Commentaries on the Apocrypha

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Order of Contents

Intro
English
Latin
.       The Whole
.       Individual Books
Bibliographies

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Introduction

While the apocryphal books are not inspired of God and have some errors in them, yet many of them were the devout and pious writings of the ancient era.  This is why the apocrypha has been esteemed through much of Church history as useful for edification, and why many reformed theologians of the puritan era wrote commentaries on the apocrypha.

For an intriguing Introduction to the place of the Apocrypha as held and developed through the Reformation and puritan eras, see Wes Bredenhof, ‘Guy de Bres and the Apocrypha’  (Westminster Theological Journal, 74:2, Fall, 2012).  de Bres was an author of the Belgic Confession.

For a brief introduction into the spiritual value of the Apocrypha, see David Briones, ‘Should Protestants Read the Apocrypha?’ (at Table Talk Magazine).

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English Commentaries on the Apocrypha

See also numerous of the critical works on the Apocrypha which often include a commentary on the books via their introductions and apparatus on our webpage, On the Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha.

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1600’s

Diodati, John – ‘The Apocrypha’  in Pious Annotations, upon the Holy Bible  (1643)

Diodati was reformed.

**  “Bickersteth says: ‘The spiritual and evangelical remarks are of much value.’  Diodati’s notes are short and worth consulting.” – Spurgeon

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1700’s

Arnald, Richard – A Critical Commentary on such books of the Apocrypha as are Appointed to be Read in Churches…  with Two Dissertations on the Books of Maccabees and Esdras, being a continuation of Bishop Patrick & Mr. Lowth  (London, 1753)

“This judicious and valuable book generally forms part of the commentaries by Patrick, Lowth, etc….  A very scarce book complete.” – James Darling

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1900’s

Metzger, Bruce & Herbert Gordon May – The Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocrypha  (New York: Oxford, 1965)

ed. Metzger, Bruce – The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, Revised Standard Version, expanded edition…  (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1977)

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In Latin

Commentaries on the Whole Apocrypha

or the Majority Thereof

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Medieval Church

Strabo, Walafridus – The Apocrypha  in The Sacred Bible with the Ordinary Gloss  (†849; ed. 1603)

“Within medieval schools, the most important commentary used in the disputations was the Glossa ordinaria, the Ordinary Gloss.  Glosses are explanatory notes added to a text, in this case, the Bible..  Adding glosses to texts began in the eight and ninth centuries in Northumbria and Ireland.  It steadily increased in popularity and use, until, by the beginning of the eleventh century, glossing was widespread…  Collections of these glosses offering interpretation of the entire Bible began to appear in Paris about 1220, and shortly thereafter were found in Germany and England.” – History of Biblical Interpretation, vol. 2, pp. 37-8

“The celebrated Glossa Ordinaria of Walafridus Strabo [c. 808-849], or Strabus, may be considered as a Catena Patrum [chain of fathers] on the Scriptures.  He copies considerably from Rabanus Maurus [c. 780-856], on some of the books.  The work is valuable for giving the literal sense, historical and moral.  It was first published at Nuremberg, 1494, in 6 vol. folio, and several editions were afterwards printed.  The best are those of Douay, 1617, and Antwerp, 1634, in which the Postilla of De Lyra were incorporated with other additions, ‘forming together’ says Calmet, ‘a treasure for theologians and preachers.’” – James Darling

See also the comments of T.H. Horne, Manual of Biblical Bibliography, p. 244.

Hugo of Saint Caro  d. 1263

 All the Homilies of Hugo from St. Caro, in which are Delineated All the Senses: Literal, Allegorical, Tropological & Analogical, on (1487/1703):

Wisdom
Ecclesiasticus
Baruch
1-2 Maccabees

“The most influential type of comprehensive commentary, the postilla, was developed in the Dominican school at the University of Paris in the early thirteenth century, under the influence of Hugh of Saint-Cher (d. 1263).  The postilla, a running commentary composed originally as classroom lectures, became the typical Bible commentary of scholasticism.  The postilla was intended to supplement the Ordinary Gloss with newer interpretations and theological outlooks.  These supplements were often digressions on theological subjects suggested by the passage being interpreted, and focused essentially on the literal sense of the passage.” – History of Biblical Interpretation, vol. 2, p. 38

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Reformed

1500’s

Pellican, Conrad –  Apocrypha  in Commentary on the Bible  (Tiguri, 1532-42)

 Pellican (1478-1556)

“Pellican gives the Latin Vulgate retouched, and rendered more conformable to the Hebrew and Greek; his commentaries are excellent for elucidating the literal and grammatical sense of Scripture, and for throwing light on many obscure passages…”  – James Darling

Junius & Tremellius – Apocrypha  in The Sacred Bible, 6 vols.  (London, 1592-3) 

Not every edition of this work includes the commentary via margin notes.  The six volume London edition (1592-3, above) does, and is one of the best editions in this regard.

