Article VI famously lists the biblical canon for the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the “Other books” commonly called Apocrypha (for which I’ve taken preference to the particularly Anglican term Ecclesiastical Books). Not every book listed in that third category has shown up in Anglican lectionaries.
- Tobit, Judith, Wisdom (of Solomon), and Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) were read in full in the original Daily Office lectionary. Our 2019 lectionary highlights the majority of those books, yet curiously and sadly omits Tobit entirely.
- 1 & 2 Maccabees were not touched by the original Daily lectionary, but are very briefly sampled in the 2019 lectionary.
- The additions to Esther and to Daniel were not originally included, but the former at least were always easy to add in as lengthened readings. The 2019 lectionary includes one of the additions to Daniel (Susanna), and the Prayer Book tradition has always included another addition to Daniel (the Song of the Three Young Men) among its Morning Prayer canticles.
- The Prayer of Manasseh, too, has in recent times been distilled into a canticle.
- A few snippets of 2 Esdras (or 4 Ezra) have appeared in some 20th century Daily lectionaries, including the first draft (but not final copy) of the 2019’s.
That leaves 1 Esdras (or 2 or 3 Ezra) as the only one that isn’t used at all in Anglican liturgy, despite being listed as a canonical book in Article VI useful for reading and instruction. The reason for this is the same as the reason why 1 & 2 Chronicles were omitted from the original Daily Office lectionary (and are still only sampled in the 2019) – because the vast majority of the book is redundant. For the most part, 1 Esdras repeats the end of 2 Chronicles and the majority of the book of Ezra.
If you want to know more about this under-noticed book, watch on!
One thought on “The Least-read book of the Bible?”