Prayer of Manasseh

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The Prayer of Manasseh is found in the books of the Septuagint, the Old Testament accepted as inspired and canonical by the Orthodox Church in the Greek Orthodox Bible, and found in the books of the Old Testament of the Vulgate. It is not included in the canon of inspired scripture by the Third Council of Carthage (397). It is included in the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. Since the Council of Trent it is not accepted as inspired and canonical by the Catholic Church in the Catholic Bible—books of the Bible accepted as divinely inspired by the majority of Christian believers in the United States and throughout the world.[1][2][3]

Prayer of Manasseh was first removed from the Old Testament and placed in the Apocrypha by Martin Luther in the 16th century. The Prayer of Manasseh is regarded as canonical and inspired by about 12% of Christian believers.[3]

See Apocrypha.

Canonical status

The Prayer of Manasseh is considered apocryphal by Jews, Catholics and Protestants. Although it was part of the Vulgate, it was not included in the Biblical canon of the Council of Trent (1546). It is accepted as a deuterocanonical book by some Orthodox Christians, though it does not appear in Bibles printed in Greece.

The prayer appears in ancient Syriac, Old Slavonic, Ethiopic, and Armenian translations.[4][5] In the Ethiopian Bible, the text of this prayer appears within II Paraleipomenon, within 2 Chronicles, in chapter 33, between verses 19 and 20. It was placed at the end of 2 Chronicles in the late 4th century Vulgate. The Prayer of Manasseh is also found included in certain editions of the Greek Septuagint; for example, the fifth century Codex Alexandrinus. Some editions of the Septuagint include the Prayer among the fourteen Odes, as forming a part of the Book of Odes appearing just after the Psalms.[4][6] Over a millennium later, it was part of the 1537 Matthew Bible, and it was printed at the end of II Paralipomenon in the Latin Vulgate and the 1599 Geneva Bible. Martin Luther included the book in his 74-book translation of the Bible (posthumously published, 1570?).[7] Pope Clement VIII included the Prayer in an appendix to the Vulgate stating that it should continue to be read "lest it perish entirely." It also appears in the apocrypha of the King James Bible.

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion of the Protestant Episcopal Church (Article VI: "Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation") includes the Prayer of Manasseh among "the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine".[8]

The Prayer of Manasseh is chanted during the Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic service of Great Compline. It is used in the Roman Rite as part of the Responsory after the first reading in the Office of Readings (along with Psalm 51) on the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is also a canticle in the Daily Office of the 1979 U.S. Book of Common Prayer used by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America.


Prayer of Manasseh purports to be the prayer of repentance uttered in Babylon by the exiled king of Judah, Manasseh son of Hezekiah. According to 2 Chronicles 33:18 his prayer was well-known to the people.

The Prayer of Manasseh is a short work of 15 verses of the penitential prayer of the Judean king Manasseh. Manasseh is recorded in the Bible as one of the most idolatrous (IV Kingdoms 21:1-18); however, after having been taken captive by the Assyrians, he prays for mercy (II Paraleipomenon 33:10-17) and turns from his idolatrous ways.

See 2 Chronicles 33:1-20
Compare 2 Kings 21:1-18

His purification and restoration of the Temple he had defiled, after he had been released and had returned to Jerusalem, and the renovation and restoration of the Temple by his grandson Josiah, are referenced in the Book of Judith, chapter 4, verse 3.


  1. The Catholic Church is the world's largest Christian body comprised of several distinct "Rites". The Catholic Church (Latin Rite) is the largest religious body in the United States, with over 60 million adherents (4 times as large as the second largest church, the Orthodox).
    “The Global Catholic Population,” © 2011, Pew Research Center.
    The Largest Catholic Communities
    The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church, and also referred to as the Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, most of whom live in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia.
    The Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Of America (1983). Retrieved on 7 May 2014.
    Christianity:Basics:Eastern Orthodox Church Denomination. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
    Christianity. Major Branches of Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
  2. See Percentage of Christians in Protestant Denominations (29.5%).
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pew Research. Religion & Public Life Project. Christian Traditions. "About half of all Christians worldwide are Catholic (50%), while more than a third are Protestant (37%). Orthodox communions comprise 12% of the world’s Christians." December 19, 2011.
  4. 4.0 4.1 NET Bible
  5. The shorter books of the Apocrypha: Tobit, Judith, Rest of Esther, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, additions to Daniel and Prayer of Manasseh. Commentary by J. C. Dancy, with contributions by W. J. Fuerst and R. J. Hammer. Cambridge [Eng.] University Press, 1972. ISBN 16230423
  6. The Odes forms an appendix to the book of Psalms in three Greek biblical manuscripts (A, 5th cent.; T, 7th cent.; 55, 10th cent.) and in some daughter translations. A few Syriac MSS append the prayer to 2 Chronicles. —Prayer of Manasseh, George W. E. Nickelsburg, in The Oxford Bible Commentary.
  7. Beggars All Reformation. Sunday, June 05, 2011. Luther Added Books to His Bible? (
  8. Anglicans Online: Articles of Religion. As established by the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Convention, on the twelfth day of September, in the Year of our Lord, 1801.

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