The Apocrypha

The term “Apocrypha” refers to a collection of texts that are not included in the Jewish or Protestant Bibles. These texts are considered to be of uncertain origin or authorship and have been subject to much debate over the years. The Apocrypha is also sometimes referred to as the “Deuterocanonical” books, which means “second canon.” These books were initially included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and were later added to the Catholic Bible. In this blog post, we will explore the history and significance of the Apocrypha. #Apocrypha

The Apocrypha

The term "Apocrypha" refers to a collection of texts that are not included in the Jewish or Protestant Bibles. These texts are considered to be of uncertain origin or authorship and have been subject to much debate over the years. The Apocrypha is also sometimes referred to as the "Deuterocanonical" books, which means "second canon." These books were initially included in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and were later added to the Catholic Bible. In this blog post, we will explore the history and significance of the Apocrypha. #Apocrypha

The Greek word for “Apocrypha” is ἀπόκρυφα (apókrypha), which means “hidden” or “obscure.” The term was first used in reference to these texts by St. Jerome, the translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible, in the 4th century.

History of the Apocrypha:

The history of the Apocrypha can be traced back to the 3rd century BCE when the Septuagint was translated. The Septuagint is the earliest known Greek translation of the Old Testament, and it included additional texts that were not present in the Hebrew Bible. These additional texts were mostly written in Greek, and they were not considered to be part of the Jewish Scriptures. However, the early Christian church considered these texts to be important, and they were widely used by the church.

During the Reformation, the Apocrypha was removed from the Protestant Bible due to concerns over the authenticity of the texts. The Protestant reformers argued that these texts were not divinely inspired and therefore could not be considered part of the biblical canon. However, the Catholic Church continued to include the Apocrypha in their Bible, and they were officially recognized as part of the canon at the Council of Trent in the 16th century.

Significance of the Apocrypha:

The Apocrypha is significant for a number of reasons. Firstly, these texts provide valuable insight into the cultural and historical context of the Old Testament. The Apocrypha includes books such as Tobit, Judith, and Sirach, which offer valuable insights into Jewish life and tradition during the Hellenistic period.

Secondly, the Apocrypha is important because it contains some of the earliest Christian writings. The New Testament is often considered to be the most important Christian text, but the Apocrypha contains a number of texts that were written before the New Testament. These texts, such as the Wisdom of Solomon and the Letter of Jeremiah, provide valuable insights into the development of Christian theology and belief.

Thirdly, the Apocrypha is important because it has had a significant influence on Christian art, literature, and culture. Many works of art, such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling, draw on stories from the Apocrypha. In addition, many literary works, such as John Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” are heavily influenced by the themes and stories found in the Apocrypha.

Books of the Apocrypha

The books that are commonly included in the Apocrypha vary depending on the religious tradition. The following list includes the books that are typically included in the Apocrypha of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches:

  1. Tobit
  2. Judith
  3. Wisdom of Solomon
  4. Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
  5. Baruch, including the Letter of Jeremiah
  6. First and Second Maccabees
  7. Additions to the Book of Esther (including the Prayer of Mordecai)
  8. Additions to the Book of Daniel (including the Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Jews, and the Story of Susanna, as well as the longer version of the story of Bel and the Dragon)

These books were written in the intertestamental period, between the time of the Old and New Testaments. While they are not considered part of the Jewish or Protestant biblical canon, they are considered part of the Deuterocanonical books by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Why are they not included in the Bible?

The reason why the books of the Apocrypha are not included in the Jewish or Protestant biblical canon is a matter of historical and theological debate. The Jewish canon was established before the time of Jesus and included only the books that were written in Hebrew and accepted as sacred by the Jewish community at the time. The Apocrypha, which was written in Greek and was not part of the Hebrew Bible, was not included in the Jewish canon.

The Protestant canon was established during the Reformation, when scholars and theologians began to question the authenticity and authority of certain books in the Bible. Many of these scholars felt that the Apocrypha was not divinely inspired and did not meet the same criteria as the other books in the Bible. As a result, the Protestant Bible does not include the books of the Apocrypha.

However, the Catholic and Orthodox Churches continue to include the books of the Apocrypha in their Bibles. These churches have a different view of the canon of scripture, and they believe that the books of the Apocrypha are inspired by God and are an important part of the biblical tradition.

Overall, the decision to include or exclude certain books from the biblical canon is a complex one that involves historical, cultural, and theological factors. The debate over the inclusion of the Apocrypha in the biblical canon continues to this day.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, the Apocrypha is a collection of texts that have had a significant impact on Jewish and Christian tradition. Although the Apocrypha is not included in the Jewish or Protestant Bible, it is an important source of historical, cultural, and theological insight. Whether you are interested in the history of religion, the development of Christian theology, or the cultural impact of religious texts, the Apocrypha is a fascinating and important collection of texts that is well worth exploring.

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