The Lexham Old Testament Apocrypha: A New Translation

The Lexham Old Testament Apocrypha: A New Translation. With Introductions by David deSilva. Lexham Academic, 2023. xix+393 pp. Pb. $17.99   Link to Lexham Academic  Link to Logos Bible Software

The Lexham Old Testament Apocrypha reprints the apocryphal books from the Lexham English Septuagint: A New Translation (ed. Ken Penner; Lexham Academic 2019). This English edition of the Apocrypha includes the Deuterocanonical books in the Catholic canon: Tobit (Shorter and Longer Versions, Judith, Baruch (and the Letter of Jeremiah), Wisdom of Sirach, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, additions to Esther (Greek Esther), additions to Daniel (both Old Greek and Theodotion). The Eastern Orthodox canon also includes the Prayer of Manasseh, 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Psalm 151. This edition also includes the non-canonical books 2 Esdras (4 Ezra), Psalms of Solomon, and Greek portions of 1 Enoch 1-32.

Apocrypha Lexham Old TestamentIn his eleven-page introduction, David DeSilva discusses the value of reading and studying the Old Testament Apocrypha. He quotes Ulrich Zwingli that the Apocrypha contains “much that is true and useful—that serves piety of liked and honesty” (from the preface to the 1531 Zurich Bible). For modern readers, the books of the Apocrypha open a window on history, social, political, and theological tensions of Jewish people in the latter half of the Second Temple period (xii). Although there are no clear quotations from the Apocrypha in the New Testament, early Christians read these books were read and valued them. He offers several examples of ethical teaching in the Apocrypha that resonates with the New Testament. Compare Tobit 4:8-10 and Matthew 6:19-20. For example. deSilva warns readers, however, that there are sometimes significant differences between the Apocrypha and the New Testament.  deSilva also provides short introductions for each book. deSilva is well known for his Introducing the Apocrypha (Second Edition, Baker Academic, 2018; see my review of the first edition). The introductions are all less than a page and offer a date and origin for the book, as well as key features that are of interest to Christian readers.

The 2019 Lexham English Septuagint did not include 2 Esdras. This new volume provides a translation adapted from the public domain Cambridge Paragraph Bible (1873), and the Revised Version (1895), both based on the Latin text of the Clementine Vulgate. 2 Esdras 7:36–106 is missing from the Clementine Vulgate, but it appears in the 1895 critical edition and was translated in the Revised Version of 1895. The ubiquitous Jacob Cerone wrote the headings to 2 Esdras and worked with Douglas Mangum to revise the translation. 2 Esdras is a complicated book, with a Jewish apocalypse (ch. 3-14) and a Christian frame. See this on the Christian introduction (ch. 1-2) and (ch. 15-16).

Like the Lexham English Septuagint, his volume includes the Psalms of Solomon and the Greek portions of 1 Enoch (1-32, missing ch. 4-5). Although there is no information on the source for the Psalms of Solomon (likely the Swete edition). 1 Enoch is based on the Greek text found in Codex Panopolitanus. (See this for complete translations of 1 Enoch.) The Lexham English Septuagint included 1 Enoch 89:42–49 based on the Greek text from Codex Vaticanus (Gr.1809). This small section of the Animal Apocalypse is not included in the Lexham Old Testament Apocrypha. Also missing is the Odes of Solomon, which was part of the original LES.

I prefer physical books, but there are a few advantages to reading the Apocrypha in Logos Bible Software. The text be synced to an edition of the Septuagint, providing side-by-side comparison of the Greek and English text. All of Logos’s Greek tools are therefore available, including identification of all grammatical elements and double-clicking through to your preferred lexicon.

Conclusion: The subtitle “A New Translation” is misleading since the majority of this new edition of the Apocrypha is extracted from the Lexham English Septuagint. If you already own the Lexham English Septuagint, then there is little need to add the Lexham Old Testament Apocrypha to your Logos library since they are identical, except for 2 Esdras and deSilva’s introductions. However, the printed book is an inexpensive translation of the Apocrypha (plus) which will serve students of the Second Temple period.


NB: Thanks to Lexham Academic for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. I purchased the Logos edition. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.


2 thoughts on “The Lexham Old Testament Apocrypha: A New Translation

  1. I have always felt, there isn’t enough said about the Apocryphal writings. They used to be among the Old Testament in the King James version, or as a separate collection at the end of the Old Testament in the Geneva Bible, until the Puritans got after them in the late 16th century to take them out, because they were not included in the Jewish Torah. Maybe not, but they were regarded as gifted writings by the Jews and the Old and New Testaments were no longer just Jewish writings of faith, but also the growing Christians. So the Puritans were only seeing this from a biased view point of holding to the Jewish writings, when in reality, the Bible as a whole, was supporting the establishing Christian value. By convincing the authorities to omit them, very few Protestant church followers ever see them, nor will they recognize the mere mention of them. That being said, they never get to witness the the book of Sirach, (today known as Ben Sira), as being the richest book of wisdom among the Biblical scriptures.

  2. I have always felt those writings are worth bearing notice. In fact, they were in the King James version and at the end of the Old Testament as the extra books in the Geneva Bible, until the Puritans got after them in the late 16th century, to take them out, because they were not part of the Hebrew Torah collection. Maybe not, but we’re not talking about the Jewish community, we’re talking about the Christian community. That being said, most of the Protestant faith followers have never seen them, nor would they recognize the mere mention of them, because they are not in their bible versions.

    The Catholic bibles include most of them and the Greek Orthodox include some of them. It’s a shame the Protestants don’t know what these are, especially the book of Wisdom and more so, the book of Sirach, (now known as Ben Sira). The Jewish community still have high regard for these two. In fact, in my view, Sirach holds the highest rank of wisdom in that period.

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