Apocrypha

APOCRYPHA. Interspersed among the canonical books of the OT in the old Latin Vulgate Bible are certain additional books and chapters. It is to these that Protestant usage generally assigns the term “Apocrypha.” In English versions the Apocrypha are usually presented as fifteen separate books. (See below for individual treatment of these.)

At the Council of Trent (a.d. 1546) the Roman Catholic church received as canonical all the additional materials in the Vulgate except for 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. That decision was made in contradiction of the best tradition of even the Roman church itself. It was a reaction to the Reformers, who recognized as divinely inspired and as their infallible rule of faith and practice only those books that were in the canon of the Jews (cf. esp., Josephus, Contra Apionem 1:8), the canon sanctioned by the Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Esdras: It is called 3 Esdras in post-Trentian editions of the Vulgate, where the canonical Ezra and Nehemiah are called 1 and 2 Esdras (“Esdras” being the Greek form of Ezra). Except for the story of the wisdom contest (3:1-5:6), the contents are a version of the history narrated in 2Chr.35.1-2Chr.35.27-2Chr.36.23, Ezra, and Neh.7.73-Neh.8.12, embracing the period from Josiah’s Passover to Ezra’s reformation. Nothing is known of the author (or translator) of the LXX form except that he produced it some time before Josephus, who in his Antiquities strangely prefers it to the canonical record.

2 Esdras: The Vulgate designation is 4 Esdras. Some call it Apocalyptic Esdras because the central kernel (chapters 3-14) presents seven revelations allegedly given to Ezra in exile, several in visionary form and of largely eschatological import. To this original composed by an unknown Jew, probably near the end of the first century a.d., and later translated into Greek, Christian authors subsequently added in Greek the chapters 1, 2, 15, and 16. The Jewish original offers its apocalyptic prospects as an answer to the theodicy problem (God’s goodness in relation to the evil in the world), acutely posed for Judaism by the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. The Christian addition assigns the casting off of Israel in favor of the Gentiles to Israel’s apostasy.

Tobit: This romantic tale with religious didactic purpose was composed at least as early as the second century b.c. It is named after its hero, who is pictured as an eighth-century b.c. Naphtalite carried into exile to Nineveh. His story becomes entwined with that of his kinswoman Sarah, exiled in Ecbatana. The tragedies of both are remedied through the adventures of Tobit’s son Tobias, whom Sarah marries, and all under the angel Raphael’s supervision. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are stressed but unfortunately in a context of autosoterism, i.e., works righteousness.

Judith: Judith, like Tobit, is Jewish historical fiction with a religious moral. It includes elements from two centuries (seventh to fifth b.c.) of Israelite fortunes, not always in their proper historical order or setting. Using Jael-like (Judg.4.14-Judg.4.22) tactics, Judith, a beautiful Jewess, saves besieged “Bethulia” by slaying Holofernes, the enemy commander. Possibly the grotesque anachronisms are intentional; Luther interpreted it as an allegory of Israel’s triumphing, under God, over her enemies. The book evidences appreciation of Israel’s peculiar theocratic privileges but magnifies a ceremonial piety that would exceed the requirements of Moses. Some think it was composed to inspire zeal during the Maccabean revolt in the second century b.c.

Additions to Esther: The canonical Hebrew text of Esther has 163 verses; the Greek version has 270. The additional material is divided into seven sections and is distributed at the appropriate points throughout the narrative in this way: (1) before Judg.1.1; (2) after Judg.3.13; (3) and (4) after Judg.7.17; (5) after Judg.8.12; (6) after Judg.10.3. Inasmuch as genuine Esther contains explicit references neither to God nor traditional Jewish religious practices other than fasting, it is significant that prayers of Mordecai and Esther and also frequent mention of God are included in the additions. The Greek additions contradict details of canonical Esther and contain other obviously fictional elements. They appeared as an appendix to Esther in the Vulgate and this fusion of disconnected fragments constitutes a “book” in the Apocrypha.

Wisdom of Solomon: The LXX uses this title; the Vulgate, Liber Sapientiae. The author, who identifies himself with the figure of Solomon, apparently was an Alexandrian Jew writing in Greek in the first century b.c. or a.d. (some, however, judge the book to be of composite authorship). The influence of Greek philosophy is evidenced by the dependence on logos speculations in the treatment of personified Wisdom and by the acceptance of various pagan teachings: the creation of the world out of preexistent matter; the preexistence of souls; the impedimentary character of the body; perhaps too, the doctrine of emanation. In tracing Wisdom’s government of history from Adam to Moses, numerous fanciful and false embellishments of the biblical record are intruded.

Ecclesiasticus: This second representative of the wisdom style of literature in the Apocrypha is also called, after its author, The Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira. Written in Hebrew, 180 b.c. or earlier, it was translated into Greek for the Alexandrian Jews by the author’s grandson c. 130. Ben Sira, apparently a professional scribe and teacher, patterned his work after the style of Proverbs. In it he expounds the nature of wisdom, applying its counsel to all areas of social and religious life. Though often reflecting sentiments of the canonical books, Ben Sira also echoes the ethical motivations of pagan wisdom literature. Moreover, he contradicts the biblical teaching that salvation is through Christ alone by writing that almsgiving makes atonement for sin.

Baruch: This pseudepigraphic book was evidently written by several authors at different times. The first part, 1:1-3:8, dated by some as early as the third century b.c., was probably written in Hebrew, as was possibly also the remainder, which is of later origin. Composed in a prophetic prose, Judg.1.1-Judg.3.8 purports to have been produced by Jeremiah’s secretary in Babylonian exile and sent to Jerusalem. It is a confession of national sin (in imitation of Daniel’s), petitioning for God’s mercy. Actually Baruch went to Egypt with Jeremiah, and there is no evidence that he was ever in Babylonia. From Judg.3.9 the book is poetry. In Judg.3.9-Judg.4.4 Israel is recalled to wisdom. In Judg.4.5-Judg.5.9 Jerusalem laments her exiled children, but assurances of restoration are offered.

Epistle of Jeremy: In some Greek and Syriac manuscripts this “epistle” is found after Lamentations; in others and in the Vulgate it is attached to Baruch and therefore appears as a sixth chapter of Baruch in most English editions. A superscription describes it as an epistle sent by Jeremiah to certain captives about to be led into Babylon (cf. Jer.29.1ff.). The true author is unknown and the original language uncertain. A baffling reference to “seven generations” of exile (contrast Jer.29.10) has figured in speculation as to its date, which was no later than the second century b.c. It ridicules the foolishness of idol worship as represented by the worship of the god Bel and so served as a warning to the Jews and as an accusation against Gentiles.

The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Children: This is one of the three sections (see also Susanna and Bel and the Dragon) added to the canonical Daniel in the “Septuagint” translation (whether in the first edition, i.e., probably by the early second century b.c., or in a later edition is not known) and afterward in Theodotion’s Greek version. From the latter Jerome translated the additions into Latin, commenting that they did not exist in manuscripts of the Hebrew-Aramaic original of Daniel.

Between Jer.3.23 and Jer.3.24 of canonical Daniel both Greek and Latin versions insert: (1) a prayer of national confession with supplication for deliverance, which Daniel’s friend Azariah (cf. Dan.1.7) offers while he and his two companions are in the fiery furnace; (2) a psalm of praise (dependent on Ps.148.1-Ps.148.14 and Ps.136.1-Ps.136.26), uttered by the three; and (3) a narrative framework containing details not warranted by the genuine Daniel. This section is itself perhaps of composite authorship and was probably written in Hebrew.

Susanna: In the Vulgate, Susanna follows canonical Daniel as chapter 13; in Greek manuscripts it is prefixed to chapter 1. Two crucial word plays at the climax of the tale suggest it was composed in Greek but there is no consensus. Its origin and date are unknown; Alexandria about 100 b.c. is one theory. The story relates how two Israelite elders in Babylon, their lustful advances having been resisted by Susanna, falsely accuse her of adultery. But young Daniel effects Susanna’s deliverance and the elders’ doom by ensnaring them in contradictory testimony.

