APOCRYPHA.—This term is here used for those Jewish writings included in the Gr., Lat., and English Bibles to which the title is commonly applied, i.e. the Biblical Apocrypha. For the literary history and characteristics of the Apocrypha see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. i. s.v. ‘Apocrypha.’ The relation of the Apocrypha to Christ and Christianity, which is the subject of this article, comes especially under four heads—the Messianic idea, the doctrine of Wisdom, the anticipation of Christian doctrines other than that of the Person or mission of Christ, the use of the Apocrypha in the Christian Church.
i. The Messianic Idea.—While this idea is luxuriantly developed in Apocalyptic literature, it is singularly neglected in most of the Apocrypha. The stream of prophecy which ran clear and strong in the OT became turbid and obscure in those degenerate successors of the prophets, the Apocalyptic visionaries. But it was in the line of the prophetic schools of teaching that the Messianic idea was cherished. Accordingly the treatment of the later stage of that teaching as erratic and unauthoritative, not fit for inclusion in the Canon, involved the result that the remaining more sober literature, which was recognized as nearer to the standard of Scripture, and in Egypt included in the later canon (at all events as in one collection of sacred books), was for the most part associated with those schools in which the Messianic hope was not cultivated. Therefore it is not just to say that this hope had faded away or suffered temporary obscurity during the period when the Apocrypha was written, the truth being that it was then more vigorous than ever in certain circles. But these circles were not those of our Old Testament Apocrypha. Thus the question is literary rather than historical. It concerns the editing of certain books, not the actual life and thought of Israel.
This will be evident if we compare the Book of Daniel with 1 Maccabees. These two books deal with the same period. Yet the former, although it does not know a personal Messiah, is the very fount and spring of the Messianic conception of the golden age in subsequent Apocalypses. On the other hand, 1 Maccabees ignores the Messianic hope, at all events in its usually accepted form.
Only two passages in this book can be pointed to as suggesting the Messianic idea, and they will not bear the strain that is sometimes put upon them. The first is 1 Maccabees 2:57
‘David for being merciful inherited the throne of a kingdom for ever and ever.’ We have here that very elementary form of the Messianic idea, if we may so call it, the permanence of David’s throne. But it is evident that David as the founder of the royal line, not the Messiah, is here referred to, and that the permanence of the throne is for the succession of his descendants, not for any one person. Not only is this the most reasonable interpretation of the passage, but it rests on OT promises to that effect, where the family of David and not the personal Messiah is intended (e.g. 2 Samuel 7:13
; 2 Samuel 7:16,
cf. Psalms 132:12
). Of this passage, however, as of the earlier Scriptures on which it rests, we may say that the idea contained in it is realized by the permanent reign of David’s great Son, and in a much larger and higher way than had been anticipated. The other passage is 1 Maccabees 4:45-46
‘And there came into their mind a good counsel, that they should pull it
down, lest it should be a reproach to them, because the Gentiles had defiled it: and they pulled down the altar, and laid up the stones in the mountain of the house in a convenient place, until there should come a prophet to give an answer concerning them.’ This is not even a reference to ‘the prophet’ of whom we read in John 1:25
. It is merely a case of waiting for some prophet to come and say when the temple was to be rebuilt, with no definite assurance that one specifically anticipated prophet was thus destined to arise.
Nevertheless, though we cannot point to any Messianic prophecy in 1 Mac., some of the Psalms attributed to this period indicate a prevalence of ideas that belong to the same circle of thought. Passionate patriotism fired by martyrdom and crowned with temporary success naturally painted great hopes for the nation. The reason why these were not connected with a coming Messiah may be twofold. (1) For a time it seemed likely that the Maccabees themselves were realizing those hopes, that this remarkable family of patriots was really restoring the glory of Israel. (2) Since these men were of the priestly line, the splendour of their achievements eclipsed for the time being the national dreams of the house of David.
