Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Biblical Literature: Apocrypha (1)

10-Second Literature Reviews

Biblical Literature: The Apocrypha (1)

Ezdra I. Last days of Judean kingdom, fall of Jerusalem, Babylonian exile. Reorganization of Jewish state under Ezdra. No mention of Nehemiah.

Ezdra II. Comparable to Daniel and Revelations and other apocalypses. Fantastic imagery; dominant concern with human suffering. Anguished contemplation of disaster that had already run its course?

Tobit. Afflictions of pious Israelite. Adventures of dutiful son who makes journey in company of disguised angel and returns with bride and means to restore his father’s health and wealth. Portrayal of ancient Jewish family life. Religious teachings characteristic of stage in development of post-exilic Judaism.

Judith. Judith slays Holofernes, leader of opposing army. Gets him drunk, cuts off his head, leaves enemy camp with his head in a bag. With leader dead, enemy scatters in disarray. Like Esther, glory in ruthless destruction of an enemy accomplished by a beautiful woman. Excellent example of ancient short story.

Esther, Additions. Six passages not found in Hebrew text. Purpose: add details and add religious element lacking in original. Not very successful; still vindictive and does not raise religious tone of story.

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