Bel and the Dragon: These fables ridiculing heathenism appear as chapter 13 of Daniel in Greek and as chapter 14 in the Vulgate. They date from the first or second century b.c.; their original language is uncertain. Daniel plays detective to expose to Cyrus the fraud of the priests who clandestinely consumed the food-offerings of Bel (Baal—i.e., Marduk). After destroying Bel, Daniel concocts a recipe that explodes a sacred dragon. Consigned to a den of lions, Daniel is miraculously fed and delivered.

The Prayer of Manasseh: According to 2Chr.33.11ff., when the wicked King Manasseh had been carried into exile, he repented and God restored him to Jerusalem. 2Chr.33.18-2Chr.33.19 refer to sources that contained Manasseh’s prayer of repentance. The origin of the apocryphal book that purports to be that prayer is unknown; possibly it was produced in Palestine a century or two before Christ. It contains confession of sin and petition for forgiveness. The view is expressed that certain sinless men need no repentance. In Greek manuscripts the prayer appears in the Odes attached to the Psalter. In the old Vulgate it came to be placed after 2 Chronicles.

1 Maccabees: Beginning with the accession of Antiochus Epiphanes (176 b.c.), the history of the Jewish struggle for religious-political liberation is traced to the death of Simon (136 b.c.). This apocryphal book is our most valuable historical source for that period. It narrates the exploits of the priest Mattathias and of his sons—Judas, Jonathan, and Simon—who successively led the Hasidim to remarkable victories. Judas was given the surname “Maccabee,” afterward applied to his brothers and four books (1-4 Maccabees). The author wrote in Hebrew and was a contemporary of John Hyrcanus, son and successor of Simon. According to one theory, the last three chapters were added and the whole reedited after the destruction of the temple.

2 Maccabees: Independent of 1 Maccabees, this history partly overlaps it, extending from the last year of Seleucus IV (176 b.c.) to the defeat of Nicanor by Judas (161). The author states that he has epitomized the (now lost) five-volume history of Jason of Cyrene (1Macc.2.23). Both Jason and the Epitomist wrote in Greek. Suggested dates for 2 Maccabees vary from c. 120 b.c. to the early first century a.d. Two introductory letters (1Macc.1.1-1Macc.2.18) were perhaps lacking in the first edition. While there are various errors in 1 Maccabees, legendary exaggeration is characteristic of the moralizing in 2 Maccabees. It also includes doctrinal errors such as the propriety of prayers for the dead.

Bibliography: R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, 2 vols., 1913; W. O. E. Oesterley, The Books of the Apocrypha, 1915; C. C. Torrey, The Apocryphal Literature: A Brief Introduction, 1945; R. H. Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times, With an Introduction to the Apocrypha, 1949; W. O. E. Oesterley, An Introduction to the Books of the Apocrypha, 1953; B. M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, 1957.——MGK


Derived from a Greek neuter plural adjective meaning “hidden things,” the word “apocrypha” has a different meaning for different church traditions. The Protestant use refers to the books which are sometimes printed in Bibles as a separate block of literature between the OT and the NT. Apart from 2 Esdras, which originates from the Vulgate, these books together with the OT books constituted the Septuagint. In Roman Catholic usage these writings are called “deuterocanonical,” and the term “apocrypha” is reserved for those books wholly outside the canon which Protestants call the pseudepigrapha.”* This article will restrict itself to the books of the Protestant tradition. The books are:

(1) 1 Esdras (= 3 Esdras in Vulgate, which uses 1 and 2 Esdras for Ezra and Nehemiah; = Esdras B in Septuagint). This consists of material, paralleled in 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah, but rearranged by the editor/author, dealing with the story of the Jerusalem temple from Josiah to Zerubbabel and Ezra's restoration. An interesting fictional addition is the debate of the three youths, which Zerubbabel, a guardsman of Darius, wins by showing that truth is the strongest power on earth.

(2) 2 Esdras (= 4 Esdras in Vulgate) is a Christian expansion of a Jewish apocalyptic work consisting of seven visions about the age to come. In its present form it dates from about a.d. 90.

(3) Tobit is a delightful short story about the adventures of Tobit's son, Tobias, who journeys to Media in company with the angel Raphael disguised as a mortal. With his help two healing miracles take place, one on Sarah, Tobias's betrothed, who has been tormented by a demon, and the other on the aged Tobit, whose sight is restored.

(4) Judith tells the equally fictitious story of how a young widow of Bethulia (= Bethel), which was besieged by Holofernes's army, delivered the city by enticing the enemy general to his death.

(5) The rest of Esther. These are some additions to the canonical book, designed to deepen its religious content and to strengthen its claim to canonicity.

(6) The Wisdom of Solomon is in the finest tradition of Hebrew wisdom, though it betrays considerable Hellenistic influence and is one of the few parts of the Apocrypha written originally in Greek and not translated from a Hebrew or Aramaic original.

(7) Ecclesiasticus, or the nodetitle, Ben- Sira, written about 180 b.c., is a guidebook to the good life, summed up in the word “wisdom,” and is probably the most significant of the apocryphal books.

(8) Baruch, a composite work including the letter of Jeremiah, is a first-century b.c. compilation attributed to Jeremiah's scribe and companion.

(9) The additions to Daniel, viz., The Song of the Three Holy Children in the fiery furnace (known as the Benedicite) and the legendary tales of Susanna and nodetitle. (Alternative accountings list these as separate books, resulting in enumeration of up to fourteen apocryphal books as compared with this listing of twelve.)

(10) The nodetitle is a brief but moving expression of penitence for sin.

(11) 1 Maccabees is a historical survey of the events from 175 to 134 b.c. in which the Maccabean house is exalted as the means of bringing salvation to Israel. It is a reliable account of the period and was written in Hebrew about 100 b.c., after the death of John Hyrcanus.

(12) 2 Maccabees covers roughly the same period but is much less reliable as history, containing a number of highly colored episodes from the story of the uprising.

None of these books was accepted into the Hebrew canon by the Jewish synod of Jamnia, which met at a time (c. a.d. 100) when the authentic Jewish heritage was thought to be in danger of erosion from the syncretistic tendencies of apocalyptic writing and from the increasing influence of Christianity. The Septuagint tradition reflects an earlier, pre-Christian stage of development where the need for rigid norms had not yet arisen. The early Christian Church never resolved its attitude to these divergent approaches: Clement, Cyprian, and Augustine were among those who followed the Septuagint canon, while Origen, Cyril, and Jerome held to the Hebrew books. Although Jerome's Bible, the Vulgate (which became the official Roman Catholic text of Holy Scripture), incorporated the Apocrypha, Jerome himself wrote that these libri ecclesiastici (as distinct from the libri canonici of Hebrew tradition) could be read for edification, but not for confirming the authority of church dogmas.

In the Reformation Luther incorporated the Apocrypha into his translation of the Bible (1534), adding that the books were not equal to Scripture but nevertheless were “profitable and good to read.” The Reformed churches went further and excised them altogether from the canon of Scripture,* Article 3 of the Westminster Confession* (1647) explicitly rejecting their inspiration, authority, and spiritual usefulness.

The Roman Catholic Church at the nodetitle* (1546) anathematized those who did not regard as sacred and canonical all the books contained in the Vulgate, and this view was substantially upheld by the Vatican Council of 1870. The Greek Church, after a period of uncertainty, eventually settled at the Synod of Jerusalem (1672) for the Jamnia canon, with the addition of Tobit, Judith, nodetitle, and Ecclesiasticus.

Questions of canonicity apart, the Apocrypha has considerable value for biblical scholarship for the light it sheds on the intertestamental period-the development of apocalyptic thought, of wisdom and nomistic theology, and the increasing impact of Hellenistic ideas on Judaism.\nBibliography: R.H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the nodetitle (2 vols., 1913); W.O.E. Oesterley, An Introduction to the Books of the Apocrypha (1935); R.H. Pfeiffer, History of the nodetitle Times, with an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949); B.M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (1957); L.H. Brockington, A Critical Introduction to the Apocrypha (1961).


APOCRYPHA (̓Απόκρυφος, hidden). Applied technically to the relationship of certain books to the Heb. Canon. In general it constitutes the excess of the LXX over the Heb. Scriptures, with the material concerned being written during the last two centuries b.c. and the 1st cent. a.d.

The concept of the Apocrypha.

