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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
(ἀπόκρυφα , sc. βιβλία, hidden, mysterious), a term in theology, applied in various senses to denote certain books claiming a sacred character. The word occurs in the N.T. in its ordinary sense (Mark 4:22). It is first found, as denoting a certain class of books, in Clemens Alexandrinus (Stromata, 13, c. 4, ἐκ τινὸς ἀποκρύφων ).
I. Definition and Application of the Term. — The primary meaning of ἀποκρυφος, "hidden, secret" (in which sense it is used in Hellenistic as well as classical Greek, see Sirach 23:19; Luke 8:17; Colossians 2:13), seems, toward the close of the 2d century, to have been associated with the signification "spurious," and ultimately to have settled down into the latter. Tertullian (de Anim. c. 2) and Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 1, 19, 69; 3, 4, 29) apply it to the forged or spurious books which the heretics of their time circulated as authoritative. The first passage referred to from the Stromata, however, may be taken as an instance of the transition stage of the words. The followers of Prodicus, a Gnostic teacher, are said there to boast that they have βίβλους ἀποκρύφους of Zoroaster. In Athanasius (Ep. Fest. 2, 38; Synopsis Sac. Scrip. 2, 154, ed. Colon. 1686), Augustine (Faust. 11, 2; Civ. Dei, 15, 23), Jerome (Ep. ad Latam, and Prol. Gal.) the word is used uniformly with the bad meaning which had become attached to it. The writers of that period, however, do not seem to have seen clearly how the word had acquired this secondary sense; and hence we find conjectural explanations of its etymology. The remark of Athanasius (Synops. S. Scr. 1. c.) that such books are ἀποκρυφῆς μᾶλλον ἤ ἀναγνώσεως ἄξια is probably meant rather as a play upon the word than as giving its derivation. Later conjectures are (1), that given by the translators of the English Bible (ed. 1539, Pref. to Apocr.), "because they were wont to be read not openly and in common, but as it were in secret and apart;" (2), one, resting on a misapprehension of the meaning of a passage in Epiphanes (de Mens. ac Pond. c. 4) that the books in question were so called because, not being in the Jewish canon, they were excluded ἀπὸ τῆς κρυπτῆς from the ark in which the true Scriptures were preserved; (3), that the word ἀπόκρυφα answers to the Hebrews גְּניּזַים, libri absconditi, by which the later Jews designated those books which, as of doubtful authority or not tending to edification, were not read publicly in the synagogues; (4), that it originates in the κρυπτά or secret books of the Greek mysteries. Of these it may be enough to say, that (1) is, as regards some of the books now bearing the name at variance with fact; that (2), as has been said, rests on a mistake; that (3) wants the support of direct evidence of the use of ἀπόκρυφα as the translation for the Hebrew word; and that (4). though it approximates to what is probably the true history; of the word, is so far only a conjecture.
In the early ages of the Christian Church this term was frequently used to denote books of an uncertain or anonymous author, or of one who had written under an assumed name. Its application, however, in this sense is far from being distinct, as, strictly speaking, it would include canonical books whose authors were unknown or uncertain, or even pseudepigraphal. Origen, on Matthew 22:1-46, had applied the term apocryphal in a similar way: "This passage is to be found in no canonical book" (regulari, for we have Origen's work only in the Latin translation by Rufinus), "but in the apocryphal book of Elias" (secretis Elioe). And, "‘ This is plain, that many examples have been adduced by the apostles and evangelists, and inserted in the New Testament, which we do not read in the canonical Scriptures which we possess, but which are found in the Apocrypha" (Origen, Proef. in Cantic.). So also Jerome, referring to the words (Ephesians 5:14) "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead," observes that "the apostle cited this from hidden (reconditis) prophets, and such as seem to be apocryphal, as he has done in several other instances." Epiphanius thought that this term was applied to such books as were not placed in the Ark of the Covenant, but put away in some other place (see Suicer's Thesaurus for the true reading of the passage in this father). Under the term apocryphal have been included books of a religious character, which were in circulation among private Christians, but were not allowed to be read in the public assemblies; such as 3 and 4 Ezra 3:1-13 and 4 Maccabees. (See Stare, De apocryphor. appellatione, Greifsw. 1766.)
In regard to the New Testament, the term has been usually applied to books invented by heretics to favor their views, or by Catholics under fictitious signatures. Of this description were many spurious or apocryphal gospels (see below). It is probably in reference to such that Basil, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Jerome gave cautions against the reading of apocryphal books; although it is possible, from the context, that the last named father alludes to the books which were also called ecclesiastical, and afterward deutero-canonical. The following passage from his epistle to Lata, on the education of her daughter, will serve to illustrate this part of our subject: "All apocryphal books should be avoided; but if she ever wishes to read them, not to establish the truth of doctrines, but with a reverential feelingfor the truths they signify, she should be told that they are not the works of the authors by whose names they are distinguished, that they contain much that is faulty, and that it is a task requiring great prudence to find gold in the midst of clay." And to the same effect Philastrius: "Among whom are the Manichees, Gnostics [etc.], who, having some apocryphal books under the apostles' names (i.e. some separate Acts), are accustomed to despise the canonical Scriptures; but these secret Scriptures — that is, apocryphal — though they ought to be read by the perfect for their morals, ought not to be read by all, as ignorant heretics have added and taken away what they wished." He then proceeds to say that the books to which he refers are the Acts of Andrew, written by "the disciples who were his followers," etc.
