Day of Atonement by David A. deSilva opens a door on the little-known period between the Old and New Testaments, when Jerusalem was torn between those who sought to emulate Greek culture and those who sought to continue in the Mosaic law. The author, a seminary professor of New Testament and Greek, makes the drama come alive with vivid portrayals of historical figures. It's fascinating to see how the characters' choices and compromises led them down different paths.
As an evangelical Christian, I am not familiar with the Apocrypha, so most of the events in this book were completely new to me. Regardless of the Apocrypha's status in Biblical canon, I think it is worthwhile to know about the historical context, especially what happened to Israel between the return from exile and the incarnation.