Apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship or of doubtful origin. Biblical apocrypha is a set of texts included in the Latin Vulgate and Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible. While Catholic tradition considers some of these texts to be deuterocanonical, Protestants consider them apocryphal. Thus, Protestant bibles do not include the books within the Old Testament but have often included them in a separate section, usually called the Apocrypha. Other non-canonical apocryphal texts are generally called pseudepigrapha, a term that means "false attribution".
The word's origin is the Medieval Latin adjective apocryphus, "secret, or non-canonical", from the Greek adjective ἀπόκρυφος (apokryphos), "obscure", from the verb ἀποκρύπτειν (apokryptein), "to hide away".
The term "Apocrypha" commonly appears in Christian religious contexts concerning disagreements about biblical canonicity. Apocryphal writings are a class of documents rejected by some as being either pseudepigraphical or unworthy to be properly called Scripture, though, as with other writings, they may sometimes be referenced for support, such as the lost Book of Jasher. While writings that are now accepted by Christians as Scripture were recognized as being such by various believers early on, the establishment of a largely settled uniform canon was a process of centuries, and what the term "canon" (as well as "apocrypha") precisely meant also saw development. The canonical process took place with believers recognizing writings as being inspired by God from known or accepted origins, subsequently being followed by official affirmation of what had become largely established through the study and debate of the writings. The Catholic Church provided its first dogmatic definition of its entire canon in 1546, which put a stop to doubts and disagreements about the status of the Apocrypha. The leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, like the Catholic Church father Jerome (and certain others), favored the Masoretic canon for the Old Testament, excluding apocryphal books in his non-binding canon as unworthy to be properly called Scripture, but included most of them in a separate section, as per Jerome. Luther did not include the deuterocanonical books in his Old Testament, terming them "Apocrypha, that are books which are not considered equal to the Holy Scriptures, but are useful and good to read."
The Eastern Orthodox Church accepts a few more books than appear in the Catholic canon.
The word "apocryphal" (ἀπόκρυφος) was first applied to writings which were kept secret  because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed to anyone other than the initiated. For example, the disciples of the Gnostic Prodicus boasted that they possessed the secret (ἀπόκρυφα) books of Zoroaster. The term in general enjoyed high consideration among the Gnostics (see Acts of Thomas, pp. 10, 27, 44).
Sinologist Anna Seidel refers to texts and even items produced by ancient Chinese sages as apocryphal and studied their uses during Six Dynasties China (A.D. 220 to 589). These artifacts were used as symbols legitimizing and guaranteeing the Emperor's Heavenly Mandate. Examples of these include talismans, charts, writs, tallies, and registers. The first examples were stones, jade pieces, bronze vessels and weapons, but came to include talismans and magic diagrams. From their roots in Zhou era China (1066 to 256 B.C.) these items came to be surpassed in value by texts by the Han dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220). Most of these texts have been destroyed as Emperors, particularly during the Han dynasty, collected these legitimizing objects and proscribed, forbade and burnt nearly all of them to prevent them from falling into the hands of political rivals. It is therefore fitting with the Greek root of the word, as these texts were obviously hidden away to protect the ruling Emperor from challenges to his status as Heaven's choice as sovereign.
"Apocrypha" was also applied to writings that were hidden not because of their divinity but because of their questionable value to the church. Many in Protestant traditions cite Revelation 22:18–19 as a potential curse for those who attach any canonical authority to extra-biblical writings such as the Apocrypha. However, a strict explanation of this text would indicate it was meant for only the Book of Revelation. Rv.22:18–19f. (KJV) states: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." In the context of Revelation, a book predicting the future atrocities of man, it means that God will strip them of the goodness of life ("from the things written in this book") and that they will be removed from heaven ("out of the book of life"). The early Christian theologian Origen, in his Commentaries on Matthew, distinguishes between writings which were read by the churches and apocryphal writings: γραφὴ μὴ φερομένη μέν ἒν τοῖς κοινοῖς καὶ δεδημοσιευμένοις βιβλίοις εἰκὸς δ' ὅτι ἒν ἀποκρύφοις φερομένη (writing not found on the common and published books in one hand, actually found on the secret ones on the other). The meaning of αποκρυφος is here practically equivalent to "excluded from the public use of the church", and prepares the way for an even less favourable use of the word.
In general use, the word "apocrypha" came to mean "false, spurious, bad, or heretical." This meaning also appears in Origen's prologue to his commentary on the Song of Songs, of which only the Latin translation survives: De scripturis his, quae appellantur apocriphae, pro eo quod multa in iis corrupta et contra fidem veram inveniuntur a maioribus tradita non placuit iis dari locum nec admitti ad auctoritatem. "Concerning these scriptures, which are called apocryphal, for the reason that many things are found in them corrupt and against the true faith handed down by the elders, it has pleased them that they not be given a place nor be admitted to authority."
