Righteous Revolt: Bonusode on Books

A look inside some of our favorite books for studying the so-called Apocrypha. Plus: How did ancient Jews access the Torah?

Today we decided to take a step back from 1 Maccabees and look more generally at some of the books we’ve consulted to learn more about the bad books of the Bible. You can listen at Ancient Faith Radio or wherever you get your podcasts. We hope you enjoy the conversation. And if you want to dig into these books yourself, here’s a list.


Introductory Books

Theron Mathis, The Rest of the Bible: The Guide to the Old Testament of the Early Church (Conciliar, 2011). Introduces the books Athanasius referred to the readables from an Orthodox perspective.

Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (Oxford University Press, 1977). Presents the classic Protestant view.

Daniel J. Harrington, Invitation to the Apocrypha (Eerdmans, 1999). Roman Catholic perspective with a valuable emphasis on the theme of suffering.

David A. deSilva, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance, 2nd ed. (Baker Academic, 2018). In-depth treatment, including books sometimes left out of introductory books such as 3 and 4 Maccabees.


The Bible is full of weird and wonderful books. Unfortunately, some of the most weird and wonderful—the so-called Apocrypha—get a bad rap today. First written then later rejected by Jews, preserved then abandoned by (at least some) Christians, the ‘bad’ books are the Rodney Dangerfield of the Bible: No respect. “Bad” Books of the Bible introduces these books, discusses their content and history, and explains their value to contemporary readers.


Background Books

Shaye J. D. Cohen, From the Maccabees to the Mishnah, 3rd ed. (Westminster John Knox, 2014). Considered an essential introduction to ancient Judaism, starting with the Maccabean period.

Gerbern S. Oegema, ed., The Oxford Handbook of the Apocrypha (Oxford University Press, 2021). Collection of essays on the biblical books themselves, along with additional essays on the literary, historical, and social background of the books.

Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity (IVP Academic, 2008).

Bible Study Aids

James D. G. Dunn and John W. Rogerson, eds., Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (Eerdmans, 2003). One of the few full-Bible, single-volume commentaries that treats the so-called apocrypha.

Edward A. Engelbrecht, ed., The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition With Notes (Concordia, 2012). ESV translation of the deuterocanon with notes from a Lutheran perspective.

Daniel J. Harrington, First and Second Maccabees (Liturgical, 2012). An NAB translation of 1 and 2 Maccabees with Harrington’s running commentary.

Jonathan Klawans and Lawrence M. Wills, eds., The Jewish Annotated Apocrypha (Oxford University Press, 2020). NRSV translation of the Apocrypha, plus additional books like Jubilees and extensive contextual essays.

Honorable Mentions

Maristella Botticini and Zvi Epstein, The Chosen Few: How Education Shaped Jewish History, 70–1492 (Princeton University Press, 2014). Partially informed our discussions in the episode on ancient literacy.

David A. deSilva, The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude: What Earliest Christianity Learned from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (Oxford, 2012). Provides a background of religious education in first century Palestine while examining the connection between books like Tobit and Enoch on New Testament teachings.


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