About the Apocrypha

What is the "Apocrypha"?

The books of the Apocrypha are considered canonical books of the Bible by Catholic and Orthodox Christians. They are sometimes referred to as deuterocanonical.

They are not considered canonical by most Protestants, who generally consider them worth reading but not a source from which new doctrine should be derived.

Comments by L. C. L. Brenton (1807-1862) (apparently an Anglican) on the books of the Apocrypha:

[Excerpt from "The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English" by Sir Lancelot Charles Lee Brenton (1807-1862) originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851]

The Alexandrian Jews possessed a sacred literature in the Septuagint translation, and there other works of the same national character were either written in Greek or translated from the Hebrew, these also were appended to the sacred books which they before possessed. But the New Testament writers never quote these additional writings as Scriptures. The writers of the early Church, however, while expressly declaring their preference for the Hebrew Canon, quote the books of the "Apocrypha" as of equal authority with the Old Testament. And in this wise the Church popularly regarded them, and consequently made a free use of them. The influence of such writers as Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, and Augustine, in favour of the "Apocrypha," was very great; and Jerome's view, as quoted in the sixth Article of the Anglican Church ("the other books which the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine") and his strictures on some of the books were apt to be forgotten.

During the Reformation period, the Church of Rome decreed her adherence to the popular view of the Apocrypha held in the main by the early Church, and definitely accepted all the "other books" as canonical, save I. and II. Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. The Church of England, on the other hand, formally adopted the more critical view of Jerome, and while retaining the Apocrypha in her Bible gave it not canonical but deutero-canonical rank.

In more recent times it has been the unfortunate custom of English-speaking people to neglect or despise the Apocrypha: yet it forms a portion of the Bible of Christendom; it supplies the blank leaf between Nehemiah and the New Testament; and it comprises some of the literature of that period, which well illustrates the development and transition of Jewish religious thought generally.

Some early lists of canonical books include the following: