Apocrypha

Apocrypha

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The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical
Canonical
Canonical is an adjective derived from canon. Canon comes from the greek word κανών kanon, "rule" or "measuring stick" , and is used in various meanings....

".

The word is originally Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  and means "those hidden away". Specifically, is the neuter plural of ἀπόκρυφος, an adjective related to the verb ἀποκρύπτω [infinitive: ἀποκρύπτειν] (apocriptein), "to hide something away."

The general term is usually applied to the books that the Protestant Christian Church
Christian Church
The Christian Church is the assembly or association of followers of Jesus Christ. The Greek term ἐκκλησία that in its appearances in the New Testament is usually translated as "church" basically means "assembly"...

 considered useful but not divinely inspired. As such, it is misleading in this sense to refer to the Gospel according to the Hebrews or Gnostic writings as apocryphal, because they would not be classified in the same category by orthodox believers: they would be classified as a heretical subset of antilegomena
Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek , refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early...

e, to distinguish them from now-canonical ancient antilegomenae such as 2 Peter, 3 John and the Revelation of John, and non-canonical but non-heretical books which were quoted by the Early Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 such as the pseudepigraphic Epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Barnabas
The Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek epistle containing twenty-one chapters, preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament...

, the Didache
Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

, or The Shepherd of Hermas
The Shepherd of Hermas
The Shepherd of Hermas is a Christian literary work of the 1st or 2nd century, considered a valuable book by many Christians, and considered canonical scripture by some of the early Church fathers such as Irenaeus. The Shepherd had great authority in the 2nd and 3rd centuries...

. The gnostic writings are generally not accorded any status, not even a negative one: they are ignored, as they are incompatible with the accepted canon prima facie. Non-canonical
Canonical
Canonical is an adjective derived from canon. Canon comes from the greek word κανών kanon, "rule" or "measuring stick" , and is used in various meanings....

 books are texts of uncertain authenticity, or writings where the work is seriously questioned. Given that different denominations
Christian denomination
A Christian denomination is an identifiable religious body under a common name, structure, and doctrine within Christianity. In the Orthodox tradition, Churches are divided often along ethnic and linguistic lines, into separate churches and traditions. Technically, divisions between one group and...

 have different beliefs about what constitutes canonical
Christian biblical canons
A Christian biblical canon is the set of books that a Christian denomination regards as divinely inspired and thus constituting the Christian Bible...

 scripture, there are several versions of the apocrypha.

During 16th-century controversies about the biblical canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

, the word acquired a negative connotation, and has become a synonym
Synonym
Synonyms are different words with almost identical or similar meanings. Words that are synonyms are said to be synonymous, and the state of being a synonym is called synonymy. The word comes from Ancient Greek syn and onoma . The words car and automobile are synonyms...

 for "spurious" or "false". This usage usually involves fictitious or legendary accounts that are plausible enough to be commonly considered true. For example, Laozi
Laozi
Laozi was a mystic philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching . His association with the Tao Te Ching has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of Taoism...

's alleged authorship of the Tao Te Ching
Tao Te Ching
The Tao Te Ching, Dao De Jing, or Daodejing , also simply referred to as the Laozi, whose authorship has been attributed to Laozi, is a Chinese classic text...

 and the Parson Weems
Parson Weems
Mason Locke Weems , generally known as Parson Weems, was an American book agent and author. He is best known as the source of some of the apocryphal stories about George Washington...

 account of George Washington
George Washington
George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

 and the cherry
Cherry
The cherry is the fruit of many plants of the genus Prunus, and is a fleshy stone fruit. The cherry fruits of commerce are usually obtained from a limited number of species, including especially cultivars of the wild cherry, Prunus avium....

 tree are considered apocryphal.

Definitions and usage


Apocrypha has evolved in meaning somewhat, and its associated implications have ranged from positive to pejorative
Pejorative
Pejoratives , including name slurs, are words or grammatical forms that connote negativity and express contempt or distaste. A term can be regarded as pejorative in some social groups but not in others, e.g., hacker is a term used for computer criminals as well as quick and clever computer experts...

