What is Apocrypha ?

St. Jerome in his study

St. Jerome

     The term "apocrypha" was coined by the fifth-century biblical scholar St. Jerome and refers to the biblical books included as part of the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament), but not included in the Hebrew Bible.

          Several works ranging from the fourth century B.C.E. to New Testament times are considered apocryphal--including Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, First and Second Maccabees, the two Books of Esdras, various additions to the Book of Esther (10:4-10), the Book of Daniel (3:24-90;13;14), and the Prayer of Manasseh.

          The apocrypha have been variously included and omitted from bibles over the course of the centuries. Protestant churches generally exclude the apocrypha (though the King James version of 1611 included them).

          The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches include all of the apocrypha (except for the books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh), but refer to them as "deuterocanonical" books.

          In this context, the term "apocrypha" generally refers to writings entirely outside of the biblical canon and not considered inspired (such as the Gospel of Thomas). These same books are referred to by Protestants as the "pseudoepigrapha."


          Although the writings known as the Apocrypha are often not included in Protestant Bibles, due to the fact that these ancient texts came to us in Greek (like the New Testament) and later Latin but not in Scriptural Hebrew. Their rank in terms of authority are "Deuterocanonical", or second level.

          The fact is, while Anglo—American fundamentalists today reject their canonicity, they were translated and included in the original King James Bible of 1611, and are sometimes overviewed in Bible College or Seminary classes for historical background value. Having said this, we offer them here in faithfulness to the 1611 original.

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