The word “apocrypha” was used originally as a literary term with regard to books which were unsuitable for public reading because of their esoteric content. It was felt that the secret doctrines which they enshrined would lose their authority if they were profaned by the gaze of the common people, an attitude particularly in evidence among the Gr. Gnostics. After a.d. 70 the apocalyptic works fell into disfavor in Judaism, and the term “apocrypha” became equally debased. The esoteric nature of the “hidden” books actually worked against them, since the uninitiated believed that the secret lore was really heresy. The word “apocrypha” thus came to mean heretical or spurious, and books of this nature were forbidden to be read either in public or private. This situation had become normative by the 4th cent. a.d., since Athanasius (d. a.d. 373) and Rufinus (d. a.d. 410) spoke of apocryphal material in this manner. Some books in the NT Canon were occasionally regarded as apocryphal, and Gregory of Nyssa (d. a.d. 395) put the Book of Revelation into that category. In the 5th cent. the term “apocryphal” was used to designate noncanonical rather than heretical works, as in the writings of Jerome (d. a.d. 420), and this usage has survived to modern times in Protestant thought.

The Apocrypha in Judaism.

During the two centuries prior to the birth of Christ a great many books were written by Jewish authors. Since it was only about a.d. 100 that the idea of a “closed” Heb. Canon was implemented, the problem of the canonicity of these compositions was not serious. These “outside books” were known in Jewish circles as “writings which do not defile the hands” and enjoyed considerable popularity, as shown by the large number of Heb. and Aram. works of this kind, some of which were recovered from Qumran. The members of this Jewish sect made little serious effort at distinguishing between the canonical Heb. writings and other works of a similar character, and this attitude undoubtedly reflected current practices in Judaism. Most of the apocryphal compositions in circulation at that time were of an apocalyptic, legendary, historical, or theological nature, and in addition to the OT Apocrypha included such works as the Book of Jubilees, the Psalms of Solomon, the Story of Ahikar, and other books from the intertestamental period which are sometimes styled Pseudep. The popularity of much of this lit. came to an abrupt end with the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70, and the apocalyptic writings in particular, in which so much hope had been placed, fell into outright disfavor with the collapse of the Jewish state. In addition, Christian compositions written in Aram. were increasingly available, and when Christian interpolations began to appear in Jewish apocryphal works, the designation of the “outside books” became an urgent matter. Some action in this area may have taken place c. a.d. 100, although the precise occasion, the supposed Synod of Jamnia, has been a matter of some scholarly debate. However, by the beginning of the 2nd cent. a.d. the excluded lit. was no longer a problem to the Jews, particularly since by that time a substantial corpus of rabbinic lit. had arisen to replace it. Interestingly enough, the apocryphal writings of Judaism survived more as the result of the activities of Christians than through any serious interest on the part of the Jews.

The Apocrypha and Christianity.

At the beginning of the Christian era the LXX was the VS of Scripture used predominantly by the Jews. When the Christian Church came into existence, its members felt no particular urge to repudiate those familiar compositions found in the LXX Canon which were not represented in the Heb. Scriptures. Although there may be instances where certain NT writers reflected the imagery or phraseology of some apocryphal compositions, they never cited them either as inspired or as sources of spiritual authority. One of the great values of the Apoc. for the Christians was the fact that it bridged the gap between the end of prophecy and the writing of the NT books, furnishing valuable historical, political, and religious information which would otherwise have been difficult to obtain.

The Early Church.


The Reformation.

For the Reformers the Bible was the sole and supreme authority in matters of belief and conduct, raising questions as to the status of the Apoc. in this connection. Luther gathered the “outside books” from Gr. and Lat. MSS and placed them at the end of his 1534 Ger. VS under the heading of “Apocrypha.” The Roman Catholic Church responded quickly in the nodetitle (1546) by acknowledging as canonical all of the Apoc. except 1 and 2 Esdras and the nodetitle. In the 1592 Vul. these three works formed an appendix to the NT. Calvin and his followers explicitly rejected any authority that the Apoc. might have claimed or received, holding that the contents were not divinely inspired. After Luther’s day, translations of the Bible in various European languages segregated the Apoc., and after 1626 some edd. of the KJV appeared without it.

Post-Reformation attitudes.

The controversy regarding the canonicity of the Apoc. ended in a stalemate, with the Roman Catholic Church holding that it was of equal inspiration and authority with the rest of Scripture, while Reformed tradition firmly rejected it as divinely inspired Scripture. The Church of England formularies (Article VI) recognized its use “for example of life and instruction of manners,” but the nodetitle (1647) forbade it to be “in any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.” In modern times the value of the Apoc. for both Judaism and primitive Christianity has been amply recognized, and the discoveries at Qumran have given new zest to studies of the intertestamental period and its massive lit. Interestingly enough, the Apoc. is not represented significantly in MSS discoveries to date at Qumran, the reason prob. being that the community was oriented in terms of the Torah, anticipating by a cent. the attitude of Judaism after a.d. 70.

Contents.

The works commonly designated by the term Apoc. are as follows: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the nodetitle, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, Additions to the Book of Daniel, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. Some LXX MSS include the quasi-historical books designated 3 and 4 Maccabees, but these belong properly to the Pseudep.

First Esdras. In the Vul. this book is called 3 Esdras, and in the Lucianic recension of the LXX is entitled 2 Esdras. It furnished a parallel account of events recorded in Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah, with the addition of an old Pers. tale, the Debate of the Three Soldiers (1 Esd 3:1-5:6). Thus the book covered by selection the history of Israel from the late preexilic period to about 444 b.c., when Ezra promulgated the law in the restored Jewish state.


An indication of the popularity of this type of lit. in the intertestamental period is seen in the fact that Josephus preferred 1 Esdras as his authority over the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah. First Esdras is not a tr. of the MT of these two books, however, though prob. being based on a closely related text from a family now known, from discoveries at Qumran, to have been circulating in Judaea in the immediate pre-Christian period. Nor does 1 Esdras depend on the Heb. text underlying the LXX recension, as shown by the divergence of readings and the variation in the chronology of the Pers. kings. Perhaps 1 Esdras may even have been based on a Heb. text which rivals the MT in intrinsic value. The date of the composition is as difficult to determine as its origin, but it is certainly later than the Pers. period and perhaps emerged from 2nd cent. b.c. Alexandria. It was in circulation in the time of Christ, since Josephus employed it as a source. The work is rather fragmentary, and whether it has survived as part of a more complete book is unknown.

Its purpose of writing is also problematical, since the history of the period was already known from canonical sources, and the errors and contradictions in it would hardly commend it to a serious student of Jewish history. Certainly the inclusion of pagan folklore would depreciate its value for orthodox Jews. The book opened in the preexilic era, but went on to describe the Captivity, return, and the frustrations relating to the rebuilding of the Temple and city walls. The central section (3:1-5:6) told of a competition between three Pers. soldiers to decide the most powerful thing in the world. The winner, who held truth to be the strongest, gained as a reward the return of the Temple treasures and the rebuilding of the Temple itself. The remainder of the narrative dealt with the religious reformation of Ezra. Clearly the book cannot be taken seriously as history, and is at best a moralizing composition glorifying truth.


Tobit is a pious romance narrating the fortunes of a righteous captive of the Israelite Exile and was a popular story in the intertestamental period. It was transmitted in three Gr. recensions, as well as in the Lat., Syr., Eth., and Heb. VSS. Fragments of Tobit in Heb. and Aram. were found among the MS deposits in the Qumran caves, and suggested an Aram. original. However, the language of composition is unknown, as is the place. A Palestinian background is possible, but Mesopotamia seems more probable, and the time of writing is not the Assyrian or Babylonian Captivity, but most prob. c. a.d. 200. The book contains certain historical and geographical errors such as the assumption that Sennacherib was the son of Shalmaneser (1:15) instead of Sargon II, and that Nineveh was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus (14:15) instead of by Nabopolassar and Cyaxares. Again, the writer placed Rages one day’s journey from Ecbatana instead of two weeks by camel caravan.