. Apocrypha, according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means "books included in the Septuagint and Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 but excluded from the Jewish and Protestant canons of the Old Testament."

Esoteric writings and objects


The word "apocryphal" was first applied, in a positive sense, to writings which were kept secret because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed to anyone other than the initiated. For example, it is used in this sense to describe A Holy and Secret Book of Moses, called Eighth, or Moyseos holy books citing esoteric eighth St (). This is a text taken from a Leiden papyrus
Leiden University Library
Leiden University Library is a library founded in 1575 in Leiden, Netherlands. It is regarded as a significant place in the development of European culture: it is a part of a small number of cultural centres that gave direction to the development and spread of knowledge during the Enlightenment...

 of the third or fourth century AD. The text may be as old as the first century, but other proof of age has not been found. In a similar vein, the disciples
Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is a system of training a new generation of practitioners of a skill. Apprentices or protégés build their careers from apprenticeships...

 of the Gnostic Prodicus
Prodicus
Prodicus of Ceos was a Greek philosopher, and part of the first generation of Sophists. He came to Athens as ambassador from Ceos, and became known as a speaker and a teacher. Plato treats him with greater respect than the other sophists, and in several of the Platonic dialogues Socrates appears...

 boasted that they possessed the secret books of Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

. The term in general enjoyed high consideration among the Gnostics (see Acts of Thomas
Acts of Thomas
The early 3rd century text called Acts of Thomas is one of the New Testament apocrypha, portraying Christ as the "Heavenly Redeemer", independent of and beyond creation, who can free souls from the darkness of the world. References to the work by Epiphanius of Salamis show that it was in...

, pp. 10, 27, 44).

Renowned Sinologist Anna Seidel
Anna Seidel
Anna Katharina Seidel was a German 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 in Kyoto, Seidel had become the centre of gravity for the many Western scholars of East Asian studies who...

 refers to texts and even items produced by ancient Chinese sages as apocryphal and studied their uses during Six Dynasties China (220 to 589 AD). These artifacts were used as symbols legitimizing and guaranteeing the Emperor's Heavenly Mandate
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

. 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. From their roots in Zhou
Zhou
Zhou may refer to:*Zhou Dynasty , a Chinese Dynasty *Zhou Predynastic Lineage, the antecedents to the above Zhou Dynasty*Northern Zhou , a Chinese Dynasty...

 era China (1066 to 256 BC) these items came to be surpassed in value by texts by the Han
Han
-China:* China , an abbreviation or adjectival modifier for things Chinese* Han Chinese , the dominant majority ethnic group of China and overseas Chinese...

 dynasty (206 BC to 220 CE). Most of these texts have been destroyed as Emperors, particularly during the Han dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

, collected these legitimizing objects and proscribed, forbade and burnt nearly all of them to prevent them from falling into the hands of political rivals. It is therefore fitting with the Greek root of the word, as these texts were obviously hidden away to protect the ruling Emperor from challenges to his status as Heaven's choice as sovereign.

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. Many in Protestant traditions cite Revelation 22:18-19 as a potential curse for those who attach any canonical authority to extra-biblical writings such as the Apocrypha. However, a strict exegesis of this text would indicate it was meant for only the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

. Rv.22:18-19f. (KJV) states: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." In this case, if one holds to a strict hermeneutic, the "words of the prophecy
Prophecy
Prophecy is a process in which one or more messages that have been communicated to a prophet are then communicated to others. Such messages typically involve divine inspiration, interpretation, or revelation of conditioned events to come as well as testimonies or repeated revelations that the...

" do not refer to the Bible as a whole but to Jesus' Revelation to John. Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, in 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's prologue to his commentary on the Song of Songs
Song of songs
Song of Songs, also known as the Song of Solomon, is a book of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It may also refer to:In music:* Song of songs , the debut album by David and the Giants* A generic term for medleysPlays...