Other uses of apocrypha developed over the history of Western Christianity. The Gelasian Decree (generally held now as being the work of an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553) refers to religious works by church fathers Eusebius, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria as apocrypha. Augustine defined the word as meaning simply "obscurity of origin," implying that any book of unknown authorship or questionable authenticity would be considered apocryphal. On the other hand, Jerome (in Protogus Galeatus) declared that all books outside the Hebrew canon were apocryphal. In practice, Jerome treated some books outside the Hebrew canon as if they were canonical, and the Western Church did not accept Jerome's definition of apocrypha, instead retaining the word's prior meaning (see: Deuterocanon). As a result, various church authorities labeled different books as apocrypha, treating them with varying levels of regard.
Origen (who stated that "the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two"), Clement and others cited some apocryphal books as "scripture," "divine scripture," "inspired," and the like. On the other hand, teachers connected with Palestine and familiar with the Hebrew canon excluded from the canon all of the Old Testament not found there. This view is reflected in the canon of Melito of Sardis, and in the prefaces and letters of Jerome. A third view was that the books were not as valuable as the canonical scriptures of the Hebrew collection, but were of value for moral uses, as introductory texts for new converts from paganism, and to be read in congregations. They were referred to as "ecclesiastical" works by Rufinus.
These three opinions regarding the apocryphal books prevailed until the Protestant Reformation, when the idea of what constitutes canon became a matter of primary concern for Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. In 1546 the Catholic Council of Trent reconfirmed the canon of Augustine, dating to the second and third centuries, declaring "He is also to be anathema who does not receive these entire books, with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and are found in the ancient editions of the Latin Vulgate, as sacred and canonical." The whole of the books in question, with the exception of 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, were declared canonical at Trent. The Protestants, in comparison, were diverse in their opinion of the deuterocanon early on. Some considered them divinely inspired, others rejected them. Anglicans took a position between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches; they kept them as Christian intertestamental readings and a part of the Bible, but no doctrine should be based on them. John Wycliffe, a 14th-century Christian Humanist, had declared in his biblical translation that "whatever book is in the Old Testament besides these twenty-five shall be set among the apocrypha, that is, without authority or belief." Nevertheless, his translation of the Bible included the apocrypha and the Epistle of the Laodiceans.
Martin Luther did not class apocryphal books as being Scripture, but in both the German (1534) translation of the Bible, the apocrypha are published in a separate section from the other books, although the Lutheran and Anglican lists are different. In some editions (like the Westminster), readers were warned that these books were not "to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings." A milder distinction was expressed elsewhere, such as in the "argument" introducing them in the Geneva Bible, and in the Sixth Article of the Church of England, where it is said that "the other books the church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners," though not to establish doctrine. Among some other Protestants, the term apocryphal began to take on extra or altered connotations: not just of dubious authenticity, but having spurious or false content, not just obscure but having hidden or suspect motives. Protestants were (and are) not unanimous in adopting those meanings. The Church of England agreed, and that view continues today throughout the Lutheran Church, the worldwide Anglican Communion, and many other denominations. Whichever implied meaning is intended, Apocrypha was (and is) used primarily by Protestants, in reference to the books of questioned canonicity. Catholics and Orthodox sometimes avoid using the term in contexts where it might be disputatious or be misconstrued as yielding on the point of canonicity. Thus the respect accorded to apocryphal books varied between Protestant denominations. Most Protestant published Bibles that include the apocryphal books will relocate them into a separate section (rather like an appendix), so as not to intermingle them with their canonical books.
According to the Orthodox Anglican Church:
On the other hand, the Anglican Communion emphatically maintains that the Apocrypha is part of the Bible and is to be read with respect by her members. Two of the hymns used in the American Prayer Book office of Morning Prayer, the Benedictus es and Benedicite, are taken from the Apocrypha. One of the offertory sentences in Holy Communion comes from an apocryphal book (Tob. 4: 8–9). Lessons from the Apocrypha are regularly appointed to be read in the daily, Sunday, and special services of Morning and Evening Prayer. There are altogether 111 such lessons in the latest revised American Prayer Book Lectionary [The books used are: II Esdras, Tobit, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Three Holy Children, and I Maccabees.] The position of the Church is best summarized in the words of Article Six of the Thirty-nine Articles: "In the name of Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority there was never any doubt in the Church... And the other Books (as Hierome [St. Jerome] saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.
With few exceptions, the 66-book Protestant canon (such as listed in the Westminster Confession of 1646) has been well established for centuries, and with many today contending against the Apocrypha using various arguments.
The adjective apocryphal is commonly used in modern English to refer to any text or story considered to be of dubious veracity or authority, although it may contain some moral truth. In this broader metaphorical sense, the word suggests a claim that is in the nature of folklore, factoid or urban legend.