The story narrated the privations of Tobit in exile, which culminated in the misfortune and shame of blindness. A young Heb. woman named Sarah who lived in Ecbatana was also ill, and the angel Raphael was sent to heal them both. He joined Tobias, son of Tobit, on a journey to Media and instructed him to preserve the heart, liver, and gall of a fish which they caught in the Tigris. On returning home he anointed Tobit’s eyes with the fish gall, after which his sight was restored. The tale taught fidelity to the Torah and humility and obedience toward God, as well as the importance of discharging family and social obligations properly. Although unhistorical, it gives a useful glimpse of traditional Jewish piety in the 2nd cent. b.c., and throws interesting light on the growing doctrines of angels, demons, and spirits in the pre-Christian period.

Judith was another story which was extremely popular in intertestamental times, and which was accorded historicity by some early Fathers. Four different forms of an early Gr. VS have survived, all of them based on a lost Heb. original. The fact that the chief character was a woman added to the appeal of the work, and the courageous nature of her exploits was in the tradition of other Israelite women who had managed at various times to stave off disaster by their counsel or cunning.

The story was set in the early days of the return from captivity and told of the overthrow of Nebuchadnezzar’s armies by Judith’s guile. Because Judaea had not helped Nebuchadnezzar in his war against Media, the province was put under siege. Judith left her native Bethulia to visit Holofernes, the enemy commander, on the pretext of betraying military secerets. Having aroused the amorous interests of Holofernes, she was able to behead him while they were dining alone one night. She returned to Bethulia with his head, whereupon the besieged inhabitants launched an attack on the Assyrians (sic), who retreated in disorder. Hymns of praise were then sung, and the nation enjoyed a period of peace. The story fits readily into the time of the Maccabean uprising (2nd cent. b.c.), but cannot possibly be historical because of the glaring errors it contains. Thus Nebuchadnezzar was given an impossibly long reign, as was the ruler of Media, while the Assyrians and Babylonians were hopelessly confused and the armies were made to perform impossible feats of mobility. The story was intended to show that even the most desperate circumstances warranted faith in God, and that individual courage and enterprise were never to be discounted on such occasions. Judith herself typified the legalistic Pharisaic piety of the Maccabean period, but by her behavior showed her awareness that Israel’s troubles were the result of sin. Submission to the divine will alone would bring salvation, and this could be readily effected by obedience to the Law.

The Additions to Esther do not form a separate continuous narrative when taken together and were meant to be inserted into the LXX text at various points. Of the six sections, the first, which prefixed the canonical Esther, dealt with Mordecai’s dream and his prevention of a plot against the king, while the second contained the royal edict for the destruction of Pers. Jews and followed Esther 3:13. The third consisted of the prayers of Mordecai and Esther and was meant to follow ch. 4 of the Heb. book. The fourth section described Esther’s audience with the king, supplementing Esther 5:12, and the fifth recorded the royal edict permitting Jewish self-defense, to follow Esther 8:12. The final addition interpreted the dream of Mordecai and furnished a chronological note regarding the date when the letter concerning Purim was brought to Egypt. All the additions seem to have been written in Gr., and a diversity of authorship is quite possible. There is little likelihood that the Heb. text was an abbreviated form of a larger book in Heb. or Aram., of which the Gr. was a tr., if only because the Additions contain too few Semitisms to require a Heb. original. From the Epilogue it appears that the Book of Esther was tr. into Gr. in the 2nd cent. b.c., and presumably the Additions were prepared at that time. Contrasted with the canonical Esther, the Additions are marked by open references to God and by expressions of devotion, faith, and piety.


One of the most valued intertestamental books was Ecclesiasticus or “The nodetitle the Son of Sirach,” its alternative title. The author, commonly referred to as “Ben Sira,” following Jewish usage, was a scribe of the old tradition who had conducted a school in Jerusalem for many years. During this time he compiled his book, parts of which have survived in Heb. in MSS contained in the Cairo genizah or synagogue storeroom. He instructed young men orally, after the fashion of the ancient Heb. sages, and wrote down his teachings to give them permanence, using the canonical Proverbs as a model. His thought was orthodox, giving no hint of Hellenic culture, and was Sadducean in emphasis. He wrote c. 180 b.c., since according to a preface his grandson migrated to Egypt in the reign of Ptolemy Euergetes (170-117 b.c.).

The book is in two parts, comprising chs. 1-23 and 24-50, with a short appendix, ch. 51. The first section based a successful life on reverence for God and observance of the law, while the second praised famous men of Israel, ending with Simon II, the high priest c. 200 b.c. The characteristic themes of Proverbs were expounded and illustrated with examples from the experience of the author. Ecclesiasticus or “the Church Book” was highly valued in the Early Church and was sometimes cited by the rabbis as Scripture. The book is the last great example of Hebraic Wisdom lit., and its typical stress is on the identification of wisdom with the law.

Baruch is a brief work attributed to the friend and scribe of Jeremiah, purporting to have come from the Captivity period and addressed to the Jewish deportees. It falls into three sections: the first (1:15-2:10) being a confession, the second (2:11-4:4) a plea for mercy and pardon, followed by a homily on wisdom, and the third (4:5-5:9) a section of consolation and assurance. A good deal of literary skill is evident in the work, though its dependence on sections of Job, Daniel, and Isaiah are obvious. Baruch was read widely by the Jews of the Diaspora and became part of the synagogue liturgy (cf. 1:14), surviving into the early Christian era. Synagogue usage would suggest an original Heb. composition, and if the book is a unity, which many scholars dispute, it could have been written by 350 b.c. If it came from diverse hands, a 2nd cent. b.c. date of composition seems more likely.

The Letter of Jeremiah is a typical Hel. Jewish attack on idolatry, in the form of a letter from Jeremiah to the Babylonian exiles. Using the original letter of Jeremiah (Jer 29:1ff.) as a model, the pamphlet demonstrated the carelessness of idols and the stupidity of worshiping them. It was written after 300 b.c. in good Gr. and may have had an Aram. original.

Additions to Daniel occurred in the LXX and in Theodotion’s tr. To Daniel 3 was added the nodetitle, uttered in the fiery furnace, and the nodetitle, chanted as they walked about in the flames. Probably these compositions existed in a Heb. original in the 3rd cent. b.c., the Prayer perhaps originating in Jerusalem. The Song has survived in Christian worship as the canticle Benedicite omnia opera.

Prefaced to Daniel in Theodotion (c. a.d. 175), but following it in the LXX, was the story of Susanna. This beautiful and virtuous wife of a Babylonian Jew was caught by two elders while bathing, and they demanded that she submit to them or else be accused of adultery. Choosing the latter, she was condemned, but the youth Daniel obtained a retrial and exposed her accusers. The literary form of the story is prob. from the 2nd cent. b.c.

The tales of Bel and The Dragon came at the end of the LXX Daniel and were designed to ridicule idolatry and cult worship. The first story showed Daniel exposing the priests of Bel for eating the food offerings which they declared the god himself had devoured, as a consequence of which the king ordered the idol destroyed. The second tale recounted how Daniel was put in a lion’s den for destroying a mighty cultdragon in Babylon. For six days Daniel was fed miraculously and on the seventh was released by the king. These stories comprise pious embellishments of the canonical Daniel and date from about 100 b.c.

The Prayer of Manasseh is prob. the best lit. in the entire Apoc., constituting a model of liturgical form and exuding the genuine air of religious piety. It claims to give the prayer mentioned in 2 Chronicles 33:11-19, and its liturgical pattern was in existence c. 400 b.c. The ascription to Manasseh, however, is unhistorical, and the Prayer may not be earlier than 250 b.c. The work lauds God’s majesty (vv. 1-4), makes confession (vv. 5-10), seeks forgiveness (vv. 11-13), and concludes with a doxology (vv. 14, 15). Sin was related to idolatrous practices, but repentance, forgiveness, and divine compassion were stressed.


In 2 Maccabees the reader passes from a fairly credible historical record to a work of an entirely different nature. It is a theological interpretation of some of the events of 1 Maccabees 1-7, but does not continue the narrative beyond the campaigns and defeat of Nicanor, and shows how divine help for Judaism resulted consistently from timely intercession. The unknown author excerpted much of his book from a five volume history by Jason of Cyrene, being sometimes known as the “Epitomist” in consequence. To him belong the prologue (2:19-32) and the epilogue (15:37-39), and perhaps the letter to the Egyp. Jews (1:1-2:18). The dating of underlying source materials presents problems, but it seems that 2 Maccabees was in existence by a.d. 50. Internal text. disarrangements raise questions as to the integrity of the composition, and there has been much debate over the historical value of the letters and edicts which 2 Maccabees contains. There are also numerous disarrangements and discrepancies in chronological, historical, and numerical matters in the book, reflecting ignorance or confusion on the part of the epitomist, his sources, or both. The book stressed the sovereignty of God and His purpose for Judaism and reflected Pharisaic doctrines, particularly in eschatology. See separate articles on the books mentioned.

