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(1) Jewish Apocalypses The most important and valuable of the extant Jewish apocrypha are those which have a large apocalyptic element; that is, which profess to contain visions and revelations of the unseen world and the Messianic future.Jewish apocalyptic literature is a theme which deserves and has increasingly received the attention of all interested in the development of the religious thought of Israel, that body of concepts and tendencies in which are fixed the roots of the great doctrinal principles of Christianity itself, just as its Divine Founder took His temporal generation from the stock of orthodox Judaism.
Thus it has the connotation "uncanonical" with some of them. Jerome evidently applied the term to all quasi-scriptural books which in his estimation lay outside the canon of the Bible , and the Protestant Reformers , following Jerome's catalogue of Old Testament Scriptures -- one which was at once erroneous and singular among the Fathers of the Church -- applied the title Apocrypha to the excess of the Catholic canon of the Old Testament over that of the Jews.
Naturally, Catholics refuse to admit such a denomination, and we employ "deuterocanonical" to designate this literature, which non-Catholics conventionally and improperly know as the "Apocrypha".
The subject will be treated as follows: Name and Notion Etymologically, the derivation of Apocrypha is very simple, being from the Greek apokryphos , hidden, and corresponding to the neuter plural of the adjective.
The use of the singular, "Apocryphon", is both legitimate and convenient, when referring to a single work.
It has been deemed better to classify the Biblical apocrypha according to their origin, instead of following the misleading division of the apocrypha of the Old and New Testaments.
Broadly speaking, the apocrypha of Jewish origin are coextensive with what are styled of the Old Testament, and those of Christian origin with the apocrypha of the New Testament.
Hebrew prophecy on its human side had its springs, its occasions, and immediate objects in the present; the prophets were inspired men who found matter for comfort as well as rebuke and warning in the actual conditions of Israel's theocratic life.
But when ages had elapsed, and the glowing Messianic promises of the prophets had not been realized; when the Jewish people had chafed, not through two or three, but many generations, under the bitter yoke of foreign masters or the constantly repeated pressure of heathen states, reflecting and fervent spirits, finding no hope in the actual order of things, looked away from earth and fixed their vision on another and ideal world where God's justice would reign unthwarted, to the everlasting glory of Israel both as a nation and in its faithful individuals, and unto the utter destruction and endless torment of the Gentile oppressors and the unrighteous.
Pseudographic composition was in vogue among the Jews in the two centuries before Christ and for some time later.
The attribution of a great name of the distant past to a book by its real author, who thus effaced his own personality, was, in some cases at least, a mere literary fiction which deceived no one except the ignorant.
A wider view of world-politics and a comprehensive cosmological speculation are among the distinctive traits of Jewish apocalyptic.