The reaction of the later Hasidim, out of whom the Pharisaic party emerged, against the worldly methods of the Hasmonaean family and their identification of the mission of Israel with military prowess, released the more spiritual religious hopes, and so prepared for a revival of Messianic ideas. This new movement, which saw the true good of the nation to lie in her religion and looked for her help from God, did not altogether coincide with the hope of a personal Christ, for God Himself was the Supreme King whose coining was to be expected by His people.
The book of Judith is a romance issuing from the Pharisaic reactionary party; but it is devoid of all specific Messianic ideas. In this case the human saviour of Israel is a woman.
Of the three other popular tales, two, The History of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon, contain nothing bearing on the Messianic idea; but the latter part of Tobit may be accounted Messianic in the general sense as giving a picture of the Golden Age of the future. Jerusalem is to be scourged for her children’s works, but she is to give praise to the everlasting King that ‘afterwards his tabernacle may be builded’ in her ‘again with joy.’ Many nations are to come from far to the name of the Lord God with gifts in their hands. All generations shall praise her with great joy. The city is to be built and paved with precious stones. ‘And all her streets shall say Hallelujah; and they shall praise him, saying, Blessed be God, which hath exalted it for ever’ (To 13:9
–18). In all this there is no mention of the son of David or any human king and deliverer. (In the Hebrew variation of the text of this chapter as rendered by Neubauer, we read of ‘the coming of the Redeemer and the building of Ariel,’ i.e. Jerusalem; but evidently this Redeemer is Jahweh). We must go outside our Apocrypha to the Psalms of Solomon for the Pharisaic revival of the Messiah of the line of David.
Apocalyptic literature lends itself more readily to Messianic ideas, and these find full expression in the Book of Enoch, where—in the ‘Similitudes’—the descriptions of the Messiah who appears in clouds as the Son of Man are assigned by Dr. Charles to the pre-Christian Jewish composition.
2 Esdras, also a Jewish Apocalyptic work, calls for closer examination, since it is contained in our Apocrypha, although its late date diminishes its value in the history of the development of thought. The Christian additions (chapters (a) 1, 2; (b) 15, 16) do not call for attention here; they could only come into the study of the development of Christian thought if they were in any way contributions to that subject; but the warnings of the supplanting of Israel by the Gentiles in (a), and the judgment of the nations in (b), cannot be regarded in that light. The original work (chapters 3–14) affords significant evidence of the melancholy condition into which Jewish Messianic hopes had sunk during the gloomy interval between the destruction of Jerusalem and the rise of Bar-Cochba, the reign of Domitian (a.d. 81–96) being its generally accepted date (see Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. i. p. 765). Unlike the other Apocryphal writings, since it does not illustrate the transition from the OT to the NT, it is serviceable only in the study of post-Christian Judaism. Its Christian interpolations do not materially hinder us from discovering the original text. The Messianic passages are in chapters 7, 12, and 13. The insertion of the name ‘Jesus’ in 7:28
(not found in the Oriental versions) by a Christian hand is not sufficient reason for discrediting the Jewish character of the composition. The picture of the Messiah is quite un-Christian. It is startling to read that he is to die (7:29); but (1) this is after reigning 400 years, and (2) without a subsequent resurrection. The first point indicates the visionary ideas of the Apocalyptic writer, not the known fact of our Lord’s brief life on earth, and the second is in conflict with the great prominence which the early Christians gave to our Lord’s resurrection. A Messiah who lived for 400 years and then died, and so ended his Messiahship, could not be Jesus Christ. Accordingly the Syriac reads ‘30’ instead of ‘400,’ evidently a Christian emendation. Undoubtedly this is a Jewish conception, and its mournful character, so unlike the triumphant tone of Enoch, is in keeping with the gloomy character of the book, and a reflection of the deep melancholy that took possession of the minds of earnest, patriotic Jews after the fearful scenes of the siege of Jerusalem and the overwhelming of their hopes in a deluge of blood. The reference to the death of the Messiah is not found in the Arabic or the Armenian versions; but it is easy to see how it came to be omitted, while there is no likelihood that it would be inserted later, either by a Jew, to whom the idea would be unwelcome, or by a Christian, since the resurrection is not also mentioned. A noteworthy fact is that the Messiah is addressed by God as ‘My son.’ The Ethiopic of 7:28,