, of which only the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 translation survives: De scripturis his, quae appellantur apocryphae, pro eo quod multa in iis corrupta et contra fidem veram inveniuntur a majoribus tradita non placuit iis dari locum nec admitti ad auctoritatem. "Concerning these scriptures, which are called apocryphal, for the reason that many things are found in them corrupt and against the true faith handed down by the elders, it has pleased them that they not be given a place nor be admitted to authority."

Other meanings


Other uses of apocrypha developed over the history of Western Christianity. The Gelasian Decree refers to religious works by church fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 Eusebius, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 and Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

 as apocrypha. Augustine
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 defined the word as meaning simply "obscurity of origin," implying that any book of unknown authorship or questionable authenticity would be considered as apocryphal. On the other hand, Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 (in Protogus 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 (see: Deuterocanon). As a result, various church authorities labeled different books as apocrypha, treating them with varying levels of regard.

Some apocryphal books were included in the Septuagint with little distinction made between them and the rest of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

. Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

, Clement
Clement
Clement is an English name, a form of the Late Latin name Clemens. Clément is a French form of the same name. Clement or Clément may refer to:- Companies :* Clément , limited British automobile manufacturer or importer....

 and others cited some apocryphal books as "scripture," "divine scripture," "inspired," and the like. On the other hand, teachers connected with Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

 and familiar with the Hebrew canon
Protocanonical books
The protocanonical books are those books of the Old Testament which are also included in the Hebrew Bible and which have always been considered canonical by almost all Christians throughout history...

 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
Melito of Sardis was the bishop of Sardis near Smyrna in western Anatolia, and a great authority in Early Christianity: Jerome, speaking of the Old Testament canon established by Melito, quotes Tertullian to the effect that he was esteemed a prophet by many of the faithful...

, 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
Paganism is a blanket term, typically used to refer to non-Abrahamic, indigenous polytheistic religious traditions....

, and to be read in congregations. They were referred to as "ecclesiastical" works by Rufinus
Tyrannius Rufinus
Tyrannius Rufinus or Rufinus of Aquileia was a monk, historian, and theologian. He is most known as a translator of Greek patristic material into Latin—especially the work of Origen.-Life:...

.

These three opinions regarding the apocryphal books prevailed until the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

, when the idea of what constitutes canon became a matter of primary concern for Roman Catholics and Protestants alike. In 1546 the Catholic Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 reconfirmed the canon of Augustine, dating to the second and third centuries, declaring "He is also to be anathema who does not receive these entire books, with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and are found in the ancient editions of the Latin Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, as sacred and canonical." The whole of the books in question, with the exception of 1 Esdras
1 Esdras
1 Esdras , Greek Ezra, is an ancient Greek version of the biblical Book of Ezra in use among ancient Jewry, the early church, and many modern Christians with varying degrees of canonicity and a high historical usefulness....

 and 2 Esdras
2 Esdras
2 Esdras or Latin Esdras is the name of an apocalyptic book in many English versions of the Bible . Its authorship is ascribed to Ezra. It is reckoned among the Apocrypha by many Protestant churches. Although Second Esdras exists in its complete form only in Latin, it was originally written in...

 and the Prayer of Manasseh
Prayer of Manasseh
The Prayer of Manasseh is a short work of 15 verses of the penitential prayer of king Manasseh of Judah. Manasseh is recorded in the Bible as one of the most idolatrous kings of Judah . Chronicles, but not Kings, records that Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians...

, were declared canonical at Trent. The Protestants, in comparison, were diverse in their opinion of the deuterocanon. Some considered them divinely inspired, others rejected them. Anglicans took a position between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Churches; they kept them as Christian intertestamental readings and a part of the Bible, but no doctrine should be based on them. John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe
John Wycliffe was an English Scholastic philosopher, theologian, lay preacher, translator, reformer and university teacher who was known as an early dissident in the Roman Catholic Church during the 14th century. His followers were known as Lollards, a somewhat rebellious movement, which preached...

