Writings Between the Testaments (Concluded)
By: LOUISE C. KLEUSER
IV. LEGENDARY LITERATURE
1. II Maccabees.—Can be classed such, but not necessarily. It is history, but mingled with legend, and colored by a certain didactic purpose, that it is not true history. Full of errors and distortions. Covers only a limited period of Maccabean history (171-161 B.C.), so it is not a sequel of I Maccabees.
2. III Maccabees.—This book we find cast even more in form of legend than II Maccabees. But slight historical basis for book, if any. Narrates the story of how Ptolemy Philopator (222-205), after defeating Antiochus the Great at Raphia, conceived idea of visiting Jerusalem and invading Holy of Holies; when he at tempted it, was stricken with paralysis. Reminiscent of Alexandrian Greek philosophy. Title III Maccabees an utter misnomer, for book deals with events long before Maccabean Era.
1. Tobit and Judith.—Both romances. Tobit —idyllic picture of home life in days of captivity. A strange story, full of magic, angels, demons. Tobias, the son of Tobit, catches a magic fish, and on the advice of Azarias, who is in reality Raphael the angel, he keeps heart and liver, which had power to exercise demons, and gall to, cure blindness. Tobias applies gall of magic fish to his father's eyes, and his sight is restored. In warm gratitude to Raphael, the supposed Azarias, father and son urge upon him half their wealth. But he reveals his identity and returns to heaven. This book of especial interest because of light it throws on current Jewish beliefs regarding angels and demons.
2. Judith.—A romance with a political motif; a piece of historical fiction written with view of evoking spirit of patriotism and encouraging Jews to resist increasing pressure of Syrian power, which at time of writing (168 B.C.) was beginning its cruel oppressions. Story is placed in time of return from Exile.
3. Appendix to Esther.—Adds many details to Biblical book of Esther, notably some at tempted reproductions of text of edicts of king and his letter to subjects; also prayer of Mordecai for Jews and prayer of Esther for herself and her people. In these, name of God occurs again and again, obviously in attempt to give a religious tone to book, and thus make it more acceptable. Vocabulary and allusions would indicate that this appendix was written in the Maccabean Era.
4. History of Susanna.—To book of Daniel there are two prose additions in Apocrypha, first one being a romance, "The History of Susanna." Although this story has not slightest connection with canonical book of Daniel, ex cept in use of his name, it was added to chapter 13 of book by both Septuagint and Vulgate. Story is laid in early 'days of captivity.
5. Bel and the Dragon.—This other addition to Daniel is again a piece of pure fiction, but has slightly more connection with canonical book, as it purports to deal with certain incidents of Daniel's life. This book is really two independent stories, "The Story of Bel" (verses 1-22) and "The Story of the Dragon" (verses 23-42). Obvious that these two stories, based on ancient myths and legends, were written to expose absurdity of idolatry.
VI. HISTORICAL LITERATURE
1. / Maccabees.—Out of this era as part of Apocrypha, 1 there has come to us a fine, well- balanced history, a plain unvarnished tale, un- colored by passion, of that heroic chapter of Israelitish history, rise of Maccabees. Covers forty years, from accession of Antiochus Epiphanes (175 B.C.) to death of Simon (135 B.C.). Chief source book for this historical period. So sober and restrained is its style that it is universally regarded as authentic and dependable history.
2. I Esdras (Ezra).—Parallels narratives in Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah. Adds no new facts to our knowledge. Simply repeats whole of book of Ezra, with one addition, story of three pages at Darius' court (i Esdras 3:1-5; 6). Tendency of modern scholars is toward theory that I Esdras and Ezra are independent Greek translators from a Hebrew original, and that they are of nearly equal value.
VII. APOCALYPTIC LITERATURE
Apocalypse means an "unveiling" or "revelation," but books so denominated have rather been a mystery and an unsolved riddle to most students; sealed rather than unsealed volumes.
Exclusive of Daniel, seven extra-canonical apocalypses have come down to us complete; six others are known to us in part through quotations in other literature. Tradition states that in all, seventy of these apocalypses were produced (IV Esdras 14). Although this is an exaggeration, they were numerous. Of all literature of this period these books were most popular and influential, for they were written for common people.
How long this "present age" of sorrow and oppression should endure, apocalypticism did not make clear. In "The Assumption of Moses" it was set at five thousand years; in "Enoch" at ten thousand.
