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Apocryphal Books

The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical".


The word is originally Greek (ἀπόκρυφα) and means "those hidden away". Specifically, ἀπόκρυφα is the neuter plural of ἀπόκρυφος, an adjective related to the verb ἀποκρύπτω [infinitive: ἀποκρύπτειν] (apocriptein), "to hide something away."The word "apocrypha" means "of questionable authenticity." These are called non canonical books because when the canon of Scriptures (the sixty six books of the Old and New Testaments) was accepted by the early Christians they recognized that these books contained spurious material and therefore were not inspired of God. Other names for these books are "hidden" or "deuterocanonical" books. These books are also called "pseudepigraphal", meaning "false writings" to designate them as spurious and unauthentic books of the late centuries B. C. and early centuries A. D. These books contain religious folklore and have never been considered inspired of God by biblical Christians from the earliest times of churches.

The general term is usually applied to the books in the Roman Catholic Bible or the Christian old testament, and the Eastern Orthodox Bible, but not the Protestant Bible on their claim that it is not God's word.

So, for Protestant denominations, it is misleading in this sense to refer to the Gospel according to the Hebrews or even the Gnostic writings as apocryphal, because they would not be classified in the same category: by Protestants they would be classified as a heretical subset of antilegomenae, to distinguish them from now-canonical ancient antilegomenae such as 2 Peter, 3 John and the Revelation of John, and non-canonical but non-heretical books which were quoted by the Early Fathers such as the pseudepigraphic Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, or The Shepherd of Hermas. In Protestantism the gnostic writings are generally not accorded any status, not even a negative one: they are ignored, as they are incompatible with the accepted canon prima facie. Non-canonical books are texts of uncertain authenticity, or writings where the work is seriously questioned. Given that different denominations have different beliefs about what constitutes canonical scripture, there are several versions of the apocrypha.
The additional books were not included in the Bible for several reasons:

  •     They were not referenced by Jesus.  Jesus directly referenced the entire Jewish canon of Scripture by referring to Abel (the first martyr in the Old Testament) and Zacharias (the last martyr in the OT) (Matt. 23:35).  He also never quotes directly from any of the apocryphal writings, but makes numerous references to the Old Testament books.
  •     They lacked apostolic1 or prophetic authorship.
  •     They did not claim to be the Word of God.
  •     They contain unbiblical concepts such as prayer for the dead (2 Macc. 12:45-46) or the condoning of magic (Tobit 6:5-7).
  •     They have serious historical inaccuracies (For more information, see "Errors in the Apocrypha").
Deuterocanonical (Apocryphal) Books

  1.     First Esdras (150-100 BC)
  2.     Second Esdras (100 AD)
  3.     Tobit (200 BC)
  4.     Judith (150 BC)
  5.     Additions to Esther (140-130 BC)
  6.     Wisdom of Solomon (30 BC)
  7.     Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) (132 BC)
  8.     Baruch (150-50 BC)
  9.     Letter of Jeremiah (300-100 BC)
  10.     Susanna (200-0 BC)
  11.     Bel and the Dragon (100 BC)
  12.     Additions to Daniel (Prayer of Azariah) (200-0 BC)
  13.     Prayer of Manassesh (100-0 BC)
  14.     First Maccabees (110 BC)
  15.     Second Maccabees (110-170 BC)

Other Books


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