, a 14th century Christian Humanist, had declared in his biblical translation that "whatever book is in the Old Testament besides these twenty-five shall be set among the apocrypha, that is, without authority or belief." Nevertheless, his translation of the Bible included the apocrypha
Biblical apocrypha
The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...

 and the Epistle of the Laodiceans.

The respect accorded to apocryphal books varied between Protestant denominations. In both the German
Luther Bible
The Luther Bible is a German Bible translation by Martin Luther, first printed with both testaments in 1534. This translation became a force in shaping the Modern High German language. The project absorbed Luther's later years. The new translation was very widely disseminated thanks to the printing...

 (1534) and English
Coverdale Bible
The Coverdale Bible, compiled by Myles Coverdale and published in 1535, was the first complete Modern English translation of the Bible , and the first complete printed translation into English . The later editions published in 1539 were the first complete Bibles printed in England...

 (1535) translations of the Bible, the apocrypha are published in a separate section from the other books, although the Lutheran and Anglican lists are different. In some editions (like the Westminster), readers were warned that these books were not "to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings." A milder distinction was expressed elsewhere, such as in the "argument" introducing them in the Geneva Bible
Geneva Bible
The Geneva Bible is one of the most historically significant translations of the Bible into the English language, preceding the King James translation by 51 years. It was the primary Bible of the 16th century Protestant movement and was the Bible used by William Shakespeare, Oliver Cromwell, John...

, and in the Sixth Article of the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, where it is said that "the other books the church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners," though not to establish doctrine.

According to the Orthodox Anglican Church
Orthodox Anglican Church
The Orthodox Anglican Church is the American branch of the Orthodox Anglican Communion. It is now considered to be part of the Continuing Anglican movement, although the church predates the Continuing Church movement and was actively opposed to Continuing Anglicanism when it developed during the...

:

Judaism



Although traditional rabbinical Judaism insists on the exclusive canonization of the current 24 books in the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, it also claims to have an oral law handed down from Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

. The Sadducees
Sadducees
The Sadducees were a sect or group of Jews that were active in Ancient Israel during the Second Temple period, starting from the second century BC through the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The sect was identified by Josephus with the upper social and economic echelon of Judean society...

 - unlike the Pharisees
Pharisees
The Pharisees were at various times a political party, a social movement, and a school of thought among Jews during the Second Temple period beginning under the Hasmonean dynasty in the wake of...

 but like the Samaritans - seem to have maintained an earlier and smaller number of texts as canonical, preferring to hold to only what was written in the Law of Moses (making most of the presently accepted canon, both Jewish and Christian, apocryphal in their eyes). This is due to the fact that early Samaritans experienced religious syncretism, and are not accepted in traditional Judaism. As a result their sacred text was corrupted, and became riddled with paganism. Certain circles in Judaism, such as the Essenes in Judea and the Therapeutae
Therapeutae
The Therapeutae were a Jewish sect in which flourished in Alexandria and other parts of the Diaspora of Hellenistic Judaism in the final years of the Second Temple period. The primary source is the account De vita contemplativa by the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria who appears to have...

 in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, were said to have a secret literature (see Dead Sea scrolls
Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...

). Other traditions maintained different customs regarding canonicity. The Ethiopic Jews, for instance, seem to have retained a spread of canonical texts similar to the Ethiopian Orthodox Christians
Orthodox Christianity
The term Orthodox Christianity may refer to:* the Eastern Orthodox Church and its various geographical subdivisions...

, cf Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol 6, p 1147. A large part of this literature consisted of the apocalypses. Based on prophecies, these apocalyptic books were not considered scripture by all, but rather part of a literary form that flourished from 200 BC to AD 100.

Intertestamental


During the birth of Christianity
Apostolic Age
The Apostolic Age of the history of Christianity is traditionally the period of the Twelve Apostles, dating from the Crucifixion of Jesus and the Great Commission in Jerusalem until the death of John the Apostle in Anatolia...