“The first edition of the Old Testament was published by Andreas Wechel in Frankfurt am Main in five volumes, which appeared between 1575 and 1579…  The Old Testament was almost immediately reprinted in London in 1579 to 1580, with Tremellius’ Latin rendering of the New Testament constituting a sixth part. Thereafter, Tremellius’ and Junius’ Old Testament went through a significant number of reprintings in locations throughout Europe, including Frankfurt, London, Geneva, Hanau and Amsterdam.

Following Tremellius’ death, Junius made sufficient revisions to the text and additions to the annotations to merit releasing them as revised editions. Thus a ‘second version’ appeared in 1590, a ‘third’ in 1596 and a ‘fourth’ in 1603.  With the exception of the original Frankfurt edition, every edition included a version of the New Testament.  The first London edition, which used Tremellius’ translation from Syriac, was exceptional; every subsequent edition had Beza’s translation from the Greek and Tremellius’ translation from the Syriac printed together in parallel columns, or else joined Tremellius’ Old Testament with Beza’s New Testament.”

– Kenneth Austin, From Judaism to Calvinism: the life and writings of Immanuel Tremellius (c. 1510–1580). St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Aldershot, Hants, England; Burlington, VT: Ashgate Pub, 2007) 147, 179

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1600’s

Pareus, David – Apocrypha  in Theological & Exegetical Works  (1622)

Pareus (1548-1622)

Cappel, Louis – ‘Critical Notes in Many of the Apocryphal Books’  in Commentaries & Critical Notes on the Old Testament…  (Amsterdam, 1689), pp. 560-579

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Lutheran

1500’s

Osiander, Lucas – Apocrypha  in A Brief & Clear Explication of…  (1583-4)

Osiander (1534-1604) was a German Lutheran and the son of the more well known reformer, Andreas Osiander, who had advocated a view of being justified by infused righteousness which Calvin argued against in his Institutes.

“It has been said of Lucas Osiander, that he had discovered the secret of being brief with fertility, and fertile with brevity.” – James Darling

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1600’s

Calov, Abraham – Apocrypha  in The Bible Illustrated  (1672/1719)

Calov (1612-1686). 

R. Muller: “Among Lutheran efforts of the late seventeenth century, Abraham Calovius’s Biblia Illustrata stands out as a most influential example of the running commentary on the entire text of the Bible.  It functioned both as a somewhat polemical textual response to Grotius’s Annotationes and as a highly respected devotional Bible, treasured well into the next century by J.S. Bach, among other.” – Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters (IVP, 1998), p. 147

“An immense storehouse of information, touching versions, expositions, and other Biblical subjects.  Strong against Papists and Socinians.” – Howard Malcom

“His Biblia Illustrata… contains valuable dogmatic material.” – H. Schmid

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Arminian

Grotius, Hugo – Old Testament & Apocrypha  in Annotations on the…

Grotius (1583-1645) was a leading Biblical scholar of his day as well as an Arminian Anglican and Erastian.  His commentary was widely influential for generations afterwards, though it greatly suffers for his aberrant doctrinal views and often idiosyncratic and unlikely textual interpretations.

“An unsafe guide; But Doddridge thinks ‘he has done more to illustrate Scripture by profane learning, than all other commentators put together.’” – Howard Malcom

See also the comments of T.H. Horne, Manual of Biblical Bibliography, p. 245.  Though these Annotations were translated into English, they do not appear to be available in English on the net.

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Romanist

1600’s

a Lapide, Cornelius

Commentaries on the Old and New Testament  (1615-45 & 1653-64)

1-2 Esdras
Tobiah
Judith
1-2 Maccabees
3-4 Maccabees
Wisdom
Ecclesiasticus
Baruch

a Lapide (1567-1637) was a Flemish, Catholic, Jesuit priest. 

