Biblical apocrypha

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This article is about a class of books included in some Bibles. For other books generally excluded from Bibles, see Apocrypha.
This article is about biblical books printed apart from the New and Old Testaments. For books whose inclusion in the Old Testament canon is controversial, see Deuterocanonical books.

The Biblical apocrypha (from the Greek word ἀπόκρυφος, apókruphos, meaning "hidden") denotes the collection of ancient books found, in some editions of the Bible, in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments[1] or as an appendix after the New Testament.[2] Although the term apocrypha 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.[3] Luther was making a polemical point about the canonicity of these books. As an authority for this division, he cited St. Jerome, who in the early 5th century distinguished the Hebrew and Greek Old Testaments,[4] stating that books not found in the Hebrew were not received as canonical. Although his statement was controversial in his day,[5] Jerome was later titled a Doctor of the Church and his authority was also cited in the Anglican statement in 1571 of the Thirty-Nine Articles.[6]

There was agreement among the Reformers that the Apocrypha contained "books proceeding from godly men" and therefore recommended reading. The Geneva Bible[7] said this in 1560:

These bokes that follow in order unto the Newe testament, are called Apocrypha, that is, bokes, which were not received by a comune consent to be red and expounded publickely in the Church, neither yet served to prove any point of Christian religion, save inasmuche as they had the consent of the other Scriptures called Canonical to confirme the same, or rather whereon they were grounded : but as bokes proceding from godlie men, were received to be red for the advancement and furtherance of the knowledge of the historie, and for the instruction of godlie maners : which bokes declare that at all times God had an especial care of his Church and left them not utterly destitute of teachers and meanes to confirme them in the hope of the promised Messiah, and also witnesse that those calamities that God sent to his Church, were according to his providence, who had bothe so threatened by his Prophetes, and so broght it to passe for the destruction of their enemies, and for the tryal of his children.

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",[8] and, as the Catholic Encyclopedia says, "...the name Apocrypha soon came to have an unfavourable signification which it still retains, comporting both want of genuineness and canonicity."[9] This hostile attitude towards the Apocrypha (considered Catholic by some British Protestants) is represented by the refusal of the British and Foreign Bible Society in the early 19th century to print it (see below).

Catholic and Orthodox Christians regard as fully canonical most of these books called Apocrypha, and their canonicity was explicitly affirmed at the Council of Trent in 1546[10] and Synod of Jerusalem (1672) respectively. They are called deuterocanonical by Catholics and anagignoskomena by the Orthodox.

Biblical canon[edit]

Vulgate prologues[edit]

Jerome completed his version of the Bible, the Latin Vulgate, in 405. In the Middle Ages the Vulgate became the de facto standard version of the Bible in the West. These Bibles were divided into Old and New Testaments only; there was no separate Apocrypha section. Nevertheless, the Vulgate manuscripts included prologues[11] that clearly identified certain books of the Vulgate Old Testament as apocryphal or non-canonical. In the prologue to the books of Samuel and Kings, which is often called the Prologus Galeatus, Jerome described those books not translated from the Hebrew as apocrypha; he specifically mentions that Wisdom, the book of Jesus son of Sirach, Judith, Tobias, and the Shepherd "are not in the canon". In the prologue to Esdras he mentions 3 and 4 Esdras as being apocrypha. In his prologue to the books of Solomon, he mentioned "the book of Jesus son of Sirach and another pseudepigraphos, which is titled the Wisdom of Solomon". He says of them and Judith, Tobias, and the Books of the Maccabees, that the Church "has not received them among the canonical scriptures".

He mentions the book of Baruch in his prologue to the Jeremias and does not explicitly refer to it as apocryphal, but he does mention that "it is neither read nor held among the Hebrews". In his prologue to the Judith he mentions that "among the Hebrews, the authority [of Judith] came into contention", but that it was "counted in the number of Sacred Scriptures" by the First Council of Nicaea.