Although Orthodox Jews believe in the exclusive canonization of the current 24 books in the Tanakh, they also consider the Oral Torah to be authoritative, which they believe was handed down from Moses. The Sadducees—unlike the Pharisees but like the Samaritans—seem to have maintained an earlier and smaller number of texts as canonical, preferring to hold to only what was written in the Law of Moses (making most of the presently accepted canon, both Jewish and Christian, apocryphal in their eyes). Certain circles in Judaism, such as the Essenes in Judea and the Therapeutae in Egypt, were said to have a secret literature (see Dead Sea scrolls). Other traditions maintained different customs regarding canonicity. The Ethiopic Jews, for instance, seem to have retained a spread of canonical texts similar to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, cf Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol 6, p 1147.
During the birth of Christianity many Jewish texts of Hellenistic origin existed within Judaism and were frequently used by Christians. Catholic Christians incorporated several of these books into the canon of the Christian Bible, calling them the "apocrypha" or the "hidden books" of the Bible. Patristic authorities frequently recognized these books as important to the emergence of apostolic Christianity, but the inspired authority and value of the apocrypha remained widely disputed. In the sixteenth century, during the Protestant reformation, some authorities began using term deuterocanonical to refer to this traditional intertestamental collection as books of "the second canon."  These books are often seen as "intertestamental" because reading them helps explain the theological and cultural transitions which took place between the Old and New Testaments. They are also sometimes called "intertestamental" by religious groups who do not recognize Hellenistic Judaism as belonging with either "Jewish" or "Christian" testaments.
Slightly varying collections of apocryphal, deuterocanonical, or intertestamental books of the Bible form part of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox canons (cf Development of the Old Testament canon). The deuterocanonical or intertestamental books of the Catholic Church include 1-2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1-2 Maccabees.
The Book of Enoch is included in the biblical canon of the Oriental Orthodox churches of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Epistle of Jude quotes the book of Enoch, and some believe the use of this book also appears in the four gospels and 1 Peter. The genuineness and inspiration of Enoch were believed in by the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria and much of the early church. The epistles of Paul and the gospels also show influences from the Book of Jubilees, which is part of the Ethiopian canon, as well as the Assumption of Moses and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, which are included in no biblical canon.
The canonical validity of the intertestamental books was challenged in the 16th century by Protestants. The Protestant removal of the deuterocanonical books of the Bible did not happen immediately as part of the Reformation, but rather happened in waves over time. The apocryphal books were in fact translated as part of the King James Version of the Bible. Eventually they were effectively removed by Protestants during the 1800s, with some Protestants arguing against their inclusion for theological reasons, and with other Protestants citing the cost of publishing the hidden books as a major factor in removing them. Today it is possible to find Protestant Bibles which now include the Apocrypha. The status of the deuterocanonicals remains unchanged in Catholic and Orthodox Christianities.
The actual status of the books which the Catholic church terms Deuterocanonicals (second canon) and Protestantism refers to as Apocrypha has been an issue of disagreement which preceded the Reformation. Many believe that the pre-Christian-era Jewish translation (into Greek) of holy scriptures known as the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures originally compiled around 280 B.C., originally included the apocryphal writings in dispute, with little distinction made between them and the rest of the Old Testament. Others argue that the Septuagint of the first century did not contain these books but were added later by Christians, The earliest extant manuscripts of the Septuagint are from the fourth century, and suffer greatly from a lack of uniformity as regards containing apocryphal books, and some also contain books classed as Pseudepigrapha, from which texts were cited by some early writers in the second and later centuries as being Scripture.
While a few scholars conclude that the Jewish canon was the achievement of the Hasmonean dynasty, it is generally considered not to have been finalized until about 100 A.D. or somewhat later, at which time considerations of Greek language and beginnings of Christian acceptance of the Septuagint weighed against some of the texts. Some were not accepted by the Jews as part of the Hebrew Bible canon and the Apocrypha is not part of the historical Jewish canon.
Early church fathers such as Athanasius, Melito, Origen, and Cyril of Jerusalem, spoke against the canonicity of much or all of the apocrypha, but the most weighty opposition was the fourth century Catholic scholar Jerome who preferred the Hebrew canon, whereas Augustine and others preferred the wider (Greek) canon, with both having followers in the generations that followed. The Catholic Encyclopedia states as regards the Middle Ages,
The wider Christian canon accepted by Augustine became the more established canon in the western Church after being promulgated for use in the Easter Letter of Athanasius (circa 372 A.D.), the Synod of Rome (382 A.D., but its Decretum Gelasianum is generally considered to be a much later addition ) and the local councils of Carthage and Hippo in north Africa (391 and 393 A.D). Athanasius called canonical all books of the Hebrew Bible including Baruch, while excluding Esther. He adds that "there are certain books which the Fathers had appointed to be read to catechumens for edification and instruction; these are the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Esther, Judith, Tobias, the Didache, or Doctrine of the Apostles, and the Shepherd of Hermas. All others are apocrypha and the inventions of heretics (Festal Epistle for 367)".
