Apocrypha (Old Testament)

Deuterocanonical Books

General Information

The Apocrypha are books of the Old Testament included in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Bibles as deuterocanonical (added to the earlier canon), but excluded from the Hebrew Bible and from most Protestant Bibles. It is not certain why the term apocrypha (hidden things) was originally applied to them, but they were considered less authoritative than the other biblical books because of their relatively late origin (c. 300 BC - AD 100). Except for 2 Esdras, which was in Latin, they were part of the Septuagint. The other books placed after the Old Testament in the Revised Standard Version are the following: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Additions to the Book of Esther, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch and the Letter (Epistle) of Jeremiah, Additions to Daniel (Prayer of Azariah, Song of the Three Hebrew Children, History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon), the Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees.

Roman Catholic Bibles also list 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh as apocryphal. The Greek Orthodox Bible omits 2 Esdras but adds 3 Maccabees and Psalm 151, with 4 Maccabees as an appendix. The Apocrypha are important sources for Jewish history and religious developments in the 1st and 2d centuries BC.

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Sherman E Johnson

B M Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (1957); B L Mack. Wisdom and the Hebrew Epic: Ben Sira's Hymn in Praise of the Fathers (1986); R H Pfeiffer, History of New Testament Times, with an Introduction to the Apocrypha (1949).


General Information

Apocrypha (Greek apokryphos,"hidden") is a word coined by the 5th-century biblical scholar Saint Jerome for the biblical books received by the church of his time as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament (see Septuagint), but that were not included in the Hebrew Bible. In the Authorized, or King James, Version, the books are either printed as an appendix or are omitted altogether; they are not considered canonical by Protestants.

The Septuagint was received by the Christian church from Hellenistic Judaism. The books included in the Septuagint that were excluded by the non-Hellenistic Jews from their canon were Judith, the Wisdom of Solomon, Tobit, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, and the two books of Maccabees. Of these, Judith and Tobit are best described as edifying historical fiction, and Baruch, as an appendage to the Book of Jeremiah, written in the person of Jeremiah's secretary. Wisdom and Sirach are testimonies to the wisdom tradition of Israel otherwise represented in the books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. The books of Maccabees are historical works in the tradition of the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. Also generally included with the Apocrypha are the two books of Esdras, additions to the Book of Esther (Esther 10:4-10), the Song of the Three Young Men (Daniel 3:24-90), Susanna (Daniel 13), Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14), and the Prayer of Manasseh.

Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians still follow the Septuagint and include in the canon of the Bible all the Apocrypha, except the two books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. They generally refer to the Protestant Apocrypha as deuterocanonical books, however, and reserve the term Apocrypha for those books entirely outside the biblical canon, which Protestants call the pseudepigrapha.

With the growth of a historical perspective in biblical studies during the 19th century, the value of the Apocrypha as historical sources came to be generally recognized. Derived from the period 300BC to New Testament times, the Apocrypha shed valuable light on the period between the end of the Old Testament narrative and the opening of the New Testament. They are also important sources of information on the development of belief in immortality, the resurrection, and other questions of eschatology, as well as the increasing impact of Hellenistic ideas on Judaism.

Rev. Bruce Vawter


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Apocrypha; hidden, spurious, the name given to certain ancient books which found a place in the LXX. and Latin Vulgate versions of the Old Testament, and were appended to all the great translations made from them in the sixteenth century, but which have no claim to be regarded as in any sense parts of the inspired Word.

The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of fourteen books, the chief of which are the Books of the Maccabees (q.v.), the Books of Esdras, the Book of Wisdom, the Book of Baruch, the Book of Esther, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Tobit, Judith, etc.

The New Testament Apocrypha consists of a very extensive literature, which bears distinct evidences of its non-apostolic origin, and is unworthy of regard as being comparable in importance to the Bible.

(Easton Illustrated Dictionary)

Old Testament Apocrypha

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The word "apocrypha" is from the Greek ta apokrypha, "the hidden things," although there is no strict sense in which these books are hidden. Some thirteen books comprise the Apocrypha: I and II Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (which is also entitled the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach), Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Additions to Daniel, the Prayer of Manasses, and I and II Maccabees. Both the status of these books and the use of the term "apocrypha" have been in confusion since the early days of the church. In the restricted sense the word denotes the above-named books in contradistinction to the Pseudepigrapha, or false writings; but in the broader sense the word refers to any extracanonical scripture. Sometimes the term takes on a disparaging meaning, especially when used of the "apocryphal" gospels; this is to say they are spurious or heterodoxical. A further difficulty attending the restricted use of the term is that some of the Apocrypha are pseudonymous, whereas some of the Pseudepigrapha are not pseudonymous. R. H. Charles broke the accepted order by including III Maccabees in the Apocrypha and transferring II Esdras to the Pseudepigrapha. The acient rabbinic practice was to regard all such writings as "outside books," and his designation was continued by Cyril of Jerusalem, who used Apocrypha in the same sense, i.e., scriptures outside the canon. In modern times C. C. Torrey has revived this signification so that all such books, including the Pseudepigrapha, are called Apocrypha. Therefore to use the term Pseudepigrapha is a concession to an unhappy usage.

How did the Apocrypha secure a place in some of our English Bibles? The Jews uniformly denied canonical status to these books, and so they were not found in the Hebrew Bible; but the manuscripts of the LXX include them as an addendum to the canonical OT. In the second century A.D. the first Latin Bibles were translated from the Greek Bible, and so included the Apocrypha. Jerome's Vulgate distinguished between the libri ecclesiastici and the libri canonici with the result that the Apocrypha were accorded a secondary status. However, at the Council of Carthage (397), which Augustine attended, it was decided to accept the Apocrypha as suitable for reading despite Jerome's resistance to their inclusion in the Vulgate. In 1548 the Council of Trent recognized the Apocrypha, excepting I and II Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses, as having unqualified canonical status. Moreover, anyone who disputed this ecclesiastical decision was anathematized. The Reformers repudiated the Apocrypha as unworthly and contradictory to the doctrines of the uncontroverted canon; however, Luther did admit that they were "profitable and good to read." The Coverdale and Geneva Bibles included the Apocrypha but set them apart from the canonical books of the OT. After much debate the British and Foreign Bible Society decided in 1827 to exclude the Apocrypha from its Bibles; soon afterward the American branch concurred, and this action generally set the pattern for English Bibles thereafter. Among Protestant communions only the Anglican Church makes much use of the Apocrypha today.

Many literary genres appear in the Apocrypha: popular narrative, religious history and philosophy, morality stories, poetic and didactic lyrics, wisdom literature, and apocalyptic. Most of these books were written in Palestine between 300 B.C. and A.D. 100, and the language of composition was either Hebrew or Aramaic, and occasionally Greek. They generally reflect the Jewish religious viewpoint of late OT times with certain additions which were emphasized. Almsgiving became an expression of good works meritorious to salvation (see Tob. 12:9). The Apocrypha, and to a greater extent the Pseudepigrapha, evince an amplified doctrine of the Messiah beyond what the OT reveals. Two types of messianic expectation predominate: the heavenly Son of man, taken from Daniel and embellished by Enoch, and the earthly Davidic king described in the Psalms of Solomon. The doctrine of resurrection of the body, so seldom mentioned in the OT, is ubiquitous in the Apocrypha and shows an advance over the OT idea of Sheol. The hope for immortality was greatly influenced by Greek thought. Throughout the Aprocrypha is a highly developed angelology which is a natural consequence of the impact of dualism upon Jewish religious thought after the Exile. The NT cites none of the books of the Apocrypha, although there are frequent parallels of thought and language, as in the case of Eph. 6:13-17 and Wisd. Sol. 5:17-20, and Heb. 11 and Ecclus. 44. But to admit these parallels is not necessarily to admit dependence by NT authors upon the Apocrypha, and even if a clear case of dependence can be made, it does not follow that the NT author regarded these books as authoritative.

D H Wallace

(Elwell Evangelical Dictionary)

R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the OT, I; B. M. Metzger, An Introduction of the Apocrypha; W. O. E. Oesterley, The Books of the Apocrypha; R. H. Pfeiffer, A History of NT Times with an Introduction of the Apocrypha; E. J. Goodspeed, The Story of the Apocrypha; C. C. Torrey, The Apocryphal Literature; H. M. Hughes, The Ethics of Jewish Apocryphal Literature; H. Wace, ed., Apocrypha, 2 vols; J. H. Charlesworth, ed., The OT Pseudepigrapha, Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments.

Introduction to the Apocrypha

General Information

(From the New English Bible)

The term 'Apocrypha', a Greek word meaning 'hidden (things)', was early used in different senses. It was applied to writings which were regarded as so important and precious that they must be hidden from the general public and reserved for the initiates, the inner circle of believers. It came to be applied to writings which were hidden not because they were too good but because they were not good enough, because, that is, they were secondary or questionable or heretical. A third usage may be traced to Jerome. He was familiar with the Scriptures in their Hebrew as well as their Greek form, and for him apocryphal books were those outside the Hebrew canon, hence the alternative term deutero-canonical.

The usage here adopted is based on that of Jerome. The Apocrypha in this translation consists of fifteen books or parts of books. They are:

These works are outside the Palestinian canon; that is, they form no part of the Hebrew Scriptures, although the original language of some of them was Hebrew. With the exception, however, of the Second Book of Esdras, they are all in the Greek version of the Old Testament made for the Greek-speaking Jews in Egypt. As such they were accepted as biblical by the early Church and were quoted as Scripture by many early Christian writers, for their Bible was the Greek Bible.

In Greek and Latin manuscripts of the Old Testament these books are dispersed throughout the Old Testament, generally in the places most in accord with their contents. The practice of collecting them into a separate unit, a practice which dates back no farther than A.D. 1520, explains why certain of the items are but fragments; they are passages not found in the Hebrew Bible, and so have been removed from the books in which they occur in the Greek version. To help the reader over this disunity and lack of context the present translators have resorted to various devices. We have added the name Daniel to the titles of the stories of Susanna and of Bel and the Snake as a reminder that these tales are to be read with the Book of Daniel. A note we have inserted after the title, The Song of the Three, indicates that this item is to be found in the third chapter of the Greek form of Daniel. And the six additions to the Book of Esther are so disjointed and unintelligible as they stand in most editions of the Apocrypha that we have provided them with a context by rendering the whole of the Greek version of Esther.

The text used in this translation of the Apocrypha is that edited by H. B. Swete in The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint. In places Swete includes two texts, and we have chosen to translate the Codex Sinaiticus text of Tobit and Theodotion's version of the additions to the Book of Daniel, namely, The Song of the Three, Daniel and Susanna, and Daniel, Bel, and the Snake. For Ecclesiasticus we have used, in addition to Codex Vaticanus as printed in Swete's edition, the text edited by J. H. A. Hart in Ecclesiasticus: the Greek Text of Codex 248, and constant reference has been made to the various forms of the Hebrew text. For the Second Book of Esdras, which apart from a few verses is not extant in a Greek form, we have based our translation on the Latin text of R. L. Bensly's The Fourth Book of Ezra. Throughout we have consulted the variant readings given in critical editions of the Greek, the texts of the versions, and the suggestions of editors and commentators.

Alternative readings cited from Greek manuscripts (referred to as witnesses) and the evidence of early translations (Vss., that is Versions) are given, as footnotes, only when they are significant either for text or for meaning. In a few places where the text seems to have suffered in the course of transmission and in its present form is obscure or unintelligible we have made a slight change in the text and marked our rendering of it probable reading, and we have indicated any evidence other than the evidence afforded by the context. Where an alternative interpretation seemed to deserve serious consideration it has been recorded as a footnote with Or as indicator.

In order to preserve the verse numbering of the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611 we have, when necessary, added at the foot of the page those passages which are found in the manuscripts on which the Authorized Version ultimately rests but which are absent from the earlier manuscripts now available. We have not sought to achieve consistency in the treatment of proper names any more than did our predecessors. We have continued to use familiar English forms, especially when the reference is to well-known Old Testament characters or places. Sometimes as an aid to the correct pronunciation we have had recourse to such expedients as the affixing of an acute accent to the word Sido or the introduction of a diphthong, as in our Soud for Sud. In general it may be said that Greek spellings have been Latinized, but the Greek forms of place-names have not been brought into line with the Hebrew.

We have not aimed at consistency in our treatment of weights and measures. We have rendered terms into the nearest English equivalents only when these seemed suitable and natural in the context.

In the text of the First and Second Books of the Maccabees the dates given it reckoned according to the Greek or Seleucid era. As a help to the reader we added at the foot of the page the nearest dates according to the Christian era.

This translation of the Apocrypha shares with other parts of The New English Bible the aim of providing a rendering which will be both faithful to the text translated and genuinely English in idiom. The translators have endeavoured to convey the meaning of the original in language which will be the closest natural equivalent. They have tried to avoid free paraphrase on the one hand and, on the other, formal fidelity resulting in a translation which would read like a translation. It is their hope that by their labours these documents, valuable in themselves and indispensable for the study of the background of the New Testament, have been made more intelligible and more readily accessible.

The Place of the Apocrypha

The place of the Apocrypha in the biblical canon has long been the center of controversy.

Written between 200 (or somewhat earlier)-50 B.C., certain of the books contain doctrines not uniformly accepted at that time by Jews, namely a clear teaching on the resurrection of the body (2 Macc.7.9-12) and angelology (Tob. 12.15), both of which were opposed by the powerful party, the Sadducees (Acts 23.6-8). Questions concerning the Apocrypha raised among Jews were also raised in the same or divergent form in Christian circles, especially by those church writers who were in contact with the Hebrew tradition. Some Christian writers, Augustine among them, put these books on a par with the rest of the Old Testament and quoted them equally. Jerome, who in 390 A.D. was commissioned to make a new translation of the whole Bible into Latin, studied Hebrew with a rabbi. His avowed purpose was to translate the Old Testament according to the "Hebrew original" (secundum Hebraicam veritatem), with the result that he was opposed to translating the Apocrypha because they were not in the Hebrew. In the end, he yielded to the pressure of the bishops and included these writings in the translation which came to be known as the Vulgate and which remained the official translation of the Latin church for many centuries. Paradoxically, Jerome himself often quoted the Apocrypha without distinguishing them from the books of the Hebrew canon.

Following the decrees by the synods of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.), the Apocrypha were uniformly included in the canon of the Latin church. Nevertheless, questions concerning them continued to be raised right up to the Council of Trent in the sixteenth century.

It had been natural for the leaders of the Reformation in the sixteenth century, with their emphasis on the supremacy and the purity of the Bible, to reject the Apocrypha, especially because an appeal was made for these books by Catholics against some of the basic positions of the Reformation. In 1546 A.D. the Council of Trent published a list of books to be received "with equal devotion and reverence," which included the Apocrypha, with the exception of 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. In time, the Apocrypha came to be designated by Roman Catholics as "deuterocanonical," in distinction to the "protocanonical" books of the Hebrew canon. This special designation is not intended to suggest an inferior status, but simply a reception into the canon later than the protocanonical books. For the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Synod of Jerusalem (1672 A.D.) affirmed the validity of the longer canon; however, a universally binding conciliar decision has not been made, and hence a diversity of opinion still exists.

Today, the question of the canonical status of the Apocrypha is no longer so vehemently argued either in Protestant or Catholic circles. Scholarly biblical criticism has shown the presence of the same literary forms in both proto- and deuterocanonical writings. One of the results of biblical scholarship in the second half of the twentieth century has been to reduce the controversy, while not completely eliminating it, as witnessed by the inclusion of these books in the present Bible, though in a location and sequence different from those in Bibles published exclusively under Catholic auspices. Theologians now find themselves comfortable with a much more flexible concept of scriptural inerrancy, and consequently of inspiration, than was possible after the great religious controversies of the sixteenth century and before the era of modern biblical scholarship in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The usefulness of a book is less likely to be judged on the basis of its inclusion in, or exclusion from, the canon, but rather by the light it sheds for understanding the rest of the Bible. The Apocrypha have something in common with what came before them and with what followed them; they therefore act as a link between the Old and the New Testaments and so help us to understand both.


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The story of Susanna is told in the Book of Susanna in the Apocrypha. Falsely accused of adultery by elders who had failed in their attempt to seduce her, and condemned to death, Susanna is rescued by the divinely inspired Daniel, whose clever cross-examination exposes her accusers.

The Apocrypha, Aristeas, Aristobulus, and the Pseud-epigraphic Writings

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From Book 1, Chapter 3, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, by Alfred Edersheim

The translation of the Old Testament into Greek may be regarded as the starting-point of Hellenism. It rendered possible the hope that what in its original form had been confined to the few, might become accessible to the world at large. [a Philo, de Vita Mos. ed. Mangey, ii. p. 140.] But much yet remained to be done. If the religion of the Old Testament had been brought near to the Grecian world of thought, the latter had still to be brought near to Judaism. Some intermediate stage must be found; some common ground on which the two might meet; some original kindredness of spirit to which their later divergences might be carried back, and where they might finally be reconciled.

As the first attempt in this direction, first in order, if not always in time, we mark the so-called Apocryphal literature, most of which was either written in Greek, or is the product of Hellenising Jews. [1 All the Apocrypha were originally written in Greek, except 1 Macc., Judith, part of Baruch, probably Tobit, and, of course, the 'Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach.']

Its general object was twofold. First, of course, it was apologetic, intended to fill gaps in Jewish history or thought, but especially to strengthen the Jewish mind against attacks from without, and generally to extol the dignity of Israel. Thus, more withering sarcasm could scarcely be poured on heathenism than in the apocryphal story of 'Bel and the Dragon,' or in the so-called 'Epistle of Jeremy,' with which the Book of 'Baruch' closes. The same strain, only in more lofty tones, resounds through the Book of the 'Wisdom of Solomon,' [b Comp. x. xx.] along with the constantly implied contrast between the righteous, or Israel, and sinners, or the heathen.

But the next object was to show that the deeper and purer thinking of heathenism in its highest philosophy supported, nay, in some respects, was identical with, the fundamental teaching of the Old Testament. This, of course, was apologetic of the Old Testament, but it also prepared the way for a reconciliation with Greek philosophy. We notice this especially in the so-called Fourth Book of Maccabees, so long erroneously attributed to Josephus, [1 It is printed in Havercamp's edition of Josephus, vol. ii. pp. 497-520. The best edition is in Fritzsche, Libri Apocryphi Vet. Test. (Lips. 1871).] and in the 'Wisdom of Solomon.'

