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Apocrypha



Old Testament deuterocanonical
ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH
Book of Baruch
Letter of Jeremiah
1st and 2nd Books of Maccabees
Stories from Daniel:
Song of the Three
Susanna
Bel and the Dragon
Parts of the Book of Esther
EASTERN CHURCHES
Tobit
Judith
Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiasticus
New Testament deuterocanonical
Letter to the Hebrews
Letter of James
2nd letter of Peter
2nd and 3rd letters of John
Letter of Jude
Revelation to John

In Christianity and Judaism, non-canonical works. Apocrypha are works that were not included in the Old Testament and/or the New Testament.
The term comes from the Greek, meaning "what is hidden". It is sometimes suggested that originally the term could have expressed something positive; in almost all religious structures, esoteric texts represent the part of the religious message that is reserved for the elite. However, it would develop into derogative term, as another way of expressing "false".
Apocrypha are often works created by certain groups, representing ideas that at the time, or later in history, deviated from mainstream theological concepts. Apocrypha may also have come about by being deemed superfluous to the accepted works.
Much apocrypha is considered valuable by the main religious orientation, but almost never considered as divinely inspired.
Pseudepigrapha are texts considered false, but considered written by an actual biblical figure. Deuterocanonical work is used for both Christian Old Testament as well as the New Testament, but with different meanings. In the case of the Old Testament, deuterocanonical is used for texts that are accepted in one canon but not in all. In the New Testament, it indicates texts that belong to a later stage in the theological development, or rather texts written after the time they are attributed. The case with this body of deuterocanonical work, is that it has become part of the Christian canon. Hence, being canonical, these works are called by the term deuterocanonical, but may not be called apocrypha.
A very interesting part of the history of the early church are the apocryphal gospels, from which there are clear indications to alternative understandings to the core concepts of Christianity altogether.
The use of apocrypha as non-canonical was first used around year 400 by the Christian scholar, St. Jerome, when translating the Bible into Latin. His will to abandon several of the works belonging to the Old Testament was overruled by the Council of Trent in 1546, which only excluded the 3. and 4. Book of Maccabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and the 1. and 2. Books of Esdras.
In the New Testaments the apocrypha covers all types of texts, from gospels, acts, epistles to apocalypses and wisdom books. Some of these works come from Gnostic groups, some from certain sects. It seems likely that for several generations, before the establishment of a Christian canon, the different texts that would later be deemed apocrypha enjoyed great influence. Some were, however, important only to certain sects. These texts were expressions of theological theories, as well as tools for missionary activities.
At the Council of Jamnia in 90 CE, Jewish scholars revised the content of the Old Testament, or Septuagint (Greek translation of the Jewish Bible), by which several texts were abandoned. The abandoned texts are still part of Jewish theological tradition, and collected in the Sefarim Hizonim in the Talmud.




By Tore Kjeilen