, some of the Jewish apocrypha that dealt with the coming of the Messianic kingdom became popular in the rising Jewish Christian communities. Occasionally these writings were changed or added to, but on the whole it was found sufficient to reinterpret them as conforming to a Christian viewpoint
New Covenant
The New Covenant is a concept originally derived from the Hebrew Bible. The term "New Covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to an epochal relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment...

. Christianity eventually gave birth to new apocalyptic works, some of which were derived from traditional Jewish sources. Some of the Jewish apocrypha were part of the ordinary religious literature of the Early Christians. This was strange, as the large majority of Old Testament references in the New Testament are taken from the Greek Septuagint, which is the source of the deuterocanonical books
Deuterocanonical books
Deuterocanonical books is a term used since the sixteenth century in the Catholic Church and Eastern Christianity to describe certain books and passages of the Christian Old Testament that are not part of the Hebrew Bible. The term is used in contrast to the protocanonical books, which are...

 as well as most of the other biblical apocrypha
Biblical apocrypha
The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...

.
Slightly varying collections of additional Books (called deuterocanonical by the Roman Catholic Church) form part of the Roman Catholic
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 and Oriental Orthodox canons. See Development of the Old Testament canon
Development of the Old Testament canon
The Old Testament is the first section of the two-part Christian Biblical canon, which includes the books of the Hebrew Bible or protocanon and in some Christian denominations also includes several Deuterocanonical books or Biblical apocrypha...

.

The Book of Enoch
Book of Enoch
The Book of Enoch is an ancient Jewish religious work, traditionally ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is not part of the biblical canon as used by Jews, apart from Beta Israel...

 is included in the biblical canon only of the Oriental Orthodox churches of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The Epistle of Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

 quotes the book of Enoch, and some believe the use of this book also appears in the four gospels and 1 Peter. The genuineness and inspiration of Enoch were believed in by the writer of the Epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Barnabas
The Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek epistle containing twenty-one chapters, preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament...

, Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 and Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

 and much of the early church. The epistles of Paul and the gospels also show influences from the Book of Jubilees, which is part of the Ethiopian canon, as well as the Assumption of Moses
Assumption of Moses
The Assumption of Moses is a Jewish apocryphal pseudepigraphical work. It is known from a single sixth-century incomplete manuscript in Latin that was discovered by Antonio Ceriani in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan in the mid-nineteenth century and published by him in 1861.-Identification:The...

 and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a constituent of the apocryphal scriptures connected with the Bible. It is a pseudepigraphical work comprising the dying commands of the twelve sons of Jacob. It is part of the Oscan Armenian Orthodox Bible of 1666. Fragments of similar writings were...

, which are included in no biblical canon.

The high position which some apocryphal books occupied in the first two centuries was undermined by a variety of influences in the Christian church. All claims to the possession of a secret tradition (as held by many Gnostic sects) were denied by the influential theologians like Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 and Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, which modern historians refer to as the Proto-orthodox
Proto-orthodox Christianity
Proto-orthodox Christianity is a term, coined by New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman, used to describe the Early Christian movement which was the precursor of Christian orthodoxy...

, the timeframe of true inspiration was limited to the apostolic age, and universal acceptance by the church was required as proof of apostolic authorship. As these principles gained currency, books deemed apocryphal tended to become regarded as spurious and heretical writings, though books now considered deuterocanonical have been used in liturgy and theology from the first century to the present.

Christianity



New Testament apocrypha
New Testament apocrypha
The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that claim to be accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with books regarded as "canonical"...

—books similar to those in the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 but almost universally rejected by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants—include several gospels and lives of apostles. Some were written by early Jewish Christians (see the Gospel according to the Hebrews). Others of these were produced by Gnostic
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 authors or members of other groups later defined as heterodox
Heterodoxy
Heterodoxy is generally defined as "any opinions or doctrines at variance with an official or orthodox position". As an adjective, heterodox is commonly used to describe a subject as "characterized by departure from accepted beliefs or standards"...