Bibliography

R. H. Charles (Ed.), The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the nodetitle (1913); ibid., Religious Developments Between the Old and New Testaments (1914); C. C. Torrey, The Apocryphal Literature (1945); R. H. Pfeiffer, History of nodetitle Times with an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949); B. M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (1957); R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (1969).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

a-pok’-ri-fa:

I. DEFINITION

II. THE NAME APOCRYPHA 1. Original Meanings

(1) Classical

(2) Hellenistic

(3) In the nodetitle

(4) Patristic

2. "Esoteric" in Greek Philosophy, etc.

III. USAGE AS TO APOCRYPHA 1. Early Christian Usage

"Apocalyptic" Literature

2. The Eastern Church

(1) "Esoteric" Literature (Clement of Alexandria, etc.)

(2) Change to "Religious" Books (Origen, etc.)

(3) "Spurious" Books (Athanasius, Nicephorus, etc.)

(4) "List of Sixty"

3. The Western Church

(1) The Decretum Gelasii

(2) "Non-Canonical" Books

4. The Reformers

Separation from Canonical Books

5. Heb Words for "Apocrypha"

(1) Do Such Exist?

(2) Views of Zahn, Schurer, Porter, etc. (ganaz, genuzim)

(3) Reasons for Rejection

6. Summary

IV. CONTENTS OF THE APOCRYPHA 1. List of Books

2. Classification of Books

V. ORIGINAL LANGUAGES OF THE APOCRYPHA

VI. DATE OF THE APOCRYPHAL WRITINGS LITERATURE

I. Definition.

The word Apocrypha, as usually understood, denotes the collection of religious writings which the Septuagint and Vulgate (with trivial differences) contain in addition to the writings constituting the Jewish and Protestant canon. This is not the original or the correct sense of the word, as will be shown, but it is that which it bears almost exclusively in modern speech. In critical works of the present day it is customary to speak of the collection of writings now in view as "the nodetitle Apocrypha," because many of the books at least were written in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, and because all of them are much more closely allied to the Old Testament than to the New Testament. But there is a "New" as well as an "Old" Testament Apocrypha consisting of gospels, epistles, etc. Moreover the adjective "Apocryphal" is also often applied in modern times to what are now generally called "Pseudepigraphical writings," so designated because ascribed in the titles to authors who did not and could not have written them (eg. Enoch, Abraham, Moses, etc.). The persons thus connected with these books are among the most distinguished in the traditions and history of Israel, and there can be no doubt that the object for which such names have been thus used is to add weight and authority to these writings.

The late Professor E. Kautzsch of Halle edited a German translation of the Old and New Testament Apocrypha, and of the Pseudepigraphical writings, with excellent introductions and valuable notes by the best German scholars. Dr. Edgar Hennecke has edited a similar work on the New Testament Apocrypha. Nothing in the English language can be compared with the works edited by Kautzsch and Hennecke in either scholarship or usefulness. (A similar English work to that edited by Kautzsch is now passing through the (Oxford) press, Dr. R. H. Charles being the editor, the writer of this article being one of the contributors.)

II. The Name Apocrypha.

The investigation which follows will show that when the word "Apocryphal" was first used in ecclesiastical writings it bore a sense virtually identical with "esoteric": so that "apocryphal writings" were such as appealed to an inner circle and could not be understood by outsiders. The present connotation of the term did not get fixed until the Protestant Reformation had set in, limiting the Biblical canon to its present dimensions among Protestant churches.

1. Original Meanings:

(1) Classical.

The Greek adjective apokruphos, denotes strictly "hidden," "concealed," of a material object (Eurip. Here. Fur. 1070). Then it came to signify what is obscure, recondite, hard to understand (Xen. Mem. 3.5, 14). But it never has in classical Greek any other sense.

(2) Hellenistic.

In Hellenistic Greek as represented by the Septuagint and the New Testament there is no essential departure from classical usage. In the Septuagint (or rather Theodotion’s version) of Da 11:43 it stands for "hidden" as applied to gold and silver stores. But the word has also in the same text the meaning "what is hidden away from human knowledge and understanding." So Da 2:20 (Theod.) where the apokrupha or hidden things are the meanings of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream revealed to Daniel though "hidden" from the wise men of Babylon. The word has the same sense in Sirach 14:21; 39:3,7; 42:19; 48:25; 43:32.

(3) In the New Testament.

In the New Testament the word occurs but thrice, namely, Mr 4:22 and the parallel Lu 8:17; Col 2:3. In the last passage Bishop Lightfoot thought we have in the word apokruphoi (treasures of Christ hidden) an allusion to the vaunted esoteric knowledge of the false teachers, as if Paul meant to say that it is in Christ alone we have true wisdom and knowledge and not in the secret books of these teachers. Assuming this, we have in this verse the first example of apokruphos in the sense "esoteric." But the evidence is against so early a use of the term in this--soon to be its prevailing--sense. Nor does exegesis demand such a meaning here, for no writings of any kind seem intended.

(4) Patristic.

In patristic writings of an early period the adjective apokruphos came to be applied to Jewish and Christian writings containing secret knowledge about the future, etc., intelligible only to the small number of disciples who read them and for whom they were believed to be specially provided. To this class of writings belong in particular those designated Apocalyptic (see Apocalyptic Literature), and it will be seen as thus employed that apokruphos has virtually the meaning of the Greek esoterikos.

2. "Esoteric" in Greek Philosophy, etc.:

A brief statement as to the doctrine in early Greek philosophy will be found helpful at this point. From quite early times the philosophers of ancient Greece distinguished between the doctrines and rites which could be taught to all their pupils, and those which could profitably be communicated only to a select circle called the initiated. The two classes of doctrines and rites--they were mainly the latter--were designated respectively "exoteric" and "esoteric." Lucian (died 312; see Vit. Auct. 26) followed by many others referred the distinction to Aristotle, but as modern scholars agree, wrongly, for the exoterikoi logoi, of that philosopher denote popular treatises. The Pythagoreans recognized and observed these two kinds of doctrines and duties and there is good reason for believing that they created a corresponding double literature though unfortunately no explicit examples of such literature have come down to us.

In the Greek mysteries (Orphic, Dionysiac, Eleusinian, etc.) two classes of hearers and readers are implied all through, though it is a pity that more of the literature bearing on the question has not been preserved. Among the Buddhists the Samga forms a close society open originally to monks or bhikhus admitted only after a most rigid examination; but in later years nuns (bhikshunis) also have been allowed admission, though in their case too after careful testing. The Vinaya Pitaka or "Basket of Discipline" contains the rules for entrance and the regulations to be observed after entrance. But this and kindred literature was and is still held to be caviare to outsiders. See translation in the Sacred Books of the East, XI (Rhys Davids and Oldenberg).

III. Usage as to Apocrypha.

It must be borne in mind that the word apocrypha is really a Greek adjective in the neuter plural, denoting strictly "things hidden." But almost certainly the noun biblia is understood, so that the real implication of the word is "apocryphal books" or "writings." In this article apocrypha will be employed in the sense of this last, and apocryphal as the equivalent of the Greek apokruphos.

1. Early Christian Usage:

"Apocalyptic" literature.

The word apocrypha was first used technically by early Christian writers for the Jewish and Christian writings usually classed under "Apocalyptic" (see nodetitle). In this sense it takes the place of the classical Greek word esoterika and bears the same general meaning, namely, writings intended for an inner circle and cap. able of being understood by no others. These writings give intimations regarding the future, the ultimate triumph of the kingdom of God, etc., beyond, it was thought, human discovery and also beyond the intelligence of the uninitiated. In this sense nodetitle (died 395; De Ordin., II, 44) and Epiphanius (died 403; Haeres, 51 3) speak of the Apocalypse of John as "apocryphal."