The first postulate here would be the acknowledgment of truth among the Gentiles, which was the outcome of Wisdom, and Wisdom was the revelation of God. This seems already implied in so thoroughly Jewish a book as that of Jesus the Son of Sirach. [a Comp. for ex. Ecclus. xxiv. 6.] Of course there could be no alliance with Epicureanism, which was at the opposite pole of the Old Testament. But the brilliancy of Plato's speculations would charm, while the stern self-abnegation of Stoicism would prove almost equally attractive. The one would show why they believed, the other why they lived, as they did. Thus the theology of the Old Testament would find a rational basis in the ontology of Plato, and its ethics in the moral philosophy of the Stoics.

Indeed, this is the very line of argument which Josephus follows in the conclusion of his treatise against Apion. [b ii. 39, 40.] This, then, was an unassailable position to take: contempt poured on heathenism as such, [c Comp. also Jos. Ag. Ap. ii. 34.] and a rational philosophical basis for Judaism.

They were not deep, only acute thinkers, these Alexandrians, and the result of their speculations was a curious Eclecticism, in which Platonism and Stoicism are found, often heterogeneously, side by side. Thus, without further details, it may be said that the Fourth Book of Maccabees is a Jewish Stoical treatise on the Stoical theme of 'the supremacy of reason', the proposition, stated at the outset, that 'pious reason bears absolute sway over the passions,' being illustrated by the story of the martyrdom of Eleazar, and of the mother and her seven sons. [d Comp. 2 Macc. vi. 18-vii. 41.]

On the other hand, that sublime work, the 'Wisdom of Solomon,' contains Platonic and Stoic elements [2 Ewald (Gesch. d. Volkes Isr., vol. iv. pp. 626-632) has given a glowing sketch of it. Ewald rightly says that its Grecian elements have been exaggerated; but Bucher (Lehre vom Logos, pp. 59-62) utterly fails in denying their presence altogether.], chiefly perhaps the latter, the two occurring side by side. Thus [e Ch. vii. 22-27.] 'Wisdom,' which is so concretely presented as to be almost hypostatised, [3 Compare especially ix. 1; xviii. 14-16, where the idea of passes into that of the.

Of course the above remarks are not intended to depreciate the great value of this book, alike in itself, and in its practical teaching, in its clear enunciation of a retribution as awaiting man, and in its important bearing on the New Testament revelation of the.] is first described in the language of Stoicism, [f Vv. 22-24.] and afterwards set forth, in that of Platonism, [g Vv. 25-29.] as 'the breath of the power of God;' as 'a pure influence flowing from the glory of the Almighty;' 'the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness.' Similarly, we have [a In ch. viii. 7.] a Stoical enumeration of the four cardinal virtues, temperance, prudence, justice, and fortitude, and close by it the Platonic idea of the soul's pre-existence, [b In vv. 19, 20.] and of earth and matter pressing it down. [c ix. 15.] How such views would point in the direction of the need of a perfect revelation from on high, as in the Bible, and of its rational possibility, need scarcely be shown.

But how did Eastern Judaism bear itself towards this Apocryphal literature? We find it described by a term which seems to correspond to our 'Apocrypha,' as Sepharim Genuzim,' 'hidden books,' i.e., either such whose origin was hidden, or, more likely, books withdrawn from common or congregational use. Although they were, of course, carefully distinguished from the canonical Scriptures, as not being sacred, their use was not only allowed, but many of them are quoted in Talmudical writings. [1 Some Apocryphal books which have not been preserved to us are mentioned in Talmudical writings, among them one, 'The roll of the building of the Temple,' alas, lost to us! Comp. Hamburger, vol. ii. pp. 66-70.]

In this respect they are placed on a very different footing from the so-called Sepharim Chitsonim, or 'outside books,' which probably included both the products of a certain class of Jewish Hellenistic literature, and the Siphrey Minim, or writings of the heretics. Against these Rabbinism can scarcely find terms of sufficient violence, even debarring from share in the world to come those who read them. [d Sanh 100.] This, not only because they were used in controversy, but because their secret influence on orthodox Judaism was dreaded.

For similar reasons, later Judaism forbade the use of the Apocrypha in the same manner as that of the Sepharim Chitsonim. But their influence had already made itself felt. The Apocrypha, the more greedily perused, not only for their glorification of Judaism, but that they were, so to speak, doubtful reading, which yet afforded a glimpse into that forbidden Greek world, opened the way for other Hellenistic literature, of which unacknowledged but frequent traces occur in Talmudical writings. [2 Comp. Siegfried, Philo von Alex. pp. 275-299, who, however, perhaps overstates the matter.]

To those who thus sought to weld Grecian thought with Hebrew revelation, two objects would naturally present themselves. They must try to connect their Greek philosophers with the Bible, and they must find beneath the letter of Scripture a deeper meaning, which would accord with philosophic truth. So far as the text of Scripture was concerned, they had a method ready to hand. The Stoic philosophers had busied themselves in finding a deeper allegorical meaning, especially in the writings of Homer.

By applying it to mythical stories, or to the popular beliefs, and by tracing the supposed symbolical meaning of names, numbers, etc., it became easy to prove almost anything, or to extract from these philosophical truths ethical principles, and even the later results of natural science. [1 Comp. Siegfried, pp. 9-16; Hartmann, Enge Verb. d. A. Test. mit d. N., pp. 568-572.] Such a process was peculiarly pleasing to the imagination, and the results alike astounding and satisfactory, since as they could not be proved, so neither could they be disproved. This allegorical method [2 This is to be carefully distinguished from the typical interpretation and from the mystical, the type being prophetic, the mystery spiritually understood.] was the welcome key by which the Hellenists might unlock the hidden treasury of Scripture.

In point of fact, we find it applied so early as in the 'Wisdom of Solomon.' [3 Not to speak of such sounder interpretations as that of the brazen serpent (Wisd. xvi. 6, 7), and of the Fall (ii. 24), or of the view presented of the early history of the chosen race in ch. x., we may mention as instances of allegorical interpretation that of the manna (xvi. 26-28), and of the high-priestly dress (xviii. 24), to which, no doubt, others might be added.

But I cannot find sufficient evidence of this allegorical method in the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach. The reasoning of Hartmann (u. s., pp. 542-547) seems to me greatly strained. Of the existence of allegorical interpretations in the Synoptic Gospels, or of any connection with Hellenism, such as Hartmann, Siegfried, and Loesner (Obs. ad. N.T. e Phil. Alex) put into them, I cannot, on examination, discover any evidence. Similarity of expressions, or even of thought, afford no evidence of inward connection. Of the Gospel by St. John we shall speak in the sequel. In the Pauline Epistles we find, as might be expected, some allegorical interpretations, chiefly in those to the Corinthians, perhaps owing to the connection of that church with Apollos. Comp here 1 Cor. ix. 9; x. 4 (Philo, Quod deter. potiori insid. 31); 2 Cor. iii. 16; Gal. iv. 21. Of the Epistle to the Hebrews and the Apocalypse we cannot here speak.]

But as yet Hellenism had scarcely left the domain of sober interpretation. it is otherwise in the letter of the Pseudo-Aristeas, to which reference has already been made. [4 See p. 25.] Here the wildest symbolism is put into the mouth of the High-Priest Eleazar, to convince Aristeas and his fellow-ambassador that the Mosaic ordinances concerning food had not only a political reason, to keep Israel separate from impious nations, and a sanitary one, but chiefly a mystical meaning. The birds allowed for food were all tame and pure, and they fed on corn or vegetable products, the opposite being the case with those forbidden.

The first lesson which this was intended to teach was, that Israel must be just, and not seek to obtain aught from others by violence; but, so to speak, imitate the habits of those birds which were allowed them. The next lesson would be, that each must learn to govern his passions and inclinations. Similarly, the direction about cloven hoofs pointed to the need of making separation, that is, between good and evil; and that about chewing the cud to the need of remembering, viz. God and His will. [1 A similar principle applied to the prohibition of such species as the mouse or the weasel, not only because they destroyed everything, but because they latter, from its mode of conceiving and bearing, symbolized listening to evil tales, and exaggerated, lying, or malicious speech.]

In such manner, according to Aristeas, did the High Priest go through the catalogue of things forbidden, and of animals to be sacrificed, showing from their 'hidden meaning' the majesty and sanctity of the Law. [2 Of course this method is constantly adopted by Josephus. Comp. for example, Ant. iii. 1. 6; 7. 7.]

This was an important line to take, and it differed in principle from the allegorical method adopted by the Eastern Jews. Not only the Dorshey Reshumoth, [3 Or Dorshey Chamuroth, searchers of difficult passages. Zunz. Gottesd. Vortr. p. 323. note b.] or searches out of the subtleties of Scripture, of their indications, but even the ordinry Haggadist employed, indeed, allegoric interpretations. Thereby Akiba vindicated for the 'Song of Songs' its place in the Canon. Did not Scripture say: 'One thing spake God, twofold is what I heard,' [a Ps. lxii. 11; Sanh. 34 a.] and did not this imply a twofold meaning; nay, could not the Torah be explained by many different methods? [4 The seventy languages in which the Law was supposed to have been written below Mount Ebal (Sotah vii. 5).

I cannot help feeling this may in part also refer to the various modes of interpreting Holy Scripture, and that there is an allusion to this Shabb. 88 b, where Ps. lxviii. 12. and Jer. xxiii. 29, are quoted, the latter to show that the word of God is like a hammer that breaks the rock in a thousand pieces. Comp. Rashi on Gen. xxxiii. 20.] What, for example, was the water which Israel sought in the wilderness, or the bread and raiment which Jacob asked in Bethel, but the Torah and the dignity which it conferred? But in all these, and innumerable similar instances, the allegorical interpretation was only an application of Scripture for homiletical purposes, not a searching into a rationale beneath, such as that of the Hellenists.

The latter the Rabbis would have utterly repudiated, on their express principle that 'Scripture goes not beyond its plain meaning.' [5 Perhaps we ought here to point out one of the most important principles of Rabbinism, which has been almost entirely overlooked in modern criticism of the Talmud. It is this: that any ordinance, not only of the Divine law, but of the Rabbis, even though only given for a particular time or occasion, or for a special reason, remains in full force for all time unless it be expressly recalled (Betsah 5 b). Thus Maimonides (Sepher ha Mitsv.) declares the law to extirpate the Canaanites as continuing in its obligations. The inferences as to the perpetual obligation, not only of the ceremonial law, but of sacrifices, will be obvious, and their bearing on the Jewish controversy need not be explained. Comp. Chief Rabbi Holdheim. d. Ceremonial Gesetz in Messasreich, 1845.]

They sternly insisted, that we ought not to search into the ulterior object and rationale of a law, but simply obey it. But it was this very rationale of the Law which the Alexandrians sought to find under its letter. It was in this sense that Aristobulus, a Hellenist Jew of Alexandria, [b About 160 B.C.] sought to explain Scripture. Only a fragment of his work, which seems to have been a Commentary on the Pentateuch, dedicated to King Ptolemy (Philometor), has been preserved to us (by Clement of Alexandria, and by Eusebius [a Praepar. Evang. vii. 14. 1 ; vii. 10. 1-17; xiii. 12.]). According to Clement of Alexandria, his aim was, 'to bring the Peripatetic philosophy out of the law of Moses, and out of the other prophets.'

Thus, when we read that God stood, it meant the stable order of the world; that He created the world in six days, the orderly succession of time; the rest of the Sabbath, the preservation of what was created. And in such manner could the whole system of Aristotle be found in the Bible. But how was this to be accounted for? Of course, the Bible had not learned from Aristotle, but he and all the other philosphers had learned from the Bible. Thus, according to Aristobulus, Pythagoras, Plato, and all the other sages had really learned from Moses, and the broken rays found in their writings were united in all their glory in the Torah.

It was a tempting path on which to enter, and one on which there was no standing still. It only remained to give fixedness to the allegorical method by reducing it to certain principles, or canons of criticism, and to form the heterogeneous mass of Grecian philosophemes and Jewish theologumena into a compact, if not homogeneous system. This was the work of Philo of Alexandria, born about 20 B.C. It concerns us not here to inquire what were the intermediate links between Aristobulus and Philo. Another and more important point claims our attention.

If ancient Greek philosophy knew the teaching of Moses, where was the historic evidence for it? If such did not exist, it must somehow be invented. Orpheus was a name which had always lent itself to literary fraud, [b As Val. Kenaer puts it, Daitr. de Aristob. Jud. p. 73.] and so Aristobulus boldly produces (whether of his own or of others' making) a number of spurious citations from Hesiod, Homer, Linus, but especially from Orpheus, all Biblical and Jewish in their cast. Aristobulus was neither the first nor the last to commit such fraud. The Jewish Sibyl boldly, and, as we shall see, successfully personated the heathen oracles. And this opens, generally, quite a vista of Jewish-Grecia literature. In the second, and even in the third century before Christ, there were Hellenist historians, such as Eupolemus, Artapanus, Demetrius, and Aristeas; tragic and epic poets, such as Ezekiel, Pseudo-Philo, and Theodotus, who, after the manner of the ancient classical writers, but for their own purposes, described certain periods of Jewish history, or sang of such themes as the Exodus, Jerusalem, or the rape of Dinah.

The mention of these spurious quotations naturally leads us to another class of spurious literature, which, although not Hellenistic, has many elements in common with it, and, even when originating with Palestinian Jews is not Palestinian, nor yet has been preserved in its language. We allude to what are known as the Pseudepigraphic, or Pseudonymic Writings, so called because, with one exception, they bear false names of authorship. It is difficult to arrange them otherwise than chronological, and even here the greatest difference of opinions prevails.

Their general character (with one exception) may be described as anti-heathen, perhaps missionary, but chiefly as Apocalyptic. They are attempts at taking up the key-note struck in the prophecies of Daniel; rather, we should say, to lift the veil only partially raised by him, and to point, alike as concerned Israel, and the kingdoms of the world, to the past, the present, and the future, in the light of the Kingship of the Messiah. Here, if anywhere, we might expect to find traces of New Testament teaching; and yet, side by side with frequent similarity of form, the greatest difference, we had almost said contrast, in spirit, prevails.

Many of these works must have perished. In one of the latest of them [a 4 Esdras xiv. 44, 46.] they are put down at seventy, probably a round number, having reference to the supposed number of the nations of the earth, or to every possible mode of interpreting Scripture. They are described as intended for 'the wise among the people,' probably those whom St. Paul, in the Christian sense, designates as 'knowing the time' [b Rom. xiii. 11.] [1 The of St. Paul seems here used in exactly the same sense as in later Hebrew. The LXX. render it so in five passages (Ezr. v. 3; Dan. iv. 33; vi. 10; vii. 22, 25).] of the Advent of the Messiah. Viewed in this light, they embody the ardent aspirations and the inmost hopes [2 Of course, it suits Jewish writers, like Dr. Jost, to deprecate the value of the Pseudepigrapha.

Their ardour of expectancy ill agrees with the modern theories, which would eliminate, if possible, the Messianic hope from ancient Judaism.] of those who longed for the 'consolation of Israel,' as they understood it. Nor should we judge their personations of authorship according to our Western ideas. [3 Comp. Dillmann in Herzog's Real-Encykl. vol. xii. p. 301.] Pseudonymic writings were common in that age, and a Jew might perhaps plead that, even in the Old Testament, books had been headed by names which confessedly were not those of their authors (such as Samuel, Ruth, Esther). If those inspired poets who sang in the spirit, and echoed the strains, of Asaph, adopted that designation, and the sons of Korah preferred to be known by that title, might not they, who could no longer claim the authority of inspiration seek attention for their utterances by adopting the names of those in whose spirit they professed to write?

The most interesting as well as the oldest of these books are those known as the Book of Enoch, the Sibylline Oracles, the Paler of Solomon, and the Book of Jubilees, or Little Genesis. Only the briefest notice of them can here find a place. [1 For a brief review of the 'Pseudepigraphic Writings,' see Appendix I.]

The Book of Enoch, the oldest parts of which date a century and a half before Christ, comes to us from Palestine. It professes to be a vision vouchsafed to that Patriarch, and tells of the fall of the Angels and its consequences, and of what he saw and heard in his rapt journeys through heaven and earth. Of deepest, though often sad, interest, is what it says of the Kingdom of Heaven, of the advent of Messiah and His Kingdom, and of the last things.

On the other hand, the Sibylline Oracles, of which the oldest portions date from about 160 B.C., come to us from Egypt. It is to the latter only that we here refer. Their most interesting parts are also the most characteristics. In them the ancient heathen myths of the first ages of man are welded together with Old Testament notices, while the heathen Theogony is recast in a Jewish mould. Thus Noah becomes Uranos, Shem Saturn, Ham Titan, and Japheth Japetus.

Similarly, we have fragments of ancient heathen oracles, so to speak, recast in a Jewish edition. The strangest circumstance is, that the utterances of this Judaising and Jewish Sibyl seem to have passed as the oracles of the ancient Erythraean, which had predicted the fall of Troy, and as those of the Sibyl of Cumae, which, in the infancy of Rome, Tarquinius Superbus had deposited in the Capitol.

The collection of eighteen hymns known as the Psalter of Solomon dates from more than half a century before our era. No doubt the original was Hebrew, though they breathe a somewhat Hellenistic spirit. They express ardent Messianic aspirations, and a firm faith in the Resurrection, and in eternal rewards and punishments.

Different in character from the preceding works is The Book of Jubilees, so called from its chronological arrangement into 'Jubilee-periods', or 'Little Genesis.' It is chiefly a kind of legendary supplement to the Book of Genesis, intended to explain some of its historic difficulties, and to fill up its historic lacunae. It was probably written about the time of Christ, and this gives it a special interest, by a Palestinian, and in Hebrew, or rather Aramaean. But, like the rest of the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic literature which comes from Palestine, or was originally written in Hebrew, we possess it no longer in that language, but only in translation.

If from this brief review of Hellenist and Pseudepigraphic literature we turn to take a retrospect, we can scarcely fail to perceive, on the one hand, the development of the old, and on the other the preparation for the new, in other words, the grand expectancy awakened, and the grand preparation made. One step only remained to complete what Hellenism had already begun. That completion came through one who, although himself untouched by the Gospel, perhaps more than any other prepared alike his co-religionists the Jews, and his countrymen the Greeks, for the new teaching, which, indeed, was presented by many of its early advocates in the forms which they had learned from him. That man was Philo the Jew, of Alexandria.

Author Edersheim refers to MANY reference sources in his works. As a Bibliography resource, we have created a separate Edersheim References list. All of his bracketed references indicate the page numbers in the works referenced.


