National Association of Christian Ministers Summary Series: Theology

The NACM holds the pseudepigrapha non-biblical text which can be appreciated as literature, but it should never shape the theology of Christians!

The Pseudepigrapha refers to a collection of ancient Jewish and early Christian writings that are attributed to various figures from biblical times but are widely regarded as pseudonymous or falsely attributed. These texts were not included in the Jewish or Christian biblical canons and are considered apocryphal or non-canonical.

The Pseudepigrapha consists of a diverse range of texts that cover a wide range of genres, including apocalyptic literature, wisdom literature, historical narratives, prayers, psalms, and more. These writings were composed between the third century BCE and the second century CE and provide valuable insights into the religious and cultural milieu of the time.

The content of the Pseudepigrapha varies significantly. Some texts expand on biblical stories or characters, offering additional details or alternative perspectives. For example, the Book of Enoch, one of the most well-known Pseudepigraphal works, describes the adventures and teachings of the biblical figure Enoch, who is mentioned briefly in the Book of Genesis. The Book of Jubilees presents a rewritten version of the book of Genesis, providing a chronological framework for biblical events.

Other texts in the Pseudepigrapha focus on religious and ethical teachings. The Wisdom of Solomon, for instance, offers reflections on the nature of wisdom and the pursuit of righteousness. The Testament of Abraham recounts the story of Abraham’s encounter with angels and his journey through the afterlife.

Many of the Pseudepigraphal texts reflect the concerns and beliefs of their respective communities and provide insights into their religious and theological perspectives. They address topics such as the interpretation of dreams, the nature of angels and demons, eschatological expectations, and the struggle between good and evil.

Although not considered canonical by either Judaism or Christianity, the Pseudepigrapha played a significant role in shaping the religious and literary traditions of the time. They influenced the development of Jewish thought, provided context for understanding early Christian beliefs, and offer valuable historical and cultural information for scholars studying the period.

Overall, the Pseudepigrapha comprises a rich and diverse body of literature that sheds light on the religious, cultural, and theological world of ancient Judaism and early Christianity. While not considered authoritative scripture, these texts are important for understanding the broader context of biblical times and the various religious movements and ideas that existed alongside the canonical writings.

Books of the Pseudepigrapha

Below is a list of some of the prominent books within the Pseudepigrapha:

1. 1 Enoch (also known as the Ethiopic Book of Enoch)
2. 2 Enoch (also known as the Slavonic Book of Enoch)
3. 3 Enoch (also known as the Hebrew Book of Enoch or the Book of the Palaces)
4. The Book of Jubilees
5. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
6. The Assumption of Moses (also known as the Testament of Moses)
7. The Ascension of Isaiah
8. The Life of Adam and Eve (also known as the Apocalypse of Moses or the Adam and Eve Story)
9. The Apocalypse of Abraham
10. The Apocalypse of Baruch (also known as 2 Baruch)
11. The Apocalypse of Elijah
12. The Apocalypse of Ezra (also known as 4 Ezra or 2 Esdras)
13. The Apocalypse of Sedrach
14. The Greek Apocalypse of Ezra (also known as 3 Ezra or 1 Esdras)
15. The Testament of Job
16. The Psalms of Solomon
17. The Prayer of Manasseh
18. The Odes of Solomon
19. The Sibylline Oracles (a collection of texts attributed to various Sibyls)
20. The Testament of Solomon
21. The Testament of Adam
22. The Testament of Abraham
23. The Testament of Isaac
24. The Testament of Jacob
25. The Testament of Moses

This is not an exhaustive list, as the Pseudepigrapha contains a wide range of texts with varying levels of historical and religious significance. Each book within the Pseudepigrapha offers unique insights into ancient Jewish and early Christian thought, providing valuable context for understanding the religious and cultural milieu of the time.

The following are some notable books within the Pseudepigrapha:

1. Book of Enoch: Comprised of several sections, including the Book of the Watchers, the Book of Parables, the Book of Astronomy, and the Book of Dreams. It discusses the fallen angels, the coming judgment, and eschatological themes.

2. Book of Jubilees: A retelling of the book of Genesis, presenting a chronological framework for biblical events and emphasizing the importance of observing religious laws and festivals.

3. Testament of Abraham: Depicts the story of Abraham’s encounter with angels and his journey through the afterlife, addressing themes of faith and the nature of God.

4. Life of Adam and Eve: Expands on the biblical narrative of Adam and Eve, recounting their lives after being expelled from the Garden of Eden, including their encounters with angels and demons.

5. Psalms of Solomon: A collection of eighteen psalms attributed to King Solomon, expressing themes of praise, repentance, and deliverance.

6. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: Presents the dying testimonies and moral exhortations of the twelve sons of Jacob (the twelve patriarchs), each addressing the character and destiny of their descendants.

7. The Sibylline Oracles: A collection of prophecies attributed to the ancient Sibyls, prophetic women in Greek and Roman mythology. These oracles contain eschatological and apocalyptic visions.

8. Apocalypse of Baruch: Ascribed to Baruch, the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah, this book contains visions and prophecies about the destruction of Jerusalem and the future redemption of Israel.

9. The Wisdom of Solomon: A philosophical and theological work attributed to King Solomon, addressing themes of wisdom, righteousness, and immortality.

10. The Prayer of Manasseh: A penitential prayer attributed to Manasseh, the king of Judah, expressing remorse and seeking forgiveness for his sins.

These are just a few examples of the texts found within the Pseudepigrapha.

The NACM holds the pseudepigrapha non-biblical text which can be appreciated as literature, but it should never shape the theology of Christians!