1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Prayer of Mannaseh question


#1

I’ve read that although the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize them as Inspired writings; they appear in an appendix to the Latin Vulgate. Is this true? And if so what does that mean for the churches view of these books? I believe 1 and 2 Esdras are 3 and 4 Esdras in the Vulgate as Ezra and Nehemiah are named 1 and 2 Esdras in it. Just was curious the history of the church and these writings and if being in an appendix to the Vulgate does that mean it has any status as being inspired writing in any way?


#2

They do appear in an appendix of the 1580s Latin Vulgate. I don’t think their presence in the appendix indicates inspiration. They are appended with a note stamped above them that says:

“in hoc loco [sunt], extra scilicet seriem Canonicorum Librorum…ne prorsus interirent, quippe qui a nonnulis sanctis Patribus interdum citantur, et in aliquibus Bibliis Latinis tam manuscriptis quam impressis retinentur.”

If my Latin is correct, a literal translation of that is:

“[They are] in this place, namely, after the series of Canonical Books…lest they utterly perish, since these by some holy Fathers indeed are cited, which also in some Latin Bibles and manuscripts are retained as printed.”

Notice that: they are placed After the Canonical Books, “lest they utterly perish.” I don’t think that indicates inspiration.

They also appear in an appendix of the 1582 Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible, which is translated from the Vulgate. Here is a link to the text as they printed it, if you’d like to see why the people of that time included these books in appendixes.


#3

Thanks! That’s very interesting. I’m going to have to research this. I wonder if the Council of Trent rejected these books yet reaffirmed the other Deutedocanonical books in the Catholic Bubble, yet because of their history being in Latin Bibles etc the Church decided to leave them as an appendix. The interesting thing though, is " lest they utterly perish". I can’t be sure but the Church wouldn’t have appended it if it viewed it as heretical or anything like that. I’d assume maybe it views it on the lines of, not Canon yet beneficial to read. I only knew this because I recently purchased the New Oxford Annotated Bible w Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, which actually not only includes books accepted by Catholics but also Orthodox, however on the top of the three mentioned books there is a note saying they appear in the Latin Vulgate Appendix; so I didn’t really know what that meant in regard to their status. I believe these three books are in the apocrypha of the original KJV Bible, not sure if they were ever included in the Douey Rheims or not. I’ve read them, 2 Esdras is actually a pretty interesting book. Reminds me a lot of Ezekiel and Revelation. I believe it’s also known as the apocalypse of Ezra. 1 Esdras is just a different version combination of Ezra and Nehemiah with one added story in it. Prayer of Mannaseh, beautiful prayer; not sure why it was rejected but I trust the Church authority on the Inspired books. Thanks for the answer though that’s great you know Latin and I’m assuming own a Latin Vulgate?


#4

You’re welcome! Glad it was helpful.

I’m going to have to research this. I wonder if the Council of Trent rejected these books yet reaffirmed the other Deutedocanonical books in the Catholic Bubble, yet because of their history being in Latin Bibles etc the Church decided to leave them as an appendix.

That’s what it sounds like…though the term “rejected” seems a bit strong. I don’t think the Church has ever said “These are bad books.” It didn’t name them in the Canon of Scripture, but I’m not sure if it’s fair to say we “rejected” them for that reason. It seems a bit strong.

The interesting thing though, is " lest they utterly perish". I can’t be sure but the Church wouldn’t have appended it if it viewed it as heretical or anything like that.

Yeah, I doubt there’s anything heretical in them. They existed before Catholicism; how could they be heretical in the Catholic sense, when that means a departure from Catholicism?

I’d assume maybe it views it on the lines of, not Canon yet beneficial to read.

That sounds about right. It’s perhaps quite similar to how Anglicans and Lutherans view our books. (i.e. Tobit, Judith, Maccabees, etc.)

I only knew this because I recently purchased the New Oxford Annotated Bible w Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, which actually not only includes books accepted by Catholics but also Orthodox, however on the top of the three mentioned books there is a note saying they appear in the Latin Vulgate Appendix; so I didn’t really know what that meant in regard to their status.

Yeah, they’re in there, with a note explaining at least a little bit of why they were put there…historical reasons and that curious phrase “lest they utterly perish.”

I believe these three books are in the apocrypha of the original KJV Bible, not sure if they were ever included in the Douey Rheims or not.

They were included in the 1582 Douay Rheims Bible in an appendix, though 1 and 2 Esdras are called 3 and 4 Esdras in the Douay Rheims Bible. The Prayer of Manasseh and 3 Esdras additionally each have a very short, single-paragraph preface which can be read here and here. I’ll transcribe it below:

“The prayer of Manasses, with the second and third Books of Esdras, extant in most Latin and vulgar Bibles, are here placed after all the Canonical books, of the Old Testament: because they are not received into the Canon of Divine Scriptures by the Catholic Church.”

And: “For help of the readers, especially such as have not leisure to read all, we have [summarized] the contents of the chapters [in the headings]; but made no Annotations: because the text itself is but as a Commentary to the Canonical books; and therefore we have only added [cross-references] of other Scriptures in the margin.”

It is noteworthy that they included these books “for help of the readers.” Obviously, they expected some Catholics to want to read them, and had no problem with that. In fact, they included cross-references to the “Canonical books,” indicating that they even thought some people might want to study these books. Cool!

I’ve read them, 2 Esdras is actually a pretty interesting book. Reminds me a lot of Ezekiel and Revelation.

Cool. :thumbsup: I just started reading the Douay Rheims Bible; sometime after I’m done, I’d like to read these books as well. (I have already read the Prayer of Manassah…it is very beautiful.)

I believe it’s also known as the apocalypse of Ezra. 1 Esdras is just a different version combination of Ezra and Nehemiah with one added story in it. Prayer of Mannaseh, beautiful prayer; not sure why it was rejected but I trust the Church authority on the Inspired books.

It’s fine to read and pray the prayer. “Not inspired” does not mean “Bad and heretical.” None of the saints’ writings are inspired, but they are still good. I assume the same thing is true of the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras.

Thanks for the answer though that’s great you know Latin and I’m assuming own a Latin Vulgate?

My parents own a Latin vulgate, and if I ever needed one I could go get theirs…but it’s all available online so I just use that. I’m trying to learn Latin and am not very good at it yet. I am very slow and need to make frequent use of a dictionary. But I can often translate stuff as long as it’s not too long, and I can often just more-or-less understand what a Latin sentence means without exactly translating it word for word…the more I focus, the more literal I get, and at some point focusing more and more becomes translating word for word. (And then I have to use a dictionary because a lot of the vocab I don’t know, and a lot of the suffixes still confuse me.)


#5

Think of them as perhaps little different than any Christian book in your local Catholic bookstore. They could even have a nihil obstat, and the Imprimatur, but that does not mean that they are inspired. From the Wiki regarding the prayer of Manasseh:

“The prayer is considered apocryphal by Jews, Catholics and Protestants.”

Not a sign of inspiration.


#6

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