Apocrypha: The Prayer of Manasseh

Manasseh ruled Judah in the seventh century BC, and his reign is described in 2 Kings 21 and 2 Chronicles 33, and in the latter record it is noted that Manasseh prayed to God in repentance.  Scholars don’t believe this work is authentic as it doesn’t exist in either ancient Hebrew texts or the Greek version, the Septuagint.  But again it seems to be religious imagination, the work of someone who noticed a reference to Manasseh’s prayer, and even the notation the prayer was recorded in a separate work (which is lost to us thus far).  While this could be that lost record, it seems less likely to be so.

One of the challenges in the text is that it asserts the patriarchs were without sin – yet Genesis is clear that this is not the case.  It’s possible this statement is intended not as theological fact but as a description of Manasseh’s greatness of sin compared with other people of God, but it’s a bit of a stretch if so.

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