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.
The Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical Books are books of the Old Testament that are accepted by the Orthodox Christian Church but are not accepted by Protestants.
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." According to Orthodox teaching they may be read for personal edification but are not authoritative for doctrine. They are included in the Orthodox Bible because they were included in the Septuagint which was in use at the time of Jesus.
The Books of the Apocrypha
- I Esdras
- The portion of II Esdras called the "Prayer of Manasseh"
- Portions of Esther
- Wisdom of Solomon
- Wisdom of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
- Epistle of Jeremiah
- The portions of Daniel:
- Psalm 151
- I Maccabees
- II Maccabees
- III Maccabees
- IV Maccabees
The Psalms are also numbered and divided up differently.
The Apocrypha in Roman Catholicism and Protestant churches
In an Orthodox Bible which has the Apocrypha there are 49 books in its Old Testament. Roman Catholics only accept seven Deuterocanonical books, so their Old Testament has a total of 46 books. Protestants do not accept the Apocrypha so in their Old Testament they only have 39 books. All 3 accept the same 27 books of the 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 also called Apocrypha. 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.
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.
- The Old Testament Apocrypha - St. Tikhon's Monastery
- What are the Apocrypha and the Da Vinci Code Claims? (GOARCH)
- The Orthodox Faith