Most Bibles printed for use by Protestant Christians do not contain some books found in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles—books like Tobit, Judith, the Wisdom of Ben Sira, and the books of Maccabees. On the one hand, this is understandable since the Protestant Churches, following the lead both of Jewish practice and of the opinion of a minority of early Christian voices, have embraced a narrower Old Testament canon than more ancient Christian bodies. On the other hand, this was not the practice of the first generations of Protestant Reformers. They continued to translate and publish these disputed books in a special section between the testaments—and thus the collection Protestants call “the Apocrypha” was born.
Artifacts in Museum of the Bible’s collection showcase this practice. For example, the Luther Bible and the first edition of the King James Version of the Bible (along with subsequent printings) contained the Apocrypha. Martin Luther’s prefaces to this collection, as well as his prefaces to individual books of the Apocrypha, suggest that he generally held these books in high esteem and commended their value to the members of his fledgling denomination.
Dr. David deSilva’s speaker series will explore what the books of the Apocrypha contain, why their place in the canon has been a matter of dispute, what their influence has been upon Christian faith and practice, and what they have to offer all Christians who seek a richer understanding of the Judaism of the Second Temple period and the world of the early Christian movement.
Dr. David deSilva
David deSilva is Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. He has written more than 30 books, including Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture, Discovering Revelation, Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance, An Introduction to the New Testament, The Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude: What Earliest Christianity Learned from the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, Day of Atonement: A Novel of the Maccabean Revolt, and commentaries on Galatians, Ephesians, Hebrews, and 4 Maccabees. He also contributes frequently to journals, reference books, church curricula, and study Bibles. He holds ordination in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and has also served congregations as an organist and choir director since 1985. He is married to Donna Jean deSilva, and they have three adult sons.