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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

The Apocrypha and the Bible.

1.

Some of the works in the Apocrypha derive their literary form primarily from their relationship to biblical texts. In no case is this relationship in the form of a phrase-by-phrase commentary, unlike some rabbinic midrashim (see above, G.19), but the types of association are different in each case.

2. Rewritten Bible

1 Esdras is a Greek translation of a version of the biblical book of Ezra incorporating material from Chronicles and Nehemiah. It is uncertain whether it is best to explain the book by suggesting that the author possessed something like the Masoretic Hebrew text of Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah before he wrote and then adapted it for his own purposes, or that he translated an independently preserved Hebrew text of the biblical books, but if the former is the case, 1 Esdras constitutes a free reworking of the biblical account similar to the relationship of the book of Jubilees to Genesis and relationship of the Temple Scroll found at Qumran to Deuteronomy.

3. Additions to Biblical Books

The passages inserted into the Hebrew book of Esther and now found in Greek Esther serve to enhance the dramatic and religious appeal of the original version and to bolster its historicity through the citation of verbatim copies of royal edicts. The author of these additions has made no attempt to alter or comment on the biblical story, but only to increase its impact in the spirit of the original. The Prayer of Manasseh, in which the king admits his sins and begs forgiveness from God, was similarly intended to supplement the biblical account in 2 Chronicles because 2 Chr 33:18–19 mentions that such a prayer is recorded elsewhere. The difference in this case is that the prayer was not preserved in the text of Chronicles in the Septuagint but only as a separate text.

4. Imitation of Biblical Books

Baruch is a hortatory prophecy so similar in tone and content to the Hebrew book of Jeremiah that it was treated by some Christians from the second century CE as a supplement to the biblical book. This notion was doubtless aided by references in the book of Jeremiah to Baruch as the prophet's secretary and references to the Babylonian exile in Baruch itself. The book of Baruch contains rather disparate material (narrative, prayer, instruction in the form of a poem about Wisdom, and comfort for the people in a poem about Zion), but all the elements are familiar from the prophetic books of the Bible.

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