2. The Eastern Church:

Christianity itself has nothing corresponding to the idea of a doctrine for the initiated or a literature for a select few. The gospel was preached in its first days to the poor and ignorant, and the reading and studying of the sacred Scriptures have been urged by the churches (with some exceptions) upon the public at large.

(1) "Esoteric" Literature (Clement of Alexandria, etc.).

The rise of this conception in the eastern church is easily understood. When devotees of Greek philosophy accepted the Christian faith it was natural for them to look at the new religion through the medium of the old philosophy. Many of them read into the canonical writings mystic meanings, and embodied those meanings in special books, these last becoming esoteric literature in themselves: and as in the case of apocalyptic writings, this esoteric literature was more revered than the Bible itself. In a similar way there grew up among the Jews side by side with the written law an oral law containing the teaching of the rabbis and regarded as more sacred and authoritative than the writings they profess to expound. One may find some analogy in the fact that among many Christians the official literature of the denomination to which they belong has more commanding force than the Bible itself. This movement among Greek Christians was greatly aided by Gnostic sects and the esoteric literature to which they gave rise. These Gnostics had been themselves influenced deeply by Babylonian and Persian mysticism and the corresponding literature. Clement of Alexandria (died 220) distinctly mentions esoteric books belonging to the Zoroastrian (Mazdean) religion.

Oriental and especially Greek Christianity tended to give to philosophy the place which the New Testament and western Christianity assign the Old Testament. The preparation for the religion of Jesus was said to be in philosophy much more than in the religion of the Old Testament. It will be remembered that Marcian (died end of 2nd century AD), Thomas Morgan, the Welsh 18th-century deist (died 1743) and Friedrich Schleiermacher (died 1834) taught this very same thing.

Clement of Alexandria (see above) recognized 4 (2) Esdras (to be hereafter called the Apocalypse of Ezra), the Assumption of Moses, etc., as fully canonical. In addition to this he upheld the authority and value of esoterical books, Jewish, Christian, and even heathen. But he is of most importance for our present purpose because he is probably the earliest Greek writer to use the word apocrypha as the equivalent of esoterika, for he describes the esoteric books of Zoroastrianism as apocryphal.

But the idea of esoteric religious literature existed at an earlier time among the Jews, and was borrowed from them by Christians. It is clearly taught in the Apocalyptic Esdras (2 or 4 Esd) chapter 14, where it is said that Ezra aided by five amanuenses produced under Divine inspiration 94 sacred books, the writings of Moses and the prophets having been lost when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. Of this large number of sacred books 24 were to be published openly, for the unworthy as well as the worthy, these 24 books representing undoubtedly the books of the Hebrew Old Testament. The remaining 70 were to be kept for the exclusive use of the "wise among the people": i.e. they were of an esoteric character. Perhaps if the Greek original of this book had been preserved the word "apocrypha" would have been found as an epithetic attached to the 70 books. Our English versions are made from a Latin original EZRA or the APOCALYPTIC ESDRAS. Modern scholars agree that in its present form this book arose in the reign of Domitian 81-96 AD. So that the conception of esoteric literature existed among the Jews in the 1st century of our era, and probably still earlier.

It is significant of the original character of the religion of Israel that no one has been able to point to a Hebrew word corresponding to esoteric (see below). When among the Jews there arose a literature of oral tradition it was natural to apply to this last the Greek notion of esoteric, especially as this class of literature was more highly esteemed in many Jewish circles than the Old Testament Scriptures themselves.

(2) Change to "Religious" Books (Origen, etc.).

The next step in the history of the word "apocrypha" is that by which it came to denote religious books inferior in authority and worth to the Scriptures of the Old Testament and New Testament. This change of attitude toward noncanonical writings took place under the influence of two principles: (1) that no writer could be inspired who lived subsequent to the apostolic age; (2) that no writing could be recognized as canonical unless it was accepted as such by the churches in general (in Latin the principle was--quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus). Now it was felt that many if not most of the religious writings which came in the end of the 2nd century to be called "apocryphal" in a disparaging sense had their origin among heretical sects like the Gnostics, and that they had never commanded the approval of the great bulk of the churches. Origen (died 253) held that we ought to discriminate between books called "apocryphal," some such having to be firmly rejected as teaching what is contrary to the Scriptures. More and more from the end of the 2nd century, the word "apocrypha" came to stand for what is spurious and untrustworthy, and especially for writings ascribed to authors who did not write them: i.e. the so-called "Pseudepigraphical books."

Irenaeus (died 202) in opposition to Clement of Alexandria denies that esoteric writings have any claims to credence or even respect, and he uses the Greek word for "apocryphal" to describe all Jewish and Christian canons. To him, as later to Jerome (died 420), "canonical" and "apocryphal" were antithetic terms. Tertullian (died 230) took the same view: "apocryphal" to him denoted non-canonical. But both Irenaeus and Tertullian meant by apocrypha in particular the apocalyptic writings. During the Nicene period, and even earlier, sacred books were divided by Christian teachers into three classes:

(1) books that could be read in church;

(2) books that could be read privately, but not in public;

(3) books that were not to be read at all. This classification is implied in the writings of Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius (died 373), and in the Muratorian Fragments (about 200 AD).

(3) "Spurious" Books (Athanasius, Nicephorus, etc.).

Athanasius, however, restricted the word apocrypha to the third class, thus making the corresponding adjective synonymous with "spurious." Nicephorus, patriarch of Constantinople (806-15 AD) in his chronography (belonging essentially to 500 AD according to Zahn) divides sacred books thus:

(1) the canonical books of the Old Testament and New Testament;

(2) the Antilegomena of both Testaments;

(3) the Apocrypha of both Testaments.

The details of the Apocrypha of the New Testament are thus enumerated:

(1) Enoch;

(2) The 12 Patriarchs;

(3) The Prayer of Joseph;

(4) The Testament of Moses;

(5) The Assumption of Moses;

(6) Abram;

(7) Eldad and Modad;

(8) Elijah the Prophet;

(9) Zephaniah the Prophet;

(10) Zechariah, father of John;

(11) The Pseudepigrapha of Baruch, Habakkuk, Ezekiel and Daniel.

The books of the New Testament Apocrypha are thus given:

(1) The Itinerary of Paul;

(2) The Itinerary of Peter;

(3) The Itinerary of John;

(4) The Itinerary of Thomas;

(5) The Gospel according to Thomas;

(6) The Teaching of the Apostles (the Didache);

(7) and (8) The Two Epistles of Clement;

(9) Epistles of Ignatius, Polycarp and Hermas.

The above lists are repeated in the so-called Synopsis of Athanasius. The authors of these so-called apocryphal books being unknown, it was sought to gain respect for these writers by tacking onto them well-known names, so that, particularly in the western church, "apocryphal" came to be almost synonymous with "pseudepigraphical." Of the Old Testament lists given above numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 are extant wholly or in part. Numbers 3, 7, 8 and 9 are lost though quoted as genuine by Origen and other eastern Fathers. They are all of them apocalypses designated apocrypha in accordance with early usage.

(4) "List of Sixty."

In the anonymous, "List of Sixty," which hails from the 7th century, we have represented probably the attitude of the eastern church. It divides sacred books into three classes:

(1) The sixty canonical books. Since the Protestant canon consists of but 57 books it will be seen that in this list books outside our canon are included.

(2) Books excluded from the 60, yet of superior authority to those mentioned as apocryphal in the next class. (3) Apocryphal books, the names of which are as follows:

(a) Adam;

(b) Enoch;

(c) Lamech;

(d) The 12 Patriarchs;

(e) The Prayer of Joseph;

(f) Eldad and Modad;

(g) The Testament of Moses;

(h) The Assumption of Moses;

(i) The nodetitle;

(j) The Apocalypse of Elijah;

(k) The Ascension of Isaiah;

(l) The Apocalypse of Zephaniah (see number 9 of the Old Testament Apocrypha books mentioned in the Chronography of Nicephorus);

(m) The Apocalypse of Zechariah;

(n) The Apocalyptic Ezra;

(o) The History of James;

(p) The Apocalypse of Peter;

(q) The Itinerary and Teaching of the Apostles;

(r) The Epistles of Barnabas;

(s) The Ac of Paul;

(t) Apocalypse of Paul;

(u) Didascalia of Clement;

(v) Didascalia of Ignatius;

(w) Didascalia of Polycarp;

(x) Gospel according to Barnabas;

(y) Gospel according to Matthew.

