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Introducing the Apocrypha, 2nd Edition

Message, Context, and Significance

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This comprehensive, up-to-date introduction to the Old Testament apocryphal books summarizes their context, message, and significance. It is the most substantial introduction to the Apocrypha available and has become a standard authority on the topic. The new edition has been substantially revised and updated throughout to reflect the latest scholarship.

Foreword by James H. Charlesworth
Preface to the Second Edition
Preface to the First Edition
1. Introduction: The Value of the Apocrypha
2. Historical Context: "The Yoke of the Gentiles"
3. Tobit: "Better Is Almsgiving with Justice"
4. Judith: "Hear Me Also, a Widow"
5. Greek Esther: "The Aid of the All-Seeing God and Savior"
6. Wisdom of Solomon: "The Righteous Live Forever"
7. Wisdom of Ben Sira: "In All Wisdom There Is the Doing of Torah"
8. Baruch: "Return with Tenfold Zeal to Seek God"
9. Letter of Jeremiah: "They Are Not Gods, So Do Not Fear Them"
10. Additions to Daniel: "Let Them Know That You Alone Are God"
11. 1 Maccabees: "The Family through Which Deliverance Was Given"
12. 2 Maccabees: "There Is Some Power of God about the Place"
13. 1 Esdras: "Leave to Us a Root and a Name"
14. Prayer of Manasseh: "The God of Those Who Repent"
15. Psalm 151: "He Made Me Shepherd of His Flock"
16. 3 Maccabees: "Blessed Be the Deliverer of Israel!"
17. 2 Esdras: "The Mighty One Has Not Forgotten"
18. 4 Maccabees: "Noble Is the Contest"


"David deSilva's Introducing the Apocrypha remains the best book in the field. These important writings are placed in full context--historically, religiously, and literarily. Again and again deSilva shows how the books of the Apocrypha clarify important themes and traditions in the teaching of Jesus and in the literature of the early church. The revised edition is rich with insight and will serve well a new generation of students and scholars."

Craig A. Evans, John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins, Houston Baptist University

"David deSilva offers a readable and competent introduction to these complex and neglected writings. This is the best one-volume introduction to the apocryphal, or deuterocanonical, books currently available in English."

Jeremy Corley, lecturer in Sacred Scripture, St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, Ireland

"For most Christians today the Apocrypha remain a marginal curiosity or object of suspicion. Informed by burgeoning scholarship in the study of early Judaism, the second edition of Introducing the Apocrypha reveals these books as vibrant witnesses to streams of thought, tradition, and faith that formed a theological and cultural matrix for the earliest church. Throughout, deSilva's fine introduction balances nuance and precision with clarity and accessibility."

Anathea Portier-Young, associate professor of Old Testament, Duke Divinity School

Praise for the First Edition

"David deSilva has written an excellent introduction to the Apocrypha that is fully informed by contemporary scholarship and written in a style that is readable and accessible to laity and beginning students. Introduction to the Apocrypha also provides a substantial discussion of the content of these books and a better indication of their literary character than one usually finds in an introductory textbook. It can be recommended without reservation for students at all levels."

John J. Collins, Yale University Divinity School

"This is certainly the best introduction to the Old Testament Apocrypha."

James H. Charlesworth, Princeton Theological Seminary

"It is still customary in some quarters of the church to assume that not much happened between the time the last portion of the Old Testament was written and the first events of the New Testament era began. This in fact is not true, and indeed anyone who reads David deSilva's fine introduction to the Old Testament Apocrypha will realize that the period was a fertile one for Jewish writers dealing with issues ranging from theodicy to justice to wisdom. DeSilva does a fine job in fluid prose of introducing Christian readers to these books and helping them understand the context from which the Judaism of Jesus' day (and his followers') arose. Highly recommended."

Ben Witherington III, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

"David deSilva has given us a superb introduction to writings that most Protestant Christians, to their impoverishment, know very little about. He shows that many of these Jewish writings were used by New Testament authors and that they are in themselves informative, valuable, and edifying for Christian readers. Because of its thoroughness and the quality of its scholarship, this book is destined to become and remain the standard introduction to the Apocrypha for many years to come."

Donald A. Hagner, Fuller Theological Seminary

"David deSilva's Introducing the Apocrypha effectively fills a serious gap in introductions to the Bible. This book, which will be appreciated by Christians of every stripe, will be especially helpful for evangelicals who are not familiar with the books that make up the Old Testament Apocrypha. Each chapter succinctly assesses the major issues and themes of a given book, concluding with observations of how it influenced the New Testament and the church down through the centuries. I recommend it enthusiastically!"