Nevertheless, none of these constituted indisputable definitions, and significant scholarly doubts and disagreements about the nature of the Apocrypha continued for centuries and even into Trent, which provided the first infallible definition of the Catholic canon in 1546. This canon came to see appropriately 1,000 years of nearly uniform use by the majority, even after the 11th-century schism that separated the church into the branches known as the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
In the 16th century, the Protestant reformers challenged the canonicity of the books and partial-books found in the surviving Septuagint but not in the Masoretic Text. In response to this challenge, after the death of Martin Luther (February 8, 1546) the ecumenical Council of Trent officially ("infallibly") declared these books (called "deuterocanonical" by Catholics) to be part of the canon in April, 1546 A.D. While the Protestant Reformers rejected the parts of the canon that were not part of the Hebrew Bible, they included the four New Testament books Luther held as doubtful canonicity along with the Apocrypha in his non-binding canon (though most were separately included in his bible, as they were in some editions of the KJV bible until 1947). Protestantism therefore established a 66 book canon with the 39 books based on the ancient Hebrew canon, along with the traditional 27 books of the New Testament. Protestants also rejected the Catholic term "deuterocanonical" for these writings, preferring to apply the term "apocryphal" which was already in use for other early and disputed writings. As today (but along with others reasons), various reformers argued that those books contained doctrinal or other errors and thus should not have been added to the canon for that reason. The differences between canons can be seen under Biblical canon and Development of the Christian biblical canon.
Explaining the Eastern Orthodox Church's canon is made difficult because of differences of perspective with the Roman Catholic church in the interpretation of how it was done. Those differences (in matters of jurisdictional authority) were contributing factors in the separation of the Roman Catholics and Orthodox around 1054, but the formation of the canon which Trent would later officially definitively settle was largely complete by the fifth century, in not settled, six centuries before the separation. In the eastern part of the church, it took much of the fifth century also to come to agreement, but in the end it was accomplished. The canonical books thus established by the undivided church became the predominate canon for what was later to become Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox alike. The East did already differ from the West in not considering every question of canon yet settled, and it subsequently adopted a few more books into its Old Testament. It also allowed consideration of yet a few more to continue not fully decided, which led in some cases to adoption in one or more jurisdictions, but not all. Thus, there are today a few remaining differences of canon among Orthodox, and all Orthodox accept a few more books than appear in the Catholic canon. The Psalms of Solomon, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, the Epistle of Jeremiah the Book of Odes, the Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151 are included in some copies of the Septuagint, some of which are accepted as canonical by Eastern Orthodox and some other churches. Protestants accept none of these additional books as canon either, but see them having roughly the same status as the other Apocrypha.
New Testament apocrypha—books similar to those in the New Testament but almost universally rejected by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants—include several gospels and lives of apostles. Some were written by early Jewish Christians (see the Gospel according to the Hebrews). Others of these were produced by Gnostic authors or members of other groups later defined as heterodox. Many texts believed lost for centuries were unearthed in the 19th and 20th centuries, producing lively speculation about their importance in early Christianity among religious scholars, while many others survive only in the form of quotations from them in other writings; for some, no more than the title is known. Artists and theologians have drawn upon the New Testament apocrypha for such matters as the names of Dismas and Gestas and details about the Three Wise Men. The first explicit mention of the perpetual virginity of Mary is found in the pseudepigraphical Infancy Gospel of James.
Before the fifth century, the Christian writings that were then under discussion for inclusion in the canon but had not yet been accepted were classified in a group known as the ancient antilegomenae. These were all candidates for the New Testament and included several books which were eventually accepted, such as: The Epistle to the Hebrews, 2 Peter, 3 John and the Revelation of John (Apocalypse). None of those accepted books can be considered Apocryphal now, since all Christendom accepts them as canonical. Of the uncanonized ones, the Early Church considered some heretical but viewed others quite well. Some Christians, in an extension of the meaning, might also consider the non-heretical books to be "apocryphal" along the manner of Martin Luther: not canon, but useful to read. This category includes books such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache, and The Shepherd of Hermas which are sometimes referred to as the Apostolic Fathers. The Gnostic tradition was a prolific source of apocryphal gospels. While these writings borrowed the characteristic poetic features of apocalyptic literature from Judaism, Gnostic sects largely insisted on allegorical interpretations based on a secret apostolic tradition. With them, these apocryphal books were highly esteemed. A well-known Gnostic apocryphal book is the Gospel of Thomas, the only complete text of which was found in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. The Gospel of Judas, a Gnostic gospel, also received much media attention when it was reconstructed in 2006.
Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians as well as Protestants generally agree on the canon of the New Testament, see Development of the New Testament canon. The Ethiopian Orthodox have in the past also included I & II Clement and Shepherd of Hermas in their New Testament canon.
