What Is the Apocrypha?

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What exactly is the Apocrypha? The Septuagint is the first version of the Old Testament that contained the books of the Apocrypha. The Septuagint (which means "seventy") is a Greek-based version of the Hebrew-based Old Testament. The text is believed to be the work of seventy Jewish scholars that assembled in Alexandria, Egypt around 285 to 247 B.C.

Also known as the deuterocanonical books, the Apocrypha itself is a collection of fourteen non-inspired volumes found in the Roman Catholic Bibles and a few modern non-Catholic Bibles. They were first published as a separate English section in Luther's Bible of 1534 A.D.

When Was It Written?

The Apocrypha were written roughly two hundred years after the official canon of the Old Testament was finalized by Ezra and the Great Assembly. One person wrote the following concerning the origination and inspiration of the Apocrypha and their inclusion in some translations.

"Hellenistic Jewish authorities later added fourteen books, bringing the final number of books in the LXX Greek Old Testament to fifty-three.

"These additional books - written in Greek by Greek-speaking Jewish religious leaders in the third and second centuries B.C. - are called the APOCRYPHA, meaning they were of doubtful authorship or authenticity.

"The Aaronic / Levitical authorities (who canonized the Old Testament) considered these added books to be SPURIOUS, as they contain many teachings that are contrary to the Word of God.

"Moreover, these books were not written in Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament. . . . (apocrypha) books were NEVER accepted into the authorized Hebrew canon of the Old Testament" (Holy Bible in its Original Order, Second Edition, pages 1 - 2).


The books that generally compose the Apocrypha are  I and II Esdras, Ecclesiasticus, Bel and the Dragon, Tobit, Baruch (with Epistle of Jeremiah), Prayer of Manasseh, Judith, Song of the Three Children, I and II Maccabees, the Rest of Esther, the Story of Susanna and Wisdom. They represent various types of literature such as historical, historical romance, wisdom, devotional, and apocalyptic.

Very popular translations such as the NIV, NLT, KJV, NKJV, NASB and others do not include this set of Catholic-approved books. Translations that have the Apocrypha include the Jerusalem Bible (JB), New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), New American Bible (NAB), New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE) and Revised Standard Version (RSV).

List of All Terms in
Dictionary of Biblical Words

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