The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Apocrypha
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|Edition of 1879. Written by A. J. Schem. See also Apocrypha on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.|
APOCRYPHA (Gr. ἀπόκρυφος, concealed), hidden or unpublished books. This term is variously applied in the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches. The Roman Catholic church gives the name Apocrypha to those books to which a reception into the canon of the books of the Old Testament was refused. Protestant theology generally designates these books by the name pseudepigrapha, and calls Apocrypha those books the inspired character of which was long a subject of dispute in the church, and which were finally declared by the council of Trent to be a part of the canon. They are not contained in the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament; but as the Septuagint embraced them, they are frequently quoted by early church writers as sacred books, were expressly received into the Christian canon by a synod of African bishops held at Hippo in 393, and were thereafter generally accepted as canonical books by the Latin church. By the Catholics these books are called deuterocanonical or antilegomena. The following books are included in this class: 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, Esther x. 4-xvi., Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Song of the Three Holy Children, History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasses, 1 and 2 Maccabees. The Protestant churches continued to print the apocryphal or deuteronomical books of the Old Testament in their various editions of the Bible until about 1821, when discussions arose in the British and foreign Bible society which resulted in 1826 in a resolution that that society should no longer circulate the apocryphal books. German Protestants are divided on the subject; some theologians, as Ebrard and Keerl, declaring against the reception of the Apocrypha into the Protestant Bibles, but others, including Hengstenberg and Stier, in favor of it. The Greek church, at the synod held in Jerusalem in 1672, recognized the Apocrypha as inspired books. — That class of books to which the Roman Catholic church exclusively applies the name of apocryphal is very numerous. The most important among those relating to the Old Testament are the third and fourth books of Esdras, and in particular the book of Enoch, which has only been preserved in an Ethiopic translation (published for the first time in 1838 by Laurence). The apocryphal books of the New Testament comprise a number of spurious gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalypses, many of which were written by heretics in the interest of their sects. A complete collection of the apocryphal literature of the New Testament was begun by Thilo (Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, vol. i., Leipsic, 1832, containing nine apocryphal gospels). After the death of Thilo the work was continued by Tischendorf, who published in succession the Apocryphal Acts (Acta Apocrypha, Leipsic, 1852), a new collection of Apocryphal Gospels (Evangelia Apocrypha, 1853), and the Apocryphal Apocalypses (Apocalypses Apocryphæ, 1866). An English translation of part of them by William Hone was published in London in 1820. — See “Contributions to the Apocryphal Literature of the New Testament,” by W. Wright, and “Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles,” edited from Syriac MSS., with an English translation, by the same author (2 vols., London, 1871).