instead of ‘My son Jesus’ reads ‘My Messiah,’ and the Armenian, ‘the anointed of God.’ But the reference to sonship occurs elsewhere frequently, e.g. ‘My son Christ,’ or ‘My anointed son’ (7:29; see Song of Solomon 9:1-2
12 37, 52, 14:9, in most versions, but not in Arm.: see Dr. Sanday, art. ‘Son of God’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. iv. p. 571). Since, as Dr. Sanday remarks in the article just referred to, the strongly Messianic passage in Ps-Sol 17:23
–51 has not the title ‘Son,’ but clearly borrows from Psalms 2 in v. 26, it is a likely inference that 2 Esdras is here based on that Psalm. Compare the words of the high priest in Matthew 26:63
In chs. 12 and 13 the writer names Daniel, and manifestly bases his elaboration of the Messianic picture on the Book of Daniel. The Messiah appears as a lion rising up out of a wood and roaring. A certain pre-existence is implied in the assertion that the Most High had kept him (2 Esdras 12:32
); the Latin has only ‘for the end,’ but the Syriac reads ‘for the end of days, who shall spring up out of the seed of David.’ He will come to upbraid and destroy the guilty people, but he will have mercy on a remnant and deliver them. Similar ideas are repeated in ch. 13, but in a different form. A man comes from the midst of the sea. This is unlike Daniel (Daniel 7:3
; Daniel 7:13
), where the four beasts come up from the sea, but the ‘one like unto a son of man’ from the clouds. The Most High has kept him for a great season (Daniel 7:26
), another reference to pre-existence. Similarly later on we read, ‘Like as one can neither seek out nor know what is in the depths of the sea, even so can no man upon earth see my Son, or those that be with him, but in the time of his day’ (2 Esdras 13:52
). He exists, but hidden till the time when God will reveal him. When he comes and is revealed, ‘it will be as a man ascending.’ ‘When all the nations hear his voice’ they will draw together to fight against him. But he will stand on the top of Mount Zion, and there he will taunt the nations to their face and destroy them without any effort on his part, the instrument of destruction being the Law, which is compared to fire. Then in addition to the saved remnant of the Jews already referred to, the lost ten tribes will be brought back from their exile beyond the Euphrates, whither they had gone by a miraculous passage through the river, and whence they will return by a similar miraculous staying of ‘the springs of the river’ again. Thus we have the idea of a restoration of all Israel under the Messiah, but with no further extension of the happy future so as to include other nations, as in the Christian Apocalyptic conceptions; on the contrary, those nations will be humiliated and chagrined at the spectacle of the glorification of the former victims of their oppression. On the whole we must conclude with Paul Volz (Jüdische Eschatologic, p. 202) that 2 Ezra adopts the traditional hope of the Messiah, but does not see in it the chief ground of assurance for the future. He is hailed as God’s son, but he appears to have only a temporary existence. He does not bring deliverance from sin; nor is he to come for judgment. His death is the end of his mission.
ii. The Doctrine of Wisdom.—Unlike the Prophetic and Apocalyptic literature which confessedly anticipated a great future, and so furnished a hope which Christianity subsequently claimed to fulfil, the Hebrew Wisdom writings profess to give absolute truth, and betray no consciousness of further developments. Nevertheless the Church was quick to seize on them as teaching the essential Divinity of Christ. The historical method of more recent times sees in them the germs of ideas on this subject which were subsequently developed by Christian theologians of the Alexandrian school. For the doctrine of Wisdom in the OT see DB
, art. ‘Wisdom.’ That doctrine in the Apocrypha is in direct succession from the Hokhmah teaching of Proverbs.
