that teach wisdom? The Book of Wisdom is there for you.
Sirach: STILL not enough pithy little sayings? Sirach is the Stephen Covey of the Old Testament. Not doctrine, but written by a famous believer.
Baruch: Ever felt that you just wanted a little more Jeremiah? Well, it's not exactly Jeremiah, but Baruch really, really likes Jeremiah.
Letter of Jeremiah: Ever felt that you just wanted a little more Jeremiah? Well, this one actually is a little more Jeremiah.
Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children: Have you ever read Daniel chapter 3 and thought, "What if this chapter was 68 verses longer?" Read it to find out.
Susanna: Did you ever get to the end of the Book of Daniel and think, "This could have used more nudity and talk of sex." Susanna is the missing chapter from Daniel that you have been looking for.
Bel and the Dragon: Did you ever feel like your life was missing a good mystery story involving Daniel? Did you ever think that the story of Daniel in the lion's den was really missing something? These two stories, "Bel" and "The Dragon", have got you covered.
1 and 2 Esdras: Did you read Ezra and think, "Man, I really wanted to read more lists of all the names of the people who came to Jerusalem from Babylon, and the names of their ancestors, and what jobs their ancestors had, and the names of the cities and towns they came from, and the names of the villages and towns they settled in around Jerusalem, and EXACTLY how much gold and silver they brought with them." Well Esdras has all that and more! Gird your loins for discussions about wine, women, and the king! (It's the truth!) Also ancient international politics.
Prayer of Manasseh: You probably were always wondering about that one prayer mentioned briefly in a single verse in Chronicles where a king named Manasseh prayed after getting captured. No? Oh I thought everyone obsessed over things like that. Well here is that prayer! (Maybe)
1 Maccabees: Have you been looking for an unbiased, emotionless, 100% historically accurate history of the beginning of the Hasmonean Dynasty? Well you won't find any of that here! This is 100% pure, adulterated propaganda baby! Reading this you will find that Judas Maccabeus was a noble, holy, enlightened, faithful priest of the highest order who valiantly fought against the Godless heathens who did terrible things like... take a bath (gasp!), got a haircut (clutches pearls), and didn't believe in killing heretics! (faints) You will find a complete history of how Judas, his brothers, and nephews, violently defeated the nasty imperial army by valiantly running away. Many times. They were so successful at defeating the imperial armies that they only had to definitively defeat them 7 or 8 times and drive them from the land forever. Until they came back. Again. Hey once they even won a battle! You will learn how Judas nobly "stuck it to the man" by robbing poor defenseless villages, I mean put down hot beds of insurrection. And how Judas reminded all Jews to be faithful to God by personally killing Jews traveling to Jerusalem who didn't show him proper respect by voluntarily "donating" all their worldly possessions to their noble cause. Additionally you will learn how it is evil and an afront to God to buy the position of "high priest" (unless you are personally related to Judas Maccabeus, then it is a smart move and shows how intelligent you are). There will be many other important tidbits such as, let's play the game guess who is secretly Jewish! The Romans! Who knew? They are the lost ten tribes or something. We invited them to come visit Jerusalem and see what a great place it is. I'm sure they'll be great friends and allies in the future. (Ominous foreshadowing)
2 Maccabees: On a serious note, this is perhaps the most "modern" of all the books in the Bible. It comes with an introduction by the author. He identifies himself, states his experience and credentials, and explains his sources. He identifies potential biases, and discusses the difficulty of writing accurate history and the reliability of sources. Everyone should read the first chapter of 2 Maccabees because it explains many of the things about how scripture is written, but is never actually explicitly talked about anywhere else.
Addendum: A note about 1 and 2 Maccabees. They are written to support the Hasmonean Dynasty. They controlled Jerusalem shortly before the Romans took control (and the Hasmoneans were the ones who allied themselves with the Romans, and we know how that turned out). Herod the Great (the one that killed all the babies in Bethlehem, that Herod) married the last princess of the Hasmonean Dynasty. If there was any single group of people responsible for the state of society at the time of Jesus, the Hasmoneans are the number one culprits. They are responsible for the formation of both the Sadducees and Pharisees (there was a civil war between different parts of the royal family, and those who became the Sadducees supported one side, those who would become Pharisees supported the other side). They laid the groundwork for the conditions that would result in the assassination of Jesus.
2 Maccabees is still heavily pro-Hasmonean, the author was being paid by them to write their history after all, but it presents a more historical picture than 1 Maccabees. 1 Maccabees is pure propaganda. If you read through 1 Maccabees and think "Hey I like these guys. They are valiant defenders of the faith and scripture." You really, really need to rethink your approach to religion. The way of thinking on display in 1 Maccabees is the same way of thinking that Jesus later condemned as hypocrisy, and the same thinking was used to justify killing him. Basically if you take everything taught in 1 Maccabees and do the exact opposite then you should be good.
It's always more of a "survey of the OT or NT, or BOM". They're written for the lowest common denominator. Maybe that's how it has to be? Nobody has asked my opinion and when I offer it, I'm ignored. I expect that you know how that feels QL42. Keep blogging!
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