The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.
He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the LORD. To us he is the censure of our thoughts; merely to see him is a hardship for us, because his life is not like that of others, and different are his ways. He judges us debased; he holds aloof from our paths as from things impure. He calls blest the destiny of the just and boasts that God is his Father.
Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”
These were their thoughts, but they erred; for their wickedness blinded them, and they knew not the hidden counsels of God; neither did they count on a recompense of holiness nor discern the innocent souls’ reward.
Wisdom 2:1A, 12-22
This was the first reading for the Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent 2014. It was extremely poignant to me for a couple of reasons. I will admit right off that I am only somewhat familiar with the Old Testament. Mia culpa but I honestly have a very difficult time reading the Old Testament because I’ve had a hard time staying with much of the subject matter. I think this has seemed to bother some non-Catholic people I know because, as a Catholic with all those “extra books”, I am expected to have studied and read them all in order to verify their validity. That being said I will admit that I haven’t read through the Book of Wisdom completely yet.
At any rate it was poignant to me because of its context. In the strongest language possible they’re talking about the events of Christ’s life and Passion. This is a stark prophesy of exactly what will happen to Christ and out of minds who hated Him. I love reading Old Testament passages pointing to Christ and discovering it for the first time, as I did today, gives me a wondrous sense of amazement at so many Holy passages which prophesy His Life, Death, and Resurrection and ultimately give promise to Who He Is and What He came to accomplish for us.
Secondly, it saddens me on some level because it is so magnificent in its testament to Jesus Christ along with so many other wise and Holy words that so many don’t have the opportunity to read because those books are missing from their Bibles. In its entirety the Scriptures lay out and compliment each other, but when certain texts are missing from the Old Testament, blanks are left in the New. A stark example of this is in Hebrews 11 where it says in verse 35:
“Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life” (Heb. 11:35).
Jimmy Akin explains this saying, “There are a couple of examples of women receiving back their dead by resurrection in the Protestant Old Testament. You can find Elijah raising the son of the widow of Zarepheth in 1 Kings 17, and you can find his successor Elisha raising the son of the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4, but one thing you can never find—anywhere in the Protestant Old Testament, from front to back, from Genesis to Malachi—is someone being tortured and refusing to accept release for the sake of a better resurrection. If you want to find that, you have to look in the Catholic Old Testament—in the deuterocanonical books Martin Luther cut out of his Bible.
The story is found in 2 Maccabees 7, where we read that during the Maccabean persecution, “It happened also that seven brothers and their mother were arrested and were being compelled by the king, under torture with whips and cords, to partake of unlawful swine’s flesh. . . . [B]ut the brothers and their mother encouraged one another to die nobly, saying, ‘The Lord God is watching over us and in truth has compassion on us . . . ‘ After the first brother had died . . . they brought forward the second for their sport. . . . he in turn underwent tortures as the first brother had done. And when he was at his last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life'” (2 Macc. 7:1, 5-9).
One by one the sons die, proclaiming that they will be vindicated in the resurrection.
“The mother was especially admirable and worthy of honorable memory. Though she saw her seven sons perish within a single day, she bore it with good courage because of her hope in the Lord. She encouraged each of them . . . [saying], ‘the Creator of the world, will in his mercy give life and breath back to you again, since you now forget yourselves for the sake of his laws,'” telling the last one, “Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God’s mercy I may get you back again with your brothers” (2 Macc. 7:20-23, 29). This is but one example of the New Testaments’ references to the deuterocanonicals.”¹
There are several others² but I want to get back to this passage of Wisdom. I found that having an “insight” into the minds of those who felt themselves religious but didn’t know Jesus as Messiah because they thought they knew all the signs and in turn hating Him and rejecting Him gave me more inspiration to study these books more thoroughly because they do point to the events from the New Testament and help expound on the things that took place in His time here. In fact, the second reading of the day is from St. John’s Gospel and says in part,
“Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, ‘Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.’
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, ‘You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.’
So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.”
The books that were removed from the Bible by Martin Luther are certainly worth reading and I would encourage anyone to go pick up a complete Bible and do just that. I would encourage people to get a Bible instead of looking for them online or through other Protestant sources because not all Protestant lists are the same and can include titles to letters or books which range from canonical to spurious (those whose subject matter is theologically inconsistent with Apostolic teaching i.e. – Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Judas).
The Books which had been accepted as canonized Scripture in Christianity and which were taken out of the Bible by Luther are:
- Additions to Esther (Vulgate Esther 10:4-16:24)
- Wisdom (or Wisdom of Solomon)
- Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus or Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira)
- Baruch, including the Letter of Jeremiah (Additions to Jeremiah in the Septuagint)
- Additions to Daniel:
- Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Vulgate Daniel 3:24-90)
- Susanna (Vulgate Daniel 13, Septuagint prologue)
- Bel and the Dragon (Vulgate Daniel 14, Septuagint epilogue)
- 1 Maccabees
- 2 Maccabees
Read them for yourselves if you haven’t. It will help expound on and “fill in the blanks” to the New Testament ultimately, I think, making your faith life all the richer for having understood in greater depth the elements which preceded, which comprise, and which explain elements of our faith today.
2. Deuterocanonical quotes in the New Testament – http://bit.ly/QLtCRM