1. Sirach.—In the Palestinian school represented by Sirach it is difficult to see much, if any, advance on Proverbs. The idea of Wisdom itself is essentially the same, and the gnomic form of writing continues an identity of method.
(a) Literary Form.—There is no attempt at metaphysical analysis or philosophical argumentation. This Jewish philosophy is not elucidated by reasoning, or based on logical grounds. It is regarded as intuitive in origin and the treatment of it is didactic. Thus we have nothing like a philosophical or ethical treatise. Much of the writing is directly hortatory, and where the third person is used we have descriptions and reflections, accounts of the nature and function of wisdom, and illustrations of its operations in life and history.
(b) Unity of Wisdom.—In Sirach, as in Pr., Wisdom is described from two points of view: as found in God and His administration of the world, and as attainable by man in his own character and life. But it is not that God’s wisdom is merely the model or the source of our wisdom. Wisdom throughout, though seen in such different relations, is taken as essentially one entity. It is wisdom, absolute wisdom, that God uses in the administration of the universe, and that man also is exhorted to pursue. This realism in dealing with an abstract notion is the first step towards personification.
(c) Personification.—As in Proverbs, wisdom is here personified. Wisdom is supposed to act. e.g. ‘How exceeding harsh is she to the unlearned’ (Sirach 6:20
). In a fine passage she celebrates her own praises, glorying in the midst of her people, saying—
‘I came forth from the mouth of the Most High,
And covered the earth as a mist.
I dwelt in high places,
And my throne is in the pillar of the cloud’ (Sirach 24:3-4
and, further, after a rich description of the scenes of nature that she influences—
‘In three things I was beautified,
And stood up beautiful before the Lord and men,’ etc. (Sirach 25:1
But there is nothing in this personification beyond a free use of the Oriental imagination. No doubt to this vivid imagination such writing presents wisdom as in some way a concrete entity, and more, as a gracious, queenly presence. But all along there are expressions which admit the imaginary character of the whole picture. For instance, the opening passage, describing how Wisdom stood up in the congregation of the Most High to celebrate her own praises, would lose all its force of appeal if it were taken in prosaic literalness. It is just because this is no actual person posing for admiration, but a truth set forth before us, that the whole picture appears to be sublime, and serves its purpose in leading to a high appreciation of wisdom. Then wisdom is identified with understanding: ‘Whoso is wise, cleave thou unto him’ (Sirach 6:34
) … ‘If thou seest a man of understanding, get thee betimes unto him’ (Sirach 6:36
). Thus cultivation of friendship with a man of wisdom or understanding is part of the pursuit of wisdom itself. Even Philo’s much more explicit personification of the Logos does not mean that he held the Logos to be an actual person in our sense of the term. Here all we can say of the subject is that the allegorizing is very vivid, so vivid as to be on the verge of the mythopœic, but still in the original intention of the writer not meant to be more than the glorification of a great quality found primarily in God, impressed on nature, and commended to mankind as a highly desirable attainment.
The difficulty of the question lies in the fact that the Oriental mind would not clearly face this question of personality. The imagination would so vividly realize the allegorical picture that the idea would seem to assume form and body, condensing to an apparently concrete and even personal presence, so that it would be regarded for the time being as a person, and yet in the course of the meditation this would melt again into an abstraction, and in the less imaginative passages be regarded in its original character purely as a mode of thought or action. To apply to the product of such a process the logic of the West, or to attempt to bring it into harmony, say, with Locke’s theory of ideas, is unreasonable. The atmosphere does not allow of so hard a definition of personality as that which may be either affirmed or denied.
