People interested in the development of Judaism and Christianity during the time between the books of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament, will gain much from this book. It is in the apocrypha, for example, that we find the first instance of the teaching of the concept of original sin.
This book contains an excellent translation and superb commentary of five books of the some dozen apocrypha, ancient books that Roman Catholics consider inspired and include part of their Bible, but Protestants and Jews do not: Tobit, Judith, Esther, Baruch, and three additions to biblical Daniel. Tobit and Judith are fascinating stories of pious and resourceful people, while the other three are additions that were felt to be necessary additions.
For example, the biblical book of Esther bothered ancient and modern readers. The Jews of Persia were being persecuted and about to be murdered. They were saved by a Jewish woman Esther and her relative Mordecai, both of whom did not use their Jewish names, used names derived from pagan idols, Esther apparently did not observe Jewish practices while she lived with a pagan as queen, and God has no saving role in the tale. The additions add these pious missing items.
This book was Baruch, to site an example of another addition, was composed in the late second century BCE, although it claims to have been written in 582 BCE. The biblical Baruch to whom the book is ascribed was the assistant of the biblical prophet Jeremiah who died around 586 BCE, and is obviously not the author of this book. It has echoes of the biblical book Daniel and must have been composed after it. Scholars believe that Daniel was written as a result of the war against the Syrian Greeks around 165 BCE. The book is composed in the style of the Hebrew Bible. It speaks about the removal of sin, encouragement to acquire wisdom, and comfort is given for the troubles Jews were suffering. A second book was appended to Baruch that purports to be a letter composed by Jeremiah. It contains statements made against idol worship. It was probably composed around the first century BCE in Greek.
The three tales about Daniel show him to be wise. In one, he proves, almost like a modern detective, that the idols that the king worshipped, did not eat the food left for it each night.