The List of Sixty, dating to around the 7th century, lists the sixty books of the Bible. The unknown author also lists several apocryphal books that are not included amongst the sixty. These books are:
Prophetic texts called the Ch'an-wei (zh:讖緯) were written by Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE) Taoist priests to legitimize as well as curb imperial power. They deal with treasure objects that were part of the Zhou (1066 to 256 BCE) royal treasures. Emerging from the instability of the Warring States period (476–221 BCE), ancient Chinese scholars saw the centralized rule of the Zhou as an ideal model for the new Han empire to emulate. The Ch'an-wei are therefore texts written by Han scholars about the Zhou royal treasures, only they were not written to record history for its own sake, but for legitimizing the current imperial reign. These texts took the form of stories about texts and objects being conferred upon the Emperors by Heaven and comprising these ancient sage-king's (this is how the Zhou emperors were referred to by this time, about 500 years after their peak) royal regalia. The desired effect was to confirm the Han emperor's Heavenly Mandate through the continuity offered by his possession of these same sacred talismans. It is because of this politicized recording of their history that it is difficult to retrace the exact origins of these objects. What is known is that these texts were most likely produced by a class of literati called the fangshi. These were a class of nobles who were not part of the state administration; they were considered specialists or occultists, for example diviners, astrologers, alchemists or healers. It is from this class of nobles that the first Taoist priests are believed to have emerged. Seidel points out however that the scarcity of sources relating to the formation of early Taoism make the exact link between the apocryphal texts and the Taoist beliefs unclear.
Apocryphal Jatakas of the Pali Buddhist canon, such as those belonging to the Paññāsajātaka collection, have been adapted to fit local culture in certain Southeast Asian countries and have been retold with amendments to the plots to better reflect Buddhist morals.
Within the Pali tradition, the apocryphal Jatakas of later composition (some dated even to the 19th century) are treated as a separate category of literature from the "Official" Jataka stories that have been more-or-less formally canonized from at least the 5th century—as attested to in ample epigraphic and archaeological evidence, such as extant illustrations in bas relief from ancient temple walls.
The biblical apocrypha (from the Ancient Greek: ἀπόκρυφος, translit. apókruphos, lit. 'hidden') denotes the collection of apocryphal ancient books found in some editions of Christian Bibles in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments or as an appendix after the New Testament. Some Christian Churches include some or all of the same texts within the body of their version of the Old Testament.
Although the term apocryphal had been in use since the 5th century, it was in Luther's Bible of 1534 that the Apocrypha was first published as a separate intertestamental section. To this date, the Apocrypha is "included in the lectionaries of Anglican and Lutheran Churches." Moreover, the Revised Common Lectionary, in use by most mainline Protestants including Methodists and Moravians, lists readings from the Apocrypha in the liturgical kalendar, although alternate Old Testament scripture lessons are provided.The preface to the Apocrypha in the Geneva Bible explained that while these books "were not received by a common consent to be read and expounded publicly in the Church," and did not serve "to prove any point of Christian religion save in so much as they had the consent of the other scriptures called canonical to confirm the same," nonetheless, "as books proceeding from godly men they were received to be read for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of history and for the instruction of godly manners." Later, during the English Civil War, the Westminster Confession of 1647 excluded the Apocrypha from the canon and made no recommendation of the Apocrypha above "other human writings", and this attitude towards the Apocrypha is represented by the decision of the British and Foreign Bible Society in the early 19th century not to print it (see below). Today, "English Bibles with the Apocrypha are becoming more popular again" and they are often printed as intertestamental books.The seven books which comprise the Protestant Apocrypha, first published as such in Luther’s Bible (1534) are considered canonical Old Testament books by the Catholic Church, affirmed by the Council of Rome (AD 382) and later reaffirmed by the Council of Trent; they are also considered canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Church and are referred to as anagignoskomena per the Synod of Jerusalem. The Anglican Communion accepts "the Apocrypha for instruction in life and manners, but not for the establishment of doctrine (Article VI in the Thirty-Nine Articles)", and many "lectionary readings in The Book of Common Prayer are taken from the Apocrypha", with these lessons being "read in the same ways as those from the Old Testament". The first Methodist liturgical book, The Sunday Service of the Methodists, employs verses from the Apocrypha, such as in the Eucharistic liturgy. The Protestant Apocrypha contains three books (3 Esdras, 4 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh) that are accepted by many Eastern Orthodox Churches and Oriental Orthodox Churches as canonical, but are regarded as non-canonical by the Catholic Church and are therefore not included in modern Catholic Bibles.Biblical canon
A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular religious community regards as authoritative scripture. The English word "canon" comes from the Greek κανών, meaning "rule" or "measuring stick". Christians became the first to use the term in reference to scripture, but Eugene Ulrich regards the idea as Jewish.Most of the canons listed below are considered by adherents "closed" (i.e., books cannot be added or removed), reflecting a belief that public revelation has ended and thus some person or persons can gather approved inspired texts into a complete and authoritative canon, which scholar Bruce Metzger defines as "an authoritative collection of books".
In contrast, an "open canon", which permits the addition of books through the process of continuous revelation, Metzger defines as "a collection of authoritative books".