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(Both Old and New Testaments)

The scope of this article takes in those compositions which profess to have been written either by Biblical personages or men in intimate relations with them. Such known works as the Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas, the Didache (Teaching) of the Twelve Apostles, and the Apostolic Canons and Constitutions, though formerly apocryphal, really belong to patristic literature, and are considered independently. It has been deemed better to classify the Biblical apocrypha according to their origin, instead of following the misleading division of the apocrypha of the Old and New Testaments. Broadly speaking, the apocrypha of Jewish origin are coextensive with what are styled of the Old Testament, and those of Christian origin with the apocrypha of the New Testament. The subject will be treated as follows:

Name and Notion

Etymologically, the derivation of Apocrypha is very simple, being from the Greek apokryphos, hidden, and corresponding to the neuter plural of the adjective. The use of the singular, "Apocryphon", is both legitimate and convenient, when referring to a single work. When we would attempt to seize the literary sense attaching to the word, the task is not so easy. It has been employed in various ways by early patristic writers, who have sometimes entirely lost sight of the etymology. Thus it has the connotation "uncanonical" with some of them. St. Jerome evidently applied the term to all quasi-scriptural books which in his estimation lay outside the canon of the Bible, and the Protestant Reformers, following Jerome's catalogue of Old Testament Scriptures -- one which was at once erroneous and singular among the Fathers of the Church -- applied the title Apocrypha to the excess of the Catholic canon of the Old Testament over that of the Jews. Naturally, Catholics refuse to admit such a denomination, and we employ "deuterocanonical" to designate this literature, which non-Catholics conventionally and improperly know as the "Apocrypha". (See CANON OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.)

The original and proper sense of the term apocryphal as applied to the pretended sacred books was early obscured. But a clue to it may be recognized in the so-called Fourth Book of Esdras, which relates that Estrus (Era) by divine inspiration composed ninety-four books. Of these, twenty-four were restorations of the sacred literature of the Israelites which had perished in the Captivity; they were to be published openly, but the remaining were to be guarded in secret for the exclusive use of the wise (cf. Dan., ix, 4, 9, where the prophet is bidden to shut up and seal an inspired book until an appointed time). Accordingly it may be accepted as highly probable that in its original meaning an apocryphal writing had no unfavorable import, but simply denoted a composition which claimed a sacred origin, and was supposed to have been hidden for generations, either absolutely, awaiting the due time of its revelation, or relatively, inasmuch as knowledge of it was confined to a limited esoteric circle. However, the name Apocrypha soon came to have an unfavourable signification which it still retains, comporting both want of genuineness and canonicity. These are the negative aspects of the modern application of the name; on its positive side it is properly employed only of a well defined class of literature, putting forth scriptural or quasi-scriptural pretensions, and which originated in part among the Hebrews during the two centuries preceding Christ and for a space after, and in part among Christians, both orthodox and heterodox, in the early centuries of our era.


Ancient literature, especially in the Orient, used methods much more free and elastic than those permitted by our modern and Occidental culture. Pseudographic composition was in vogue among the Jews in the two centuries before Christ and for some time later. The attribution of a great name of the distant past to a book by its real author, who thus effaced his own personality, was, in some cases at least, a mere literary fiction which deceived no one except the ignorant. This holds good for the so-called "Wisdom of Solomon", written in Greek and belonging to the Church's sacred canon. In other cases, where the assumed name did not stand as a symbol of a type of a certain kind of literature, the intention was not without a degree of at least objective literary dishonesty.

(1) Jewish Apocalypses

The most important and valuable of the extant Jewish apocrypha are those which have a large apocalyptic element; that is, which profess to contain visions and revelations of the unseen world and the Messianic future. Jewish apocalyptic literature is a theme which deserves and has increasingly received the attention of all interested in the development of the religious thought of Israel, that body of concepts and tendencies in which are fixed the roots of the great doctrinal principles of Christianity itself, just as its Divine Founder took His temporal generation from the stock of orthodox Judaism. The Jewish apocalypses furnish the completing links in the progress of Jewish theology and fill what would otherwise be a gap, though a small one, between the advanced stage marked by the deuterocanonical books and its full maturity in the time of Our Lord; a maturity so relatively perfect that Jesus could suppose as existing in the popular consciousness, without teaching de novo, the doctrines of future retribution, the resurrection of the body, and the existence, nature, and office of angels. Jewish apocalyptic writing is an attempt to supply the place of prophecy, which had been dead for centuries, and it has its roots in the sacred oracles of Israel. Hebrew prophecy on its human side had its springs, its occasions, and immediate objects in the present; the prophets were inspired men who found matter for comfort as well as rebuke and warning in the actual conditions of Israel's theocratic life. But when ages had elapsed, and the glowing Messianic promises of the prophets had not been realized; when the Jewish people had chafed, not through two or three, but many generations, under the bitter yoke of foreign masters or the constantly repeated pressure of heathen states, reflecting and fervent spirits, finding no hope in the actual order of things, looked away from earth and fixed their vision on another and ideal world where God's justice would reign unthwarted, to the everlasting glory of Israel both as a nation and in its faithful individuals, and unto the utter destruction and endless torment of the Gentile oppressors and the unrighteous. Apocalyptic literature was both a message of comfort and an effort to solve the problems of the sufferings of the just and the apparent hopelessness of a fulfilment of the prophecies of Israel's sovereignty on earth. But the inevitable consequence of the apocalyptic distrust of everything present was its assumption of the guise of the remote and classic past; in other words, its pseudonymous character. Naturally basing itself upon the Pentateuch and the Prophets, it clothed itself fictitiously with the authority of a patriarch or prophet who was made to reveal the transcendent future. But in their effort to adjust this future to the history that lay within their ken the apocalyptic writers unfolded also a philosophy of the origin and progress of mundane things. A wider view of world-politics and a comprehensive cosmological speculation are among the distinctive traits of Jewish apocalyptic. The Book of Daniel is the one book of the Old Testament to which the non-inspired apocalypses bear the closest affinity, and it evidently furnished ideas to several of the latter. An apocalyptic element existing in the prophets, in Zacharias (i-vi), in Tobias (Tobias, xiii), can be traced back to the visions of Ezechiel which form the prototype of apocalyptic; all this had its influence upon the new literature. Messianism of course plays an important part in apocalyptic eschatology and the idea of the Messias in certain books received a very high development. But even when it is transcendent and mystic it is intensely, almost fanatically, national, and surrounded by fanciful and often extravagant accessories. It lacks the universal outlook of some of the prophets, especially the Deutero-Isaias, and is far from having a uniform and consistent physiognomy. Sometimes the Messianic realm is placed upon the transfigured earth, centering in a new Jerusalem; in other works it is lifted into the Heavens; in some books the Messias is wanting or is apparently merely human, while the Parables of Henoch with their pre-existent Messias mark the highest point of development of the Messianic concept to be found in the whole range of Hebrew literature.

(a) The Book of Henoch (Ethiopic)

See the separate Catholic Encyclopedia article under this title.

(b) Assumption of Moses

Origen, "De Principiis", III, ii, 1, names the Assumption of Moses -- Analepsis Mouseos -- as the book cited by the Epistle of Jude, 9, where there is an allusion to a dispute between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses. Aside from a few other brief references in patristic literature, nothing more was known of this apocryphon until the Latin manuscript containing a long portion of it was discovered by Ceriani in the Ambrosian Library, at Milan, and published by him in 1861. Its identity with the ancient work is established by a quotation from the latter in the Acts of the Nicene Council. The book purports to be a series of predictions delivered in written form to the safe-keeping of Josue (Joshua) by Moses when the latter, in view of his approaching death, appointed Josue as his successor. The ostensible purpose of these deliverances is to confirm the Mosaic laws and the admonitions in Deuteronomy. The entire history of Israel is outlined. In a vehement and glowing style the book delineates under its prophetic guise the impiety of Israel's Hasmonean rulers and Sadducean priests. The historical allusions come down to the reign of an insolent monarch who is plainly Herod the Great, and a powerful ruler who shall come from the West and subjugate the people -- a reference to the punitive expedition of Quintilius Varus, 4 B.C. But the Messias will intervene and execute Divine wrath upon the enemies of the nation, and a cataclysm of nature, which is depicted with truly apocalyptic sublimity, will forerun the beginning of the new era. Strangely there is no mention of a resurrection or a judgment of individuals. The book then returns to the doings of Moses and Josue. The manuscript breaks off abruptly at chapter xii, and the portion cited by Jude must have belonged to the lost conclusion. This apocalypse has with solid reasons been assigned to the early years after Herod's death, between 4 B.C. and A.D. 10. It is evident that neither of Herod's sons, Philip and Antipas, had yet reigned thirty-four years, since the writer, hazarding a prediction that proved false, says that the sons should enjoy shorter reigns than their father. Thus the latest possible date of composition is fixed at A.D. 30. The author was a Jew, and in all likelihood a Palestinian one. He belonged neither to the Pharisees of the type of Christ's epoch, nor to the Sadducees, since he excoriates both alike. He must have been either a Zealot, that is an ultra-Nationalist and Messianist, or a fervid Essene. He wrote in Hebrew or Aramaic. The Latin text is translated from a Greek version.

(c) Book of the Secrets of Henoch (Slavonic Henoch)

In 1892 attention was called to Slavonic manuscripts which on examination proved to contain another Henoch book differing entirely from the Ethiopic compilation. "The Book of the Secrets of Henoch" contains passages which satisfy allusions of Origen to which there is nothing corresponding in the Ethiopic Henoch. The same may be said about citations in the "Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs". Internal evidence shows that the new Henoch was composed by an Alexandrian Jew about the beginning of our Era, and in Greek. The work is sharply marked off from the older book by the absence of a Messias and the want of reference to a resurrection of the dead. It mingles many bizarre details concerning the celestial realm, the angels, and stars, with advanced ideas on man's destiny, moral excellence, and the punishment of sin. The patriarch is taken up through the seven heavens to the very throne of the Eternal. Some of the details throw interesting light on various obscure allusions in the Bible, such as the superimposed heavens, the presence of evil powers "in heavenly places", Ezechiel's strange creatures full of eyes.

(d) Fourth Book of Esdras

The personage serving as the screen of the real author of this book is Esdras (Ezra), the priest-scribe and leader among the Israelites who returned from Babylonia, to Jerusalem. The fact that two canonical books are associated with his name, together with a genuine literary power, a profoundly religious spirit pervading Fourth Esdras, and some Messianic points of contact with the Gospels combined to win for it an acceptance among Christians unequalled by any other apocryphon. Both Greek and Latin Fathers cite it as prophetical, while some, as Ambrose, were ardent admirers of it. Jerome alone is positively unfavourable. Notwithstanding this widespread reverence for it in early times, it is a remarkable fact that the book never got a foothold in the canon or liturgy of the Church. Nevertheless, all through the Middle Ages it maintained an intermediate position between canonical and merely human compositions, and even after the Council of Trent, together with Third Esdras, was placed in the appendix to the official edition of the Vulgate. Besides the original Greek text, which has not survived, the book has appeared in Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Arabic versions. The first and last two chapters of the Latin translation do not exist in the Oriental ones and have been added by a Christian hand. And yet there need be no hesitation in relegating the Fourth Book of Esdras to the ranks of the apocrypha. Not to insist on the allusion to the Book of Daniel in xii, 11, the date given in the first version (iii, 1) is erroneous, and the whole tenor and character of the work places it in the age of apocalyptic literature. The dominant critical dating assigns it to a Jew writing in the reign of Domitian, A.D. 81-96. Certainly it was composed some time before A.D. 218, since it is expressly quoted by Clement of Alexandria. The original text, iii-xiv, is of one piece and the work of a single author. The motive of the book is the problem lying heavily upon Jewish patriots after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. The outlook was most dark and the national life seemed utterly extinguished. In consequence, a sad and anxious spirit pervades the work, and the writer, using the guise of Esdras lamenting over the ruin of the first city and temple, insistently seeks to penetrate the reasons of God's apparent abandonment of His people and the non-fulfilment of His promises. The author would learn the future of his nation. His interest is centered in the latter; the universalism of the book is attenuated. The apocalypse is composed of seven visions. The Messianism of Fourth Esdras suffers from the discouragement of the era and is influenced by the changed conditions produced by the advent of Christianity. Its Messias is mortal, and his reign merely one of happiness upon earth. Likewise the eschatology labours with two conflicting elements: the redemption of all Israel and the small number of the elect. All mankind sinned with Adam. The Fourth Book of Esdras is sometimes called by non-Catholics Second Esdras, as they apply the Hebrew form, Ezra, to the canonical books.

(e) Apocalypse of Baruch

For a long time a Latin fragment, chapters lxxviii-lxxxvii, of this pseudograph had been known. In 1866 a complete Syriac text was discovered by Monsignor Ceriani, whose researches in the Ambrosian Library of Milan have so enriched the field of ancient literature. The Syriac is a translation from the Greek; the original was written in Hebrew. There is a close relation between this apocalypse and that of Fourth Esdras, but critics are divided over the question, which has influenced the other. The probabilities favour the hypothesis that the Baruch apocryphon is an imitation of that of Esdras and therefore later. The approximate dates assigned to it range between A.D. 50 and 117. The "Apocalypse of Baruch" is a somewhat artificial production, without the originality and force of Fourth Esdras. It deals in part with the same problems, viz., the sufferings of the theocratic people, and their ultimate triumph over their oppressors. When certain passages are freed from evident Christian interpolations, its Messianism in general is earthly, but in the latter part of the book the Messias's realm tends unmistakably towards a more spiritual conception. As in Fourth Esdras, sin is traced to the disobedience of Adam. Greater importance is attached to the law than in the related composition, and the points of contact with the New Testament are more striking. The author was a Pharisee, but one who, while adopting a distinctly Jewish view, was probably acquainted with the Christian Scriptures and freely laid them under contribution. Some recent students of the "Apocalypse of Baruch" have seen in it a composite work, but the majority of critics hold with better reason to its unity. The book is lengthy. It speaks in the person of Baruch, the secretary of Jeremias. It opens with a palpable error of chronology. Baruch announces the doom of the city and temple of Jerusalem of the Babylonian epoch. However, not the Chaldeans, but angels, will bring about the destruction. Another and pre-existent Holy City is reserved by God, since the world cannot exist without a Jerusalem. The artificiality and tediousness of the apocalypse are redeemed by a singular breadth of view and elevation of doctrine, with the limitation noted.

(f) The Apocalypse of Abraham

The Apocalypse of Abraham has recently been translated from Slavonic into German. It relates the circumstances of Abraham's conversions and the visions thereupon accorded him. His guide in the a celestial realms is Jael, an angel distinct from God, but possessing divine powers in certain regards. The work has affinities with Fourth Esdras and the "Apocalypse of Baruch". The origin of evil is explained by man's free will. The Elect, or Messias, will gather the dispersed tribes, but God alone will punish the enemies of Israel. Particularism and the transcendence of the last cosmic stage are the notes of this apocalypse. Its data, however, are so vague that it is impossible to fix the time of its composition.

(g) The Apocalypse of Daniel

The Apocalypse of Daniel is the work of a Persian Jew of the twelfth century, and is unique in foretelling two Messiases: one, the son of Joseph (Christ), whose career ends in his failure and death; the other the son of David, who will liberate Israel and reign on earth gloriously.

(2) Legendary Apocrypha of Jewish Origin

(a) Book of Jubilees or Little Genesis

Epiphanius, Jerome, and others quote a work under the title "The Jubilees" or "The Little Genesis". St. Jerome testifies that the original was in Hebrew. It is cited by Byzantine authors down to the twelfth century. After that we hear no more of it until it was found in an Ethiopic manuscript in the last century. A considerable Latin fragment has also been recovered. The Book of the Jubilees is the narrative of Genesis amplified and embellished by a Jew of the Pharisee period. It professes to be a revelation given to Moses by the "Angel of the Face". There is a very systematic chronology according to the years, weeks of years, and jubilees. A patriarchal origin is ascribed to the great Jewish feasts. The angelology is highly developed, but the writer disbelieved in the resurrection of the body. The observance of the Law is insisted on. It is hard to fix either the date or the religious circle in which the work arose. Jerusalem and the Temple still stood, and the Book of Henoch is quoted. As for the lowest date, the book is employed by the Jewish portion of the "Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs". Estimates vary between 135 B.C. and A.D. 60. Among the lost Jewish apocrypha, the one worthy of special notice here is;

(b) The Book of Jannes and Mambres

II Timothy, iii, 8, applies these names to the Egyptian magicians who reproduced some of the wonders wrought by Moses. The names are not found in the Old Testament. Origen remarks that St. Paul does not quote "from public writings but from a sacred book which is called Jannes and Mambres". The names were known to Pliny, and figure in the Talmudic traditions. Recently R. James in the "Journal of Theological Studies", 1901, II, 572-577, claims to have found a fragment of this lost apocryphon in Latin and Old English versions.

(c) Third Book of Esdras

This is also styled by non-Catholics the First Book of Esdras, since they give to the first canonical Esdrine writing the Hebrew form Ezra. Third Esdras is one of the three uncanonical books appended to the official edition of the Vulgate. It exists in two of the oldest codices of the Septuagint, viz., Vaticanus and Alexandrinus, where it precedes the canonical Esdras. The same is true of manuscripts of the Old Latin and other versions. Third Esdras enjoyed exceptional favour in the early ages of the Church, being quoted as Scripture with implicit faith by the leading Greek and Latin Fathers (See Cornely, Introductio Generalis, I, 201). St. Jerome, however, the great minimizer of sacred literature, rejected it as apocryphal, and thenceforward its standing was impaired. The book in fact is made up for the most part of materials taken from the inspired books of Paralipomenon, Esdras, and Nehemias, put together, however, in great chronological confusion. We must suppose that it was subsequent to the above Scriptures, since it was evidently composed in Greek and by an Alexandrian Jew. The only original part of the work is chapters iii-v, 6. This recounts a contest between three young Hebrews of the bodyguard of King Darius, each striving to formulate the wisest saying. The victory is awarded to Zorobabel (Zerubbabel), who defends Truth as the strongest force, and the audience shouts: "Great is Truth and powerful above all things!" (Magna est veritas et proevalebit.) The date of composition is not ascertainable except within very wide limits. These are on one side c. 300 B.C., the latest time assigned to Paralipomenon-Esdras-Nehemias, and on the other, c. A.D. 100, the era of Josephus, who employed Third Esdras. There is greater likelihood that the composition took place before our Era.

