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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.

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