These canons have developed through debate and agreement on the part of the religious authorities of their respective faiths and denominations. Believers consider canonical books as inspired by God or as expressive of the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people. Some books, such as the Jewish-Christian gospels, have been excluded from various canons altogether, but many disputed books—considered non-canonical or even apocryphal by some—are considered to be Biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical or fully canonical by others. Differences exist between the Jewish Tanakh and Christian biblical canons, although the Jewish Tanakh did form the basis for the Christian Old Testament, and between the canons of different Christian denominations. In some cases where varying strata of scriptural inspiration have accumulated, it becomes prudent to discuss texts that only have an elevated status within a particular tradition. This becomes even more complex when considering the open canons of the various Latter Day Saint sects—which are usually viewed as divergent from biblical Christianity (and moreover, Judaism)—and the scriptural revelations purportedly given to several leaders over the years within that movement.Book of Judith
The Book of Judith is a deuterocanonical book, included in the Septuagint and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian Old Testament of the Bible, but excluded from Jewish texts and assigned by Protestants to the Apocrypha. The book contains numerous historical anachronisms, which is why many scholars now accept it as non-historical; it has been considered a parable or perhaps the first historical novel.The name Judith (Hebrew: יְהוּדִית, Modern: Yehudit, Tiberian: Yəhûḏîṯ, "Praised" or "Jewess") is the feminine form of Judah.Books of the Bible
Different religious groups include different books in their biblical canons, in varying orders, and sometimes divide or combine books. The Jewish Tanakh (sometimes called the Hebrew Bible) contains 24 books divided into three parts: the five books of the Torah ("teaching"); the eight books of the Nevi'im ("prophets"); and the eleven books of Ketuvim ("writings"). It is composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, and its Masoretic Text is the main textual source for the Christian Greek Old Testament.Christian Bibles range from the 73 books of the Catholic Church canon, the 66 books of the canon of some denominations or the 80 books of the canon of other denominations of the Protestant Church, to the 81 books of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church canon. The first part of Christian Bibles is the Greek Old Testament, which contains, at minimum, the above 24 books of the Tanakh but divided into 39 books and ordered differently. The second part is the Greek New Testament, containing 27 books; the four Canonical gospels, Acts of the Apostles, 21 Epistles or letters and the Book of Revelation.
The Catholic Church and Eastern Christian churches hold that certain deuterocanonical books and passages are part of the Old Testament canon. The Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, and Assyrian Christian churches may have minor differences in their lists of accepted books. The list given here for these churches is the most inclusive: if at least one Eastern church accepts the book it is included here. The King James Bible—which has been called "the most influential version of the most influential book in the world, in what is now its most influential language" and which in the United States is the most used translation, being still considered a standard among Protestant churches and being used liturgically in the Orthodox Church in America—contains 80 books: 39 in its Old Testament, 14 in its Apocrypha, and 27 in its New Testament.Cave of Treasures
The Cave of Treasures, sometimes referred to simply as The Treasure, is a book of the New Testament apocrypha. It was written in the sixth century or later.Concordia Publishing House
Concordia Publishing House (CPH), founded in 1869, is the official publishing arm of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Headquartered in St Louis, Missouri at 3558 S. Jefferson, CPH publishes the Synod's official monthly magazine, The Lutheran Witness and the Synod's hymnals, including The Lutheran Hymnal (1941), Lutheran Worship (1982), and Lutheran Service Book (2006). It has published a comprehensive edition of Johann Sebastian Bach's Orgelbüchlein, complete with short analyses of each chorale. It publishes a wide range of resources for churches, schools, and homes and is the publisher of the world's most widely circulated daily devotional resource, Portals of Prayer. Over 850,000 copies of this resource are printed and distributed quarterly. Their children's books, known as Arch Books, have been published in millions of copies. Concordia Publishing House is the oldest publishing company west of the Mississippi River and the world's largest distinctly Lutheran publishing house.
Concordia Publishing House publishes The Lutheran Study Bible — the first study Bible in English to be developed from the ground up with notes from theologians, scholars, and pastors from 12 Lutheran church bodies. The TLSB was released on September 1, 2009 and uses the English Standard Version of the Bible. Concordia released in October 2012 "The Apocrypha: The Lutheran Edition with Notes".Deuterocanonical books
The deuterocanonical books (from the Greek meaning "belonging to the second canon") are books and passages considered by the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church to be canonical books of the Old Testament but which are considered non-canonical by Protestant denominations. They are books from the Septuagint, the standard translation of the Hebrew Bible in the Hellenistic period, written during the reign of Ptolemy II (283–246 BCE) and referenced extensively in the New Testament, particularly in the Pauline Epistles. With the rise of Rabbinic Judaism at the end of the Second Temple Period, the Hebrew Canon was in flux, until the Masoretic Text, compiled between the 7th and 10th centuries, became the authoritative text of the mainstream Rabbinic Judaism. The Masoretic Text excluded the seven deuterocanonical books and formed the basis for their exclusion in the Protestant Old Testament. The term distinguished these texts both from those that were termed protocanonical books, which were the books of the Hebrew canon; and from the apocryphal books, which were those books of Jewish origin that were known sometimes to have been read in church as scripture but which were considered not to be canonical.
The deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament are:
Canonical by the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church:Tobit
Wisdom of Solomon
Wisdom of Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus)
Baruch including the Letter of Jeremiah
Additions to Esther
Additions to Daniel:
Prayer of Azariah and Song of the Three Holy Children (Septuagint Daniel 3:24–90)
Susanna (Septuagint prologue, Vulgate Daniel 13)
Bel and the Dragon (Septuagint epilogue, Vulgate Daniel 14)Canonical only by the Orthodox Church:
The Prayer of Manasseh
Psalm 151This 16th-century debate drew on traditions witnessing a counterpart debate in the 4th and 5th centuries; occasioned then by the awareness that the Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which the early church used as its Old Testament, included several books not recognised in the Jewish canon of the Bible as it had since been defined in Rabbinic Judaism. In this debate, which had preceded the dissemination of Jerome's Vulgate version, the books in the Hebrew Bible had been termed "canonical"; the additional books that were recognised by the Christian churches had been termed "ecclesiastical", and those that were considered not to be in the Bible were termed "apocryphal".Forms of the term "deuterocanonical" were adopted after the 16th century by the Eastern Orthodox Church to denote canonical books of the Septuagint not in the Hebrew Bible (a wider selection than that adopted by the Council of Trent), and also by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to apply to works believed to be of Jewish origin translated in the Old Testament of the Ethiopic Bible; a wider selection still.Since the 16th century, most Protestant Churches have accepted only works in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible as canonical books of the Old Testament, and hence classify all deuterocanonical texts (of whichever definition) with the Apocrypha.Fair Em
Fair Em, the Miller's Daughter of Manchester, is an Elizabethan-era stage play, a comedy written c. 1590. It was bound together with Mucedorus and The Merry Devil of Edmonton in a volume labelled "Shakespeare. Vol. I" in the library of Charles II. Though scholarly opinion generally does not accept the attribution to William Shakespeare, there are a few who believe they see Shakespeare's hand in this play.Fate/Apocrypha
Fate/Apocrypha (Japanese: フェイト/アポクリファ, Hepburn: Feito/Apokurifa) is a Japanese light novel series in Type-Moon's Fate franchise, written by Yūichirō Higashide and illustrated by Ototsugu Konoe. Type-Moon published five volumes from December 2012 to December 2014. A manga adaptation illustrated by Akira Ishida is serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Comp Ace magazine. An anime television series adaptation by A-1 Pictures premiered in July 2017.Gnostic texts
Gnosticism used a number of religious texts that are preserved, in part or whole, in ancient manuscripts, or lost but mentioned critically in Patristic writings.Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible, also called the Tanakh (; תַּנַ״ךְ, pronounced [taˈnaχ] or [təˈnax]; also Tenakh, Tenak, Tanach) or Mikra, is the canonical collection of Jewish texts, which is also the textual source for the Christian Old Testament. These texts are composed mainly in Biblical Hebrew, with some passages in Biblical Aramaic (in the books of Daniel, Ezra and a few others). The form of this text that is authoritative for Rabbinic Judaism is known as the Masoretic Text (MT), and is divided into 24 books, while the Protestant Bible translations divide the same material into 39 books.
Modern scholars seeking to understand the history of the Hebrew Bible use a range of sources, in addition to the Masoretic Text. These sources include early Greek (Septuagint) and Syriac (Peshitta) translations, the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Dead Sea Scrolls and quotations from rabbinic manuscripts. Many of these sources may be older than the Masoretic Text and often differ from it. These differences have given rise to the theory that yet another text, an Urtext of the Hebrew Bible, once existed and is the source of the versions extant today. However, such an Urtext has never been found, and which of the three commonly known versions (Septuagint, Masoretic Text, Samaritan Pentateuch) is closest to the Urtext is not fully determined.Jewish apocrypha
Jewish apocrypha includes texts written in the Jewish religious tradition either in the Intertestamental period or in the early Christian era, but outside the Christian tradition. It does not include books in the canonical Hebrew Bible, nor those accepted into the canon of some or all Christian faiths.King James Version
The King James Version (KJV), also known as the King James Bible (KJB) or simply the Authorised Version (AV), is an English translation of the Christian Bible for the Church of England, begun in 1604 and completed as well as published in 1611 under the sponsorship of King James I of England. The books of the King James Version include the 39 books of the Old Testament, an intertestamental section containing 14 books of the Apocrypha, and the 27 books of the New Testament.