R. Muller: “His work is notable for its grasp of patristic and medieval exegesis and its ability to sum up the tradition by offering not only literal but also allegorical, moral and anagogical meanings and by engaging more contemporary developments in the examination of the Hebrew and Greek texts.” – Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters (IVP, 1998), p. 145

“The commentaries of Cornelius a Lapide are held in great esteem by learned men, especially the commentaries on the Pentateuch and on the Epistles of St. Paul, which have been considered the chef d’oeuvres of erudition.” – James Darling

de la Haye, Jean et al.

The Great Bible [Biblia Magna(Paris, 1643)

1-2 Esdras
Tobiah
Judith
Wisdom
Ecclesiasticus
Baruch
1-2 Maccabees

de la Haye (1593 – 1661) was a French preacher and Biblical scholar. He held important offices in the Franciscan Order and at the Court of Louis XIII, and is the author or editor of some forty folio volumes and several unpublished manuscripts.  These two major commentaries were designed principally for the use of priests and preachers.  After every chapter, Haye quotes verbatim the commentaries of  GagnaeusEstiusManuel de SáMenochius, and Tirinus (S.J.).  

The Greatest Bible [Biblia Maxima]  (Paris, 1660)

Judith  (can’t find vol. 5 on the net)
Wisdom
Ecclesiasticus
1-2 Maccabees

In this work Hayes appends to each Biblical section 1. the various readings of the versions, 2. a paragraph in which the harmony of these readings and the literal meaning of the text are briefly discussed, and 3. annotations drawn from commentators.

de Escobar y Mendoza, Antonio –  vol. 3. Chron, Apocrypha, Esther  in Literal & Moral Commentaries on the Old & New Testament

Antonio (1589–1669) was a Jesuit, preacher and a leading ethicist of his time.

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1700’s

Houbigant, Charles Francois

Critical Notes on All the Books of the Old Testament, vol. 1 (Gen-Kings, Apocrypha)

Tobiah
Judith
1 Maccabees
2 Maccabees
Wisdom
Ecclesiasticus
Additions to Esther

Houbigant (1686-1783) was a French Oratorian Biblical scholar.

Calmet, Antoine Augustine – A Literal Commentary on All the Books of the Old and New Testament, vol. 3 (Esth-Job, Apocrypha)  trans. Joanne Mansi  (Venice, 1730/1754 & Würzburg, Germany, 1791)

Calmet (1672–1757) was a French Benedictine monk born in the Duchy of Bar, part of the Holy Roman Empire at that time, though it is now part of the French department of Meuse, located in the region of Lorraine.  He was especially known for his standard Bible dictionary, which remained the basis for many older Bible dictionaries (including protestant ones) into the mid-1800’s. 

“Exceedingly valuable.  [Thomas] Horne used it largely in his Introduction [to the Bible, 4 vols.].” – Howard Malcom, a conservative protestant

“One of the best commentaries which have ever been written; it displays immense  learning, good sense, sound judgment, and deep piety.  It contains the Latin Vulgate…  with a commentary, literal, historical and critical, on the historical books, and literal and moral on the others; the prefaces, dissertations, and other illustrations, are full of interesting information.” – James Darling

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1800’s

Migne, J.P.

A Complete Course through Sacred Scripture out of all the Most Perfect Commentaries… & a great part of the bishops, even theologians of Catholic Europe… with many of the older annotations…  these are annotated in truth & at the same time given by Migne  (Paris, 1839 ff.)

vol. 12 – Esdras, Tobias, Judith: Vatablus, Tirinus, Serarius

vol. 17 – Eccl, Song, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus: Lyra. Bossuet, Jansenius, Sa, Houbigant, Calmet, Vence, Besoigne, et al.

vol. 19 – Jeremiah, Baruch, Ezekiel: Vatablus, M. Poole, Pearson, Maldonatus, Jerome, Lapide, Vence et al.

vol. 20 – Daniel, Minor Prophets, Maccabees: La Haye, Calmet, Lapide, Vence, Rosenmuller et al.

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Eclectic

1600’s

The Sacred Critics [Critici Sacri]

1660 ed.

Critic Sacri, vol. 5 (Apocrypha)  (1660)

1698, Largest & Best ed.

Critici Sacri, vol. 5 (Apocrypha)  Not able to find on the net.

See Wikipedia & McClintock & Strong.