Although in his Apology against Rufinus, Book II he denied the authority of the canon of the Hebrews, this caveat does not appear in the prologues themselves, nor in his prologues does he specify the authorship of the canon he describes. Whatever its origin or authority, it was this canon, without qualification, that the prologues of the bibles of Western Europe described.

Apocrypha in editions of the Bible[edit]

Apocrypha are very well attested in surviving manuscripts of the Christian Bible. (See for example Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Vulgate, and Peshitta.) After the Lutheran and Catholic canons were defined by Luther (c. 1534) and Trent[12] (April 8, 1546) respectively, early Protestant editions of the Bible (notably the Luther Bible in German and 1611 King James Version in English) did not omit these books, but placed them in a separate Apocrypha section apart from the Old and New Testaments to indicate their status. The 1647 Westminster Confession of Faith during the English Civil War (1642–1651) specifically excluded the Apocrypha from the canon, thus Bibles printed by English Protestants who separated from the Church of England began to exclude these books.

Gutenberg Bible[edit]

This famous edition of the Vulgate was published in 1455. Like the manuscripts it was based on, the Gutenberg Bible lacked a specific Apocrypha section;[13] its Old Testament included the books that Jerome considered apocryphal, and those Clement VIII later moved to the appendix. The Prayer of Manasses was located after the Books of Chronicles, and 3 and 4 Esdras followed 2 Esdras (Nehemiah), and Prayer of Solomon followed Ecclesiasticus.

Luther Bible[edit]

Main article: Luther Bible

Martin Luther translated the Bible into German during the early part of the 16th century, first releasing a complete Bible in 1534. His Bible was the first major edition to have a separate section called Apocrypha. Books and portions of books not found in the Masoretic Text of Judaism were moved out of the body of the Old Testament to this section.[14] Luther placed these books between the Old and New Testaments. For this reason, these works are sometimes known as inter-testamental books. See also Intertestamental period and Luther's canon. The books 1 and 2 Esdras were omitted entirely.[15]

Luther also expressed some doubts about the canonicity of four New Testament books, although he never called them apocrypha: the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Epistles of James and Jude, and the Revelation to John. He did not put them in a separate named section, but he did move them to the end of his New Testament.[16]

Clementine Vulgate[edit]

In 1592, Pope Clement VIII published his revised edition of the Vulgate, referred to as the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate. He moved three books not found in the canon of the Council of Trent from the Old Testament into an appendix "lest they utterly perish" (ne prorsus interirent).[17]

The protocanonical and deuterocanonical books he placed in their traditional positions in the Old Testament.

King James Version[edit]

The English-language King James Version (KJV) of 1611 followed the lead of the Luther Bible in using an inter-testamental section labelled "Books called Apocrypha", or just "Apocrypha" at the running page header. The KJV followed the Geneva Bible of 1560 almost exactly (variations are marked below). The section contains the following:[18]

Included in this list are those books of the Clementine Vulgate that were not in Luther's canon. These are the books most frequently referred to by the casual appellation "the Apocrypha". These same books are also listed in Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England.[19] Despite being placed in the Apocrypha, in the table of lessons at the front of some printings of the King James Bible, these books are included under the Old Testament.

Other early Bible editions[edit]

All English translations of the Bible printed in the sixteenth century included a section or appendix for Apocryphal books. Matthew's Bible, published in 1537, contains all the Apocrypha of the later King James Version in an inter-testamental section. The 1538 Myles Coverdale Bible contained an Apocrypha that excluded Baruch and the Prayer of Manasseh. The 1560 Geneva Bible placed the Prayer of Manasseh after 2 Chronicles; the rest of the Apocrypha were placed in an inter-testamental section. The Douay-Rheims Bible (1582–1609) placed the Prayer of Manasseh and 3 and 4 Esdras into an Appendix of the second volume of the Old Testament.