(d) Third Book of Machabees

Third Book of Machabees is the title given to a short narrative which is found in the Alexandrine codex of the Septuagint version and various private manuscripts. It gives an account of an attempted desecration of the Temple at Jerusalem by the Egyptian king, Ptolemy IV (Philopator) after his victory over Antiochus the Great at Raphia, 217 B.C., and the miraculous frustration of his endeavour to wreak vengeance upon the Egyptian Jews through a massacre with elephants. This apocryphon abounds in absurdities and psychological impossibilities, and is a very weak piece of fiction written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew, and probably designed to encourage its countrymen in the midst of persecutions. It rests on no ascertainable historical fact, but apparently is an extravagant and varying version of the occurrence related by Josephus, "Against Apion", 1I, 5. The date cannot be determined. Since the book shows acquaintance with the Greek additions to Daniel, it cannot be earlier than the first century B.C., and could scarcely have found such favour among Christians if composed later than the first century after Christ. The Syrian Church was the first to give it a friendly reception, presumably on the strength of its mention in the Apostolic Constitutions. Later, Third Machabees was admitted into the canon of the Greek Church, but seems never to have been known to the Latins.

(3) Apocryphal Psalms and Prayers

(a) Psalms of Solomon

This is a collection of eighteen psalms composed in Hebrew, and, as is commonly agreed, by a Pharisee of Palestine, about the time of Pompey's capture of Jerusalem, 63 B.C. The collection makes no pretensions to authorship by Solomon, and therefore is not, strictly speaking, apocryphal. The name of the wise king became associated with it later and doubtless was the means of preserving it. The spirit of these psalms is one of great moral earnestness and righteousness, but it is the righteousness of the Pharisees, consisting in the observance of the legal traditions and ceremonial law. The Hasmonean dynasty and the Sadducees are denounced. A Messianic deliverer is looked for, but he is to be merely human. He will reign by holiness and justice, and not by the sword. Free will and the resurrection are taught. The Psalms of Solomon are of value in illustrating the religious views and attitudes of the Pharisees in the age of Our Lord. The manuscripts of the Septuagint contain at the end of the canonical Psalter a short psalm (cli), which, however, is "outside the number", i.e. of the Psalms. Its title reads: "This psalm was written by David himself in addition to the number, when he had fought with Goliath." It is based on various passages in the Old Testament, and there is no evidence that it was ever written in Hebrew.

(b) Prayer of Manasses (Manasseh)

A beautiful Penitential prayer put in the mouth of Manasses, King of Juda, who carried idolatrous abominations so far. The composition is based on II Paralipomenon, xxxiii, 11-13, which states that Manasses was carried captive to Babylon and there repented; while the same source (18) refers to his prayer as recorded in certain chronicles which are lost. Learned opinion differs as to whether the prayer which has come down to us was written in Hebrew or Greek. Several ancient manuscripts of the Septuagint contain it as an appendix to the Psalter. It is also incorporated in the ancient so-called Apostolic Constitutions. In editions of the Vulgate antedating the Council of Trent it was placed after the books of Paralipomenon. The Clementine Vulgate relegated it to the appendix, where it is still to be found in reprints of the standard text. The prayer breathes a Christian spirit, and it is not entirely certain that it is really of Jewish origin.

(4) Jewish Philosophy

(a) Fourth Book of Machabees

This is a short philosophical treatise on the supremacy of pious reason, that is reason regulated by divine law, which for the author is the Mosaic Law. In setting up reason as the master of human passion, the author was distinctly influenced by Stoic philosophy. >From it also he derived his four cardinal virtues: prudence, righteousness (or justice), fortitude, temperance; phronesis, dikaiosyne, andreia, sophrosyne, and it was through Fourth Machabees that this category was appropriated by early Christian ascetical writers. The second part of the book exhibits the sufferings of Eleazar and the seven Machabean brothers as examples of the dominion of pious reason. The aim of the Hellenistic Jewish author was to inculcate devotion to the Law. He is unknown. The work was erroneously ascribed to Josephus by Eusebius and others. It appears to have been produced before the fall of Jerusalem, but its date is a matter of conjecture.


(a) Sibylline Oracles

See the separate Catholic Encyclopedia article under this title.

(b) Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.

This is an extensive pseudograph, consisting of;
  1. narrations in which each of the twelve sons of Jacob relates his life, embellished by Midrashic expansions of the Biblical data
  2. exhortations by each patriarch to the practice of virtues, or the shunning of vices illustrated in his life
  3. apocalyptic portions concerning the future of the twelve tribes, and the Messianic times

The body of the work is undoubtedly Judaic, but there are many interpolations of an unmistakably Christian origin, presenting in their ensemble a fairly full Christology, but one suspected of Docetism. Recent students of the Testaments assign with much probability the Jewish groundwork to the Hasmonean period, within the limits 135-63 B.C. Portions which extol the tribes of Levi and Juda are interpreted as an apology for the Hasmonean pontiff-kings. The remaining ten tribes are supposed to be yet in existence, and are urged to be faithful to the representatives of the priestly and royal power. In this defence of the Machabean dynasty, and by a writer with Pharisaic tendencies, probably a priest, the Testaments are unique in Jewish literature. True, there are passages in which the sacerdotal caste and the ruling tribes are unsparingly denounced, but these are evidently later insertions. The eschatology is rather advanced. The Messias is to spring from the tribe of Levi (elsewhere, however, from Juda); he is to be the eternal High-Priest -- a unique feature of the book -- as well as the civil ruler of the nation. During his reign sin will gradually cease. The gates of paradise are to be opened and the Israelites and converted Gentiles will dwell there and eat of the tree of life. The Messianic kingdom is therefore to be an eternal one on earth, therein agreeing with the Ethiopic Henoch. The Testaments exist complete in Greek, Armenian, Latin, and Slavonic versions. Aramaic and Syriac fragments are preserved.

(c) The Ascension of Isaias

The Ascension of Isaias consists of two parts:
  1. The Martyrdom of Isaias, in which it is told that the prophet was sawn in two by the order of the wicked King Manasses.
  2. The Ascension proper.

This purports to be the description by Isaias of a vision in which he was rapt up through the seven heavens to the presence of the Trinity, and beheld the descent of the Son, "the Beloved", on His mission of redemption. He changes his form in passing through the inferior celestial circles. The prophet then sees the glorified Beloved reascending. The Martyrdom is a Jewish work, saving some rather large interpolations. The rest is by Christian hands or perhaps a single writer, who united his apocalypse with the Martyrdom. There are tokens that the Christian element is a product of Gnosticism, and that our work is the same with that much in favour among several heretical sects under the name of the "Anabaticon", or "Ascension of Isaias". The Jewish portion is thought to have appeared in the first century of our era; the remainder, in the middle of the second. Justin, Tertullian, and Origen seem to have been acquainted with the Martyrdom; Sts. Jerome and Epiphanius are the earliest witnesses for the Ascension proper. The apocryphon exists in Greek, Ethiopic, and Slavonic manuscripts.

(d) Minor Jewish-Christian Apocrypha

Space will permit only an enumeration of unimportant specimens of apocryphal literature, extant in whole or part, and consisting of

Probably with this second class are to be included the "Testaments of Job" and "Zacharias", the "Adam Books", the "Book of Creation", the "Story of Aphikia" (the wife of Jesus Sirach). These works as a rule appeared in the East, and in many cases show Gnostic tendencies. Further information about some of them will be found at the end of articles on the above personages.


The term Christian here is used in a comprehensive sense and embraces works produced both by Catholics and heretics; the latter are chiefly members of the various branches or schools of Gnosticism, which flourished in the second and third centuries. The Christian apocryphal writings in general imitate the books of the New Testament and therefore, with a few exceptions, fall under the description of Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses.


The term apocryphal in connection with special Gospels must be understood as bearing no more unfavourable an import than "uncanonical". This applies to the Gospel of the Hebrews and in a less degree to that of the Egyptians, which in the main seem to have been either embodiments of primitive tradition, or a mere recasting of canonical Gospels with a few variations and amplifications. It is true, all the extant specimens of the apocryphal Gospels take the inspired evangelical documents as their starting-point. But the genuine Gospels are silent about long stretches of the life of Our Lord, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Joseph. Frequently they give but a tantalizing glimpse of some episode on which we would fain be more fully informed. This reserve of the Evangelists did not satisfy the pardonable curiosity of many Christians eager for details, and the severe and dignified simplicity of their narrative left unappeased imaginations seeking the sensational and the marvellous. When, therefore, enterprising spirits responded to this natural craving by pretended Gospels full of romantic fables and fantastic and striking details, their fabrications were eagerly read and largely accepted as true by common folk who were devoid of any critical faculty and who were predisposed to believe what so luxuriously fed their pious curiosity. Both Catholics and Gnostics were concerned in writing these fictions. The former had no other motive than that of a pious fraud, being sometimes moved by a real though misguided zeal, as witness the author of the Pseudo-Matthew: Amor Christi est cui satisfecimus. But the heretical apocryphists, while gratifying curiosity, composed spurious Gospels in order to trace backward their beliefs and peculiarities to Christ Himself. The Church and the Fathers were hostile even towards the narratives of orthodox authorship. It was not until the Middle Ages, when their true origin was forgotten even by most of the learned, that these apocryphal stories began to enter largely into sacred legends, such as the "Aurea Sacra", into miracle plays, Christian art, and poetry. A comparison of the least extravagant of these productions with the real Gospels reveals the chasm separating them. Though worthless historically, the apocryphal Gospels help us to better understand the religious conditions of the second and third centuries, and they are also of no little value as early witnesses of the canonicity of the writings of the four Evangelists. The quasi-evangelistic compositions concerning Christ which make no pretensions to be Gospels will be treated elsewhere. They are all of orthodox origin. (See AGRAPHA.)


(a) Apocryphal Gospels of Catholic Origin

The Protoevangelium Jacobi, or Infancy Gospel of James
or Protoevangelium of James

It purports to have been written by "James the brother of the Lord", i.e. the Apostle James the Less. It is based on the canonical Gospels which it expands with legendary and imaginative elements, which are sometimes puerile or fantastic. The birth, education, and marriage of the Blessed Virgin are described in the first eleven chapters and these are the source of various traditions current among the faithful. They are of value in indicating the veneration paid to Mary at a very early age. For instance it is the "Protoevangelium" which first tells that Mary was the miraculous offspring of Joachim and Anna, previously childless; that when three years old the child was taken to the Temple and dedicated to its service, in fulfilment of her parents' vow. When Mary was twelve Joseph is chosen by the high-priest as her spouse in obedience to a miraculous sign -- a dove coming out of his rod and resting on his head. The nativity is embellished in an unrestrained manner. Critics find that the "Protoevangelium" is a composite into which two or three documents enter. It was known to Origen under the name of the "Book of James". There are signs in St. Justin's works that he was acquainted with it, or at least with a parallel tradition. The work, therefore, has been ascribed to the second century. Portions of it show a familiarity with Jewish customs, and critics have surmised that the groundwork was composed by a Jewish-Christian. The "Protoevangelium" exists in ancient Greek and Syriac recensions. There are also Armenian and Latin translations.

Gospel of St. Matthew

This is a Latin composition of the fourth or fifth century. It pretends to have been written by St. Matthew and translated by St. Jerome. Pseudo-Matthew is in large part parallel to the "Protoevangelium Jacobi", being based on the latter or its sources. It differs in some particulars always in the direction of the more marvellous. Some of its data have replaced in popular belief parallel ones of the older pseudograph. Such is the age of fourteen in which Mary was betrothed to Joseph. A narrative of the flight into Egypt is adorned with poetic wonders. The dragons, lions, and other wild beasts of the desert adore the infant Jesus. At His word the palm-trees bow their heads that the Holy Family may pluck their fruit. The idols of Egypt are shattered when the Divine Child enters the land. The "Gospel of the Nativity of Mary" is a recast of the Pseudo-Matthew, but reaches only to the birth of Jesus. It is extant in a Latin manuscript of the tenth century.

Arabic Gospel of the Infancy

The Arabic is a translation of a lost Syriac original. The work is a compilation and refers expressly to the "Book of Joseph Caiphas, the High-Priest", the "Gospel of the Infancy", and the "Perfect Gospel". Some of its stories are derived from the Thomas Gospel, and others from a recension of the apocryphal Matthew. However there are miracles, said to have occurred in Egypt, not found related in any other Gospel, spurious or genuine, among them the healings of leprosy through the water in which Jesus had been washed, and the cures effected through the garments He had worn. These have become familiar in pious legend. So also has the episode of the robbers Titus and Dumachus, into whose hands the Holy Family fell. Titus bribes Dumachus not to molest them; the Infant foretells that thirty years thence the thieves will be crucified with Him, Titus on His right and Dumachus on His left and that the former will accompany Him into paradise. The apocryphon abounds in allusions to characters in the real Gospels. Lipsius opines that the work as we have it is a Catholic retouching of a Gnostic compilation. It is impossible to ascertain its date, but it was probably composed before the Mohammedan era. It is very popular with the Syrian Nestorians. An originally Arabic "History of Joseph the Carpenter" is published in Tischendorf's collection of apocrypha. It describes St. Joseph's death, related by Our Lord to His disciples. It is a tasteless and bombastic effort, and seems to date from about the fourth century.

Gospel of Gamaliel

Dr. A. Baumstark in the Revue Biblique (April, 1906, 253 sqq.), has given this name to a collection of Coptic fragments of a homogeneous character, which were supposed by another Coptic scholar, Reveillout, to form a portion of the "Gospel of the Twelve Apostles" (q.v. inf.). These fragments have been referred to a single Gospel also by Lacau, in "Fragments d'apocryphes coptes de la bibliothèque nationale" (Cairo, 1904). The narrative is in close dependence on St. John's Gospel. The author did not pose seriously as an evangelist, since he explicitly quotes from the fourth canonical Gospel. He places the relation in the mouth of Gamaliel of Acts, v, 34. Baumstark assigns it to the fifth century. The writer was evidently influenced by the "Acta Pilati".

The Transitus Mariæ or Evangelium Joannis

The Transitus Mariæ or Evangelium Joannis, which is written in the name of St. John the Apostle, and describes the death of Mary, enjoyed a wide popularity, as is attested by the various recensions in different languages which exist. The Greek has the superscription: "The Account of St. John the Theologian of the Falling Asleep of the Holy Mother of God". One of the Latin versions is prefaced by a spurious letter of Melito, Bishop of Sardis, explaining that the object of the work was to counteract a heretical composition of the same title and subject. There is a basis of truth in this statement as our apocryphon betrays tokens of being a Gnostic writing worked over in an orthodox interest. A "Transitus Mariæ" is numbered among the apocrypha by the official list of the "Decretum of Gelasius" of the fifth or sixth century. It is problematic, however, whether this is to be identified with our recast Transitus or not. Critics assign the latter to the end of the fourth or the beginning of the fifth century. The relation of the Transitus to the tradition of Mary's Assumption has not yet been adequately examined. However, there is warrant for saying that while the tradition existed substantially in portions of the Church at an early period, and thus prepared the way for the acceptance of mythical amplifications, still its later form and details were considerably influenced by the Transitus and kindred writings. Certainly the homilies of St. John Damascene, "In Dormitionem Mariæ", reveal evidence of this influence, e.g. the second homily, xii, xiii, xiv. Going further back, the "Encomium" of Modestus, Bishop of Jerusalem, in the seventh century (P.G., LXXXVI, 3311), and the Pseudo-Dionysius of the fifth (De divinis nominibus, iii), probably suppose an acquaintance with apocryphal narratives of the Death and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin. These narratives have a common groundwork, though varying considerably in minor circumstances. The Apostles are preternaturally transported from different quarters of the globe to the Virgin's deathbed, those who had died being resuscitated for the purpose. The "Departure" takes place at Jerusalem, though the Greek version places Mary first at Bethlehem. A Jew who ventures to touch the sacred body instantly loses both hands, which are restored through the mediation of the Apostles. Christ accompanied by a train of angels comes down to receive His mother's soul. The Apostles bear the body to Gethsemani and deposit it in a tomb, whence it is taken up alive to Heaven. (See ASSUMPTION; MARY.)

(b) Judaistic and Heretical Gospels

Gospel according to the Hebrews

Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, and St. Epiphanius speak of a "Gospel according to the Hebrews" which was the sole one in use among the Palestinian Judeo-Christians, otherwise known as the Nazarenes. Jerome translated it from the Aramaic into Greek. It was evidently very ancient, and several of the above mentioned writers associate it with St. Matthew's Gospel, which it seems to have replaced in the Jewish-Christian community at an early date. The relation between the Gospel according to the Hebrews and our canonical Matthew Gospel is a matter of controversy. The surviving fragments prove that there were close literal resemblances. Harnack asserts that the Hebrew Gospel was entirely independent, the tradition it contained being parallel to that of Matthew. Zahn, while excluding any dependence on our Greek canonical Matthew, maintains one on the primitive Matthew, according to which its general contents were derived from the latter. This Gospel seems to have been read as canonical in some non-Palestinian churches; the Fathers who are acquainted with it refer to it with a certain amount of respect. Twenty-four fragments have been preserved by ecclesiastical writers. These indicate that it had a number of sections in common with the Synoptics, but also various narratives and sayings of Jesus, not found in the canonical Gospels. The surviving specimens lack the simplicity and dignity of the inspired writings; some even savour of the grotesque. We are warranted in saying that while this extra-canonical material probably has as its starting-point primitive tradition, it has been disfigured in the interests of a Judaizing Church. (See AGRAPHA.)

Gospel According to the Egyptians

It is by this title that Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Hippolytus, and Epiphanius describe an uncanonical work, which evidently was circulated in Egypt. All agree that it was employed by heretical sects -- for the most part Gnostics. The scanty citations which have been preserved in the Fathers indicate a tendency towards the Encratite condemnation of marriage, and a pantheistic Gnosticism. The Gospel according to the Egyptians did not replace the canonical records in the Alexandrian Church, as Harnack would have us believe, but it seems to have enjoyed a certain popularity in the country districts among the Coptic natives. It could scarcely have been composed later than the middle of the second century and it is not at all impossible that it retouched some primitive material not represented in the canonical Gospels.

