The Fascination of Taboo: a Few Biblical Episodes from the Books of the Anagignoskomena and of the Apocrypha Acknowledged by the Tradition of the Church

Authors

  • Cristinel Iatan Faculty of Orthodox Theology, Bucharest

Keywords:

canon, Baruch, Enoch, angels, tradition

Abstract

The extension of the biblical canon in Orthodoxy represents a thorny, still unsolved, and probably unsolvable issue. Its history begins with the translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew into Greek (the Septuagint) when, during the Second Temple period, after Ezra generally established the books received by Judaism, several books, mostly in Greek, which we call Anagignoskomena, meaning “acknowledged” or “worthy of reading”, were added to the Greek manuscripts. Moreover, in the deuterocanonical period, Judaism produced a series of other writings which largely circulated within the people, but in secret, unofficially, and which were not inventoried or later included on the lists of acknowledged books or in the official manuscripts containing the canonical books or the books of the Anagignoskomena. Nonetheless, the fascination they held and the authority some of them had were stronger than those of canonical writings. Some lacunal canonical biblical texts were being enriched or explained by them, sometimes offering many helping elements “from tradition”. The present study is intended to be an incursion into the world of these writings, which first influenced certain canonical writings, namely those acknowledged initially by the synagogue and then by the tradition of the Church. We will be surprised to find out that, although they are officially denied, the Christian writers from the past and, later, Christian and contemporary tradition have absorbed elements from them. Throughout the history of the biblical canon, there has been a certain attraction towards the forbidden or the taboo. Therefore, up to the life of the modern Christian, we will find notions and teachings which come from tradition, but which initially originate in these writings, to which official theology avoids granting too much importance.

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Published

2021-01-16