Friday, January 23, 2009

Biblical Literature: Apocrypha (3)

10-Second Literature Reviews

Biblical Literature: The Apocrypha (3)

Susanna and the Elders. Susanna accused of adultery by Jewish elders who had attempted her chastity. Innocence proved by Daniel. Elders put to death. Literary gem in support of morality. Joseph story in reverse. Also shows God loyal to individuals as well as to chosen people as a whole. Didactic story, not an historical incident. Builds suspense: How will author extricate heroine from her plight?

Daniel, Bel, and the Snake. Bel was the supreme Babylonian god of earth and atmosphere. Bel symbolizes male generative power. Same as Baal. Daniel exposes Bel as an image, not a living god. Not historical.

The Prayer of Manasseh. Manassah was the most evil of all kings of Judah. Chief cause of Yahweh’s punishment of Israel through the Babylonian conquest. Supposed to have repented. Explains how evil king could have such a long and quiet reign.

The First Book of the Maccabees. History. Period between the testaments. Jewish wars of resistance against Syrian power, 175-135 BC. Narratives of military campaigns and 6 poems. Describes four heroes: Mattathias, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon.

The Second Book of the Maccabees. Not a sequel to the First Book of the Maccabees. Different account of the same crisis from a different point of view. Flamboyant, emotional Greek style. Emphasis on spectacular, miraculous, gruesome. Focus on only one hero: Judas Maccabeus. Preserves heroic image of the hero. Ignores his final defeat and death. Viewpoint of Hasidians, most deeply devoted to the Mosaic Law.

End of the Apocrypha.

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