(d) Source.—Wisdom originates in God. She came forth from the mouth of the Most High’ (Sirach 24:3
). ‘Wisdom was created together with the faithful in the womb’ (Sirach 1:14
). She exclaims, ‘He created me from the beginning, before the world’ (Sirach 24:9
). As with Proverbs 8:22,
the Arian controversy has given a factitions importance to this sentence. Wisdom is identified with Christ; and thus the Arian doctrine that Christ is a creature, that He was created, not begotten by God and not eternal, appears to have clear support. It is probable that Sirach is dependent on Proverbs, and the rendering of LXX Septuagint (ἔκτισε) is doubtful.*
But the much debated point is of little real importance; indeed, it is of no value till we grant that Wisdom in Proverbs and Sirach is (1) personal, and (2) identical with Christ. The denial of (1) in the previous paragraph carries with it the exclusion of (2). Nevertheless, apart from the Arian conception, we still have the idea of the creation of wisdom to account for. This, however, is but a consequence of the allegorical personification in conjunction with the thought that wisdom proceeds from God. That has a twofold signification, corresponding to the two aspects of wisdom. First, God is the source of His own wisdom. He has not to learn; all His plans and purposes spring from His own mind. Secondly, mankind learns wisdom from God; it is His gift to His children. Wisdom is with all flesh according to God’s ‘gift’ (Sirach 1:10
(e) Characteristics.—There is an intellectual element in wisdom, which is the highest exercise of the mind. The opposite of wisdom is folly, a stupid and brutish thing. The Divine side of wisdom most clearly exhibits this character. Wisdom created by God is with God, and therefore is seen in His presence and works. Nevertheless, Sirach makes very little reference to the manifestation of wisdom in Nature or Providence. The whole stress is on this Divine gift as an object of aspiration for mankind. Wisdom is seen as the best of all human possessions. The sublimity of wisdom is set forth in order to fire the enthusiasm of men to have their lives enriched with the Divine grace. This is just the same as in Proverbs. So also are two further characteristics of Hebrew wisdom. First, it is moral. It is concerned with the practical reason, not the speculative. Its realm is ethics, not metaphysics. It is not a philosophy for solving the riddle of the universe; it is a guide to conduct. The ethics is not discussed theoretically; there is no theory of ethics. The aim of the book is practical, and the treatment of wisdom is didactic and hortatory. Sirach even discourages speculation, in directing the attention solely to conduct—
‘Seek not things that are too hard for thee,
And search not out things that are above thy strength.
The things that have been commanded thee, think thereupon;
For thou hast no need of the things that are secret’ (Sirach 3:21-22
Second, it is religious. Wisdom here, as in Proverbs, is identified with the fear of the Lord. The way to attain wisdom is to keep the Law—
‘If thou desire wisdom, keep the commandments,
And the Lord shall give her unto thee freely’ (Sirach 1:26
Like Proverbs, Sirach contains a quantity of shrewd worldly wisdom, and it is eminently prudential in aim; but it is the better self that is considered, and the higher interests, rather than wealth and pleasure, that are studied. In this way the whole book is concerned with the exposition of the nature and merits of wisdom.
2. Baruch.—The eloquent celebration of the praises of wisdom in this book, which probably dates from the 1st cent. a.d. (see DB
, art. ‘Baruch’), is on similar lines to Sirach. Wisdom is like choice treasure, to be sought out from far. But since she is above the clouds or beyond the sea, no man can be expected to reach so far. There is only One who can do this. ‘He that knoweth all things knoweth her’ (Baruch 3:32
). Here the idea is different from that of Sirach. Wisdom is not created by God, but is found by Him, as though an independent pre-existence—‘He found her out with His understanding’ (ib.). But the personification is thinner and more pallid than in Sirach. There is no real dualism. The language is little more than a metaphorical expression of the idea that God has the wisdom which is above human reach. Still it goes on into a sort of myth, for Wisdom thus discovered by God hidden in some remote region afterwards appears on earth and becomes conversant with men (Baruch 3:37
). Here we have a curious parallel to the Johannine conception of the Word originally with God and then becoming incarnate and dwelling with men. But Baruch has no conception of incarnation, and the idea has no place in the Hebrew personification of wisdom.
