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Apocrypha (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, ‘the hidden hings) The biblical Books received by the early Church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but not included in the Hebrew Bible, being excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews from their canon. Their position in Christian usage has been ambiguous. There are several levels of dubiety within the general concept of apocryphal works in Judeo-Christian biblical writings. Apocrypha per se are outside the Hebrew Bible canon, not considered divinely inspired but regarded as worthy of study by the faithful. ''
Pseudepigrapha Pseudepigrapha (also anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or und ...
'' are spurious works ostensibly written by a biblical figure. ''Deuterocanonical'' works are those that are accepted in one canon but not in all.
Biblical apocrypha The biblical apocrypha (from the grc, ἀπόκρυφος, translit=apókruphos, lit=hidden) denotes the collection of apocryphal ancient books thought to have been written some time between 200 BC and 400 AD. Some Christian churches include ...
are a set of texts included in the
Septuagint The Greek Old Testament, or Septuagint (, ; from the la, septuaginta, lit=seventy; often abbreviated ''70''; in Roman numerals Roman numerals are a that originated in and remained the usual way of writing numbers throughout Europe wel ...
and the
Latin Vulgate The Vulgate (; also called , ) is a late-4th-century Latin translation of the Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, ...
, but not in the
Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it is regarded as the language of the Israelites ...

Hebrew Bible
. While
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
tradition considers some of these texts to be
deuterocanonical The deuterocanonical books (from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its p ...
,
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
s consider them apocryphal.
Luther's Bible The Luther Bible (german: Lutherbibel) is a German language The German language (, ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switze ...
placed them in a separate section called the Apocrypha, and most
Protestant Bible A Protestant Bible is a Christian Bible whose translation or revision was produced by Protestants. Such Bibles comprise 39 books of the Old Testament (according to the Development of the Hebrew Bible canon, Hebrew Bible canon, known especially to ...
s do not include the books in the
Old Testament The Old Testament (often abbreviated OT) is the first division of the Christian biblical canon A biblical canon or canon of scripture is a set of texts (or "books") which a particular Jewish or Christian religious community regards as aut ...
. Other
non-canonical Canonical may refer to: Science and technology * Canonical form, a natural unique representation of an object, or a preferred notation for some object Mathematics * Canonical coordinates, sets of coordinates that can be used to describe a physic ...
apocryphal texts are generally called
pseudepigrapha Pseudepigrapha (also anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modifying foreign words, names, and phrases to make them easier to spell, pronounce, or und ...
, a term that means "
false attribution False attribution can refer to: * Misattribution in general, when a quotation or work is accidentally, traditionally, or based on bad information attributed to the wrong person or group * A specific fallacy A fallacy is the use of Validity (logic), ...
".


Etymology

The word's origin is the
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share ...
adjective , 'secret, or non-canonical', from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
adjective (''apokryphos''), 'obscure', from the verb (''apokryptein''), 'to hide away'. ''Apocrypha'' is a plural word (singular: apocryphon) that originally denoted hidden or secret writings, to be read only by initiates into a given
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

Christian
group. It comes from
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
and is formed from the combination of ''apo'' (away) and ''kryptein'' (hide or conceal). The word ''apocrypha'' has undergone a major change in meaning throughout the centuries. The word ''apocrypha'' originally meant a text too sacred and secret to be in everyone's hands.


Esoteric writings and objects

The word ''apocryphal'' () was first applied to writings which were kept secret because they were the vehicles of
esoteric Western esotericism, also known as esotericism, esoterism, and sometimes the Western mystery tradition, is a term scholars use to categorise a wide range of loosely related ideas and movements that developed within Western society. These ideas a ...
knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed to anyone other than the initiated. For example, the
disciples
disciples
of the
Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Judaism, Jewish and Early Christianity, early Christian sects. These ...
Prodicus Prodicus of Ceos (; grc-gre, Πρόδικος ὁ Κεῖος, ''Pródikos ho Keios''; c. 465 BC – c. 395 BC) was a Greek philosopher, and part of the first generation of Sophist A sophist ( el, σοφιστής, ''sophistes'') was a teacher ...
boasted that they possessed the secret () books of
Zoroaster Zoroaster (, ; el, Ζωροάστρης, ''Zōroastrēs''), also known as Zarathustra (, ; ae, , ''Zaraθuštra''), Zarathushtra Spitama or Ashu Zarathushtra (Modern fa, زرتشت, ''Zartosht''), was an ancient Iranian Iranian may refer t ...

