Judy! Judy! Judy!

Carey Grant never actually said that line, but we wouldn't even have this spurious impersonation of him if it weren't for something called the Apocrypha.


The Apocrypha is a collection of books, generally dated before the first advent of Christ, and included in the bibles of many Christians. They are not included in the Hebrew collection of Old Testament Scripture, but they are included in the Greek translation of the Old Testament Bible, called the Septuagint. It is uncertain exactly when the Apocryphal books were included in the Septuagint, but since the Septuagint is clearly the translation from which many of the New Testament's quotations of the Old Testament are taken, we can consider the Septuagint the Bible used by the Holy Evangelists and Apostles. It's not unlike saying that the King James Version was the translation prevalently used by Christians until only recently. If you read an old book or watch an old movie, chances are, if Holy Scripture is quoted, you'll find the citation taken from the King James Version. Well, read the New Testament, and chances are, you'll find that when the Old Testament is quoted, the translation used is the Septuagint.


That makes the Septuagint's inclusion of the Apocrypha a fairly compelling argument for seriously considering these books. It is true that they are not found among the Hebrew texts. That was a distinction not missed by St. Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin. It was also a distinction noted by Martin Luther when he made his translation of the Bible into German. In fact, it's simply historical fact that the Church has noted that there are certain books which were universally recognized as belonging to the canon of Holy Scripture, and then there were others which lacked that universal recognition. While some books lacked universal acceptance, they were still often read - even within the services of the Church - and while not as sure a basis for forming doctrine as the Canonical Scriptures, they were considered pious, laudable writings, useful for encouraging and training Christians in their walk of Faith.


Luther certainly held that opinion regarding the Apocrypha. He wasn't the first to distinguish them from those books universally accepted as the Word of God, but in doing so, neither was he alone in recognizing their benefit and recommending their usage by Christians.


Luther not only translated the books of the Apocrypha into German, he also included them in his German Bible. He included them in an appendix so that they were distinguished from those books universally attested as the Word of God but not removed from the piety and faith of Christians. Luther has very favorable things to say about the Apocrypha. The fact that German Christians in his day could open their Bible and read the Apocrypha is testimony to that. The Lutheran Confessions cite the Apocrypha, as do Luther, Melancthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, and other fathers in our Lutheran tradition.


Many Christians in America will be surprised to hear that the King James Version, that most-beloved of English translations, also included the Apocrypha. As Luther had, the King James Version distinguished the Apocrypha from the universally attested canonical texts by including it in an appendix. Over time, especially after copyright restrictions were broken by the American Revolution, publishers ceased to include the Apocrypha in editions of the KJV. Still, like the Septuagint, the first translation of the Bible into Greek, and Jerome's Latin Vulgate, and Luther's German Bible, the Apocrypha was included in the original King James Version!


The Apocrypha is a collection of sacred texts for Christians to rediscover. How much better that Christians - who regularly make use of devotional material, visit Christian bookstores, listen to Christian music, watch movies with Christian themes - how much better that Christians today familiarize themselves with the devout and pious writings which are part of our heritage, which Luther and so many others recommend for our edification!


It is safe to say that Christians - up until the past few hundred years - have been quite familiar with the Apocrypha. The Apocryphal texts have influenced religious art and music, hymnody and even names. The name Judy derives from the name of a Hebrew heroine in the Apocryphal book, Judith. Toby derives from the Apocryphal book, Tobit. Susan is derived from the Apocryphal book, Susanna.


It is said that the account of 2 Esdras 6:42 gave Columbus the necessary "evidence" that the waters of the Atlantic were not so wide that the East Indies couldn't be reached by sailing west. If it weren't for the Apocrypha, would Columbus have made his voyage?


Wisdom 18:14-15 provide the testimony on which Christians understood Christ's birth to have occured when night was "half-spent," thus giving us the carol, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear."


Lutherans are familiar with the hymn, "Now, Thank We All Our God," which is based on Luther's translation of Sirach 50:22-24.


And any Lutheran who has attended the Easter Vigil and sung the Benedicte, Omnia Opera, that is, "All You Works of the Lord" (LSB # 931; LW # 9;TLH p. 120) will note that it is the Song of the Three Young Men (Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego) who were thrown into the fiery furnace and kept safe by the pre-incarnate Christ. However, that song is not in the Hebrew text of Daniel, and so is not known to most Christians, since their English translations are taken from the Hebrew. It is, however, included in the Apocryphal additions which have come to us through the Septuagint. Thus, this beautiful and laudable song of praise has graced the lips of many Lutherans, without their realizing that they are singing a Biblical canticle from the Apocrypha!


If you would like to read more of what Luther and other Lutheran fathers, such as John Gerhard and Martin Chemnitz, have to say regarding the Apocryphal books, please follow the links below. They will be clickable as they become available. The first is Judith, to which we owe - apocryphally in every sense - the spurious Carey Grant impersonation . . . Judy! Judy! Judy!


Click below for introductions to and the text of . . .


Judith chapters 1-5


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