One other peculiarity must be noted. These books are pseudonymous—written not in author's own name, but that of some saint or prophet of the past.
1. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.— Between 166-64 B.C. This book was written by some Pharisaic author during" days when John Hyrcanus was at height of his power, and was strongly favoring Pharisees. It contains numerous Christian interpolations.
Book purports to set forth autobiographic stories and dying commands of twelve sons of Jacob. This motif probably suggested by so- called "Testament" of Jacob given in Genesis 49. Each of patriarchs tells his own life story, emphasizing someone special quality, be it virtue or vice.
Then follows in each case the apocalyptic element in which each patriarch follows his moral exhortations with mingled prophecies and warnings as to future. Contradictions make book nearly impossible of analysis.
2. The Pseudo-Sibylline Oracles.—Conglomeration of writings, books, partly of Jewish and partly of Christian authorship, and written over a period of about four hundred years. Interestingly enough, largely in form of Greek hexameters, like Iliad and Odyssey.
First two books contain curious intermixture of heathen myths of cosmic and human origins with Old Testament traditions. Considered to be of Jewish origin with a number of Christian interpolations. Third book most important; however, also most perplexing. Some sections Jewish, others considered to be Christian. Some reworked from the pagan Sibyls, ranging from second century B.C. to I A.D. The fourth of later date, the fifth Jewish but strongly anti- Roman, written probably at time of Bar- Cochba. Sixth, seventh, eighth, of Christian authorship. Ninth to fourteenth of minor importance.
Many Jewish portions of Sibylline Oracles distinctly propagandist, often addressing heathen world in name of some great heathen leader. Purpose, propagation of Judaism among Gentiles.
3. I Enoch or the Ethiopic Book of Enoch. —Enoch, famous saint of Genesis, about whom innumerable legends gathered, is made focus of whole series of writings here gathered under his name. Not a single book, but a collection in 108 chapters, representing over a hundred years of composition and compilation. A visionary future life: Sheol of fire idea, enjoyed great popularity in the ancient church, little less than canonical.
Present work falls into four books. First, Composite Section, chapters 1-36,. 106-108 (180-166 B.C.) ; made up of fragments of lost Book of Noah, tradition of fall of angels, and story of celestial journeys of Enoch, during which he learned secrets of nature, and of future life of dead. In form and style it bears a striking resemblance to great medieval poem of Dante. Second part called "Visions of Enoch," a visionary history from time of flood to com ing day of Jehovah. This part contains most of the passages which describe judgment scenes, bring forth Messianic hope, and often tear striking resemblance to ideas expressed in New Testament.
Third book, "The Woes and Consolations," chapters 91-104 (120-105 B -C-), a Pharisaic document directed against Sadducees of time of John Hyrcanus, whose savage cruelties against Pharisees evoked this book.
Fourth book, "The Parables of Enoch," predicts and emphasizes coming of "Son of Man," the "Anointed One," "Elect One"; pre-existent with God.
Many of characteristic popular beliefs of New Testament era came directly out of this book—Messianic kingdom, Messiah and His coming, resurrection, future life of bliss, Sheol, demoniac possession, and angelology.
4. II Baruch or Apocalypse of Baruch.— This apocalypse lost for centuries, but recovered in 1866 in its entirety in Syriac form in a sixth century manuscript. Came out of that dark day when Herodian temple fell (A.D. 70), and reflects despair of Jews over this blow to their faith. Uses name of Baruch, because as Jeremiah's scribe he was an eyewitness of fall of first temple. Originally written in Hebrew, reflects a passiqnately intense Pharisaism, holding that law is only way of salvation, and world was created for sake of Israel.
5. II (IV) Esdras or Apocalypse of Ezra.— This book strikingly similar to II Baruch, but somewhat later and more elaborate. First two and last two chapters are spurious additions. Central and original apocalypse of Ezra (chapters 3-14) consists of a series of visions, writ ten to explain fall of Jerusalem and triumph of heathen. Predicts end of this period of sorrow and coming of a New Jerusalem with advent of Messiah. Ezra chosen as spokesman of these hopes (since he, like Baruch, lived in time of first temple's fall). Concluding chapters contain idea that Ezra is to restore lost scriptures (as in earlier days) and create seventy others.