In the Zürich Bible (1529–30) they are placed in an Appendix. They include 3 Maccabees, along with 1 Esdras & 2 Esdras. The 1st edition omitted the Prayer of Manasseh and the Rest of Esther, although these were included in the 2nd edition. The French Bible (1535) of Pierre Robert Olivétan placed them between the Testaments, with the subtitle, "The volume of the apocryphal books contained in the Vulgate translation, which we have not found in the Hebrew or Chaldee".

In 1569 the Spanish Reina Bible, following the example of the pre-Clementine Latin Vulgate, contained the deuterocanonical books in its Old Testament. Following the other Protestant translations of its day, Valera's 1602 revision of the Reina Bible moved these books into an inter-testamental section.

Modern editions[edit]

All King James Bibles published before 1666 included the Apocrypha,[20] though separately to denote them as not equal to Scripture proper, as noted by Jerome in the Vulgate, to which he gave the name, "The Apocrypha."[21] In 1826,[22] the National Bible Society of Scotland petitioned the British and Foreign Bible Society not to print the Apocrypha,[23] resulting in a decision that no BFBS funds were to pay for printing any Apocryphal books anywhere. Since that time most modern editions of the Bible and reprintings of the King James Bible omit the Apocrypha section. In the 18th century, the Apocrypha section was omitted from the Challoner revision of the Douay-Rheims version. In the 1979 revision of the Vulgate, the section was dropped. Modern reprintings of the Clementine Vulgate commonly omit the Apocrypha section. Many reprintings of older versions of the Bible now omit the apocrypha and many newer translations and revisions have never included them at all.

There are some exceptions to this trend, however. Some editions of the Revised Standard Version and the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible include not only the Apocrypha listed above, but also the third and fourth books of Maccabees, and Psalm 151.

The American Bible Society lifted restrictions on the publication of Bibles with the Apocrypha in 1964. The British and Foreign Bible Society followed in 1966.[24] The Stuttgart edition of the Vulgate (the printed edition, not most of the on-line editions), which is published by the UBS, contains the Clementine Apocrypha as well as the Epistle to the Laodiceans and Psalm 151.

Brenton's edition of the Septuagint includes all of the Apocrypha found in the King James Bible with the exception of 2 Esdras, which was not in the Septuagint and is no longer extant in Greek.[25] He places them in a separate section at the end of his Old Testament, following English tradition.

In Greek circles, however, these books are not traditionally called Apocrypha, but Anagignoskomena (ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα), and are integrated into the Old Testament. The Orthodox Study Bible, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, includes the Anagignoskomena in its Old Testament, with the exception of 4 Maccabees. This was translated by the Saint Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, from the Rahlfs Edition of the Septuagint using Brenton's English translation and the RSV Expanded Apocrypha as boilerplate. As such, they are included in the Old Testament with no distinction between these books and the rest of the Old Testament. This follows the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church where the Septuagint is the received version of Old Testament scripture, considered itself inspired in agreement with some of the Fathers, such as St Augustine, rather than the Hebrew Masoretic text followed by all other modern translations.[26]

Anagignoskomena[edit]

The Septuagint, the ancient and best known Greek version of the Old Testament, contains books and additions that are not present in the Hebrew Bible. These texts are not traditionally segregated into a separate section, nor are they usually called apocrypha. Rather, they are referred to as the Anagignoskomena (ἀναγιγνωσκόμενα, "things that are read"). The anagignoskomena are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Jesus ben Sira (Sirach), Baruch, Epistle of Jeremy (in the Vulgate this is chapter 6 of Baruch), additions to Daniel (The Prayer of Azarias, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon), additions to Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, i.e. all the Deuterocanonical plus 3 Maccabees and 1 Esdras.[27]

Some editions add additional books, as Psalm 151 or the Odes, including the Prayer of Manasses. 2 Esdras is added as appendix in the Slavonic Bibles and 4 Maccabees as appendix in Greek editions.[27]

Pseudepigrapha[edit]

Technically, a pseudepigraphon is a book written in a biblical style and ascribed to an author who did not write it. In common usage, however, the term pseudepigrapha is often used by way of distinction to refer to apocryphal writings that do not appear in printed editions of the Bible, as opposed to the texts listed above. Examples[28] include:

Often included among the pseudepigrapha are 3 and 4 Maccabees because they are not traditionally found in western Bibles, although they are in the Septuagint. Similarly, the Book of Enoch, Book of Jubilees and 4 Baruch are often listed with the pseudepigrapha although they are commonly included in Ethiopian Bibles. The Psalms of Solomon are found in some editions of the Septuagint.

