Old Testament Legends by M. R. James


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of Old Testament Legends, by M. R. James

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: Old Testament Legends
being stories out of some of the less-known apochryphal
books of the old testament

Author: M. R. James

Release Date: May 21, 2005 [EBook #15874]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK OLD TESTAMENT LEGENDS ***




Produced by David Malcolmson






OLD TESTAMENT LEGENDS
BEING STORIES OUT OF SOME OF THE LESS-KNOWN APOCRYPHAL BOOKS
OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
BY
M. R. JAMES, LITT.D.
PROVOST OF KING'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

WITH TEN ILLUSTRATIONS BY
H. J. FORD
LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA
1913
All rights reserved




PREFACE

If you read the title-page of this book--a thing which young persons
very seldom do--you will see that it (the book) contains stories
taken "out of some of the less-known apocryphal books of the Old
Testament." You will very possibly not understand what that means;
but if you will read this preface--another thing which young persons
do even seldomer than they read a title-page--you will find the best
explanation that I can give.

I have to begin by talking about the word apocryphal. The newspapers
are fond of saying that a statement made by the Prime Minister (or
the leader of the Opposition, according to which side in politics the
newspaper takes) is apocryphal. By this, the newspaper means to say
that the statement was untrue. Or, you will read that someone
obtained money or goods by saying that he possessed large estates
abroad; and that the estates turned out to be apocryphal. By this is
meant that they did not exist. But when you read of a book being
apocryphal, something rather different is meant: either that it is
"spurious," i.e. that it pretends to be written by someone who did
not write it; or that what is in it is fabulous and untrue, like the
stories of King Arthur; or both.

Now this word apocryphal is specially used, and perhaps most often
used, in connection with the Bible. Probably you have at least heard
of something called "the Apocrypha," even if you have not read it,
and even if you have mixed it up in your mind with another word,
Apocalypse, which has nothing whatever to do with it. Well, what is
"the Apocrypha"? It is to be found in many Bibles, bound up between
the Old and the New Testaments. It is a set of books, looking just
like the other books of the Bible, with chapters and verses. Some of
it is read in church as weekday lessons in the months of October and
November, as you may see by looking at the Table of Lessons in any
Prayer Book. Now, are all these books of "the Apocrypha" fabulous or
spurious? No. Some of them are. The Second Book of Esdras (that is,
Ezra) was not written by Ezra; The Book of Baruch (the companion of
the prophet Jeremiah) was not written by Baruch; The Wisdom of
Solomon was not written by Solomon. These and some others are
spurious. Also, the books of Tobit and of Judith are fabulous
stories. On the other hand, the book Ecclesiasticus was really
written by Sirach (who is mentioned in the Preface), and The First
Book of Maccabees is a true and valuable history.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Mon 24th Jul 2017, 20:38