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Invitation to the Apocrypha
Daniel J. Harrington, S.J.

0802846335 Retail Price: $22.00
CenturyOne Price: $18.70
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Format: Paperback, 230pp.
ISBN: 9780802846334
Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Pub. Date: September 1999

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From The Publisher:

The Old Testament Apocrypha are sometimes called "books between the testaments." These early Jewish writings, generally composed between the time of the last books in the Hebrew Bible and the writings of the New Testament, provide a fascinating theological bridge between the Testaments by showing how the traditions of the Hebrew Scriptures were carried forward in Second Temple Judaism, and they greatly illuminate the world in which Jesus and the New Testament writers lived and worked.

Invitation to the Apocrypha is a clear, basic guide to these important - but often neglected - ancient books. Respected biblical scholar Daniel Harrington presents a general introduction to the texts and then leads readers through the background, content, and significance of each book. In treating the individual books of the Apocrypha, Harrington shows their links to the Hebrew Bible and notes their importance for understanding the New Testament. He also introduces in an unobtrusive way the latest and best scholarship on these works and suggests leads for further study.

A distinctive feature of this primer is its focus throughout on the problem of suffering. Almost every one of the Apocrypha touches in some way on the mystery of suffering: How can we say that God is omnipotent and just when innocent people are suffering? Are righteous people really rewarded and wicked people really punished? If so, when and how? No one of these books by itself provides the answer to such questions, but Harrington shows how each book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of this universal human experience.

Ideal for use in a variety of classroom settings, this volume is the best available aid for those who want to read and study the Old Testament Apocrypha seriously for the first time.


Readers who seek for the first time to acquaint themselves with the Apocrypha will find this book to be a practical guide. Moreover, Harrington's concentration on the problem of suffering demonstrates the contemporary theological relevance of these writings, a feature which pastors and others concerned with the question of theodicy may find especially helpful. In general, this volume succeeds admirably in achieving its stated purpose: to invite readers for whom the Apocrypha are "closed books" seriously to examine these writings.... Whether one regards them as canonical or not, they are nevertheless an important and unjustly neglected portion of the rightful literary heritage of every Jew and Christian. Harrington's book proffers valuable guidance for any reader who wishes to recover that heritage.

A concise and extremely helpful introduction ... Its clearly written style makes it an ideal guide for the non-specialist reader who is about to begin the study of the Apocrypha.... Harrington has done a great service in producing this primer. It should be an invaluable resource for students setting out on their first excursion into this material.

As ever, Harrington writes clearly. The ground to be shown is vast. He gives succinct suggestions for further study in each section.... This is an ideal core textbook for undergraduate courses on the Apocrypha. Its very existence should encourage more people to include these texts in their syllabus, and that would be a very good thing.
—Reviews in Religion and Theology

Anyone familiar with the reputation of Daniel Harrington and with the current state of studies on the Apocrypha will recognize that this book represents a most fortuitous conjunction. Its author is a leading scholar in the field of early Judaism, and the Apocrypha have not had an introduction of their own since Bruce Metzger wrote An Introduction to the Apocrypha…. This is an introductory book, designed for nonspecialists, but presenting the best of contemporary biblical scholarship. As such, it stands as a model for showing how the fruits of technical biblical studies can be applied for the benefit of the educated by nontechnical reader.
—Catholic Biblical Quarterly


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About the Author

Daniel J. Harrington is professor of New Testament at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents


1. Reading the Old Testament Apocrypha
2. Tobit: We Are Family
3. Judith: By the Hand of a Woman
4. The Additions to Esther: These Things Have Come from God
5. The Wisdom of Solomon: Immortality, Wisdom, and History
6. Ecclesiasticus/Sirach: Fear of the Lord
7. Baruch: Sin, Exile, Repentance, and Return
8. The Letter of Jeremiah: The Folly of Idolatry
9. The Additions to Daniel: Who Is the Living God?
10. 1 Maccabees: God's Dynasty
11. 2 Maccabees: God's Temple
12. 1 Esdras: Rebuilding the People of God
13. The Prayer of Manasseh: The Prayer of the Repentant Sinner
14. Psalm 151: God's Care for David
15. 3 Maccabees: Israel in Crisis and the Divine Deliverer
16. 2 Esdras: Prophecies and Visions of Ezra
17. 4 Maccabees: The Sovereignty of Devout Reason

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