The Apocrypha

The Apocrypha is a group of early Jewish writings found in some Protestant Bibles. These writings are found in the collection of Jewish scriptures in Greek, known as the Septuagint, but they are not in the Hebrew Bible. The early Christians used the Septuagint as their Old Testament.

Protestant Bibles usually don't include these writings, and when they do, they are in a separate section in between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Most Protestants don't consider these books inspired or they give them a secondary status.

Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles include these books in their Old Testaments. Roman Catholics call these writings Deuterocanonical ("second-listed," because their acceptance as scripture was more controversial).

The Books of the Apocrypha

1 Esdras
Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch ch 6)
2 Esdras
Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews (addition to Daniel)
Susanna (addition of Daniel)
Daniel, Bel, and the Dragon
(addition to Daniel)
Esther (with editions)
Prayer of Manasseh
Wisdom of Solomon
1 Macabees
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach)
2 Maccabees

Chat based on p. 455 Essays, The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha.

The Greek word apocrypha means 'secret things' or 'hidden things.' However, these books were never secret or hidden. The term is generally used to mean 'set aside' or 'withdrawn,' as in the books withdrawn from the Roman Catholic Old Testament by Protestants who limited their Old Testament to the Jewish scriptures written in Hebrew (i.e. the Hebrew Bible).

The terms apocrypha and apocryphal are also often used to mean 'spurious' and used to refer to writings that some might consider to be scriptures, but most would consider illegitimate. For example, the Apocryphal New Testament (i.e. New Testament Apocrypha) is a collection gospels, acts, and letters that some early Christians considered authentic, but others rejected as heretical or considered them non-scriptural, but not necessarily heretical.

For Further Reading

Michael D. Coogan, Marc Z. Bretter, Carol A. Newsom, & Pheme Perkins, The New Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version
  • Includes introductions and notes

Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha
  • An old, but concise introduction.

Daniel H. Harrington, Invitation to the Apocrypha
  • An introduction with a chapter on each book.

John Barton, How the Bible Came to Be
  • An accessible description of how the various biblical books were written and collected as scripture to form the Bible for beginners.

  • Gives an easy-to-understand overview of the formation of the Bible and why some books were included and others were not.

Lee M. McDonald, The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority
  • A more detailed explanation of the formation of the Bible than in his The Origin of the Bible.

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