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The Canon of the Bible and the Apocrypha in the Churches of the East

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Vahan Hovhanessian

The Canon of the Bible and the Apocrypha in the Churches of the East features essays reflecting the latest scholarly research in the field of the canon of the Bible and related apocryphal books, with special attention given to the early Christian literature of Eastern churches. These essays study and examine issues and concepts related to the biblical canon as well as non-canonical books that circulated in the early centuries of Christianity among Christian and non-Christian communities, claiming to be authored by biblical characters, such as the prophets and kings of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament.

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The Prayer of Manasses: Orthodox Tradition and Modern Studies in Dialogue (Daniel Alberto Ayuch) 7

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• D A N I E L A L B E R T O A Y U C H • The Prayer of Manasses: Orthodox Tradition and Modern Studies in Dialogue his fifteen verse document is an important testimony of how Early Eastern Christians interpreted the Old Testament texts and how the concept of the Scriptural canon was evolving in those Christian communities. Based on modern studies (see among others Charles and Vriezen) we can affirm that the prayer of Manasses was written in a Greek- speaking Jewish community. Antioch is to be suggested as the place of writing, because of the strong relationship of the prayer tradition with the Didascalia (early third century) and because of other arguments that shall be discussed below. The prayer was written to urge the community leaders not to fall into idolatry and to repent of this sin. The Prayer of Manasses, despite its canonical content, has never been part of the canon of the Old Testament, nor of the manuscripts of the Septuagint. Only the Alexandrinus manuscript registers it as an appendix to the Psalms under the title of “the Odes”. We deduce, in agreement with most scholars, that this prayer was written during the first century BC (Denis 678). The so-called Prayer of Manasses in Qumran is unrelated to our writing (4Q381 33,8–11; Denis 679). The text used here is the one published in Rahlfs’ LXX (II. 180– 181). More detailed information on the manuscripts and versions can be found in Charles’...

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