(a) The nature of Wisdom.—Although, as an Alexandrian work in touch with Greek philosophy, the Bk. of Wisdom carries the doctrine of Hokhmah a stage forward in the direction of Philo, it is essentially Jewish, and its idea of wisdom is fundamentally the same as that of Proverbs and Sirach, but with additions, some of which may be attributed to Hellenic influences. The essential Hebrew elements, however, remain. While a movement of intellect, wisdom is practical, moral, and religious. We are no more in the regions of metaphysics or even abstract ethical speculation than in the Palestinian literature. Thus we read—
‘For her true beginning is desire of discipline;
And the care for discipline is love of her’ (Wisdom of Solomon 6:17).
(b) Personification.—The personification of Wisdom, though still very shadowy, is a little more accentuated than in Sirach. Wisdom is described as ‘a spirit’ (Wisdom of Solomon 1:6), and as such seems to be identified with ‘the spirit of God’ (Wisdom of Solomon 1:7). In answer to Solomon’s prayer God gave him ‘a spirit of wisdom’ (Wisdom of Solomon 7:7). ‘She is a breath of the power of God’ (Wisdom of Solomon 7:25). She sits as God’s ‘assessor’ (Drummond) by His side on His throne (Wisdom of Solomon 9:4). When, however, various functions, such as Creation and Providence, seem to be ascribed to her, this cannot be as to a personal agent, because they are also ascribed to God (e.g. Wisdom of Solomon 9:1-2). It must be, therefore, that God is thought of as doing these things by means of His wisdom.
(c) Attributes.—A string of 21 attributes, in thoroughly Greek style, is ascribed to the spirit of Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon 7:22 ff.). Among other things, she is said to be ‘only begotten’ (μονογενές, the very word used of Christ in John 1:14
; John 1:18
; John 3:16
; John 3:18
and 1 John 4:9,
though Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 of Wisdom renders it here ‘alone in kind,’ having ‘sole born’ in the margin). Further, wisdom is described as ‘a clear effluence of the glory of the Almighty’ and an ‘effulgence (ἀπαύγασμα, whence Hebrews 1:3
) from everlasting light’ (Wisdom of Solomon 7:25-26). She is free from all defilement, beneficent, beautiful.
(d) Functions.—Divine functions are ascribed to Wisdom, since it is by His wisdom that God performs them. (1) Creation. She is ‘the artificer of all things’ (Wisdom of Solomon 7:22), ‘an artificer of the things that are’ (Wisdom of Solomon 8:6). (2) Providence. The function of wisdom in providence is much dwelt on. Wisdom is regarded as a sort of guardian angel watching over men and directing the course of history. Patriarchal history from Adam downward is described as thus under the charge of wisdom. (3) Revelation. The picture of Wisdom as the effulgence from everlasting light points to this. She is also described as ‘an unspotted mirror of the working of God, and an image (εἰκών, cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15
) of His goodness’ (Wisdom of Solomon 7:26); in attaining to wisdom we come to know the ways of God.
(e) Wisdom as a human acquisition.—While wisdom is described in its relation to God as coextensive with the infinite range of the Divine activities, it is also represented from another point of view as a treasure which mankind is invited to seek. The difficulty of acquiring wisdom suggested in Baruch is not found here. On the contrary, we read that—
‘Easily is she beheld of them that love her,
And found of them that seek her’ (Wisdom of Solomon 6:12).
Moreover, there is no limitation of Jewish exclusiveness in the privilege of enjoying this greatest of God’s gifts, ‘for wisdom is a spirit that loveth man’ (Wisdom of Solomon 1:6). When a little later we read that ‘the spirit of the Lord hath filled the world’ (τὴν οἰκουμένην, ‘the inhabited earth,’ (Revised Version margin)), the breadth of Hel