You are here

Share Share Share Share Share Share Share

Apocrypha

Adele Bildersee

Adele Bildersee distinguished herself as a founding dean of Brooklyn College both for her skills as an educator and for her concern with supporting the social and emotional lives of students on campus through clubs, dances, and counseling services.

Judith and the Hanukkah Story

You have probably heard of Judah and the Maccabees, but what about Judith?  At one time, the story of Judith—a young widow who slew the Assyrian general and led the Israelites to victory—was considered an important part of the Hanukkah narrative.

Judith: Apocrypha

The Book of Judith (second or early first century b.c.e.) is an imaginative, highly fictionalized, romance that entertains as it edifies. From a literary perspective, the book is an artistic masterpiece, constructed in two parts (1:1–7:32, 8:1–16:25), with each internally ordered by a threefold chiastic pattern. Numerous correspondences between the two halves of the story provide elegant compositional symmetries. The Book of Judith is a story of balance and counter-balance that makes the point that God’s people have all they need to survive if they rely wholeheartedly on the covenant.

Hagar: Apocrypha

Reference to Hagar appears in a wisdom poem (Bar 3:9–4:4) that is itself part of an apocryphal letter written sometime between 200 to 60 b.c.e. to the priests and people of Jerusalem from Baruch, the scribe and close friend of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 36).

Eve: Apocrypha

Eve, the first woman according to the Eden story (Genesis 2–3), is mentioned very rarely in the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books. One text mentions her by name (Tob 8:6), and four others allude to her (Sir 25:24; 40:1; 42:13; 4 Macc 18:7). Only Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus or Ben Sira) presents the negative theological judgment that women are the source of sin.

Esther: Apocrypha

The Greek version of the Hebrew Bible Book of Esther is designated Additions to Esther and pre-serves many details of the Hebrew account. Its portrayal of Esther herself, however, is appreciably different, primarily because of Additions C and D (Add Esth 13:8–14:19; 15:1–16). The Additions to Esther consist of six extended passages (107 verses) that have no counterpart in the Hebrew version. They are numbered as chaps 11–16, designated A–F, and added to the Hebrew text at various places. Another important “addition” to Greek Esther is the mention of God’s name over fifty times. This has the effect of making the story explicitly religious, in sharp contrast to the Hebrew text, which does not mention God at all. The Additions, which probably were not composed at the same time by the same person, can be dated to the second or first centuries b.c.e. because of their literary style, theology, and anti-gentile spirit.

Art: Representation of Biblical Women

In narratives or abridged cycles more or less faithful to the biblical text, art has portrayed biblical women as role models and reference, occasionally adding exegetical elements both Christian and Jewish. Although the text of the Bible became fixed at different dates and in various versions, these images are not fixed, but reflect the ebb and flow in society’s attitudes towards women and their role.

Wife of Job: Apocrypha

In the Biblical narrative, the role played by Job’s wife is limited to a short and penetrating conversation with her husband. The apocryphal Divrei Iyov, however, devotes a great deal of attention to this character.

Susanna: Apocrypha

Although readers will respond to and remember most vividly Susanna and her predicament, the story’s conclusion emphasizes Daniel’s emergence as a young figure of wisdom. Susanna presents a further challenge to contemporary readers. On the one hand, Susanna’s resistance to rape and adherence to the Mosaic law is laudable. On the other hand, Susanna’s understanding of her dilemma unfortunately supports the problematic notion that victims are somehow themselves guilty.

Martyred mother with seven sons (4MACC): Apocrypha

4 Maccabees, a first-century c.e. work of a loyalist Jew living perhaps at Antioch in Syria, draws upon the martyrology in 1 Macc 6:7–7:42 to construct its portrayal of the martyred mother and her seven sons.

Pages

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Apocrypha." (Viewed on October 25, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/apocrypha>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Sign Up for JWA eNews

 

Discover Education Programs

Join our growing community of educators.

view programs