Friday, 2/7/20 – Friday Tough Question

“Pseudipig–” what?

photo of a person kneeling in front of book

“How important are the writings from Jewish tradition? Such as 1 Enoch should we steer clear or read with knowing that only scripture has ultimate authority?”

I’ll have to back up and start running toward this question in order to set it in a context that will help with understanding.

gray concrete post tunnel

It was not until some 30 to 60 years after the resurrection of Christ that the first apostles began to write. Their gospels and epistles circulated amongst the early churches and served as a basis for testimony and teaching. There were many such writings circulating about at this time… including many spurious writings by shysters or persons pretending to be one of the Apostles… Early “fake news,” or “spam” if you like. (Such is fallen human nature!)

To deal with the confusion it eventually became necessary to create a biblical Canon, a grouping of writings recognized as genuine….inspired by God. But how was this determination to be made? Key questions were considered:

  • Was the document written by a known apostle or prophet?

  • Was the document quoted or referenced by Christ as authentic?

  • Did the teaching of the document agree with previously canonized writings?… etc.

silhouette photo of person standing in cave

Finally after much discussion, research, and debate the current 66 book Canon was agreed upon. (39 books of the Old Testament, 27 books of the New Testament).

Writings that did not meet the requirements of the canon fell into one of two groupings: Apocryphal writings, and Pseudipigraphal writings.

The 14 Apocryphal books* that you may find inserted between the Testaments in some Bibles are historical records of the 400 year period between the Old and New Testaments. They are fine historical records, but not deemed inspired. Martin Luther’s translation of 1534 was the first widely-used Bible to include these apocryphal books.

man wearing black crew neck shirt reading book

The Pseudipigraphal writings are those which are most questionable. Some of these more spurious writings include the Gospel of Thomas, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Epistle of Barnabas. In such pseudo-gospels you will find stories such as Jesus making birds out of clay for fun as a boy, and a Jesus who is totally out of character with the Jesus portrayed in the canonical Gospels. Though I tend to shy away from Wikipedia as a resource the highlighted link below** may be of interest.

Pseudipigraphal writings, which include the three books of Enoch mentioned above, should always be approached great caution– if approached at all –and only by a mature believer firmly established in the Truth of Scripture. So today’s questioner has rightly presumed their own answer: “…steer clear or read with knowing that only scripture has ultimate authority.”

Press on…

*The 14 Apocryphal books: 1 Esdras (Vulgate 3 Esdras), 2 Esdras (Vulgate 4 Esdras), Tobit, Judith (“Judeth” in Geneva), Rest of Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4 – 16:24), Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (also known as Sirach), Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy (“Jeremiah” in Geneva) (all part of Vulgate Baruch), Song of the Three Children (Vulgate Daniel 3:24–90), Story of Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13), The Idol Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14), Prayer of Manasseh (Daniel), 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees
**Link here to Wickipedia list of O.T. Pseudipigraphal writings

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

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