Gospel of St. Peter

The existence of an apocryphal composition bearing this name in Christian antiquity had long been known by references to it in certain early patristic writers who intimate that it originated or was current among Christians of Docetic views. Much additional light has been thrown on this document by the discovery of a long fragment of it at Akhmîn in Upper Egypt, in the winter of 1886-87, by the French Archæological Mission. It is in Greek and written on a parchment codex at a date somewhere between the sixth and ninth century. The fragment narrates part of the Passion, the Burial, and Resurrection. It betrays a dependence, in some instances literal, on the four inspired Gospels, and is therefore a valuable additional testimony to their early acceptance. While the apocryphon has many points of contact with the genuine Gospels, it diverges curiously from them in details, and bears evidence of having treated them with much freedom. No marked heretical notes are found in the recovered fragment, but there are passages which are easily susceptible of a heterodox meaning. One of the few extra-canonical passages which may contain an authentic tradition is that which describes Christ as placed in mockery upon a throne by His tormentors. Pseudo-Peter is intermediate in character between the genuine Evangels and the purely legendary apocrypha. Its composition must be assigned to the first quarter or the middle of the second century of the Christian era. C. Schmidt thinks he has found traces of what is perhaps a second Gospel of Peter in some ancient papyri (Schmidt, Sitzungsberichte der königlichen preuss. Akademie zu Berlin, 1895; cf. Bardenhewer, Geschichte, I, 397, 399).

Gospel of St. Philip

Only one or two quotations remain of the Gospel of St. Philip mentioned by Epiphanius and Leontius of Byzantium; but these are enough to prove its Gnostic colouring.

Gospel of St. Thomas

There are two Greek and two Latin redactions of it, differing much from one another. A Syriac translation is also found. A Gospel of Thomas was known to many Fathers. The earliest to mention it is St. Hippolytus (155-235), who informs us that it was in use among the Naasenes, a sect of Syrian Gnostics, and cites a sentence which does not appear in our extant text. Origen relegates it to the heretical writings. St. Cyril of Jerusalem says it was employed by the Manichæans; Eusebius rejects it as heretical and spurious. It is clear that the original Pseudo-Thomas was of heterodox origin, and that it dates from the second century; the citations of Hippolytus establish that it was palpably Gnostic in tenor. But in the extant Thomas Gospel there is no formal or manifest Gnosticism. The prototype was evidently expurgated by a Catholic hand, who, however, did not succeed in eradicating all traces of its original taint. The apocryphon in all its present forms extravagantly magnifies the Divine aspect of the boy Jesus. In bold contrast to the Infancy narrative of St. Luke, where the Divinity is almost effaced, the author makes the Child a miracle-worker and intellectual prodigy, and in harmony with Docetism, leaves scarcely more than the appearance of humanity in Him. This pseudo-Gospel is unique among the apocrypha, inasmuch as it describes a part of the hidden life of Our Lord between the ages of five and twelve. But there is much that is fantastic and offensive in the pictures of the exploits of the boy Jesus. His youthful miracles are worked at times out of mere childish fancy, as when He formed clay pigeons, and at a clap of His hands they flew away as living birds; sometimes, from beneficence; but again from a kind of harsh retribution.

Gospel of St. Bartholomew

The so-called Decretum of Gelasius classes the Gospel of St. Bartholomew among the apocrypha. The earliest allusion to it is in St. Jerome's works. Recently scholars have brought to light fragments of it in old Coptic manuscripts. One of these Orientalists, Baumstark, would place its composition in the first part of the fourth century. A Gospel of Matthias is mentioned by Origen and Eusebius among the heretical literature along with the Peter and Thomas Gospels. Hippolytus states that the Basilidean Gnostics appealed to a "secret discourse" communicated to them by the Apostle Matthias who had received instruction privately from the Lord. Clement of Alexandria, who was credulous concerning apocryphal literature, quotes with respect several times the "Tradition of Matthias".

Gospel of the Twelve Apostles

A Gospel of the Twelve Apostles was known to Origen (third century). Other patristic notices give rise to some uncertainty whether the Gospel of the Twelve Apostles of antiquity was really distinct from that of the Hebrews. The greater probabilities oppose their identity. Recently the claim has been made by M. Reveillout, a Coptic scholar, that the lost Gospel has been in a considerable measure recovered in several Coptic fragments, all of which, he asserts, belong to the same document. But this position has been successfully combated by Dr. Baumstark in the in the "Revue Biblique" (April, 1906, 245 sqq.), who will allow at most a probability that certain brief sections appertain to a Gospel of the Twelve Apostles, written originally in Greek and current among Gnostic Ebionites as early as the second century. There exists a late and entirely orthodox Syriac "Gospel of the Twelve Apostles", published by J. Rendel Harris (Cambridge, 1900).

Other Gospels

It is enough to note the existence of other pseudo-Gospels, of which very little is known beside the names. There was a Gospel of St. Andrew, probably identical with the Gnostic "Acts of Andrew" (q.v., inf.); a Gospel of Barnabas, a Gospel of Thaddeus, a Gospel of Eve, and even one of Judas Iscariot, the last in use among the Gnostic sect of Cainites, and which glorified the traitor.


While Christianity was struggling against the forces of Roman paganism, there was a natural tendency to dwell upon the part which a representative of the Roman Empire played in the supreme events of Our Lord's life, and to shape the testimony of Pontius Pilate, the procurator of Judea, even at the cost of exaggeration and amplification, into a weapon of apologetic defence, making that official bear witness to the miracles, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ. Hence arose a considerable apocryphal Pilate literature, of which the Gospel of Gamaliel really forms a part, and like this latter apocryphon, it is characterized by exaggerating Pilate's weak defence of Jesus into strong sympathy and practical belief in His divinity.

Report of Pilate to the Emperor.

In the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul there is embodied a letter purporting to have been sent by Pontius Pilate to the Emperor Claudius. This briefly relates the fatuous crime of the Jews in persecuting the Holy One promised to them by their God; enumerates His miracles and states that the Jews accused Jesus of being a magician. Pilate at the time believing this, delivered Him to them. After the Resurrection the soldiers whom the governor had placed at the tomb were bribed by the leaders to be silent, but nevertheless divulged the fact. The missive concludes with a warning against the mendacity of the Jews. This composition is clearly apocryphal though unexpectedly brief and restrained. It is natural, to attempt to trace a resemblance between this pseudograph and certain references of ecclesiastical writers to Acta or Gesta of Pilate. Tertullian (Apologia, xxi) after giving a sketch of the miracles and Passion of Christ, subjoins: "All these things Pilate . . . announced to Tiberius Cæsar." A comparison between this pericope and the Pseudo-Pilate report reveals a literary dependence between them, though the critics differ as to the priority of these documents. In chapters 35, 38, and 48 of Justin's Apologia, that Father appeals confidently as a proof of the miracles and Passion of Jesus to "Acts" or records of Pontius Pilate existing in the imperial archives. While it is possible that St. Justin may have heard of such a report, and even probable that the procurator transmitted some account of the events at Jerusalem to Rome, it is on the other hand admissible that Justin's assertion was based on nothing more than hypothesis. This is the opinion of the majority of the experts. During the persecutions under Maximin in the fourth century spurious anti-Christian Acts of Pilate were composed in Syria, as we learn from Eusebius. It is probable that the pseudographic letter was forged as an offset to these.

Acta Pilati (Gospel of Nicodemus)

See the separate Catholic Encyclopedia article under this title.

The Minor Pilate Apocrypha

The minor Pilate apocrypha, the Anaphora Pilati, or "Relation of Pilate", is frequently found appended to the texts of the Acta. It presupposes the latter work, and could not have been composed before the middle of the fifth century. It is found in manuscripts combined with the Paradoseis or "Giving up of Pilate", which represents the oldest form of the legend dealing with Pilate's subsequent life. A still later fabrication is found in the Latin Epistola Pilati ad Tiberium. There exists a puerile correspondence consisting of a pretended Letter of Herod to Pilate and Letter of Pilate to Herod. They are found in Greek and Syriac in a manuscript of the sixth or seventh century. These pseudographs may be as old as the fifth century.

The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea

The Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea -- furnishing imaginary details of the two thieves crucified with Christ, and the begging of the body from Pilate -- seems to have enjoyed popularity in the Middle Ages in the Byzantine East, judging from the number of Greek manuscripts which remain. The oldest of those published belongs to the twelfth century. The relation is appended to some Latin texts of the Acta Pilati, under the title "Historia Josephi". It may be read in English in Walker's and the Ante-Nicene Fathers' collection of the apocrypha.

The Legend of Abgar

The oldest form of the Pseudo-Correspondence of Jesus and Abgar, King of Edessa, is found in Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, I, xiii), who vouches that he himself translated it from the Syriac documents in the archives of Edessa, the metropolis of Eastern Syria. The two letters are accompanied by an introduction which probably is an excerpt from the same source. According to this, Abgar V, Toparch or King of Edessa, suffering from an incurable disease, and having heard the fame of Christ's miracles sends a courier to Jerusalem, bearing a letter to Jesus, in which he declared Him to be a god, or the son of a god, and invites Him to Edessa, justifying the request partly by his desire to be cured, partly by his wish to offer to Jesus an asylum against the malignant Jews. Our Lord replied as follows:

Blessed are you because you have believed in Me without seeing Me. For it is written that those who have seen Me, will not believe Me; and that those who have not seen Me will believe and love Me. But as to your prayer that I come to you, it is necessary that I fulfil here all that for which I have been sent, and that after I have fulfilled it, that I be taken up to Him who has sent Me. But after my taking up I shall send you one of My disciples, who will heal your pains, and keep life for you and yours.

Accordingly, after the Ascension, "Judas Thomas" an Apostle, despatches to Edessa Thaddeus, one of the seventy Disciples, who cures the King of his disease, and preaches Christ to the assembled people. This, adds Eusebius, happened in the year 340, i.e. of the Seleucid era; corresponding to A.D. 28-29. The pleasing story is repeated with variations in later sources. The "Teaching of Addai", a Syrian apocryphon (q.v. infra), reproduces the correspondence with additions.

The authenticity of the alleged letter of Christ has always been strongly suspected when not absolutely denied. As early as the sixth century the Gelasian Decretum brands this correspondence as spurious. Its legendary environment and the fact that the Church at large did not hand down the pretended epistle from Our Lord as a sacred document is conclusive against it. As for the letter of Abgar, its genuineness was formerly favoured by many skilled in this literature, but since the discovery of the "Teaching of Addai", published in 1876, the presumption against the authentic character of Abgar's epistle, owing to the close resemblance of a portion to passages in the Gospels, has become an established certainty. Lipsius, a high authority, is of the opinion that the Abgar correspondence goes back to the reign of the first Christian ruler of Edessa, Abgar IX (179-216), and that it was elicited by a desire to force a link uniting that epoch with the time of Christ.

Letter of Lentulus

A brief letter professing to be from Lentulus, or Publius Lentulus, as in some manuscripts, "President of the People of Jerusalem", addressed to "the Roman Senate and People", describes Our Lord's personal appearance. It is evidently spurious, both the office and name of the president of Jerusalem being grossly unhistorical. No ancient writer alludes to this production, which is found only in Latin manuscripts. It has been conjectured that it may have been composed in order to authenticate a pretended portrait of Jesus, during the Middle Ages. An English version is given in Cowper's Apocryphal Gospels and Other Doeuments Relating to Christ (New York, 6th ed., 1897).


The motive which first prompted the fabrication of spurious Acts of the Apostles was, in general, to give Apostolic support to heretical systems, especially those of the many sects which are comprised under the term Gnosticism. The darkness in which the New Testament leaves the missionary careers, and the ends of the greater number of the Apostles, and the meagre details handed down by ecclesiastical tradition, left an inviting field for the exercise of inventive imaginations, and offered an apt means for the insidious propagation of heresy. The Jewish-Christian Church, which early developed un-Catholic tendencies in the form of Ebionitism, seems first to have produced apocryphal histories of the Apostles, though of these we have very few remains outside the material in the voluminous Pseudo-Clement. The Gnostic Acts of Peter, Andrew, John, Thomas, and perhaps Matthew, date from the early portion of the third century or perhaps a little earlier. They abound in extravagant and highly coloured marvels, and were interspersed by long pretended discourses of the Apostles which served as vehicles for the Gnostic predications. Though the pastors of the Church and the learned repudiated these as patently heretical writings, they appealed to the fancy and satisfied the curiosity of the common people. Not only were they utilized by Manichæans in the East and Priscillianists in the West, but they found favour with many unenlightened Catholics. Since it was impossible to suppress their circulation entirely, they were rendered comparatively harmless by orthodox editing which expunged the palpable errors, especially in the discourses, leaving the miracle element to stand in its riotous exuberance. Hence most of the Gnostic Acts have come down to us with more or less of a Catholic purification, which, however, was in many cases so superficial as to leave unmistakable traces of their heterodox origin. The originally Gnostic apocryphal Acts were gathered into collections which bore the name of the periodoi (Circuits) or praxeis (Acts) of the Apostles, and to which was attached the name of a Leucius Charinus, who may have formed the compilation. The Gnostic Acts were of various authorship. Another collection was formed in the Frankish Church in the sixth century, probably by a monk. In this the Catholic Acts have been preserved; it is by no means uniform in its various manuscript representatives. By a misunderstanding, the authorship of the whole, under the title "Historia Certaminis Apostolorum", was ascribed to an Abdias, said to have been the first Bishop of Babylon and a disciple of the Apostles. The nucleus of this collection was formed by the Latin Passiones, or Martyrdoms, of those Apostles who had been neglected by the Gnostic Acts, viz., the two Jameses, Philip (Matthew?), Bartholomew, Simon, and Jude. The literature grew by accretions from heretical sources and eventually took in all the Apostles, including St. Paul. The motive of these non-heretical apocrypha was primarily to gratify the pious curiosity of the faithful regarding the Apostolic founders of the Church; sometimes local interests instigated their composition. After the model of the Gnostic Acts, which were of Oriental derivation, they abound in prodigies, and like those again, they take as their starting-point the traditional dispersion of the Twelve from Jerusalem. Regarding the historical value of these apocryphal narratives, it requires the most careful criticism to extricate from the mass of fable and legend any grains of historical truth. Even respecting the fields of the Apostolic missions, they are self-contradictory or confused. In general their details are scientifically worthless, unless confirmed by independent authorities, which rarely happens. Much of their apocryphal matter was taken up by the offices of the Apostles in the Latin breviaries and lectionaries, composed in the seventh and eighth centuries at an extremely uncritical period.

(a) Gnostic Acts of the Apostles

Acts of St. Peter

There exist a Greek and a Latin Martyrdom of Peter, the latter attributed to Pope Linus, which from patristic citations are recognized as the conclusion of an ancient Greek narrative entitled "Acts, or Circuits of St. Peter". Another manuscript, bearing the name "Actus Petri cum Simone", contains a superior translation with several passages from the original narrative preceding the Martyrdom. The work betrays certain tokens of Gnosticism, although it has been purged of its grossest features by a Catholic reviser. It describes the triumph of St. Peter over Simon Magus at Rome, and the Apostle's subsequent crucifixion. These Acts as we have them are of high antiquity, though it is impossible to always discern whether patristic writers are quoting from them or an earlier tradition. Undoubtedly Commodian (c. 250) employed our extant Acts of Peter.

Acts of St. John

The heretical character imputed to these by certain Fathers is fully confirmed by extant fragments, which show a gross Docetism, and an unbridled phantasy. Doubtless the author intermingled valuable Ephesian traditions with his fables. There are reasons of weight to regard the work as having been composed, together with the Acts of St. Peter, and probably those of St. Andrew, by a single person, in the latter half of the second century, under the name of a disciple of St. John, called Leucius. Clement of Alexandria was acquainted with the pseudograph. The Johannine Acts of the Pseudo-Prochorus (compare the canonical Acts, vi, 5) are a Catholic working-over of Gnostic material.

Acts of St. Andrew

Pseudographic Acts of St. Andrew are noted by several early ecclesiastical writers, as in circulation among Gnostic and Manichæan sects. The original form has perished except in a few patristic quotations. But we possess three individual Acts under different names, which prove to be orthodox recensions of an original comprehensive Gnostic whole. These are:
  1. "The Acts of Andrew and Matthias" (or Matthew as given by some authorities)
  2. "Acts of Peter and Andrew" (the original language of the above is Greek)
  3. "The Martyrdom of the Apostle Andrew" has come down in both Greek and Latin recensions. The Latin text is the original one, and cannot be earlier than the fifth century. It purports to be a relation of the heroic death of St. Andrew by eyewitnesses who are "presbyters and deacons of the Church of Achaia". It has enjoyed credit among historians in the past, but no reliance can be placed on its data.


The Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew

The Acts and Martyrdom of St. Matthew are in literary dependence on the Acts of St. Andrew (q.v., supra), and hence the reading "Matthew" may be an error for "Matthias", since evidently the companion of Peter and Andrew is intended. The work exists in Greek and a later Latin. There is also a Coptic-Ethiopic martyrdom legend of St. Matthew. (See MATTHEW, ST., APOSTLE; APOSTOLIC CHURCHES).

Acts of St. Thomas

No Apostolic apocryphon has reached us in a completeness equal to that of the Thomas Acts. They are found in Greek, Syriac, and Ethiopic recensions. Their Gnostic traits pierce through the Catholic re-touching; in fact, the contents show a conscious purpose to exalt the dualistic doctrine of abstention from conjugal intercourse. Scholars are much inclined to attribute the original to a Syrian origin and an author who was an adherent of Bardesanes. The signs point strongly to the third century as the era. The translation of the remains of St. Thomas to Edessa in 232 may have furnished the inspiration for the composition. The Acts relate the prodigies performed by the Apostle in India, and end with his martyrdom there. They are interspersed with some remarkable hymns; some of real literary beauty but with strong Gnostic colouring. Recent researches have revealed elements of truth in the historical setting of the narrative. The Acts of St. Thomas are mentioned by Epiphanius and Augustine as in use in different heretical circles. St. Ephrem of Syria refers to apocryphal Thomas Acts as in circulation among the Bardesanites (see THOMAS, ST., APOSTLE).

Acts of St. Bartholomew

We possess a Greek Martrydom, dating in its present form from the fifth or sixth century; also a Latin "Passio Bartholomæi". Both are tainted with Nestorianism, and seem to have come from a single Bartholomew legend. The Greek text recounts the marvels by which the Apostle overthrew idolatry and converted a king and his subjects in "India". The whole is a legendary tissue. (See BARTHOLOMEW, ST., APOSTLE).