6. The Assumption of Moses (2 B.C.-A.D. 109).—Under guise of a prophecy spoken by Moses to Joshua, author of this book, who lived under hateful Herodian rule in Palestine, predicts overthrow of these tyrannous rulers and new day for Israel. Book presents unique estimate of Moses, which would make him almost a divine being. Michael's struggle over body of Mosses. Basis of various fictitious ideas about Moses. Exaggerations pronounced.
7. // Enoch.—Best known as "The Slavonic Book of Enoch," since found only in a Slavonic version. In many respects similar to Ethiopic Enoch, although it also shows hand of an independent writer. Comes to us from Egypt from pen of an orthodox Hellenistic Jew. First part of book describes Enoch's journey through seven heavens into presence of God. In this book whole cosmic history is divided by author into seven "days" of a thousand years each, since "a day with the Lord is a thousand years." (2 Peter 3:8.) Since God made world in six days, it should last for six thousand years, and then be followed by seventh epoch "the thousand years of peace." Here is origin of idea of a temporal millennium and various millenniary confusions.
(The foregoing outline is based on The Bridge Between the Testaments, Henry Kendall Booth, chapters 5, 6, 7.)
CONCLUSION : This cursory review of these Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings will help to reveal to the Bible student the origin of many false doctrines. The informed Bible instructor will be able to point out on good authority that many of these confusions, especially those pertaining to the state of the dead, had their roots in paganism. The next step is to reveal how the Papacy made gain of these errors. Next, the Bible instructor points out Protestantism's blindness in not recognizing truth from error. A knowledge of these back grounds of myth and forgery may play an important part. in extricating the confused from some present-day fallacies, of which dispensationalism with its futuristic interpretations is outstanding. A new emphasis on last-day things, or eschatology, challenges every Bible student to know the truth.
A Bible Instructor Course
By: W. HOMER TEESDALE.
Some Bible instructors and ministers may not yet be acquainted with our recently organized correspondence course in Bible work. The Home Study Institute first launched this course less than a year ago. Since then its enrollment has made steady progress, and an encouraging number of students have already completed this' eighteen-lesson course. These workers say that they have received wonderful help from the study of its very practical les sons.
It is heartily endorsed as a unique refresher course. Bible instructors of longer experience enthusiastically declare that the course well meets the needs of personal workers. Beginning Bible instructors here find the very help needed for providing a good background for the profession, for making the right approaches, build ing sound interest, and then using the proper techniques for gaining decisions. Interns and local church leaders have availed themselves of the benefits of these lessons, claiming that they also have received a better understanding of methods for reaching souls with our urgent message.
This correspondence course deserves wide promotion among Bible instructors and all classes of personal workers. It sets forth methods that are far from being elementary in scope, and each lesson's test questions are reduced to minimum simplicity. The course gives very practical guidance to a worker's study habits. It also provides many definite leads to valuable source materials
This eighteen-lesson course in Bible work is offered by the Home Study Institute at $6 net. Why not take advantage of this training by en rolling, for the course immediately. It is equally valuable for men and women who desire to become fruitful personal workers.
The student will need The Bible Instructor, by Miss Kleuser, and Evangelism, by Ellen G. White. Both may be ordered from the Book and Bible House or direct from the Home Study Institute.
True Christian Beauty
By MARGARET COSBY, Bible Instructor, Pennsauken, New Jersey
I. God, the author and giver of beauty.
1. Let the beauty of the Lord be upon us. Ps. 90:17.
2. Man, created in God's image, crowned with glory. Ps. 815.
II. God wishes to restore that beauty; will beautify meek with salvation. Ps. 149: 4.
III. We are to dress for God's glory, i Cor. 10:31.1. Our conversation, or manner of life, to be simple and sincere. 2 Cor. 1:12.
2. Our dress to have the beauty of natural simplicity. Matt. 6:28, 29.
3. Our dress to be modest, without ornamentation, i Tim. 2:9, 10; i Peter3:3, 4
4. Not to conform to world. Rom. 12:1, 2.
IV. Jewelry and make-up belong to world.
1. Jewelry belongs to heathen. Judges 8:24.
2. Cosmetics used by heathen women.2 Kings 9:30.
VI. Hope of Christ's soon coming purifies our entire life. Titus 2:11-14; i John 3:2, 3.
V. Consecration to God frees one from out ward adornment. Ex. 33 15, 6; Gen. 35:1-4.