Classification[edit]

The Apocrypha of the King James Bible constitutes the books of the Vulgate that are present neither in the Hebrew Old Testament nor the Greek New Testament. Since these are derived from the Septuagint, from which the old Latin version was translated, it follows that the difference between the KJV and the Roman Catholic Old Testaments is traceable to the difference between the Palestinian and the Alexandrian canons of the Old Testament. This is only true with certain reservations, as the Latin Vulgate was revised by Jerome according to the Hebrew, and, where Hebrew originals were not found, according to the Septuagint. Furthermore, the Vulgate omits 3 and 4 Maccabees, which generally appear in the Septuagint, while the Septuagint and Luther's Bible omit 2 Esdras, which is found in the Apocrypha of the Vulgate and the King James Bible. Luther's Bible, moreover, also omits 1 Esdras. It should further be observed that the Clementine Vulgate places the Prayer of Manasses and 3 Esdras and 4 Esdras in an appendix after the New Testament as apocryphal.

It is hardly possible to form any classification not open to some objection. Scholars are still divided as to the original language, date, and place of composition of some of the books that come under this provisional attempt at order. (Thus some of the additions to Daniel and the Prayer of Manasseh are most probably derived from a Semitic original written in Palestine, yet in compliance with the prevailing opinion they are classed under Hellenistic Jewish literature. Again, the Slavonic Enoch goes back undoubtedly in parts to a Semitic original, though most of it may have been written by a Greek Jew in Egypt.)

A distinction can be made between the Palestinian and the Hellenistic literature of the Old Testament, though even this is open to serious objections. The former literature was written in Hebrew or Aramaic, and seldom in Greek; the latter in Greek.

Next, within these literatures there are three or four classes of subject material.

  • Historical,
  • Legendary (Haggadic),
  • Apocalyptic,
  • Didactic or Sapiential.

The Apocrypha proper then would be classified as follows:--

Cultural impact[edit]