(b) Catholic Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles

Acts of Sts. Peter and Paul

These are to be distinguished from the Gnostic Acts of Peter and the orthodox Acts of Paul. The manuscripts which represent the legend fall into two groups:

Lipsius regards the journey section as a ninth-century addition; Bardenhewer will have it to belong to the original document. This section begins with Paul's departure from the island of Mileto, and is evidently based on the canonical narrative in Acts. The Jews have been aroused by the news of Paul's intended visit, and induce Nero to forbid it. Nevertheless the Apostle secretly enters Italy; his companion is mistaken for himself at Puteoli and beheaded. In retribution that city is swallowed up by the sea. Peter receives Paul at Rome with Joy. The preaching of the Apostles converts multitudes and even the Empress. Simon Magus traduces the Christian teachers, and there is a test of strength in miracles between that magician and the Apostles, which takes place in the presence of Nero, Simon essays a flight to heaven but falls in the Via Sacra and is dashed to pieces. Nevertheless, Nero is bent on the destruction of Peter and Paul. The latter is beheaded on the Ostian Way, and Peter is crucified at his request head downward. Before his death he relates to the people the "Quo Vadis?" story. Three men from the East carry off the Apostles' bodies but are overtaken. St. Peter is buried at "The place called the Vatican", and Paul on the Ostian Way. These Acts are the chief source for details of the martyrdom of the two great Apostles. They are also noteworthy as emphasizing the close concord between the Apostolic founders of the Roman Church. The date (A.D. 55) of composition is involved in obscurity. Lipsius finds traces of our Acts as early as Hippolytus (c. 235), but it is not clear that the Fathers adduced employed any written source for their references to the victory over Simon Magus and the work of the Apostles at Rome. Lipsius assigns the kernel of the Martyrdom to the second century; Bardenhewer refers the whole to the first half of the third. The Acts of Peter and Paul undoubtedly embody some genuine traditions. (See PETER, ST., APOSTLE; PAUL, ST., APOSTLE; SIMON MAGUS).

Acts of St. Paul

Origen and Eusebius expressly name the praxeis Paulou; Tertullian speaks of writings falsely attributed to Paul: "Quod si Pauli perperam inscripta legunt." He is cautioning his readers against the tale of Thecla preaching and baptizing herself. Hitherto it was supposed that he referred to the "Acts of Paul and Thecla". The "Acta Pauli", presumed to be a distinct composition, were deemed to have perished; but recently (1899) a Coptic papyrus manuscript, torn to shreds, was found in Egypt, and proves to contain approximately complete the identical Acts of Paul alluded to by a few ecclesiastical writers. This find has established the fact that the long-known Acts of Paul and Thecla and the apocryphal correspondence of St. Paul with the Corinthian Church, as well as the Martyrdom of St. Paul, are really only excerpts from the original Pauline Acts. The newly-discovered document contains material hitherto unknown as well as the above-noted sections, long extant. It begins with a pretended flight of St. Paul from Antioch of Pisidia, and ends with his martyrdom at Rome. The narrative rests on data in the canonical books of the New Testament, but it abounds in marvels and personages unhinted at there, and it disfigures traits of some of those actually mentioned in the Sacred Writings. The Acts of Paul, therefore, adds nothing trustworthy to our knowledge of the Apostle of the Gentiles. Fortunately the above-cited passage of Tertullian (De Baptismo, xvii) informs us of its authorship and aim. The African writer observes that the pseudo-history was the work of a priest of Asia Minor, who on the discovery of the fraud, was deposed from an ecclesiastical charge, and confessed that he forged the book out of love for St. Paul. Experts ascribe its composition to the second century. It was already known when Tertullian wrote, and during the first centuries enjoyed a considerable popularity, both East and West. In fact Eusebius classes it among the antilegomena, or works having locally quasi-canonical authority.

Acts of Paul and Thecla

The early detachment of these as well as the Martyrdom from the Acts of St. Paul may be accounted for by ecclesiastical use as festal lections. Despite Tertullian's remark regarding this pseudograph, it enjoyed an immense and persistent popularity through the patristic period and the Middle Ages. This favour is to be explained mainly by the romantic and spirited flavour of the narrative. Exceptional among the apocryphists, the author kept a curb upon his fertile imagination, and his production is distinguished by its simplicity, clearness, and vigour. It deals with the adventures of Thecla, a young woman of Iconium, who upon being converted by St. Paul's preaching, left her bridegroom and lived a life of virginity and missionary activity, becoming a companion of St. Paul, and preaching the Gospel. She is persecuted, but miraculously escapes from the fire and the savage beasts of the arena. The relief into which abstention from the marriage-bed is brought in these Acts makes it difficult to escape from the conclusion that they have been coloured by Encratite ideas. Nevertheless the thesis of Lipsius, supported by Corssen, that a Gnostic Grundschrift underlies our present document, is not accepted by Harnack, Zahn, Bardenhewer, and others. The apocryphon follows the New Testament data of St. Paul's missions very loosely and is full of unhistorical characters and events. For instance, the writer introduces a journey of the Apostles, to which there is nothing analogous in the Sacred Books. However, there are grains of historical material in the Thecla story. A Christian virgin of that name may well have been converted by St. Paul at Iconium, and suffered persecution. Gutschmid has discovered that a certain Queen Tryphena was an historical personage (Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, X, 1864). (See THECLA.)

Acts of St. Philip

The extant Greek fragments supply us with all but five (10-14) of the fifteen Acts composing the work. Of these 1-7 are a farrago of various legends, each, it would seem, with an independent history; 8-14 is a unit, which forms a parasitic growth on the ancient but somewhat confused traditions of the missionary activity of an Apostle Philip in Hierapolis of Phrygia. Zahn's view, that this document is the work of an ill-informed Catholic monk of the fourth century, is a satisfactory hypothesis. The largest fragment was first published by Batiffol in "Analecta Bollandiana", IX (Paris, 1890). A Coptic "Acts of Philip" is also to be noted. (See PHILIP, ST., APOSTLE.)

There are Latin, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Armenian histories of the missions and death of St. James the Greater, the son of Zebedee. Lipsius assigns the Latin to about the third century. Coptic and Armenian Acts and Martyrdom of St. James the Less depend mostly on the Hegesippus tradition, preserved by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., IV, xxii).

Acts of St. Matthew

The Apostolic Acts of the Pseudo-Abdias contain a Latin "Passio Sancti Matthæi", which preserves an Abyssinian legend of St. Matthew, later than the Coptic Martyrdom noticed in connection with the Gnostic Acts of that saint. The correct historical setting indicates that the recension was the work of an Abyssinian of the sixth century, who wished to date the establishment of the Abyssinian Church (fourth century) back to the Apostolic times. However, the kernel of the narrative is drawn from older sources. The Abdias Passio places St. Matthew's martyrdom in Abyssinia. (See MATTHEW, ST., APOSTLE.)

Teaching of Addai (Thaddeus)

In 1876 an ancient Syriac document, entitled "The Teaching of Addai, the Apostle", was published for the first time. It proved to closely parallel the Abgar material derived by Eusebius from the Edessa archives, and indeed purports to have been entrusted to those archives by its author, who gives his name as Labubna, the son of Senaak. It is full of legendary but interesting material describing the relations between Jesus and King Abgar of Edessa. Thaddeus,or Addai, one of the seventy disciples, is sent, after the Resurrection, in compliance with Christ's promise, to Abgar, heals the ruler and Christianizes Edessa with the most prompt and brilliant success. Notable is the story of the painting of Jesus made at the instance of Abgar's envoy to the former. Since the narrative of a Gaulish pilgrim who visited Edessa about 390 contains no allusion to such a picture, we may reasonably conclude that the Teaching of Addai is of later origin. Critics accept the period between 399-430. The Thaddeus legend has many ramifications and has undergone a number of variations. There is a Greek "Acts of Thaddeus", which identifies Addai with Thaddeus or Lebbæus, one of the Twelve. (See ABGAR; EDESSA).

Acts of Simon and Jude

A Latin Passio, which Lipsius attributes to the fourth or fifth century, narrates the miracles, conversions, and martyrdoms of these Apostles. It is found in the Abdias collection. The scene is Persia and Babylonia. It has been recognized that the historical setting of these Acts agrees remarkably with what is known of the conditions in the Parthian empire in the first century after Christ.

The Acts of St. Barnabas

The Acts of St. Barnabas appear to have been composed toward the end of the fifth century by a Cypriot. They are ascribed to St. Mark the Evangelist, and are historically worthless. They are extant in the original Greek and in a Latin version. The narrative is based upon the mutual relations and activities of Barnabas, Mark, and Paul, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.

Gesta Matthiæ

This is the latest of the pseudo-Acts, having been composed by a monk of Trèves, in the twelfth century, as a prelude to an account of the translation of the sacred relic, and the body of St. Matthias to that city, and their subsequent rediscoveries. It pretends to have derived the history of the Apostle's career from a Hebrew manuscript. (See MATTHIAS, ST., APOSTLE.)

(c) Quasi-Apostolic Acts

It must suffice to mention "Acts of St. Mark", of Alexandrian origin, and written in the fourth or fifth century; "Acts of St. Luke", Coptic, not earlier than end of fourth; "Acts of St. Timothy", composed by an Ephesian after 425; "Acts of St. Titus", of Cretan origin, between 400-700; "Acts of Xanthippe and Polyxena", connected with the legends about St. Paul and St. Andrew.


Testamentum Domini Nostri Jesu

It was known that a Syriac work of this name existed, and an extract was published in 1856. In 1899 Monsignor Rahmani, Patriarch of the United Syrians, published from a late manuscript the Syriac text, a Latin introduction and translation. The work is in two books. It begins with an apocalypse of the approaching day of Antichrist alleged to have been uttered by Our Lord after His Resurrection. Between this and the body of the work there is a very loose connection, as the main portion represents Christ as enacting, even to small details, laws for the governance and ritual of the Church. The writer places on Our Lord's lips descriptions of liturgical observances prevalent in his own and earlier periods. There are evident points of contact between the Testament and the ancient ecclesiastico-liturgical Canones Hippolyti, Apostolic Constitutions, and Apostolic Canons. Monsignor Rahmani assigns the Testament to the second century, and places the above works in the relation of dependence on it. But critics unanimously refuse to accord a high antiquity to the Testament, dating it in the fourth or fifth century, and inverting the dependence mentioned. On the ground that there is no indication of an acquaintance with the book outside the Orient, and that Arabic and Coptic recensions of it are known, Dr. A. Baumstark regards the work as a compilation originating in Monophysite circles, and current in the national Churches of that sect in Syria and Egypt. The apocalyptic opening has been found in a Latin manuscript of the eighth century, and published by M. R. James, "Apocrypha Anecdota" (Cambridge, 1893).

The Preaching of Peter or Kerygma Petri.

Clement of Alexandria repeatedly quotes from a kerygma Petrou, concerning whose credibility he obviously has no doubt. On the other hand, Eusebius classes it as apocryphal. A certain "Doctrine of Peter", mentioned by a later writer, was probably identical with the "Preaching". From the scanty remains of this work we can form but a very imperfect idea of it. It spoke in St. Peter's name and represented him above all as a teacher of the Gentiles. The doctrinal parts occur in a framework of an account of the missionary journeys. The pseudograph was probably suggested by the text, II Peter, i, 5. A work which was so well accredited in the days of Clement of Alexandria (c. 140-215), and which was known to the "Gnostic Heracleon" (c. 160-170), must have come from almost Apostolic antiquity. Scholars favour the first quarter of the second century. The fragments which remain betray no signs of heterodox origin. There is a Syriac "Preaching of Simon Peter in the City of Rome."

Two Ways or Judicium Petri

This is a moralizing treatise ascribed to St. Peter, and prefixed to the Didache. It is of Jewish-Christian origin, and probably was based on the so-called "Epistle of Barnabas".

Preaching of Paul

The only witness to this work is the treatise "De Rebaptismo" in the pseudo-Cyprian writings. According to this it represented Christ as confessing personal sins, and forced by His mother to receive baptism.


Pseudo-Epistles of the Blessed Virgin

These are all composed in Latin and at late dates.

Pseudo-Epistle of St. Peter to St. James the Less

The Pseudo-Clementine homilies contain as a preface two letters, the first of which purports to be from Peter to James the Less, beseeching him to keep his (Peter's) preaching secret. (See CLEMENTINE PSEUDO-WRITINGS.)

Pseudo-Epistles of St. Paul; Correspondence with the Corinthians

The ancient Syrian (Edessene) Church revered as canonical a Third Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians, which is accompanied by a letter from the pastors of that Church, to which it is an answer. But about the beginning of the fifth century the Syrian Church fell under the influence of the Greek, and in consequence the spurious letter gradually lost its canonical status. It was taken up by the neighbouring Armenians and for centuries has formed a part of the Armenian New Testament. Latin and Greek writers are completely silent about this pseudograph, although Greek and Latin copies have been found. It was obviously suggested by the lost genuine Pauline letter referred to in I Cor. v, 9; vii, 1. It was composed by a Catholic presbyter about l60-170, and is a disguised attack on some of the leading errors of Gnosticism. This correspondence long had an independent circulation, but recently it has been proved that the document was incorporated into the Acts of St. Paul (q.v.).

Pseudo-epistle to the Laodiceans

In the genuine Epistle to the Colossians, Paul, after instructing them to send their Epistle to Laodicea, adds: "read that which is from the Laodiceans". This most probably regards a circular letter, the canonical "Ephesians"; but it has been held to be a lost letter to the Laodicean Christians. The apocryphal epistle is a transparent attempt to supply this supposed lost sacred document. It consists of twenty short lines and is mainly made of matter taken from Philippians and other Epistles, and pieced together without sequence or logical aim. Our apocryphon exists only in Latin and translations from the Latin, though it gives signs of a Greek original. It can hardly be the pseudo-Laodicean letter said by the Muratorian Fragment to have been invented by the heresiarch Marcion. Despite its insipid and suspicious character, this compilation was frequently copied in the Middle Ages, and enjoyed a certain degree of respect, although St. Jerome had written of it: ab omnibus exploditur. (See LAODICEA.) The Muratorian Fragmentist mentions together with a spurious epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans, one to the Alexandrians, which was forged under the auspices of Marcion. We have no other certain knowledge of this apocryphon.

Pseudo-Correspondence of St. Paul and Seneca

This consists of eight pretended letters from the Stoic philosopher Seneca, and six replies from St. Paul. They are identical with a correspondence alluded to by Jerome (de Viris Illustr., xii), who without passing judgment on their value, notes that they are read by many. These letters, therefore, could not have been composed after the second half of the fourth century. They are based on the early traditions of Seneca's leanings towards Christianity and the contemporary residence at Rome of Paul and the philosopher. We will merely note the existence of a spurious Letter of St. John, the Apostle, to a dropsical man, healing his disease, in the Acts of St. John by the pseudo-Prochorus; one of St. James, the Bishop of Jerusalem, to Quadratus, in Armenian (Vetter, Litterarische Rundschau, 1896).


Apocalypse of the Testamentum D.N. Jesu Christi.

(See the section on the Testamentum above.)

The Apocalypse of Mary

The Apocalypse of Mary is of medieval origin, and is probably merely the outcome of an extravagant devotion. It describes the Blessed Mother's descent to Limbo, and exists in Greek manuscripts. It has been printed in the Tischendorf collection (Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti).

Apocalypses of St. Peter

The Muratorian Fragment, written at Rome in the latter part of the second century, names the apocalypses of John and Peter side by side as the only ones received in the Church, remarking that some do not acknowledge the latter. There is abundant evidence that the Petrine apocalypse was believed authentic in many quarters of the early Church, and enjoyed in a certain measure canonical authority. Clement of Alexandria always credulous with regard to apocrypha even honoured it with a commentary; Eusebius (Hist. Eccl., VI, xiv, 1), places it almost on an equality with the antilegomena or better class of disputed writings; Jerome rejects it flatly. Notwithstanding this, as late as the middle of the fifth century it was publicly read in some churches of Palestine. The few citations of patristic writers were unable to convey an idea of its contents, but fortunately a considerable fragment of this ancient document was discovered at Akhmîn, Egypt, together with the pseudo-Petrine Gospel in the language of the original, viz., Greek. A quotation of Clement of Alexandria from the recovered parts enables us to identify the manuscript with certainty as a portion of the apocalypse of antiquity. The passage relates to a vision granted by Christ to the Twelve on a mountain, exhibiting the glory of two departing brethren, the splendour of heaven, and a gruesome picture of hell. The language has a Jewish-Christian savour. The apocryphon is attributed by critics to the first quarter of the second century and is therefore one of the earliest specimens of non-canonical literature. There exist under the names Apocalypse of St. Peter, Apocalypse of St. Peter through Clement, Liber Clementis, various Arabic and Ethiopic recensions of an apocalypse which has nothing in common with the ancient Greek one.

The Apocalypse of St. Paul

A prefatory notice pretends that this work was found in a marble case under the house of Paul at Tarsus, in the reign of King Theodosius (A.D. 379-395), and upon intelligence conveyed by an angel. This indicates the date of the apocalypse's fabrication. It purports to reveal the secrets seen by the Apostle in his transport to the third heaven, alluded to in II Cor., xii, 2, and was composed in Greek. From this Pauline apocalypse must be distinguished a Gnostic work entitled the "Ascension of Paul", referred to by St. Epiphanius, but of which no remains have survived. There is a spurious "Apocalypse of John", of comparatively late origin.

Regarding the so-called Apocalypse of St. Bartholomew see Gospel of St. Bartholomew.


At a very early period orthodox writers and, presumably, ecclesiastical authorities found it necessary to distinguish between the genuine inspired books and a multitude of spurious rivals -- a fact which is a very important element in the formation of the Christian canon. Thus as early as about A.D. 170, the author of the descriptive Latin catalogue known as the "Muratorian Fragment" mentioned certain works as fictitious or contested. At the same time St. Irenæus called attention to the great mass of heretical pseudographic writings (inenarrabilis multitudo apocryphorum et perperam scripturarum, Adv., Hær., I, xx). Undoubtedly it was the large use in heretical circles, especially the Gnostic sects, made of this insinuating literature which first called forth the animadversions of the official guardians of doctrinal purity. Even in the East, already the home of pseudographic literature, Origen (d. 254) exhibits caution regarding the books outside the canon (Comment. in Matth., serm. 28). St. Athanasius in 387 found it necessary to warn his flock by a pastoral epistle against Jewish and heretical apocrypha (P. G., XXVI, 1438). Another Greek Father, Epiphanius (312-403) in "Hæreses", 26, could complain that copies of Gnostic apocrypha were current in thousands. Yet it must be confessed that the early Fathers, and the Church, during the first three centuries, were more indulgent towards Jewish pseudographs circulating under venerable Old Testament names. The Book of Henoch and the Assumption of Moses had been cited by the canonical Epistle of Jude. Many Fathers admitted the inspiration of Fourth Esdras. Not to mention the Shepherd of Hermas, the Acts of St. Paul (at least in the Thecla portion) and the Apocalypse of St. Peter were highly revered at this and later periods. Yet, withal, no apocryphal work found official recognition in the Western Church. In 447 Pope Leo the Great wrote pointedly against the pseudo-apostolic writings, "which contained the germ of so many errors . . . they should not only be forbidden but completely suppressed and burned" (Epist. xv, 15). The so-called Decretum de recipiendis et non recipiendis libris" is attributed to Pope Gelasius (495), but in reality is a compilation dating from the beginning of the sixth century, and containing collections made earlier than Gelasius. It is an official document, the first of the kind we possess, and contained a list of 39 works besides those ascribed to Leucius, "disciple of the devil", all of which it condemns as apocryphal. From this catalogue it is evident that in the Latin Church by this time, apocrypha in general, including those of Catholic origin, had fallen under the ecclesiastical ban, always, however, with a preoccupation against the danger of heterodoxy. The Synod of Braga, in Spain, held in the year 563, anathematizes any one "who reads, approves, or defends the injurious fictions set in circulation by heretics". Although in the Middle Ages these condemnations were forgotten and many of the pseudographic writings enjoyed a high degree of favour among both clerics and the laity, still we find superior minds, such as Alcuin, St. Bernard, St. Thomas Aquinas, pointing out their want of authority. An echo of the ancient condemnations occurs in the work De Festis B.M.V. of Benedict XIV, declaring certain popular apocrypha to be impure sources of tradition. (See CANON OF SACRED SCRIPTURE.)

