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Apocrypha

Apocrypha (əpŏkˈrĭfə) [key] [Gr., = hidden things], term signifying a collection of early Jewish writings excluded from the canon of the Hebrew scriptures. It is not clear why the term was chosen. The Apocrypha include the following books and parts of books: First and Second Esdras; Tobit; Judith; the Additions to Esther; Wisdom of Solomon; Sirach (also called Ecclesiasticus); Baruch; the Letter of Jeremiah (in Baruch); parts of Daniel (the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men; see also Bel and the Dragon and Susanna1); First and Second Maccabees; the Prayer of Manasses (see Manasseh). All are included in the Septuagint, with the exception of 2 Esdras (4 Ezra). However, they were not included in the Hebrew canon (ratified c.A.D. 100). In 1566 the collection was deemed "deutero-canonical" by the Roman Catholic Church, meaning that their canonicity was recognized only after a period of time. Protestants follow Jewish tradition in regarding all these books as non-canonical. Jewish and Christian works resembling biblical books, but not included among the Apocrypha, are collected in the Pseudepigrapha. The term Apocrypha is sometimes applied to early Christian writings that were once considered canonical by some but are not in the New Testament.

See The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha (1977); G. W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah (1981).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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