The Apocrypha

The “Apocrypha” is a term used to describe a collection of “Old Testament” books which were included in the ancient canons of the Greek Septuagint, Aramaic Peshitta, and Latin Vulgate. These are books of Jewish origin which were used along side the others by the first Christians and which they certainly inherited from their Nazarene predecessors. Most of these books appear in an appendix the 1611 King James Version and all of them appear in an appendix to the Revised Standard Version.

First Esdras – The book of 1Esdras was regarded as highly authoritative within Second Temple Era Judaism. The first century Jewish writer Josephus uses this book, and not our canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah as his primary source for the time period, even including the story of the three bodyguards (Ant. 11:3:2) in his history. The book appears in the canon of the Septuagint and appears to have been regarded as part of the canon by the first Christians. Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE) for example, references the story of the three bodyguards as authoritative (Clement of Alexandria; The Stromata 1:21 ).  Both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Oriental Orthodoxy Churches regard it as canon. It was also counted as part of the Roman Catholic Canon until Pope Clement VIII moved it to an Appendix in the back of the vulgate in the 17th Century.

Second Esdras – Only chapters 3-14 of this apocryphal book are original, chapters 1-2 and 15-16 being Christian additions which only appear in the Latin version. The book was widely used by ancient Christian “Church Fathers” (Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Jerome etc.) and is also part of the canon of the Ethiopic Orthodox Church.

Book of Tobit- Several Hebrew and Aramaic copies of this book were found among the biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Cairo Geniza. It was cited and quoted in many Jewish Midrashim. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Book of Judith- This book was summarized in many Jewish Midrashim. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Wisdom of Solomon- According to Melito in the second century CE, the Wisdom of Solomon was in his day considered canonical by both Jews and Christians. The Hebrew version of the Wisdom of Solomon is also mentioned by Ramban (1194-1270 CE) in the preface to his commentary on the Torah. He also quotes from the book. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Wisdom of Ben Sira- This book is quoted as “Scripture” three times in the Talmud (Hagigah 13a, Niddah 16b; Ber. 11b). Several Hebrew copies were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Cairo Genuiza. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Book of Baruch- This book is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

The Letter of Jeremiah- A portion of this book was found among the biblical manuscripts found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

First Maccabees- This book forms part of the basis for the Channukah story. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Second Maccabees- This book also forms part of the basis for the Channukah story. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in all of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Third Maccabees- This book is the basis for the ancient “Feast of Yeshua” (Feast of Deliverance). It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in many of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

Fourth Maccabees- This book also forms part of the basis for the Channukah story. It is not only included on the canon of the Septuagint but also in the canon of the Aramaic Peshitta Tanak. It was included in many of the pre-protestant Christian canons, and used along side the others by the ancient Christian “Church Fathers”.

To learn more about the Apocrypha:

The Clear Truth About the Apocrypha