APOCRYPHA (Gk. cbroxputpos, apokryphos, hidden, concealed, from dab, am. away + Kithrrav, kryptein, to hide), or APOCRYPHAL and PSEUDEFIGRAPHICAL WRITINGS, I. Old Testa ment.—A word rendered current by the Jews of Alexandria. In the earliest churches, it was ap plied with very different significations to a variety of writings. Among the various views that have been brought forward to account for the application of the term to the non-canonical writings of the Bible (more particularly of the Ohl Testament), the most probable is to con nect the word with the practice existing among religious and philosophic sects to withhold from the general public writings embodying the special tenets of the sect and communicated only to the inner circle of adherents. Such books generally bore the name of a patriarch, prophet, or even apostle, purporting to be the author. In conse quence, the term 'apocryphal' also acquired an unfavorable meaning, and by the Fourth Cen tury A.D. was applied also to writings which were regarded as pseudepigraphieal and forgeries; but in connection with the Bible it has been cus tomary, since the time of Jerome, to apply the term to a number of writings which the Septua gint (the Greek translation of the Old Testa ment) had circulated amongst the Christians, and which were sometimes considered as an appendage to the Old Testament, and sometimes as a portion of it. The Greek Church, at the Council of Laodicea (A.n. 360), excluded them from the canon; the Latin Church, on the other hand, always highly favored them; and finally the Council of Trent (1545-63) received them in part for edification, but not for the "establish ment of doctrine." All the Protestant churches in England and America, except the Church of England, reject their use in public worship. In French and English Bibles of the Sixteenth Century it was customary to bind up the Apoc rypha between the authorized versions of the Old and New Testaments, but in the Seven teenth Century this ceased, and, as a conse quence. this curious. interesting, and instructive part of .Tewish literature acquired to a large extent merely scholarly interest. The Apocrypha is not published by the great Bible societies, but was revised by the Bible Revision Committee, and is separately published by the University Press. The Old Testament Apocrypha consists of fourteen books: (1) First Esdras (q.v.) : (2)
Second Esdras (q.v.) ; (3) Tobit (q.v.) ; (4) Ju dith (q.v.) ; (5) The parts of Esther not found in Hebrew or Aramaic: (6) The Wisdom of Solomon; (7) The Wisdom of Jesus, son of Sirach, or Ecelesiastieus (q.v.) ; (8) Baruch (qx.) ; (9) The Song of the Three Holy Chil dren; (10) The History of Susanna : (11) The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon (q.v.) ; (12) The Prayer of Manasses, King of Judah (see MANASSEII) (13) First Mac eabees (q.v.) ; (14) Second Maccabees(q.v.). The precise origin of all of these writings cannot be ascertained. Their composition covers, roughly speaking, the period a.c. 150 to A.D. 75. Some, as e.g. The Wisdom of Jesus and the First Macca bees, were originally written in Hebrew; others, as the Fourth Esdras and The Wisdom of Solo mon, in Greek. In respect to contents, they may be divided into (a) historical (the First Esdras, First and Second Maccabees) ; (b) legendary (Tobit, Judith, Additions to Esther, Song of Three Holy Children. Susanna. Bel and the Dragon) ; (c) prophetical (Baruch, Prayer of Manasses) (d) apoealyptic (Second Esdras) ; (e) didactic (The Wisdom of Solomon, The Wis dom of Jesus).
Betraying to a larger extent the religious in fluences current in Hellenistic Judaism than those which prevailed in Palestine, it was natu ral that these writings should have been looked upon with more favor outside of the strictly rabbinical circles than within those circles; though it should be added that this remark ap plies to some of the writings more than to others. So, e.g. in the Talmud, quotations from The Wisdom of Jesus are introduced and quoted in a manner which indicated the high esteem in which the work was held. Still the exclusion of these writings from the authorized canon, due largely to the fact that their composition lay too close to the period when to the earlier divisions (a) Law, and (b) Prophets, the third division (e) Hagiographa was definitely added, led to their being gradually regarded with dis favor, and as in the course of time Rabbinical Judaism concentrated its force upon the study of the Talmud, the Apocrypha were entirely lost sight of. On the other hand, the affiliation of early Christianity with Hellenic Judaism finds an interesting illustration in the readiness with which the Septuagint translation. which included the Apocrypha, was accepted as an authorized text.