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Commentaries & Studies on Individual Apocryphal Books

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Tobit

Reformed

Munster, Sebastian – The History of Tobiah… according to the Hebrew Version… with Schola  (Basil, 1563)

Munster (1488-1552) was a German, Hebrew scholar, cartographer and cosmographer. His work, the Cosmographia,1544, was the earliest German description of the world.

Broughton, Hugh – Principal Positions for Grounds of the Holy Bible; a Short Oration of the Bible’s Translation; Positions Historique: and of the Apocrypha; Tobit Particularly Handled; Judith Severally Handled  (1609)  31 pp.

Broughton (1549-1612) was a reformed Anglican and scholar.

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Judith

Broughton, Hugh – Principal Positions for Grounds of the Holy Bible; a Short Oration of the Bible’s Translation; Positions Historique: and of the Apocrypha; Tobit Particularly Handled; Judith Severally Handled  (1609)  31 pp.

Broughton (1549-1612) was a reformed Anglican and scholar.

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Ecclesiasticus / Sirach

Reformed

Drusius, Joannes – The Wisdom of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus…  with Corrections, or Notes on the Same  (Franeker, 1596)  Dedicated to Archbishop John Whitgift

Drusius (1550-1616) was a reformed, Flemish divine, distinguished specially as an Orientalist, Hebraist and exegete.

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Lutheran

Chytraeus, David – Sentences of Jesus of Sirach, being True and Holy Ethics of Christians, Illustrated with Explanations  (Wittenburg, 1573)

Chytraeus (1530-1600)

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Baruch & the Epistle of Jeremy

Early Church

Cyril of Alexandria – ‘Fragments on Baruch’  in ed. Migne, Patrologia Graeca, vol. 70

Cyril (c. 376-444) was the Patriarch of Alexandria from 412 to 444.

“Cyril produced a biblical exegesis presenting all the marks of a magisterial teaching: solemn diction, a display of vast knowledge and rhetorical skills, a constant affirmation of doctrinal correctness.  Verse by verse, Isaiah, the Psalms…  School procedures determine Cyril’s exposition of well-organized exegetical works in which the author grasps readers by the hand and, with eloquence and erudition, leads them to the spiritual sense…  After Cyril, the exegetical tradition of Alexandria lost its impetus.” – Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters, p. 8

Theodoret of Cyrus – Commentaries on the Prophets: Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations  Buy  ed. Robert C. Hill  (Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 2007)

Theodoret (c. 393 – c. 458/466) was an influential theologian of the school of Antioch, biblical commentator, and Christian bishop of Cyrrhus (423–457).

“…he combined Origen’s exegesis with the historical analysis privileged at Antioch.” – Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters, p. 15  

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Medieval Church

De Lyra, Nicholas – Baruch  in The Sacred Bible Set in Order and Interlined with Glosses and the Postils and Moral Teachings of Nicholas de Lyra  (d. 1349; ed. 1545)

“The Postilla, or short commentaries of De Lyra [c. 1270-1349], are far superior to the age in which he flourished, and show great acquaintance with the literal sense of Scripture.  They are especially valuable for the Old Testament, from his superior knowledge of Hebrew and the Rabbinical writers, particularly Jarchi [1040–1105].” – James Darling

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1-2 Maccabees

Medieval Church

De Lyra, Nicholas

1-2 Maccabees  in The Sacred Bible Set in Order and Interlined with Glosses and the Postils and Moral Teachings of Nicholas de Lyra  (d. 1349; ed. 1545)

“The Postilla, or short commentaries of De Lyra [c. 1270-1349], are far superior to the age in which he flourished, and show great acquaintance with the literal sense of Scripture.  They are especially valuable for the Old Testament, from his superior knowledge of Hebrew and the Rabbinical writers, particularly Jarchi [1040–1105].” – James Darling

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Lutheran

Chytraeus, David – ‘Chronological Book of the Maccabees’ & ‘Chronology of the History of the Maccabees’  bound in an Explication of Malachi  (Rostock, 1568)

Chytraeus (1530-1600)

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Bibliographies

Darling, James – ‘Commentaries, etc. on the Books Called Apocrypha’  in Cyclopaedia Bibliographica: a Library Manual of Theological and General Literature...  (London, 1859)

Malcolm, Howard – ‘Apocrypha’  in Theological Index, References to the Principal Works in every Department of Religious Literature…  (Boston, 1868)

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Related Pages