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Friday, September 16, 2011

The Apocrypha and Other "Missing" Scriptures

Dear Bro Jo,

I know you usually don't take this kind of question, but I'm really curious and just feel like you're the person I should ask.

I was reading through the Bible Dictionary and found the part about the "Apocrypha." I was wondering if you could tell me what exactly it is, since I didn't get a good description of it from the BD.

It basically just said it was a book (partially?) revealed in D&C 91. Have you heard anything about it?

Do we have it, or is it lost like parts of the Book of Mormon?

- Curious

Dear Curious,

Great question as Seminary this year is covering the Old Testament!

"Apocrypha" is a term applied to several different texts in any of several combination, more a collection of works (like the Bible) than an individual text. Typically these works cover a period of time between Malachi and the New Testament. Over the centuries there's been some debate as to their authenticity and validity as "scripture", but to be honest, that can be said of other parts of the OT as well (such as the "Song of Solomon"). These books aren't missing, per se; they still exist and can be found in older (think 1600's) versions of the scriptures and as separate texts on their own (you can buy them at Amazon).

Wikipedia actually has a pretty good explanation, discussion of the history of the term, and lists of the texts located therein (click HERE).

You may also want to research the Septuagint, which is also mentioned in your Bible Dictionary. Of interest, I think, is that the Books of the Maccabees (1 and 2) are often included in one or the other, the Septuagint or the Apocrypha, depending on which religion is considering them. Its from the Maccabees that we get Hanukkah.

I personally don't see anything wrong with reading uplifting and inspirational texts in addition to canonized scripture, but the more I've researched and read the more I have a Testimony of the statement made that a person can grow closer unto God by reading the Book of Mormon than by any other text.

The Apocrypha and other potentially sacred texts (if you search you can find several lists, not surprisingly some are better than others), and things such as The Dead Sea Scrolls, may indeed have great Spiritual value, but I think we're better off spending our time understanding basic truths (like what it feels like to feel the Spirit and the meaning and purpose of the Atonement in our individual lives) than digging through spiritual minutia. Plus, the truth is, a lot of that stuff gets pretty muddled and contradictory, which is another reason why modern day prophetic revelation is so important.

Hope that helps. Keep up your Gospel studies!

- Bro Jo

1 comment:

Kayla said...

Thanks for answering this question so well, Bro Jo! I had heard of the Apocrypha at another time, and I was similarly curious about it. A concise LDS perspective was difficult to find, so thank you!