The Apocryphal Old Testament

By H. F. D. Sparks | Go to book overview
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The Apocryphal Old Testament was originally planned as a companion volume to M. R. James The Apocryphal New Testament, first published as long ago as 1924.

When, in the mid- 1950s, the stocks of R. H. Charles wellknown two-volume work, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament ( 1913), were running low there was discussion at the Press about what should be done. Would a simple reprint be sufficient? Ought a revised 'second edition' to be undertaken? Or ought a completely new work to be commissioned to replace it?

There were a number of conflicting factors. After the lapse of nearly half a century there was an obvious need to up-date some of the information: many of the critical opinions expressed seemed less certain than once they did; and questions, too, might be asked about the items selected for inclusion in the second volume - why this, and if this, why not that? On the other hand, Charles's two volumes were one of the outstanding achievements of British biblical scholarship in the early years of the twentieth century: they had been widely used, and continued to be widely used; but they were both bulky and expensive. Further, it was clear that there was a much greater popular demand for the second (Pseudepigrapha) volume than for the first (Apocrypha), presumably because the books in the Apocrypha volume were readily available in several standard translations, whereas those in the Pseudepigrapha volume were not. The upshot was that the Press decided to reprint both volumes, as and when circumstances required, and at the same time to commission a much smaller, handier, and less expensive volume, designed-on much the same lines as James's.

The idea was to ignore the books in Charles's first volume (the Apocrypha proper) and concentrate on those in the second. But it was agreed that some latitude in selection must be allowed - some of the books included by Charles might be omitted, while others, omitted by Charles, might be included. A volume of translations


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