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Old Testament Legends

M. R. James

Book Overview: 

M R James was a well regarded English scholar who studied the medieval period (he also wrote great ghost stories!). Apocryphal books are ancient literatures about biblical events and characters but these books are not included in the Bible. (Some books regarded as apocryphal by Protestant tradition are included in Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Bibles.) They are sources of stories and legends that were elaborated about the beloved biblical narratives.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Then said Seth, "Father, is it because you long after the garden and desire the fruit of it? If it be so, command me, and I will go to the gate, and cast dust upon my head, and weep and pray; and God will send His angel, and it may be He will suffer me to bring you some of the fruit of the garden, and you shall eat it and recover." Eve also wept and said, "My lord Adam, give me the half of your disease, and let me bear it for you; because it is through my fault that this evil has come upon you." Then said Adam, "I will tell you what you shall do, even you and my son Seth: you shall go to the garden and pray there as you have said, and ask the angel to give me some of the oil of mercy that flows from the Tree of Life, and bring it to me that I may anoint my body with it, and be eased from my pain."

So Eve and Seth departed and went towards the garden; and as they were going through the woods, a wild beast leaped out and attacked Seth. And Eve was ter. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I had never heard of these stories from the Old Testament of the Bible. Some of them were very interesting. If you have ever wondered what happened to Adam and Eve after they were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, you should read this book.

M.R. James was known primarily for his ghost stories, but he was also an academic who had the ability to make his scholarship accessible to the average reader.

Here in "Old Testament Legends" he presents translations of stories taken from Judeo-Christian apocrypha. The stories are perfectly readable,

Sometimes interesting, mostly tedious

M.R. James has collected additional stories from the Old Testament era. None of these is included in the canon books. These are not stories from the Apocrypha but even more stories. In times past, some churches actually treated some of these stories as scripture.


Enjoyed the read! While definitely not scriptural, these stories have good moral meanings and keep you wanting to read more.