Craig A. Evans, John Bisagno Distinguished Professor of Christian Origins and dean of the School of Christian Thought, Houston Baptist University

"The writings of the Apocrypha, like the rest of the literature of Second Temple Judaism, have been the object of intense study by scholars over the last few decades but are largely ignored by non-specialists. It is to the great credit of David deSilva that he has succeeded in providing a very readable companion to the Apocrypha in which he not only introduces these writings and presents the results of scholarly study of them, but also shows what is their value and why they still deserve to be studied."

Michael A. Knibb, King's College, University of London

The Author

  1. David A. deSilva

    David A. deSilva

    David A. deSilva (PhD, Emory University) is Trustees' Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including An Introduction to the New Testament:...

    Continue reading about David A. deSilva


Praise for the First Edition

"This roundup of current scholarship by deSilva is thorough and effective, and his appreciation of the texts is palpable."

Library Journal

"DeSilva does a fine job of placing the Apocrypha within the historical context of the Jewish world in which early Christianity was forged."

Publishers Weekly

"A thorough and thoughtful introductory book to the deuterocanonical/apocryphal writings, offered in a winsome style. . . . A book that is 'useful' but goes beyond utility to embrace the imagination of even a general reader, without wearying those with more background. It will be useful especially in a Christian college or seminary setting but will no doubt make its mark beyond these places."

Edith M. Humphrey,

Review of Biblical Literature

"This volume is perhaps the most helpful, up-to-date guide to the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books currently available in English. It will be particularly useful to NT scholars who are seeking the illumination of the background to the NT provided by these writings. I recommend this work for every biblical library."

Jeremy Corley,

Catholic Biblical Quarterly

"An excellent introduction. . . . This volume can be used as a textbook for advanced students and as a reference work in libraries."

Daniel J. Harrington, SJ,

Theological Studies

"This volume is a very fine introduction to the Apocrypha! Beautifully produced."

Kristin De Troyer,

Religious Studies Review

"A sophisticated thinker and writer, deSilva does not minimize the complexities of writing history in the twenty-first century. He offers the 'broad contours' of the history of the period and refers readers to an excellent bibliography. . . . Introducing the Apocrypha is eminently readable, well-informed and serious but not stodgy. It offers a breath of fresh air for some of our stale, non-productive ways of understanding both Jewish life and faith and the early church. The book would be useful for personal study, for help in doing a study of the Apocrypha, and for deepening one's respect and patience in the face of ambiguous, provocative questions of belief and witness that have engaged God's people over the millennia."

Sarah Henrich,

Word & World

"A very comprehensive introduction to the books of the Apocrypha. . . . The work is written throughout in a lucid style and one of its features is that even the most elementary terms are explained so that the beginning student could easily cope with it. At the same time, the practiced professional can derive much from its comprehensiveness and the individual judgments of its author. Highly recommended."

J. T. Williams,

Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

"[DeSilva's] work, in a very positive sense, is in keeping with and thereby complements the ecumenical spirit of the NRSV committee. . . . Christians who want to understand the world into which God sent his Son need to read the apocrypha. DeSilva's book helps provide additional insight into these extremely significant Second Temple works. . . . It is without hesitation that deSilva's book should be incorporated as a textbook to be read along with the reading of the OT apocrypha."

Herbert W. Batemen,

Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

"The last two decades have seen a revival of interest in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. . . . This explains why so many new introductions to this corpus of writings, canonical for both Orthodox and Catholics, have been produced in recent years. Some of these introductions are of very high value, such as this one by David deSilva, probably the best published thus far, surely by far the most complete. . . . The reader finds all the information needed to understand these ancient books and their value and to have an idea of the advancement of the debate among the scholars. . . . [This volume] is valuable for everyone interested in deepening his or her reading and study of the Apocrypha. The book's pleasant style makes it inviting and accessible to everyone."

Eric Noffke,

Review of Biblical Literature

"Insightful, well written, and conversant with the relevant scholarship. . . . DeSilva is still a fairly young scholar, yet this book contains the kind of balance, erudition, and wise conclusions usually found only in the works of older scholars. . . . This book covers important material in a very readable and competent manner. It is also quite reasonably priced. It deserves to have a long and lasting life in the study of the church and Israel."

B. Paul Wolfe,

Bulletin for Biblical Research

"This is no mere sketchy introduction, but offers substantial information on each of the books covered. . . . DeSilva covers the main contours of scholarly debate on each book admirably. . . . As is necessary in this kind of book, deSilva eschews eccentric positions, and, as such, it will serve as an excellent introduction for research students and scholars making an initial foray into the study of a particular book. It is not only an excellent introduction specifically to the apocryphal books, but a very good example of the genre."