Zoroaster
. The term in general enjoyed high consideration among the
Gnostics Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which originated in the late 1st century CE among Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pro ...
(see
Acts of Thomas The early 3rd-century text called ''Acts of Thomas'' is one of the New Testament apocrypha. References to the work by Epiphanius of Salamis Epiphanius of Salamis ( grc-gre, Ἐπιφάνιος; c. 310–320 – 403) was the bishop of Sala ...
, pp. 10, 27, 44).
Sinologist Sinology or Chinese studies, is an academic discipline that focuses on the study of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's ...
Anna Seidel Anna Katharina Seidel (1938 – September 29, 1991) was a Germany, German sinology, Sinologist who was regarded as an authority in the study of Taoism. During her 22 years at the Institut du Hobogirin of the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient i ...

Anna Seidel
refers to texts and even items produced by ancient Chinese sages as apocryphal and studied their uses during
Six Dynasties __NOTOC__ Six Dynasties (; 220–589 or 222–589) is a collective term for six Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,
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.Seidel, Anna. "Imperial treasures and Taoist sacraments", in M. Strickmann, ed., Tantric and Taoist Studies in Honor of Rolf A. Stein, II, Bruxelles, Institut belge des hautes etudes chinoises. pp. 291-371. From their roots in
ZhouZhou may refer to: Chinese history * King Zhou of Shang () (1105 BC–1046 BC), the last king of the Shang dynasty * Predynastic Zhou (), 11th-century BC precursor to the Zhou dynasty * Zhou dynasty () (1046 BC–256 BC), a dynasty of China ** Weste ...
era China (1066 to 256 BC), these items came to be surpassed in value by texts by the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
(206 BC to AD 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.


Writings of questionable value

''Apocrypha'' was also applied to writings that were hidden not because of their divinity but because of their questionable value to the church. The early Christian theologian
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
, in his ''Commentaries on Matthew'', distinguishes between writings which were read by the churches and apocryphal writings: (''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.


Spurious writings

In general use, the word ''apocrypha'' came to mean "false, spurious, bad, or heretical". This meaning also appears in
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
's prologue to his commentary on the
Song of Songs The Song of Songs ( he, שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים ; grc-gre, ᾎσμα ᾀσμάτων, Âisma āismátōn, ; la, Canticum canticōrum, ), also Song of Solomon, Canticle of Canticles, or Canticles, is one of the ' (scrolls) found in th ...
, of which only the
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
translation survives:


Other

The
Gelasian Decree The ''Decretum Gelasianum'' or the Gelasian Decree is so named because it was traditionally thought to be a Decretal of the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492–496. The work reached its final form in a five-chapter text written by an an ...
(generally held now as being the work of an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553) refers to religious works by
church fathers The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were ancient and influential Christian theologians Christian theology is the theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the Divinity, di ...
Eusebius Eusebius of Caesarea (; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τῆς Καισαρείας, ''Eusébios tés Kaisareías''; AD 260/265 – 339/340), also known as Eusebius Pamphili (from the grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος τοῦ Παμϕίλου) ...

Eusebius
,
Tertullian Tertullian (; la, Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus; 155 AD – 220 AD) was a prolific early Christian The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion Christianity is an Abrahamic The Abrahamic religio ...

Tertullian
and
Clement of Alexandria Titus Flavius Clemens, also known as Clement of Alexandria ( grc, Κλήμης ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς; – ), was a Christian theologian #REDIRECT Christian theology #REDIRECT Christian theology Christian theology is the theology of Chr ...
as apocrypha. defined the word as meaning simply "obscurity of origin", implying that any book of unknown authorship or questionable authenticity would be considered apocryphal.
Jerome Jerome (; la, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; grc-gre, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; – 30 September 420), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was a Christian priest A priest is a religious leader authoriz ...

Jerome
in '' Prologus 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. As a result, various church authorities labeled different books as apocrypha, treating them with varying levels of regard.
Origen Origen of Alexandria, ''Ōrigénēs''; Coptic language, Coptic: Ϩⲱⲣⲓⲕⲉⲛ Origen's Greek name ''Ōrigénēs'' () probably means "child of Horus" (from , "Horus", and , "born"). ( 184 – 253), also known as Origen Adamantius, was an ...

Origen
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. Teachers connected with
Palestine Palestine ( or ) most often refers to: * State of Palestine, a ''de jure'' sovereign state in the Middle East * Palestine (region), a geographical and historical region in the Middle East Palestine may also refer to: * Palestinian National Aut ...
and familiar with the Hebrew canon (the
protocanon The protocanonical books are those books of the Old Testament that are also included in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanakh) and that came to be considered Biblical canon, canonical during the Proto-orthodox Christianity, formational period of orthodox Ch ...
) excluded from the canon all of the Old Testament not found there. This view is reflected in the canon of
Melito of Sardis Melito of Sardis ( el, Μελίτων Σάρδεων ''Melítōn Sárdeōn''; died c. 180) was the bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a p ...
, 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 Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
, and to be read in congregations. They were referred to as "
ecclesiastical {{Short pages monitor