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTES are extensive, and are in a separate listing in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

George J. Reid

The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I

NOTE: This extensive article from the Catholic Encyclopedia contains numerous external references to other articles. Those references all are directed toward other articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Nevertheless, the BELIEVE web-site contains separate presentations on the majority of those subjects.


Orthodox Information


Apocrypha may have different meanings depending on how it is applied to the Old or New Testaments and whether it is being used by Catholics, Protestants or Orthodox Christians. For the most part, the term apocrypha refers to any collection of scriptural texts that falls outside the canon. Since most English language bibles are from non-Orthodox sources, they sometimes are subtitled with Apocrypha meaning that it includes the Old Testament, so called Deuterocanonical Books that in the Orthodox Church are considered to be genuine parts of the Bible.

Since mostly all of Christianity accept the same 27 books of the New Testament, the term apocrypha is used for both apocryphal books, and pseudoepigrapha books.

Old Testament

The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books are books of the Old Testament that are accepted by the Orthodox Christian Church but are not accepted by Protestants as part of its official canonical contents, but of close association with the Bible.

The word Deuterocanonical comes from the Greek words Deutero and canona meaning "second canon." The word apocrypha comes from the Greek word ἀπόκρυφα, meaning "hidden." They are included in the Orthodox Bible because they were included in the Septuagint which was in use at the time of Jesus, and the authors of the New Testament. They are not called apocrypha by the Orthodox Church.

The Books of the so called Apocrypha

The Psalms are also numbered and divided up differently.

The Apocrypha in Roman Catholicism and Protestant churches

In an Orthodox Bible there are 49 books in the Old Testament canon. Roman Catholics only accept seven so called Deuterocanonical books, so their Old Testament has a total of 46 books (sometimes counted as 47). Because Protestants mistakenly reject the Septuagint altogether, their Old Testament canon has only 39 books.

True Old Testament Apocrypha

There are examples of false books from the Old Testament, there books are: Assumption of Moses, Ascension of Isaiah, Apocalypse of Elijah, Book of Enoch, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, and another Book of Maccabees. These books are not in the Old Testament canon of any church.

New Testament


Books of the apostolic times that were not included in the canon of scripture, but may have reputed apostolic or prophetic authorship, are called Apocryphal. These writings of the early Christian church give accounts of the teachings of Jesus, aspects of the life of Jesus, accounts of the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with those books which are regarded as canonical. According to Orthodox teaching they may be read for personal edification but are not authoritative for doctrine.


At the turn from the first century, many false writings about Christ were produced. These were the so-called apocryphal writings (not to be confused with the Old Testament apocrypha), also called pseudoepigrapha. These false writings carried the names of the apostles and introduced into Christian circles many fanciful and legendary stories about the childhood of Christ, the life of the Virgin Mary and the activities of the apostles.

With the pseudoepigrapha, there also appeared the false teachings of gnosticism, the Christian heresy which transformed Christianity into a kind of spiritualistic, dualistic, intellectualistic philosophy. The Christians of the Orthodox faith had to contend with these false teachings.


Jewish Perspective Information


§ I.

§ II. Apocryphal Books among the Jews.

§ III. Lists of Apocrypha; Classification.

§ IV. Historical Apocrypha.

§ V. Historical Pseudepigrapha.

§ VI. Books of the Antediluvians.

§ VII. Testaments.

§ VIII. Relating to Joseph, Isaiah, and Baruch.

§ IX. Lost Books.

§ X. Prophetical Apocrypha.

§ XI. Apocalypses.

§ XII. Lyrical Apocrypha.

§ XIII. Didactic Apocrypha.

§ XIV. Apocrypha in the Talmud.

§ I.

The most general definition of Apocrypha is, Writings having some pretension to the character of sacred scripture, or received as such by certain sects, but excluded from the canon (see Canon). The history of the earlier usage of the word is obscure. It is probable that the adjective ἀπόκρυφος "hidden away, kept secret," as applied to books, was first used of writings which were kept from the public by their possessors because they contained a mysterious or esoteric wisdom too profound or too sacred to be communicated to any but the initiated. Thus a Leyden magical papyrus bears the title, Μωϋσήως ἱερἁ βίβλος ἀπόκρυφος ἐπικαλουμήν ὀγδόη ἢ ἁγία, "The Secret Sacred Book of Moses, Entitled the Eighth or the Holy Book" (Dietrich, "Abraxas," 169). Pherecydes of Syros is said to have learned his wisdom from τἁ φοινίκων ἀπόκρυφα βιβλία, "The Secret Books of the Phenicians" (Suidas, s.v. φερκύδης). In the early centuries of our era many religious and philosophical sects had such scriptures; thus the followers of the Gnostic Prodicus boasted the possession of secret books (ἀποκρύφους) of Zoroaster (Clemens Alexandrinus, "Stromata," i. 15 [357 Potter]). IV Esdras is avowedly such a work: Ezra is bidden to write all the things which he has seen in a book and lay it up in a hidden place, and to teach the contents to the wise among his people, whose intelligence he knows to be sufficient to receive and preserve these secrets (xii. 36 et seq.). (see Dan. xii. 4, 9; Enoch, i. 2, cviii. 1; Assumptio Mosis, x. 1 et seq.) In another passage such writings are expressly distinguished from the twenty-four canonical books; the latter are to be published that they may be read by the worthy and unworthy alike; the former (seventy in number) are to be preserved and transmitted to the wise, because they contain a profounder teaching (xiv. 44-47). In this sense Gregory of Nyssa quotes words of John in the Apocalypse as ἐν ἀποκρύφοις ("Oratio in Suam Ordinationem," iii. 549, ed. Migne; compare Epiphanius, "Adversus Hæreses," li. 3). The book contains revelations not to be comprehended by the masses, nor rashly published among them.

Inasmuch, however, as this kind of literature flourished most among heretical sects, and as many of the writings themselves were falsely attributed to the famous men of ancient times, the word "Apocrypha" acquired in ecclesiastical use an unfavorable connotation; the private scriptures treasured by the sects were repudiated by the Church as heretical and often spurious. Lists were made of the books which the Church received as sacred scripture and of those which it rejected; the former were "canonical" (see Canon); to the latter the name "Apocrypha" was given. The canon of the Church included the books which are contained in the Greek Bible but not in the Hebrew (see the list below, § III.); hence the term "Apocrypha" was not applied to these books, but to such writings as Enoch, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, etc. (see below, § III.). Jerome alone applies the word to all books which are not found in the Jewish canon (see "Prologus Galeatus"). At the Reformation, Protestants adopted the Jewish canon, and designated by the name "Apocrypha" the books of the Latin and Greek Bibles which they thus rejected; while the Catholic Church in the Council of Trent formally declared these books canonical, and continued to use the word "Apocrypha" for the class of writings to which it had generally been appropriated in the ancient Church; for the latter, Protestants introduced the name "Pseudepigrapha."

§ II. Apocryphal Books among the Jews.

Judaism also had sects which possessed esoteric or recondite scriptures, such as the Essenes (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 8, § 7), and the Therapeutæ (Philo, "De Vita Contemplativa," ed. Mangey, ii. 475). Their occurrence among these particular sects is explicitly attested, but doubtless there were others. Indeed, many of the books which the Church branded as apocryphal were of Jewish (sometimes heretical Jewish) origin. The Jewish authorities, therefore, were constrained to form a canon, that is, a list of sacred scriptures; and in some cases to specify particular writings claiming this character which were rejected and forbidden. The former-so the distinction is expressed in a ceremonial rule (Yad. iii. 5; Tosef., Yad. ii. 13)-make the hands which touch them unclean-; the latter do not (see Canon). Another term used in the discussion of certain books is , properly "to lay up, store away for safe-keeping," also "withdraw from use." Thus, Shab. 30b, "The sages intended to withdraw Ecclesiastes"; "they also intended to withdraw Proverbs"; ib. 13b, "Hananiah b. Hezekiah prevented Ezekiel from being withdrawn"; Sanh. 100b (Codex Carlsruhe), "although our masters withdrewthis book" (Sirach), etc. It has frequently been asserted that the idea and the name of the Greek "Apocrypha" were derived from this Hebrew terminology. (See Zahn, "Gesch. des Neutestamentlichen Kanons," i. 1, 123 et seq.; Schürer, in "Protestantische Realencyclopädie," 3d ed., i. 623, and many others; compare Hamburger,"Realencyklopädie," ii. 68, n. 4.) "Apocrypha" (ἀπόκρυφα βιβλία) is, it is said, a literal translation of , "concealed, hidden books." Closer examination shows, however, that the alleged identity of phraseology is a mistake. Talmudic literature knows nothing of a class of -neither this phrase nor an equivalent occurs -not even in "Ab. R. N." i. 1, though the error appears to have originated in the words used there. Nor is the usage identical: does not mean "conceal" (ἀποκρύπτειν translates not , but and its synonyms), but "store away"; it is used only of things intrinsically precious or sacred. As applied to books, it is used only of books which are, after all, included in the Jewish canon, never of the kind of literature to which the Church Fathers give the name "Apocrypha"; these are rather (Yer. Sanh. x. 1, 28a), or . The only exception is a reference to Sirach. The Book of (magical) Cures which Hezekiah put away (Pes. iv. 9) was doubtless attributed to Solomon. This being the state of the facts, it is doubtful whether there is any connection between the use of and that of ἀπόκρυφος.

§ III. Lists of Apocrypha; Classification.

The following is a brief descriptive catalogue of writings which have been at some time or in some quarters regarded as sacred scripture, but are not included in the Jewish (and Protestant) canon. For more particular information about these works, and for the literature, the reader is referred to the special articles on the books severally.

First, then, there are the books which are commonly found in the Greek and Latin Bibles, but are not included in the Hebrew canon, and are hence rejected by Protestants; to these, as has already been said, Protestants give the name "Apocrypha" specifically. These are (following the order and with the titles of the English translation): I Esdras; II Esdras; Tobit; Judith; The Rest of the Chapters of the Book of Esther; Wisdom of Solomon; Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, or Ecclesiasticus; Baruch, with the Epistle of Jeremiah; Song of the Three Holy Children; History of Susanna; Destruction of Bel and the Dragon; Prayer of Manasses; I Maccabees; II Maccabees. These, with the exception of I, II (III, IV) Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses, are canonical in the Roman Church. Secondly, books which were pronounced apocryphal by the ancient Church. Of these we possess several catalogues, the most important of which are the Stichometry of Nicephorus; the Athanasian Synopsis; and an anonymous list extant in several manuscripts, first edited by Montfaucon (see Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 262 et seq.); further a passage in the "Apostolical Constitutions" (vi. 16), and the socalled Decree of Pope Gelasius ("Corpus Juris Canonici," iii. Distinctio 15). References in the Fathers add some titles, and various Oriental versions give us a knowledge of other writings of the same kind. A considerable part of this literature has been preserved, and fresh discoveries almost every year prove how extensive and how popular it once was.

A satisfactory classification of these writings is hardly possible; probably the most convenient scheme is to group them under the chief types of Biblical literature to which they are severally related-viz.:

1. Historical, including history proper, story books, and haggadic narrative.

2. Prophetic, including apocalypses.

3. Lyric; psalms.

4. Didactic; proverbs and other forms of "wisdom." The assignment of a book to one or another of these divisions must often be understood as only a potiori; a writing which is chiefly narrative may contain prophecy or apocalypse; one which is primarily prophetic may exhibit in parts affinity to the didactic literature.

§ IV. Historical Apocrypha.

1. First Maccabees. A history of the rising of the Jews under the leadership of Mattathias and his sons against Antiochus Epiphanes, and of the progress of the struggle down to the death of Simon, covering thus the period from 175-135 B.C. The book was written in Hebrew, but is extant only in Greek and in translations made from the Greek.

2. Second Maccabees. Professedly an abridgment of a larger work in five books by Jason of Cyrene. It begins with the antecedents of the conflict with Syria, and closes with the recovery of Jerusalem by Judas after his victory over Nicanor. The work was written in Greek, and is much inferior in historical value to I Macc. Prefixed to the book are two letters addressed to the Jews in Egypt on the observance of the Feast of Dedication ().

3. First Esdras. In the Latin Bible, Third Esdras. A fragment of the oldest Greek version (used by Josephus) of Chronicles (including Ezra and Nehemiah), containing I Chron. xxxv.-Neh. viii. 13, in a different, and in part more original, order than the Hebrew text and with one considerable addition, the story of the pages of King Darius (iii. 1-v. 6). The book is printed in an appendix to the official editions of the Vulgate (after the New Testament), but is not recognized by the Roman Church as canonical.

4. Additions to Daniel.

a. The story of Susanna and the elders, prefixed to the book, illustrating Daniel's discernment in judgment.

b. The destruction of Bel and the Dragon, appended after ch. xii., showing how Daniel proved to Cyrus that the Babylonian gods were no gods.

c. The Song of the three Jewish Youths in the fiery furnace, inserted in Dan. iii. between verses 23 and 24. These additions are found in both Greek translations of Daniel (Septuagint and Theodotion); for the original language and for the Hebrew and Aramaic versions of the stories, see Daniel.

5. Additions to Esther. In the Greek Bible, enlargement on motives suggested by the original story:

a. The dream of Mordecai and his discovery of the conspiracy, prefixed to the book; the interpretation follows x. 3;

b. Edict for the destruction of the Jews, after iii. 13;

c., d. Prayers of Mordecai and Esther,after iv. 17;

e. Esther's reception by the king, taking the place of v. 1 in the Hebrew;

f. Edict permitting the Jews to defend themselves, after viii. 12. In the Vulgate these additions are detached from their connection and brought together in an appendix to the book, with a note remarking that they are not found in the Hebrew.

6. Prayer of Manasses. Purports to be the words of the prayer spoken of in II Chron. xxxiii. 18 et seq.; probably designed to stand in that place. In many manuscripts of the Greek Bible it is found among the pieces appended to the Psalms; in the Vulgate it is printed after the New Testament with III and IV Esd., and like them is not canonical.

7. Judith. Story of the deliverance of the city of Bethulia by a beautiful widow, who by a ruse deceives and kills Holophernes, the commander of the besieging army. The book was written in Hebrew, but is preserved only in Greek or translations from the Greek; an Aramaic Targum was known to Jerome.

8. Tobit. The scene of this tale, with its attractive pictures of Jewish piety and its interesting glimpses of popular superstitions, is laid in the East (Nineveh, Ecbatana); the hero is an Israelite of the tribe of Naphtali, who was carried away in the deportation by Shalmaneser ("Enemessar"). The story is related in some way to that of AḦiḳar.

9. Third Maccabees. (See Maccabees, Books of.) A story of the persecution of the Egyptian Jews by Ptolemy Philopator after the defeat of Antiochus at Raphia in 217 B.C.; their steadfastness in their religion, and the miraculous deliverance God wrought for them. The book, which may be regarded as an Alexandrian counterpart of Esther, is found in manuscripts of the Septuagint, but is not canonical in any branch of the Christian Church.

§ V. Historical Pseudepigrapha.

The books named above are all found in the Greek and Latin Bibles and in the Apocrypha of the Protestant versions. We proceed now to other writings of the same general class, commonly called "Pseudepigrapha."

10. The Book of Jubilees, called also Leptogenesis ("The Little Genesis"), probably , in distinction, not from the canonical Genesis, but from a larger Midrash, a . It contains a haggadic treatment of the history of the Patriarchs as well as of the history of Israel in Egypt, ending with the institution of the Passover, based on Gen. and Ex. i.-xii. It is a free reproduction of the Biblical narrative, with extensive additions of an edifying character, exhortations, predictions, and the like. It gets the name "Book of Jubilees" from the elaborate chronology, in which every event is minutely reckoned out in months, days, and years of the Jubilee period. The whole is in the form of a revelation made through an angel to Moses on Mt. Sinai, from which some writers were led to call the book the "Apocalypse of Moses." (See Apocalypse, § V. 10.) It was written in Hebrew, probably in the first century B.C., but is now extant only in Ethiopic and in fragments of an old Latin translation, both made from an intermediate Greek version. Brief mention may be made here of several similar works containing Haggadah of early Hebrew history.

a. "Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum," attributed to Philo. This was first published, with some other works of Philo, at Basel in 1527 (see Cohn, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." 1898, x. 277 et seq.; Schürer, "Gesch." 3d ed., iii. 541 et seq., additional literature). Extends from Adam to the death of Saul, with omissions and additions-genealogical, legendary, and rhetorical-speeches, prophecies, prayers, etc. The patriarchal age is despatched very briefly; the Exodus, on the contrary, and the stories of the Judges, are much expanded. The author deals more freely with the Biblical narrative than Jubilees, and departs from it much more widely. The work is preserved in a Latin translation made from Greek; but it is highly probable that the original language was Hebrew, and that it was written at a time not very remote from the common era. Considerable portions of it are incorporated-under the name of Philo-in the Hebrew book, of which Gaster has published a translation under the title "Chronicles of Jerahmeel" (see Gaster, l.c., Introduction, pp. xxx. et seq., and below, d).

b. Later works which may be compared with this of Philo are the , and the , on which see the respective articles.

c. To a different type of legendary history belongs the Hebrew Yosippon (q. v.).

d. The "Chronicles of Jerahmeel," translated by Gaster from a unique manuscript in the Bodleian (1899), are professedly compiled from various sources; they contain large portions excerpted from the Greek Bible, Philo (see above), and "Yosippon," as well as writings like the Pirḳe de R. Eliezer, etc.

e. Any complete study of this material must include also the cognate Hellenistic writings, such as the fragments of Eupolemus and Artapanus (see Freudenthal, "Hellenistische Studien") and the legends of the same kind in Josephus.