. Many texts believed lost for centuries were unearthed in the 19th and 20th centuries, producing lively speculation about their importance in early Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 among religious scholars, while many others survive only in the form of quotations from them in other writings; for some, no more than the title is known. Artists and theologians have drawn upon the New Testament apocrypha for such matters as the names of Dismas and Gestas
Gestas
The impenitent thief was one of the two thieves who was crucified alongside Jesus. According to the Gospels, he taunted Jesus about not saving himself, while the penitent thief asked for mercy. The impenitent thief is given the apocryphal name Gestas, which first appears in the Gospel of Nicodemus,...

 and details about the Three Wise Men. The first explicit mention of the perpetual virginity of Mary
Perpetual virginity of Mary
The doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, expresses the Virgin Mary's "real and perpetual virginity even in the act of giving birth to Jesus the Son of God made Man"...

 is found in the pseudepigraphical Infancy Gospel of James.

The Gnostic tradition
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 was a prolific source of apocryphal gospels. While these writings borrowed the characteristic poetic features of apocalyptic literature from Judaism, Gnostic sects largely insisted on allegorical interpretations based on a secret apostolic tradition. With them, these apocryphal books were highly esteemed. A well-known Gnostic apocryphal book is the Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library...

, the only complete text of which was found in the Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi
Nag Hammâdi
Nag Hammadi , is a city in Upper Egypt. Nag Hammadi was known as Chenoboskion in classical antiquity, meaning "geese grazing grounds". It is located on the west bank of the Nile in the Qena Governorate, about 80 kilometres north-west of Luxor....

 in 1945. The Gospel of Judas
Gospel of Judas
The Gospel of Judas is a Gnostic gospel that purportedly documents conversations between the Disciple Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ.It is believed to have been written by Gnostic followers of Jesus, rather than by Judas himself, and probably dates from no earlier than the 2nd century, since it...

, a Gnostic gospel, also received much media attention when it was reconstructed in 2006.

Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians as well as Protestants generally agree on the canon of the New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

, see Development of the New Testament canon
Development of the New Testament canon
The Canon of the New Testament is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the Canonical Gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation...

. The Ethiopian Orthodox have in the past also included I & II Clement
Epistles of Clement
The Epistles of Clement are two letters ascribed to Clement of Rome :* First Epistle of Clement;* Second Epistle of Clement, not by the same author;...

 and Shepherd of Hermas in their New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 canon.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Joseph Smith, Jr.
Joseph Smith
Joseph Smith was founder of what later became known as the Latter Day Saint movement or Mormons.Joseph Smith may also refer to:-Latter Day Saints:* Joseph Smith, Sr. , father of Joseph Smith...

 said that when compiling the inspired version of the Holy Bible, he inquired of Heavenly Father about what to do regarding the Apocrypha, the Deuterocanonical Books of the Catholic bible, that are not the 66 books contained in the 1769 edition of the Authorized King James Bible. What Smith claimed to receive from God is now stated in Section 91 of the Doctrine and Covenants
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement...

 of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you concerning the Apocrypha-There are many things contained therein that are true, and it is mostly translated correctly; There are many things that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. Verily, I say unto you, that it is not needful that the Apocrypha should be translated. Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom; And whoso receiveth not by the Spirit, cannot be benefited. Therefore it is not needful that it should be translation. Amen."

The 91st Section of the Doctrine and Covenants is the reason that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently uses the 1769 edition of the Authorized King James Bible along with excerpts from the Joseph Smith Translation (JST)
Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible
The Joseph Smith Translation , also called the Inspired Version , was a revision of the Bible by Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. Smith considered this work to be "a branch of his calling" as a prophet. Smith was murdered before he ever deemed it complete, though most of...

. Furthermore, despite having canonized the 1769 edition of the Authorized King James Bible, Joseph Smith Jr. made a note that the Song of Solomon was not inspired, and therefore it is considered Apocrypha despite it being contained in the canon. The Community of Christ
Community of Christ
The Community of Christ, known from 1872 to 2001 as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints , is an American-based international Christian church established in April 1830 that claims as its mission "to proclaim Jesus Christ and promote communities of joy, hope, love, and peace"...

