While the canonical status of the Greek and Latin Old Testament texts commented on within this volume has been understood differently within Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox traditions, their longstanding use within the Christian churches makes them worthy of careful study and reflection. As noted in the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, Jerome says that the church reads the Apocrypha "for example of life and instruction of manners." As a result their influence extends well beyond ecclesiastical use to literature, hymnody, music, and art.
Their questioned authority has nevertheless affected the choice of books included here, not by a priori judgment but by the paucity of comment from which to choose. None of the early fathers dedicated commentaries to these texts as a whole. Despite the length of 1 and 2 Maccabees and the model they presented for Christian martyrdom, they were rarely cited or commented on. The Wisdom books received the most comment and are those best represented here.
In particular, readers will find ample comment on Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah, and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon (the latter three all found as additions to the Hebrew and Aramaic book of Daniel). Among commentators readers will find Origen, John Chrysostom, Theodoret of Cyr, Hippolytus, Jerome, Augustine, Julius Africanus, Athanasius, Palladius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Clement of Alexandria, Bede, Rabanus Maurus, Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Cassiodorus, Ambrose, and others.
This Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture volume presents a worthy feast of patristic comment on these ancient and important texts, some of which is presented here in English translation for the first time.
A Guide to Using This Commentary
Introduction to the Apocrypha
Commentary on Tobit
Commentary on Wisdom of Solomon
Commentary on Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach
Commentary on Baruch
Commentary on the Letter of Jeremiah
Commentary on The Prayer of Azariah and The Song of the Three Young Men
Commentary on Susanna
Commentary on Bel and the Dragon
Appendix: Early Christian Writers and the Documents Cited
Timeline on Writers of the Patristic Period
Bibliography of Works in Original Languages
Bibliography of Works in English Translation