§ VI. Books of the Antediluvians.

The Book of Jubilees makes repeated mention of books containing the wisdom of the antediluvians (e.g., Enoch, iv. 17 et seq.; Noah, x. 12 et seq.) which were in the possession of Abraham and his descendants; also of books in which was preserved the family law of the Patriarchs (compare xli. 28) or their prophecies (xxxii. 24 et seq., xlv. 16). These are all in the literal sense "apocryphal," that is, esoteric, scriptures. A considerable number of writings of this sort have been preserved or are known to us from ancient lists and references; others contain entertaining or edifying embellishments of the Biblical narratives about these heroes. Those which are primarily prophetic or apocalyptic are enumerated elsewhere (x., xi.); the following are chiefly haggadic:

11. Life of Adam and Eve. This is essentially a Jewish work, preserved-in varying recensions-in Greek, Latin, Slavonic, and Armenian. It resembles the Testament literature (see below) in being chiefly occupied with the end of Adam's life and the burial of Adam and Eve. According to an introductory note in the manuscripts, the story was revealed to Moses, whence the inappropriate title "Apocalypse of Moses." On the apocryphal Adam books see Adam, Book of.

Other apocryphal books bearing the name of Adam are: The Book of Adam and Eve, or the Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan, extant in Arabic and Ethiopic; and The Testament of Adam, in Syriac and Arabic. Both these are Christian offshoots of the Adam romance. Apocalypses of Adam are mentioned by Epiphanius; the Gelasian Decree names a book on the Daughters of Adam, and one called the Penitence of Adam.

Seven Books of Seth are said by Epiphanius ("Adversus Hæreses," xxxix. 5; compare xxvi. 8; also Hippolytus, "Refutatio," v. 22; see also Josephus, "Ant." i. 2, § 3) to have been among the scriptures of the Gnostic sect of Sethians.On the apocryphal books of Enoch see Apocalypse, § V., and Enoch, Books of.

The Samaritan author, a fragment of whose writing has been preserved by Eusebius ("Præp. Ev." ix. 17) under the name of Eupolemus, speaks of revelations by angels to Methuselah, which had been preserved to his time. A Book of Lamech is named in one of our lists of Apocrypha.

Books of Noah are mentioned in Jubilees (x. 12, xxi. 10). Fragments of an Apocalypse of Noah are incorporated in different places in Enoch (which see). A book bearing the name of Noria, the wife of Noah, was current among certain Gnostics (Epiphanius, "Adv. Hæreses," xxvi. 1). Shem transmits the books of his father, Noah (Jubilees, x. 14); other writings are ascribed to him by late authors. Ham was the author of a prophecy cited by Isidore, the son of Basilides (Clemens Alexandrinus, "Stromata," vi. 6); according to others he was the inventor of magic (identified with Zoroaster; Clementine, "Recognitiones," iv. 27).

§ VII. Testaments.

A special class of apocryphal literature is made up of the so-called "Testaments" of prominent figures in Bible history. Suggested, doubtless, by such passages as the Blessing of Jacob (Gen. xlix.), the Blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii.), the parting speeches of Moses (Deut. iv., xxix. et seq.) and Joshua (Josh. xxiii., xxiv.), etc., the Testaments narrate the close of the hero's life, sometimes with a retrospect of his history, last counsels and admonitions to his children, and disclosures of the future. These elements are present in varying proportions, but the general type is well marked.

12. Testament of Abraham. Edited in Greek (two recensions) by M. R. James, "Texts and Studies," ii. 2; in Rumanian by Gaster, in "Proc. of Society of Biblical Archeology," 1887, ix. 195 et seq.; see also Kohler, in "Jew. Quart. Rev." 1895, vii. 581 et seq. (See Abraham, Testament of, called also Apocalypse of Abraham). Narrative of the end of Abraham's life; his refusal to follow Michael, who is sent to him; his long negotiations with the Angel of Death. At his request, Michael shows him, while still in the body, this world and all its doings, and conducts him to the gate of heaven. The book is thus mainly Haggadah, with a little apocalypse in the middle. The Slavonic Apocalypse of Abraham (ed. by Bonwetsch, "Studien zur Geschichte der Theologie und Kirche," 1897), translated from the Greek, gives the story of Abraham's conversion; the second part enlarges on the vision of Abraham in Gen. xv.

13. Testaments of Isaac and Jacob. Preserved in Arabic and Ethiopic. They are upon the same pattern as the Testament of Abraham; each includes an apocalypse in which the punishment of the wicked and the abode of the blessed are exhibited. The moral exhortation which properly belongs to the type is lacking in the Testament of Abraham, but is found in the other two.

14. Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. The parting admonitions of the twelve sons of Jacob to their children. Each warns against certain particular sins and commends the contrary virtues, illustrating and enforcing the moral by the example or experience of the speaker. Thus, Gad warns against hatred, Issachar shows the beauty of simple-mindedness, Joseph teaches the lesson of chastity. In some (e.g., in the Testament of Joseph) the legendary narrative of the patriarch's life fills a larger space, in others (e.g., Benjamin) direct ethical teaching predominates.

The eschatological element is also present in varying proportions-predictions of the falling away in the last days and the evils that will prevail; the judgment of God on the speaker's posterity for their sins (e.g., Levi, xiv. et seq.; Judah, xviii. 22 et seq.; Zebulun, ix.); and the succeeding Messianic age (Levi, xviii.; Judah, xxiv. et seq.; Simeon, vi.; Zebulun, ix. et seq.). A true apocalypse is found in the Test. of Levi, ii. et seq. (see Apocalypse). This eschatological element is professedly derived from a book written by Enoch (e.g., Levi, x., xiv., xvi.; Judah, viii.; Simeon, v., etc.). The work is substantially Jewish; the Christian interpolations, though numerous, are not very extensive, and in general are easily recognizable.

A Hebrew Testament of Naphtali has been published by Gaster ("Proceedings of Society of Biblical Archeology," December, 1893; February, 1894; see also "Chron. of Jerahmeel," pp. 87 et seq.), and is regarded by the editor and by Resch ("Studien und Kritiken," 1899, pp. 206 et seq.) as the original of which the Greek Testament is a Christian recension.

15. Testament of Job. When the end of his life is at hand, Job narrates to his children the history of his trials, beginning with the cause of Satan's animosity toward him. After parting admonitions (45), he divides his possessions among his sons, and gives to his three daughters girdles of wonderful properties(46 et seq.). The book is a Haggadah of the story of Job, exaggerating his wealth and power, his good works, and his calamities, through all of which he maintains unshaken his confidence in God. There are no long arguments, as in the poem; the friends do not appear as defenders of God's justice-the problem of theodicy is not mooted-they try Job with questions (see 36 et seq.). Elihu is inspired by Satan, and is not forgiven with the others. See Kohler, in "Semitic Studies in Memory of Alexander Kohut," pp. 264-338 and 611, 612, and James, in "Apocrypha Anecdota," ii. 104 et seq.).

16. Testament of Moses. The patristic lists of Apocrypha contain, in close proximity, the Testament of Moses and the Assumption of Moses. It is probable that the two were internally connected, and that the former has been preserved in our Assumption of Moses, the extant part of which is really a Testament-a prophetic-apocalyptic discourse of Moses to Joshua. See below, § x. 2.

17. Testament of Solomon. Last words of Solomon, closing with a confession of the sins of his old age under the influence of the Jebusite, Shulamite. It is in the main a magical book in narrative form, telling how Solomon got the magic seal; by it learned the names and powers of the demons and the names of the angels by whom they are constrained, and put them to his service in building the Temple; besides other wonderful things which he accomplished through his power over the demons. (See Fleck, "Wissenschaftliche Reise," ii. 3, 111 et seq.) A translation into English by Conybeare was given in "Jewish Quart. Rev." 1899, xi. 1-45.

The Gelasian Decree names also a "ContradictioSalomonis," which may have described his contest in wisdom with Hiram, a frequent theme of later writers.

A Testament of Hezekiah is cited by Cedrenus; but the passage quoted is found in the Ascension of Isaiah.

§ VIII. Relating to Joseph, Isaiah, and Baruch.

Other Apocrypha are the following:

18. Story of Aseneth. A romantic tale, narrating how Aseneth, the beautiful daughter of Potiphar, priest of On, became the wife of Joseph; how the king's son, who had desired her for himself, tried to destroy Joseph, and how he was foiled. The romance exists in various languages and recensions. The Greek text was published by Batiffol, Paris, 1889.

A Prayer of Joseph is named in the anonymous list of Apocrypha, and is quoted by Origen and Procopius. In these fragments Jacob is the speaker.

19. Ascension of Isaiah, or Vision of Isaiah. Origen speaks of a Jewish apocryphal work describing the death of Isaiah. Such a martyrium is preserved in the Ethiopic Ascension of Isaiah, the first part of which tells how Manasseh, at the instigation of a Samaritan, had Isaiah sawn asunder. The second part, the Ascension of Isaiah to heaven in the 20th year of Hezekiah, and what he saw and heard there, is Christian, though perhaps based on a Jewish vision. Extensive Christian interpolations occur in the first part also. A fragment of the Greek text is reproduced in Grenfell and Hunt, "The Amherst Papyri," London, 1900.

20. The Rest of the Words of Baruch, or Paralipomena of Jeremiah. (Ceriani, "Monumenta," v. 1, 9 et seq.; J. Rendel Harris, "Rest of the Words of Baruch," 1889; Dillmann, "Chrestomathia Æthiopica," pp. 1 et seq.; Greek and Ethiopic.) Narrates what befell Baruch and Abimelech (Ebed-melech) at the fall of Jerusalem. Sixty-six years after, they sent a letter by an eagle to Jeremiah in Babylon. He leads a company of Jews back from Babylonia; only those who are willing to put away their Babylonian wives are allowed to cross the Jordan; the others eventually become the founders of Samaria. Jeremiah is spirited away. After three days, returning to the body, he prophesies the coming of Christ and is stoned to death by his countrymen.

§ IX. Lost Books.

Other haggadic works named in the Gelasian Decree are: the Book of Og, the Giant, "whom the heretics pretend to have fought with a dragon after the flood"; perhaps the same as the Manichean Γιγάτειος βίβλος. (Photius, "Cod." 85), or τῶν Γιγάντων; The Penitence of Jannes and Jambres. (See Iselin, in "Zeitschrift für Wissensch. Theologie," 1894, pp. 321 et seq.) Both of these may well have been ultimately of Jewish origin.

§ X. Prophetical Apocrypha.

1. Baruch. Purporting to be written by Baruch, son of Neriah, the disciple of Jeremiah, after the deportation to Babylon. The book is not original, drawing its motives chiefly from Jeremiah and Isaiah xl. et seq.; affinity to the Wisdom literature is also marked in some passages, especially in ch. iii. The Epistle of Jeremiah to the captives in Babylon, which is appended to Baruch, and counts as the sixth chapter of that book, is a keen satire on idolatry.

2. Assumption of Moses. See above, Testament of Moses (§ VII. 16). What now remains of this work, in an old Latin version, is prophetic in character, consisting of predictions delivered by Moses to Joshua when he had installed him as his successor. Moses foretells in brief outline the history of the people to the end of the kingdom of Judah; then, more fully, the succeeding times down to the successors of Herod the Great, and the Messianic age which ensues. It is probable that the lost sequel contained the Assumption of Moses, in which occurred the conflict-referred to in Jude 9-between Michael and Satan for the possession of Moses' body.

3. Eldad and Medad. Under this name an apocryphal book is mentioned in our lists, and quoted twice in the "Shepherd of Hermas" (ii. 34). It contained the prophecy of the two elders named in Num. xi. 26. § XI. Apocalypses.

Most of the prophetical Apocrypha are apocalyptic in form. To this class belong: Enoch, The Secrets of Enoch, IV Esd., the Apocalypses of Baruch (Greek and Syriac), Apocalypse of Zephaniah, Apocalypse of Elijah, and others (see Apocalypse, and the special articles). Apocalyptic elements have been noted above in the Assumption of Moses, the Ascension of Isaiah, the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, and others.

§ XII. Lyrical Apocrypha.

1. Psalm cli., in the Greek Bible; attributed to David, "when he had fought in single combat with Goliath."

2. Psalms of Solomon. Eighteen in number; included in some manuscripts of the Greek Bible, but noted in the catalogues as disputed or apocryphal. Though ascribed to Solomon in the titles, there is no internal evidence that the author, or authors, designed them to be so attributed. They were written in Hebrew-though preserved only in Greek-in Palestine about the middle of the first century B.C., and give most important testimony to the inner character of the religious belief of the time and to the vitality of the Messianic hope, as well as to the strength of party or sectarian animosity. The five Odes of Solomon in "Pistis Sophia" are of Christian (Gnostic) origin.

3. Five apocryphal psalms in Syriac, edited by Wright ("Proceedings of Society of Biblical Archeology," 1887, ix. 257-266). The first is Ps. cli. (supra, § 1); it is followed by (2) a prayer of Hezekiah; (3) a prayer when the people obtain leave from Cyrus to return; and (4, 5) a prayer of David during his conflict with the lion and the wolf, and thanksgiving after his victory. § XIII. Didactic Apocrypha.

1. The Wisdom of Jesus, the Son of Sirach (in the Latin Bible entitled Ecclesiasticus). Proverbs and aphorisms for men's guidance in various stations and circumstances; a counterpart to the Proverbs of Solomon. The author was a native of Jerusalem, and wrote in Hebrew; his work was translated into Greek by his grandson soon after 132 B.C. The Syriac translation was also made from the Hebrew, and recently considerable parts of the Hebrew text itself have been recovered. The book is included in the Christian Bible-Greek, Latin, Syriac, etc.-but was excluded from the Jewish Canon (Tosef., Yad. ii. 13 et seq.). Many quotations in Jewish literature prove, however, its continued popularity.

2. Wisdom of Solomon, Σοφία Σολομῶνος. Written in Greek, probably in Alexandria; a representative ofHellenistic "Wisdom." Solomon, addressing the rulers of the earth, exhorts them to seek wisdom, and warns them of the wickedness and folly of idolatry. Noteworthy is the warm defense of the immortality of the soul, in which the influence of Greek philosophical ideas is manifest, as, indeed, it is throughout the book.

3. Fourth Maccabees. The title is a misnomer; and the attribution of the work to Flavius Josephus is equally erroneous. The true title is Περὶ αὐτοκράτορος λογισμοῦ, "On the Autonomy of Reason." It is an anonymous discourse on the supremacy of religious intelligence over the feelings. This supremacy is proved, among other things, by examples of constancy in persecution, especially by the fortitude of Eleazar and the seven brothers (II Macc. vi. 18, vii. 41). The work was written in Greek; it is found in some manuscripts of the Septuagint, but is not canonical.

§ XIV. Apocrypha in the Talmud.

There are no Jewish catalogues of Apocrypha corresponding to the Christian lists cited above; but we know that the canonicity of certain writings was disputed in the first and second centuries, and that others were expressly and authoritatively declared not to be sacred scripture, while some are more vehemently interdicted-to read them is to incur perdition. The controversies about Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon will be discussed in the article Canon, where also the proposed "withdrawal" of Proverbs, Ezekiel, and some other books will be considered. Here it is sufficient to say that the school of Shammai favored excluding Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon from the list of inspired scriptures, but the final decision included them in the canon.

Sirach, on the other hand, was excluded, apparently as a recent work by a known author; and a general rule was added that no books more modern than Sirach were sacred scripture.

The same decision excluded the Gospels and other heretical (Christian) scriptures (Tosef., Yad. ii. 13). These books, therefore, stand in the relation of Apocrypha to the Jewish canon. In Mishnah Sanh. x. 1, R. Akiba adds to the catalogue of those Israelites who have no part in the world to come, "the man who reads in the extraneous books" (), that is, books outside the canon of holy scripture, just as ἔξω, extra, are used by Christian writers (Zahn, "Gesch. des Neutestamentlichen Kanons," i. 1, 126 et seq.). Among these are included the "books of the heretics" (), i.e., as in Tosef., Yad. quoted above, the Christians (Bab. Sanh. 100b). Sirach is also named in both Talmuds, but the text in the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanh. 28a) is obviously corrupt.

Further, the writings of Ben La'anah () fall under the same condemnation (Yer. Sanh. l.c.); the Midrash on Ecclesiastes xii. 12 (Eccl. R.) couples the writings of Ben Tigla () with those of Sirach, as bringing mischief into the house of him who owns them. What these books were is much disputed (see the respective articles). Another title which has given rise to much discussion is or (sifre ha-meram or ha-merom), early and often emended by conjecture to (Homeros; so Hai Gaon, and others). See Homer in Talmud. The books of "Be Abidan," about which there is a question in Shab. 116a, are also obscure.

Crawford Howell Toy George F. Moore

Jewish Encyclopedia, published between 1901-1906.


Texts: The Apocrypha (in the Protestant sense) are found in editions of the Greek Bible; see especially Swete, The Old Testament in Greek, 2d ed.; separately, Fritzsche, Libri Apocryphi Veteris Testamenti Grœci, 1871. Of the Pseudepigrapha no comprehensive corpus exists; some of the books are included in the editions of Swete and Fritzsche, above;

and in Hilgenfeld, Messias Judœorum, 1869. See also Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti, 2 vols., 2d ed., Hamburg, 1722, 1723, which is not replaced by any more recent work. For editions (and translations) of most of these writings the literature of the respective articles must be consulted. Translations: The Authorized Version may best be used in the edition of C. J. Ball, Variorum Apocrypha, which contains a useful apparatus of various readings and renderings;

the Revised Version, Apocrypha, 1895; Churton, Uncanonical and Apocryphal Scriptures, 1884; a revised translation is given also in Bissell's Commentary (see below). Of the highest value is the German translation, with introductions and notes, in Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments, 2 vols., 1899. Commentaries: Fritzsche and Grimm, Kurzgefasstes Exegetisches Handbuch zu den Apokryphen des Alten Bundes, 6 vols., 1851-60; Wace (and others), Apocrypha, 2 vols., 1888 (Speaker's Bible); Bissell, The Apocrypha of the Old Testament, 1890 (Lange series). The most important recent work on this whole literature is Schürer's Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes, 3d ed., vol. iii. (Eng. tr. of 2d ed.: Jew. People in the Time of Jesus Christ), where also very full references to the literature will be found.T. G. F. M.

Also, see:
New Testament Apocrypha

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