It was first printed by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, and was the third translation into English approved by the English Church authorities: The first had been the Great Bible, commissioned in the reign of King Henry VIII (1535), and the second had been the Bishops' Bible, commissioned in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1568). On the European continent, the first generation of Calvinists had produced the Geneva Bible of 1560 from the original
Hebrew and Greek Scriptures, which was influential in the writing of the Authorised King James Version. In January 1604, King James convened the Hampton Court Conference, where a new English version was conceived in response to the problems of the earlier translations perceived by the Puritans, a faction of the Church of England. The translation is noted for its "majesty of style", and has been described as one of the most important books in English culture and a driving force in the shaping of the English-speaking world.James gave the translators instructions intended to ensure that the new version would conform to the ecclesiology of, and reflect the episcopal structure of, the Church of England and its belief in an ordained clergy. The translation was done by 47 scholars, all of whom were members of the Church of England. In common with most other translations of the period, the New Testament was translated from Greek, the Old Testament from Hebrew and Aramaic, and the Apocrypha from Greek and Latin. In the Book of Common Prayer (1662), the text of the Authorised Version replaced the text of the Great Bible for Epistle and Gospel readings (but not for the Psalter, which substantially retained Coverdale's Great Bible version), and as such was authorised by Act of Parliament.By the first half of the 18th century, the Authorised Version had become effectively unchallenged as the English translation used in Anglican and English Protestant churches, except for the Psalms and some short passages in the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. Over the course of the 18th century, the Authorised Version supplanted the Latin Vulgate as the standard version of scripture for English-speaking scholars. With the development of stereotype printing at the beginning of the 19th century, this version of the Bible became the most widely printed book in history, almost all such printings presenting the standard text of 1769 extensively re-edited by Benjamin Blayney at Oxford, and nearly always omitting the books of the Apocrypha. Today the unqualified title "King James Version" usually indicates this Oxford standard text.
The KJV of 1611 used the 25-letter English alphabet with no letter J, thus it was the King Iames Bible and used "Iesus Chriſt". It was the first revision 1629 Cambridge King James Authorised Bible that first used the modern 26 letters and "Jesus Christ".Locrine
Locrine is an Elizabethan play depicting the legendary Trojan founders of the nation of England and of Troynovant (London). The play presents a cluster of complex and unresolved problems for scholars of English Renaissance theatre.New Testament apocrypha
The New Testament apocrypha (singular apocryphon) are a number of writings by early Christians that give accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. Some of these writings have been cited as scripture by early Christians, but since the fifth century a widespread consensus has emerged limiting the New Testament to the 27 books of the modern canon. Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches generally do not view these New Testament apocrypha as part of the Bible.Non-canonical books referenced in the Bible
The non-canonical books referenced in the Bible includes pseudepigrapha, writings from Hellenistic and other non-Biblical cultures, and lost works of known or unknown status. By the "Bible" is meant those books recognised by most Christians and Jews as being part of Old Testament (or Tanakh) as well as those recognised by Christians alone as being part of the Biblical apocrypha or of the Deuterocanon.
It may also include books of the Anagignoskomena (Deuterocanonical books § Eastern Orthodoxy) that are accepted only by Eastern Orthodox Christians. For the purposes of this article, "referenced" can mean direct quotations, paraphrases, or allusions, which in some cases are known only because they have been identified as such by ancient writers, or the citation of a work or author.Pseudepigrapha
Pseudepigrapha (also anglicized as "pseudepigraph" or "pseudepigraphs") are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed author is not the true author, or a work whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past. Pseudepigraphy covers the false ascription of names of authors to works, even to authentic works that make no such claim within their text. Thus a widely accepted but incorrect attribution of authorship may make a completely authentic text pseudepigraphical. Assessing the actual writer of a text locates questions of pseudepigraphical attribution within the discipline of literary criticism.
In biblical studies, the term pseudepigrapha typically refers to an assorted collection of Jewish religious works thought to be written c. 300 BC to 300 AD. They are distinguished by Protestants from the Deuterocanonical books (Catholic and Orthodox) or Apocrypha (Protestant), the books that appear in extant copies of the Septuagint from the fourth century on, and the Vulgate but not in the Hebrew Bible or in Protestant Bibles. The Catholic Church distinguishes only between the deuterocanonical and all the other books, that are called biblical apocrypha, a name that is also used for the pseudepigrapha in the Catholic usage. In addition, two books considered canonical in the Orthodox Tewahedo churches, viz. Book of Enoch and Book of Jubilees, are categorized as pseudepigrapha from the point of view of Chalcedonian Christianity.Shakespeare apocrypha
The Shakespeare apocrypha is a group of plays and poems that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare, but whose attribution is questionable for various reasons. The issue is separate from the debate on Shakespearean authorship, which addresses the authorship of the works traditionally attributed to Shakespeare.The Merry Devil of Edmonton
The Merry Devil of Edmonton is an Elizabethan-era stage play; a comedy about a magician, Peter Fabell, nicknamed the Merry Devil. It was at one point attributed to William Shakespeare, but is now considered part of the Shakespeare Apocrypha.