Apocrypha and Apocalypse

*Sunday, November 11th will cover topics from both the 11th and the 4th.

Apocrypha and Apocalypse

Our 9:15 Christian Education Forums this fall will deal with two sections of the Bible we seldom study. From two Greek words opposite in meaning – Apocrypha, means to hide or obscure; Apocalypse to uncover or reveal. The Apocrypha are writings of the Hebrew Bible whose inspiration has bben contested in both Judaism and Christianity. Apocalyptic literature, such as the Book of Revelation, also called The Apocalypse, uses fanciful imagery to convey a deep meaning. Ironically, these images seem to cover up the true meaning rather than uncover it.

Accepted by the early church as part of the Old Testament, the Apocrypha include several writings that emerged in the last centuries before the coming of Jesus. They include several literary genres – narrative, wisdom literature, poetry, history, even apocalyptic literature. At the time of the Reformation, Protestant churches omitted these books from the Old Testament. Anglicans have always kept them, but as a “second canon,” useful for our learning, but not central to the Old Testament story. Portions of these books appear in our lectionary for both the Eucharist and the Daily Office.

Apocalyptic literature has also had a contested history. The Book of Revelation was considered suspect by some segments of the early church. In our day, Revelation and other writings, such as parts of the Book of Daniel, and even a small section of the Gospel of Mark, are sources of curiosity and wild interpretations from some segments of Christianity. Understanding the literary form of apocalyptic writing will help us avoid crazy and misguided interpretations.

These sections of biblical literature have a lot to teach us. The Apocrypha help us to gain a better understanding of the religious world of Judaism from which Jesus emerged. While a good understanding of apocalyptic writing will help you understand and refute the misleading interpretations that can have serious and negative spiritual and political consequences, especially in American culture.

Fr. Mark Kowalewski leads this forum every Sunday from 9:15 – 10:30 September 30 through December 9, except for October 28.

Schedule:

Apocrypha

September 30 Introduction to these “hidden” writings

October 7 The Book of Tobit (Please read before the class all of Tobit)

October 14 The Book of Judith (Read all of Judith)

October 21 The Books of Wisdom and Sirach, also called Ecclesiasticus (Read

Wisdom ch. 1-3,9-10,13, 14:12-31; Sirach 5, 8, 44:1-15)

October 28 NO SESSION

November 4 The prophet Baruch and the Books of Maccabees (Read all of Baruch, I Maccabees 1-3, 4:36-61) (This material is moved to the 11th)

November 11 Maccabees, Part II (Read II Maccabees 1-10:9)

Apocalypse

November 18 “Uncovering” apocalyptic writing and Old Testament examples (Read Ezekiel 1 and 8-10 and Daniel 7-12

November 25 New Testament apocalyptic writing and introduction to The Book of Revelation (Read Mark 13, I Thessalonians 2, Revelation 1-4)

December 2 Revelation Part II (Read Revelation 5-12)

December 9 Revelation Part III (Read Revelation 13-22)

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