1 and 2 Esdras, 3 and 4 Maccabees


I own the Oxford Annotated Bible w/ Apocrypha and was curious to the section of books included in the appendix of the Vulgate such a 1 and 2 Esdras, and canonical in Orthodox churches, along with 3 and 4 Maccabees which is also canonical, the latter not as much, however after reading these, along with the Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151, I can’t say anything but that these books are also very inspiring. I am not sure why the Roman Catholic church views them as Apocrypha seeing as they also were in the Greek Septuagint which the Vulgate was translated from, but I have heard it was because St. Jerome translated a copy which had these books missing. I actually really enjoyed them, especially 2 Esdras which actually reminded me very much of Revelation. I would recommend these books, even though not canon in the Catholic church to some very good lessons and stories regarding the period just prior to Christ like 1 and 2 Maccabees.


You have a protestant bible. St Jerome’s Vulgate included these texts - I happen to have a copy of this translation - a baptismal gift from my sponsors. :slight_smile:
St Jerome did however make note of texts that were not translated from the Hebrew and called those apocryphal as he did not have any Hebrew manuscripts from which to validate there use by the Hebrews. (( Link to an online Latin Vulgate - mind you, this is one of several sites I use when researching scripture. :slight_smile: ))

The Apocrypha are books removed from the main text (and for a very long time, actually included as an appendix in their translations as the rule, only more recently have they been removed to their own book) by our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ for various reasons. A point in fact, the KJ bible contained these texts for
Please read thru the following:

You might start with this tract first: The Old Testament Canon
During the Reformation, primarily for doctrinal reasons, Protestants removed seven books from the Old Testament: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach, Wisdom, Baruch, Tobit, and Judith, and parts of two others, Daniel and Esther. They did so even though these books had been regarded as canonical since the beginning of Church history.

As Protestant church historian J. N. D. Kelly writes, “It should be observed that the Old Testament thus admitted as authoritative in the Church was somewhat bulkier and more comprehensive [than the Protestant Bible]. . . . It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called apocrypha or deuterocanonical books” (Early Christian Doctrines, 53), which are rejected by Protestants. (read more)


Sorry, ment to say
"DO you have a … "
Didn’t notice the omission until after the edit time had expired… :blush:


A few things.

(1) When talking about the Greek ‘Septuagint’ (I won’t go to the various nuances of that term here), it’s really best not to talk of canon.

The Greek translations that make up the ‘Septuagint’ were originally really separate translations made at different times and places by different people. Heck, properly speaking, the term ‘Septuagint’ would really only apply to the Greek translation of the Torah/Pentateuch (if we’re going by the original version of the legend of the seventy-two translators). It’s pretty much the fault of the early Christians that the term ‘Septuagint’ (which was actually their invention) got extended to mean ‘the Old Testament in Greek’ in general.

In other words: the canon of books you see in old manuscripts and codices, those are really made by those who compiled said manuscripts (i.e. early Christians). At the time, the canon was still loose, which is why people could insert more books that others wouldn’t really include (3 and 4 Maccabees would come under this category).

(2) The Vulgate was not translated from the Greek. St. Jerome did translate the Greek version of the Psalms and the extra bits of Daniel and Esther that are not in Hebrew, but the rest of his translations of the Old Testament were really made from the Hebrew, and in the case of Tobit and Judith, late Aramaic versions of those works.

Jerome didn’t translate all of the OT books; he really only translated the 39 protocanonical books plus Tobit and Judith. The rest of the Old Testament were actually translations that were made before Jerome, the so-called Vetus Latina versions. They were only added to Jerome’s Latin translations to complete the set. In fact, the only books we can be sure Jerome worked on were the protocanonical books and Tobit-Judith for the OT (we know that because he wrote prologues for them), plus the gospels for the NT. The other books are either Vetus Latina versions or revised versions of those translations.

Here’s the key thing to remember: St. Jerome was not out to make a translation of the whole Bible, certainly not an ‘official’ translation. Pope Damasus only ordered Jerome to revise the translation of the gospels and Psalms used in Rome, and his OT translations (made after Damasus died) was a separate, private project made at the request of various friends. IMHO it’s pretty much only due to the accidents of history that his translations and revisions (at this point gathered in a single collection and supplemented with the books Jerome never worked on) became the de facto standard.

(3) Re. 1 and 2 Esdras:

Greek 1 and 2 Esdras = Greek 1 Esdras is a pastiche of Ezra-Nehemiah and some original material (some of which comes from 2 Chronicles); Greek 2 Esdras, on the other hand, is a mechanical translation of Ezra-Nehemiah.

Latin 1 and 2 Esdras = Just an alternate name for Ezra and Nehemiah, respectively. (They are called 1 and 2 Esdras probably because in Hebrew, Ezra-Nehemiah is treated as a single book.) Meanwhile, Greek 1 Esdras is the Latin 3 Esdras. (There is also a 4 Esdras - aka Latin Ezra - by the way; a Christianized 1st-century Jewish apocalyptic work that only survived in Latin. This book became called ‘2 Esdras’ in English Bibles under the influence of the KJV, I think.)

In other words:

Ezra-Nehemiah = Greek 2 Esdras
Greek 1 Esdras = Latin 3 Esdras
Latin 4 Esdras (Latin Ezra) = English (KJV) 2 Esdras


The major reason why some books are Catholic canon and some aren’t, is that some books got read at Mass a lot and some didn’t.

So presumably, there was more liturgical use out East of these other books, possibly because they just spoke more to those folks.

Interestingly, there wasn’t much Eastern use of the Book of Revelation, and only a lot of Western support kept the book canon throughout the Christian world. Later, there were some important Eastern commentators and things warmed up a bit for the poor thing.


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