The greater number of these books come under the designation "apocryphal" in the early sense of "apocalyptic," but by this time the word had taken on a lower meaning, namely, books not good for even private reading. Yet the fact that these books are mentioned at all show that they were more highly esteemed than heathen and than even heretical Christian writings. The eastern churches down to the present day reject the meaning of "apocrypha" current among Protestants (see definition above), and their Bible includes the Old Testament Apocrypha, making no distinction between it and the rest of the Bible.

3. The Western Church:

(1) The Decretum Gelasii.

In the western church the word apocrypha and the corresponding adjective had a somewhat different history. In general it may be said that the western church did not adopt the triple division of sacred books prevalent in the eastern church. Yet the Decretum Gelasii (6th century in its present form) has a triple. list which is almost certainly that of the Roman synod of 382 under Damasus, bishop of Rome, 366 to 384. It is as follows:

(1) the canonical books of both Testaments;

(2) writings of the Fathers approved by the church;

(3) apocryphal books rejected by the church.

Then there is added a list of miscellaneous books condemned as heretical, including even the works of Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Eusebius, these works being all branded as "apocryphal." On the other hand Gregory of Nyssa and Epiphanius, both writing in the 4th century, use the word "apocrypha" in the old sense of apocalyptic, i.e. esoteric.

(2) "Non-Canonical" Books.

Jerome (died 420) in the Prologus Galeatus (so called because it was a defense and so resembled a helmeted warrior) or preface to his Latin version of the Bible uses the word "Apocrypha" in the sense of non-canonical books. His words are: Quidquid extra hos (i.e. the 22 canonical books) inter Apocrypha ponendum: "Anything outside of these must be placed within the Apocrypha" (when among the Fathers and rabbis the Old Testament is made to contain 22 (not 24) books, Ru and Lamentations are joined respectively to Judges and Jeremiah). He was followed in this by Rufinus (died circa 410), in turns Jerome’s friend and adversary, as he had been anticipated by Irenaeus. The western church as a whole departed from Jerome’s theory by including the antilegomena of both Testaments among the canonical writings: but the general custom of western Christians about this time was to make apocryphal mean non-canonical. Yet Augustine (died 430; De Civitale Dei, XV, 23) explained the "apocrypha" as denoting obscurity of origin or authorship, and this sense of the word became the prevailing one in the West.

4. The Reformers:

Separation from Canonical Books.

But it is to the Reformers that we are indebted for the habit of using Apocrypha for a collection of books appended to the Old Testament and generally up to 1827 appended to every printed English Bible. Bodenstein of Carlstadt, usually called Carlstadt (died 1541), an early Reformer, though Luther’s bitter personal opponent, was the first modern scholar to define "Apocrypha" quite clearly as writings excluded from the canon, whether or not the true authors of the books are known, in this, going back to Jerome’s position. The adjective "apocryphal" came to have among Protestants more and more a disparaging sense. Protestantism was in its very essence the religion of a book, and Protestants would be sure to see to it that the sacred volume on which they based their religion, including the reforms they introduced, contained no book but those which in their opinion had the strongest claims to be regarded as authoritative.

In the eastern and western churches under the influence of the Greek (Septuagint) and Latin (Vulgate) versions the books of the Apocrypha formed an integral part of the canon and were scattered throughout the Old Testament, they being placed generally near books with which they have affinity. Even Protestant Bibles up to 1827 included the Apocrypha, but as one collection of distinct writings at the end of the Old Testament. It will be seen from what has been said that notwithstanding the favorable attitude toward it of the eastern and western churches, from the earliest times, our Apocrypha was regarded with more or less suspicion, and the suspicion would be strengthened by the general antagonism toward it. In the Middle Ages, under the influence of Reuchlin (died 1532)--great scholar and Reformer--Hebrew came to be studied and the Old Testament read in its original language. The fact that the Apocrypha is absent from the Hebrew canon must have had some influence on the minds of the Reformers.

Moreover in the Apocrypha there are parts inconsistent with Protestant principles, as for example the doctrines of prayers for the dead, the intercession of the saints, etc. The Jews in the early Christian centuries had really two Bibles: (1) There was the Hebrew Bible which does not include the Apocrypha, and which circulated in Palestine and Babylon; (2) there was the Greek version (Septuagint) used by Greek-speaking Jews everywhere. Until in quite early times, instigated by the use made of it by Christians against themselves, the Jews condemned this version and made the Hebrew canon their Bible, thus rejecting the books of the Apocrypha from their list of canonical writings, and departing from the custom of Christian churches which continued with isolated remonstrances to make the Greek Old Testament canon, with which the Vulgate agrees almost completely, their standard. It is known that the Reformers were careful students of the Bible, and that in Old Testament matters they were the pupils of Jewish scholars--there were no other competent teachers of Hebrew. It might therefore have been expected that the Old Testament canon of the Reformers would agree in extent with that of the Jews and not with that of the Greek and Latin Christians. Notwithstanding the doubt which Ryle (Canon of the Old Testament, 156) casts on the matter, all the evidence goes to show that the Septuagint and therefore the other great Greek versions included the Apocrypha from the first onward.

But how comes it to be that the Greek Old Testament is more extensive than the Hebrew Old Testament? Up to the final destruction of Jerusalem in 71 AD the temple with its priesthood and ritual was the center of the religious thought and life of the nation. But with the destruction of the sanctuary and the disbanding of its officials it was needful to find some fresh binding and directing agency and this was found in the collection of sacred writings known by us as the Old Testament. By a national synod held at Jamnia, near Jaffa, in 90 AD, the Old Testament canon was practically though not finally closed, and from that date one may say that the limits of the Old Testament were once and for all fixed, no writings being included except those written in Hebrew, the latest of these being as old as 100 BC. Now the Jews of the Dispersion spoke and wrote Greek, and they continued to think and write long after their fellow-countrymen of the homeland had ceased to produce any fresh original literature. What they did produce was explanatory of what had been written and practical.

The Greek Bible--the Septuagint--is that of the Jews in Egypt and of those found in other Greek-speaking countries. John Wycliffe (died 1384) puts the Apocrypha together at the end of the Old Testament and the same course was taken by Luther (1546) in his great German and by Miles Coverdale (died 1568) in his English translation.

5. Hebrew Words for "Apocrypha":

Is it quite certain that there is no Hebrew word or expression corresponding exactly to the word "apocrypha" as first used by Christian writers, i.e. in the sense "esoteric"? One may answer this by a decisive negative as regards the Old Testament and the Talmud. But in the Middle Ages qabbalah (literally, "tradition") came to have ’a closely allied meaning (compare our "kabbalistic").

(1) Do such exist?

Is there in Hebrew a word or expression denoting "non-canonical," i.e. having the secondary sense acquired by "apocrypha"? This question does not allow of so decided an answer, and as matter of fact it has been answered in different ways.

(2) Views of Zahn, Schurer, Porter, etc. (ganaz, genuzim).

Zahn (Gesch. des neutest. Kanons, I, i, 123 ff); Schurer (RE3, I, 623); Porter (HDB, I) and others maintain that the Greek word "Apocrypha (Biblia)" is a translation of the Hebrew Cepharim genuzim, literally, "books stored away." If this view is the correct one it follows that the distinction of canonical and non-canonical books originated among the Jews, and that the Fathers in using the word apocrypha in this sense were simply copying the Jews substituting Greek words for the Hebrew equivalent. But there are decisive reasons for rejecting this view.

(3) Reasons for Rejection.

(a) The verb ganaz of which the passive part. occurs in the above phrase means "to store away," "to remove from view"--of things in themselves sacred or precious. It never means to exclude as from the canon.

(b) When employed in reference to sacred books it is only of those recognized as canonical. Thus after copies of the Pentateuch or of other parts of the Hebrew Bible had, by age and use, become unfit to be read in the home or in the synagogue they were "buried" in the ground as being too sacred to be burnt or cut up; and the verb denoting this burying is ganaz. But those buried books are without exception canonical.