, another offshoot of the Latter Day Saint movement
Latter Day Saint movement
The Latter Day Saint movement is a group of independent churches tracing their origin to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 14 million members...

, has canonized the JST and therefore has excluded the Song of Solomon. There is a universal consensus that the other 65 books contained in the Protestant bible, translated by Joseph Smith Jr., are the word of God by all offshoots of the LDS church.

Taoism


Prophetic texts called the Ch'an-wei were written by Han Dynasty
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 (206 BC to 220 CE) Taoist priests to legitimize as well as curb imperial power. They deal with treasure objects that were part of the Zhou
Zhou
Zhou may refer to:*Zhou Dynasty , a Chinese Dynasty *Zhou Predynastic Lineage, the antecedents to the above Zhou Dynasty*Northern Zhou , a Chinese Dynasty...

 (1066 to 256 BC) royal treasures. Emerging from the instability of the Warring States Period (476-221 BC), ancient Chinese scholars saw the centralized rule of the Zhou
Zhou
Zhou may refer to:*Zhou Dynasty , a Chinese Dynasty *Zhou Predynastic Lineage, the antecedents to the above Zhou Dynasty*Northern Zhou , a Chinese Dynasty...

 as an ideal model for the new Han empire to emulate. The Ch'an-wei are therefore texts written by Han scholars about the Zhou
Zhou
Zhou may refer to:*Zhou Dynasty , a Chinese Dynasty *Zhou Predynastic Lineage, the antecedents to the above Zhou Dynasty*Northern Zhou , a Chinese Dynasty...

 royal treasures, only they were not written to record history for its own sake, but for legitimizing the current imperial reign. These texts took the form of stories about texts and objects being conferred upon the Emperors by Heaven and comprising these ancient sage-king's (this is how the Zhou
Zhou
Zhou may refer to:*Zhou Dynasty , a Chinese Dynasty *Zhou Predynastic Lineage, the antecedents to the above Zhou Dynasty*Northern Zhou , a Chinese Dynasty...

 emperors were referred to by this time, about 500 years after their peak) royal regalia. The desired effect was to confirm the Han emperor's Heavenly Mandate
Mandate of Heaven
The Mandate of Heaven is a traditional Chinese philosophical concept concerning the legitimacy of rulers. It is similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings, in that both sought to legitimaze rule from divine approval; however, unlike the divine right of kings, the Mandate of...

 through the continuity offered by his possession of these same sacred talismans. It is because of this politicized recording of their history that it is difficult to retrace the exact origins of these objects. What is known is that these texts were most likely produced by a class of literati called the Fang-Shih. These were a class of nobles who were not part of the state administration; there were considered specialists or occultists, for example diviners, astrologers, alchemists or healers. It is from this class of nobles that the first Taoist priests are believed to have emerged. Seidel
Seidel
Seidel may refer to:* Seidel , named after Philipp Ludwig von Seidel* Seidel Band Instrument Company* Hanns-Seidel-Foundation, after Hanns Seidel* Gauss–Seidel method, after Philipp Ludwig von Seidel* Seidel, a beer-mug or a measurement of beer...

 points out however that the scarcity of sources relating to the formation of the early Taoist church make the exact link between the apocryphal texts and the Taoist church unclear.

See also


  • Biblical apocrypha
    Biblical apocrypha
    The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...

  • Biblical canon
    Biblical canon
    A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

  • Deuterocanonical
  • New Testament apocrypha
    New Testament apocrypha
    The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that claim to be accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with books regarded as "canonical"...


  • Pseudepigraphy
    Pseudepigraphy
    Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past." The word "pseudepigrapha" is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" ; the Anglicized forms...

  • Shakespeare Apocrypha
    Shakespeare Apocrypha
    The Shakespeare Apocrypha is a group of plays that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare, but whose attribution is questionable for various reasons...

  • Table of books of Judeo-Christian Scripture


External links