  • Christopher Columbus was said to have been inspired by "Six parts hast Thou dried up." from 4 Esdras 6:42 to undertake his hazardous journey across the Atlantic.[29]
  • The introitus, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them", of the traditional Requiem in the Catholic Church is loosely based on 4 Esdras 2:34-35.
  • The alternative introitus for Quasimodo Sunday in the Roman rite of the Catholic Church is loosely based on 4 Esdras 2:36-37.
  • The Story of Susanna is perhaps the earliest example of a courtroom drama, and perhaps the first example of an effective forensic cross-examination (there are no others in the Bible: except perhaps Solomon's judgement at 1 Kings 3:25).
  • Bel and the Dragon is perhaps the earliest example of a locked room mystery.
  • Shylock's reference in The Merchant of Venice to "A Daniel come to judgment; yea, a Daniel!" refers to the story of Susanna and the elders.
  • The theme of the elders surprising Susanna in her bath is a common one in art, such as in paintings by Tintoretto and Artemisia Gentileschi, and in Wallace Stevens' poem Peter Quince at the Clavier.
  • Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, the title of James Agee's 1941 chronicle of Alabama sharecroppers, was taken from Ecclesiasticus 44:1: "Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us."
  • In his spiritual autobiography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, John Bunyan recounts how God strengthened him against the temptation to despair of his salvation by inspiring him with the words, "Look at the generations of old and see: did any ever trust in God, and were confounded?"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ As in the original King James or Authorized Version, and in modern Bibles such as the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha, 4th Expanded Edition: New Revised Standard Version
  2. ^ See the English Standard Version with the Apocrypha, and the New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha, 3rd Revised and Expanded Edition: Revised Standard Version
  3. ^ Bruce, F.F. "The Canon of Scripture". IVP Academic, 2010, Location 1478-86 (Kindle Edition).
  4. ^ See the Theological Glossary of the Jerusalem Bible Reader's Edition: "One tradition within the Church excluded the Greek books, and this tradition was taken up by the 15th century {sic} Reformers, who relegated these books to the Apocrypha. 1 Maccabees 12:9." Note that the JB is explicitly approved by the CBCEW (the Bishop's Conference of England and Wales)
  5. ^ Catholic Encyclopaedia, "St. Jerome evidently applied the term to all quasi-scriptural books which in his estimation lay outside the canon of the Bible, and the Protestant Reformers, following Jerome's catalogue of Old Testament Scriptures — one which was at once erroneous and singular among the Fathers of the Church — applied the title Apocrypha to the excess of the Catholic canon of the Old Testament over that of the Jews. Naturally, Catholics refuse to admit such a denomination, and we employ "deuterocanonical" to designate this literature, which non-Catholics conventionally and improperly known as the Apocrypha".
  6. ^ "And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine."
  7. ^ Geneva Bible, 1560; a facsimile, mostly of the Scheide Library copy, was published in 2007 by Hendrickson: Peabody, Mass. Geneva was regarded as authoritative in England (often even by Catholics) until well into the 17th century.
  8. ^ "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the Canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings." For more details see Development of the Old Testament canon#Church of England.
  9. ^ Catholic Encyclopaedia article on Apocrypha
  10. ^ Council of Trent, 4th Session (8th April 1546)
  11. ^ Prologues of Saint Jerome, Latin text
  12. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Canon of the Old Testament". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.  section titled "The Council of Florence 1442": "...contains a complete list of the books received by the Church as inspired, but omits, perhaps advisedly, the terms canon and canonical. The Council of Florence therefore taught the inspiration of all the Scriptures, but did not formally pass on their canonicity."
  13. ^ Scanned pages of the Gutenberg Bible
  14. ^ 1945 Edition of the Luther Bible on-line
  15. ^ Preface to the Revised Standard Version Common Bible
  16. ^ Six Points On Luther's "Epistle of Straw", 3 April 2007
  17. ^ Introductory material to the appendix of the Vulgata Clementina, text in Latin
  18. ^ The Bible: Authorized King James Version with Apocrypha, Oxford World's Classics, 1998, ISBN 978-0-19-283525-3
  19. ^ Article VI at episcopalian.org
  20. ^ Sir Frederic G. Kenyon, Dictionary of the Bible edited by James Hastings, and published by Charles Scribner's Sons of New York in 1909
  21. ^ Grudem, Wayne (February 29, 2012). Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible's Origin, Reliability, and Meaning. USA: Crossway. p. 90. ISBN 978-1433529993. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  22. ^ Howsam, Leslie (2002). Cheap Bibles. Cambridge University Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-521-52212-0. 
  23. ^ Flick, Dr. Stephen. "Canonization of the Bible". Christian heritage fellowship. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  24. ^ A Brief History of the United Bible Societies
  25. ^ 2 Esdras at earlyjewishwritings.com
  26. ^ "The Orthodox Study Bible" 2008, Thomas Nelson Inc. p. XI
  27. ^ a b Vassiliadis, Petros (2005). "Canon and authority of Scripture". In S. T. Kimbrough. Orthodox and Wesleyan Scriptural understanding and practice. Crestwood, N.Y: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-88141-301-4. 
  28. ^ The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Volume 2, James H. Charlesworth
  29. ^ Dotterer, Janet L. "Christopher Columbus: Motivations to Reach the Indies by Sailing West". Archived from the original on 22 November 2008. Retrieved November 2012. 
  30. ^ Gilmore, George William (1916). Selections from the World's Devotional Classics. Funk & Wagnalls company. p. 63. 
Texts

Commentaries

Introduction and General Literature:

External links[edit]