(c) The Hebrew phrase in question does not once occur in either the Babylonian or the Jerusalem Talmud, but only in rabbinical writings of a much later date. The Greek apocrypha cannot therefore be a rendering of the Hebrew expression. The Hebrew for books definitely excluded from the canon is Cepharim chitsonim = "outside" or "extraneous books." The Mishna (the text of the Gemara, both making up what we call the Talmud) or oral law with its additions came to be divided analogously into

(1) The Mishna proper;

(2) the external (chitsonah) Mishna: in Aramaic called Baraiytha’.

6. Summary:

What has been said may be summarized:

(1) Among the Protestant churches the word "Apocrypha" is used for the books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate, but absent from the Hebrew Bible. This restricted sense of the word cannot be traced farther back than the beginning of the Reformation.

(2) In classical and Hellenistic Greek the adjective apokruphos denotes "hidden" of visible objects, or obscure, hard to understand (of certain kinds of knowledge).

(3) In early patristic Greek this adjective came into use as a synonym of the classical Greek esoterikos.

(4) In later patristic Greek (Irenaeus, etc.) and in Latin works beginning with Jerome, Greek apokruphos meant non-canonical, implying inferiority in subject-matter to the books in the canon.

(4) By the Protestant Reformers the term "apocrypha" ("apocryphal" "books" being understood) came to stand for what is now called the "Old Testament Apocrypha." But this usage is confined to Protestants, since in the eastern church and in the Roman branch of the western church the Old Testament Apocrypha is as much an integral part of the canon as Genesis or Kings or Psalms or Isaiah.

(5) There are no equivalents in Hebrew for apokruphos in the sense of either "esoteric" or in that of "non- canonical."

IV. Contents of the Apocrypha.

1. List of Books:

The following is a list of the books in the Apocrypha in the order in which they occur in the English versions (the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American)):

(1) 1 Esdras;

(2) 2 Esdras (to be hereafter called "The Apocalyptic Esdras");

(3) Tobit;

(4) Judith;

(5) The Rest of Esther;

(6) nodetitle;

(7) Ecclesiasticus (to be hereafter called "Sirach");

(8) Baruch, with the Epistle of Jeremiah;

(9) The So of the Three Holy Children; (10) The History of Susanna;

(11) nodetitle;

(12) The Prayer of Manasses;

(13) 1 Maccabees;

(14) 2 Maccabees.

No. 5 in the above, "Addition to Esther;" as it may be called, consists of the majority (107 out of 270 verses) of the nodetitle since it occurs in the best manuscripts of the Septuagint and in the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 AD.) over the text in the Hebrew Bible. These additions are in the Septuagint scattered throughout the book and are intelligible in the context thus given them, but not when brought together as they are in the collected Apocrypha of our English versions and as they are to some extent in Jerome’s Latin version and the Vulgate (Jerome’s Latin Bible, 390-405 AD.) (see The Century Bible, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther, 294f). Numbers 9-11 in the above enumeration are additions made in the Greek Septuagint and Vulgate versions of Daniel to the book as found in the Massoretic Text. It will be well to name them "Additions to Daniel." The bringing together of the writings of the Apocrypha into an apart collection was due in a large measure to Jerome, who separated many of the apocryphal additions from their original context because he suspected their genuineness. His version influenced the Vulgate, which follows Jerome’s version closely.

Though it is generally true that the Apocrypha is the excess of the Greek (Septuagint) and Latin (Jerome, Vulgate) over the Hebrew Bibles (the Masoretic Text), the statement needs qualification. 2 (4) Ezra, i.e. the Apocalyptic Ezra (Esdras), is absent from the Septuagint, from Jerome’s version, and also from Luther’s Bible, but it occurs in the Vulgate and in the English and other modern versions of the Apocrypha. On the other hand 3 and 4 Macc occur in the best manuscripts of the Septuagint, but the Vulgate, following Jerome’s version, rejects both as do modern versions (English, etc.) of the Apocrypha. Moreover, it has to be pointed out that in the Vulgate proper the Prayer of Manasses and 1 (3) Esdras and the Apocalyptic Esdras are appended to the New Testament as apocryphal.

2. Classification of Books:

(1) Historical.

The books of the Apocrypha proper may be thus classified:

(a) 1 and 2 (i.e. 3) Esdras;

(b) 1 and 2 Maccabees;

(c) Additions to Daniel (nos. 9-11 in the above list);

(d) nodetitle;

(e) The Epistle of Jeremy (usually appended to Baruch);

(f) Prayer of Manasses.

(2) Legendary.

(a) Book of Baruch (sometimes classed with prophetic books, sometimes with Apocalypses); (b) Tobit; (c) Judith.

(3) Apocalyptic.

The Apocalyptic Esdras or 2 (4) Esdras.

(4) Didactic.

(a) The nodetitle; (b) Sirach (Ecclesiasticus).

R. H. Charles, our greatest living authority on the Apocalyptic and Apocryphal writings, embraces the following under the heading "Hellenistic Jewish Literature," the rest coming under the heading "Palestinian Jewish Literature" (Enc Brit, 11th edition, II, 177):

(1) The Additions to Daniel and Esther

(2) The Epistle of Jeremy;

(3) 2 Macc;

(4) The Wisdom of Solomon.

V. Original Languages of the Apocrypha.

The bulk of the Apocrypha was written originally in the Greek language and existed at the first in that language alone. The following books were however written in Hebrew: Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Baruch (part probably in Greek), and 1 Maccabees. In these cases some prefer regarding Aramaic as the original language in at least parts of the above books. For detailed information see under the several books.

VI. Date of the Apocryphal Writings.

The question of date as it applies to the separate books of the Apocrypha will be discussed in connection with the articles dealing with the several books. But a general statement regarding the extreme limits between which all the books were completed may safely be made. The oldest apocryphal book is Sirach, which in its original Hebrew form belongs to between 190-170 BC. In its Greek form the best modern scholars agree in fixing it at between 130-120 BC. None of the books can well belong to a date later than 100 AD, though some (2 Esdras, etc.) may be as late as that. The whole of the Apocrypha may with more than average certainty be said to have been written some time between 200 BC and 100 AD. It will be seen that it is an inaccurate assumption that the Apocrypha was in all its parts of later date than the latest parts of the Old Testament. The canonical nodetitle and many of the Psalms are of later date than Sirach and 1 Esdras, and there are cogent reasons for giving the canonical Esther a later date than any of the books named and perhaps than Judith as well (see, however, DANIEL; ESTHER). But it is quite certain that by far the greater part of the Apocrypha is of later date than the Old Testament; it is therefore of the utmost importance as reflecting the state of the Jews and the character of their intellectual and religious life at the various periods represented. And in later years much use has been made of it.

LITERATURE. The Greek text of the Apocrypha is given in the various editions of the Septuagint (except the Apocalyptic Esdras, not extant in Gr). The best editions of the Septuagint are those by Tischendorf revised by E. Nestle (1887); and Swete (1895-99 and later editions). Critical editions of the Apocrypha have been issued by A. Fabricius (Hamburg, 1722-23); Apel (ib 1804) and a very valuable edition by O. T. Fritzsche (Leipzig, 1871) which includes the Latin version of the Apocalyptic Esdras--without the missing fragment. There are several modern translations, far the best being that in German edited by E. Kautzsch, containing Introductions, general and special, and valuable notes by the best German scholars. In English besides the Revised Version (British and American) there is the useful Variorum edition, edited by C. J. Ball. An English critical edition of the Apocrypha edited by R. H. Charles, with introductory notes, is now being printed at Oxford and will be very valuable.

The best commentary is that by O. F. Fritsche and C. L. W. Grimm, Kurzgef. Exeg. Handbuch, 1851-60; but the commentary by Bissell in Lange’s Series of Commentaries and that edited by Wace, in the Speaker’s Bible Series, are meritorious.

Introductory matter will be found in the various Bible Dictionaries under the word: see especially H. E. Ryle in DB (1893), Schurer (RE3), but especially in the valuable Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek, by H. B. Swete (1900), Hastings, Dictionary of the Bible (five volumes) (C. F. Porter), and R. H. Charles (Enc Brit11). See also the Einleitungen by Konig, Budde (A. Bertholet has written the part dealing with the Apocrypha), and Schurer, Geschichte, III, 1898 (Eng. translation, II, iii), where much literature is specified. For monographs on the several books of the Apocrypha or discussing special points, see the special articles.