Simon Gathercole,

Journal for the Study of the New Testament

"One of the advantages that [deSilva's] volume has over others of its kind is its sheer length and detail. Most introductions to the apocryphal writings are brief and concentrate on basic facts such as authorship, language, transmission, an outline of contents and pertinent historical details. For most of the books that he treats, deSilva expands the categories of discussion to include not only those above, often treated in more detail, but also an assessment of major themes and ideas, the influence of these books upon later theological developments and topics pertinent to the particular book discussed. He also includes references to secondary literature. In many ways, deSilva has created a compendium of the latest state of research and knowledge for each of these books. . . . This volume is a very good introduction for beginners."

Stanley E. Porter,

Toronto Journal of Theology

"An important contribution . . . . If one were to own but a single volume on this subject, deSilva's is certainly the better choice. This is a significant and accessible resource enabling the student or scholar to make informed use of these valuable books for NT exegesis."

Daniel M. Gurtner,

Trinity Journal

"Clearly written by an author who knows his material and wants his readers to be as excited as he is. Excellent bibliographic aids. Useful both for a parish library and for the pastor, it is a good book that is welcome."

Edgar Krentz,

Currents in Theology and Mission

"If you only have one book on the Apocrypha, this is the one to have. This work contains not only introductory materials to the Apocrypha but it also serves as an excellent commentary. Fully informed by contemporary scholarship, the author provides an engaging presentation of the content. It is suggested that the reader proceed with Dr. deSilva's book in one hand and a copy of the Apocrypha in the other. That is the best way to get the most out of this informative, valuable and edifying material. . . . No wonder others are saying, 'This book is destined to become and remain the standard introduction to the Apocrypha for many years to come.'"

Richard E. Allison,

Ashland Theological Journal

"[An] excellent new book. . . . deSilva's work stands unsurpassed, without any equal. . . . Throughout the book, he displays an excellent knowledge of modern scholarship. Thus his work not only introduces these texts but goes a long way toward our better understanding them. Introducing the Apocrypha is best seen as a persuasive invitation to read, reread, and study these books."

Hans-Josef Klauck,

Journal of Religion

"While numerous books have been written about apocryphal/deuterocanonical literature over the last century, not many have been able to appeal to both the scholar and layperson alike. With the publication of this volume deSilva has successfully bridged that gap. . . . This is an excellent introduction to the material and conceivably will become a standard textbook as well as a valuable reference tool. Those who have never read the Apocrypha, or have read it but remain tentative in their conclusions, will find deSilva a more than competent guide. The presentation is decidedly non-technical but not at the expense of substance. It is obvious that deSilva wants to remove as many obstacles as possible for those he has invited to read the Apocrypha. Those who respond to the invitation will find the volume a handy companion when actually reading the Apocrypha. Highly recommended."

John Byron,


"Those cultured oft-despisers of the Apocrypha, evangelical Protestants, are the target audience of this introductory text. David deSilva's careful and clearly written exposition of these texts should help this group appreciate the Apocrypha. Beyond that, it can assist Christians, especially Protestants predisposed in these texts' favor, to achieve a fuller understanding of them. . . . The book succeeds in producing a set of studies which is almost entirely free of jargon, and a challenging yet accessible introduction. Moreover, this work stands as an encouragement for ministers and educators to delve into these neglected texts in congregations."

Don Polaski,


"A valuable overview of the Apocrypha that is certain to become a standard text. . . . Introducing the Apocrypha is a fine book."

Robin Gallaher Branch,

Old Testament Essays

"deSilva has produced an excellent overview of the Apocrypha which serves to dispel some of the mystery of the books while at the same time encouraging further study. . . . It is the best [of several similar introductions to the Apocrypha] in terms of detail and interaction with the broad spectrum of scholarly literature and a worthy successor to Bruce Metzger's Introduction. . . . Since the author includes a mini-theology for each book, there is far more value than typically expected in an introductory text."

Phillip J. Long,

Trinity Journal

"deSilva has made the latest (and one of the greatest) contributions to uncovering the apocrypha and aiding both the general reader and the seasoned scholar in understanding the message, context, and significance of these writings. . . . Throughout these thoroughly enjoyable and informative pages, deSilva has given compelling evidence for [the apocryphal writings'] influence on the New Testament and early Christianity. Even the thankless details of deSilva's author, subject, and scripture indexes are much less idiosyncratic and incomplete than in most books of its kind. . . . He has certainly made his mark with Introducing the Apocrypha. . . . He is the model scholar--one that my own Ancient Near Eastern graduate students could emulate. I recommend this book wholeheartedly, not just for the faith-promoting content but as an example of fine scholarship and writing."

Gary P. Gillum,

Journal of Religious & Theological Information

"Students will enjoy mining each work of the Apocrypha through the eyes of deSilva in this very readable book. . . . DeSilva's bibliography is . . . extensive. . . . If one has the time and desires an entertaining read in the subject of the Apocrypha, deSilva is the choice."

Mark Edge,

Restoration Quarterly