In the Bibliotheque Sacree, by the Dominicans Richard and Giraud (Paris, 1822), the term is defined to signify (1,) anonymous or pseudepigraphal books; (2,) those which are not publicly read, although they may be read with edification in private; (3,) those which do not pass for authentic and of divine authority, although they pass for being composed by a sacred author or an apostle, as the Epistle of Barnabas; and (4,) dangerous books composed by ancient heretics to favor their opinions. They also, apply the name "to books which, after having been contested, are put into the canon by consent of the churches, as Tobit, etc." Jahn applies it, in its most strict sense, and that which it has borne since the fourth century, to books which, from their inscription, or the author's name, or the subject, might easily be taken for inspired books, but are not so in reality. It has also been applied by Jerome to certain books not found in the Hebrew canon, but yet publicly read from time immemorial in the Christian Church for edification, although not considered of authority in controversies of faith. These were also termed ecclesiastical books, and have been denominated, for distinction's sake, the deutero-canonical books, inasmuch as they were not in the original or Hebrew canon. In this sense they are called by some the Antilegomena of the Old Testament. "The uncanonical. books," says Athanasius, or the author of the Synopsis, "are divided into antilegomena and apocrypha." (See ANTILEGOMENA).
Eventually, in the history of the early Church, the great number of pseudonymous productions palmed off upon the unwary as at once sacred and secret, under the great names in Jewish or Christian history, brought this entire class of works into disrepute. Those whose faith rested on the teaching of the Christian Church, and who looked to the O.T. Scriptures either in the Hebrew or the Sept. collection, were not slow to perceive that these productions were destitute of all authority. They applied in scorn what had been used as a title of honor. The secret books (libri secretiores, Orig. Comm. in Matthew ed. Lomm. 4:237) were rejected as spurious. The word apocryphal was soon degraded to the position from which it has never since risen. So far as books like the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs and the Assumption of Moses were concerned, the task of discrimination was comparatively easy, but it became more difficult when the question affected the books which were found in the Sept. translation of the Old Testament; and recognised by the Hellenistic Jews; but were not in the Hebrew text or in the canon acknowledged by the Jews of Palestine. The history of this difficulty, and of the manner in which it affected the reception of particular books, belong rather to the subject of CANON than to that of the present article, but the following facts may be stated as bearing on the application of the word:
1. The teachers of the Greek and Latin Churches, accustomed to the use of the Septuagint, or versions resting on the same basis, were naturally led to quote freely and reverently from all the books which were incorporated into it. In Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, we find citations from the books of the present Apocrypha, as "Scripture," "divine Scripture," "prophecy." They are very far from applying the term ἀπόκρυφος to these writings. If they are conscious of the difference between them and the other books of the O.T., it is only so far as to lead them (comp. Athan. Synops. S. Scr. 1. c.) to place the former in the list of οὐ κανονιζόμενα ἀντιλεγόμενα, books which were of more use for the ethical instruction of catechumens than for the edification of mature Christians. Augustine, in like manner, applies the word "Apocrypha" only to the spurious books with false titles which were in circulation among heretics, admitting the others, though with some qualifications, under the title of canonical (de doctr. Chr. 2, 8). 2. Wherever, on the other hand, any teacher came into contact with the feelings that prevailed among the Christians of Palestine, there the influence of the rigorous limitation of the old Hebrew canon is at once conspicuous. This is seen in its bearing on the history of the canon in the list given by Melito, bishop of Sardis (Euseb. H. E. 4, 26), and obtained by him from Palestine. Of its effects on the application of the word, the writings of Cyril of Jerusalem and Jerome give abundant instances. The former (Catech. 4, 33) gives the canonical list of the 22 books of the O.T. Scriptures, and rejects the introduction of all "apocryphal" writings. The latter in his Epistle to Laeta warns the Christian mother in educating her daughter against "omnia apocrypha." The Prologus Galeatus shows that he did not shrink from including under that title the books which formed part of the Septuagint, and were held in honor in the Alexandrian and Latin Churches. In dealing with the several books he discusses each on its own merits, admiring some, speaking unhesitatingly of the "dreams," "fables" of others.
3. The teaching of Jerome influenced, though not decidedly, the language of the Western Church. The old spurious heretical writings, the "Apocrypha" of Tertullian and Clement, fell more and more into the background, and were almost utterly forgotten. The doubtful books of the Old Testament were used publicly in the service of the Church, quoted frequently with reverence as Scripture, sometimes, however, with doubts or limitations as to the authority of individual books according to the knowledge or critical discernment of this or that writer (comp. Bp. Cosins's Scholastic History of the Canon). During this period the term by which they were commonly described was not apocryphal but "ecclesiastical." So they had been described by Rufinus (Expos. in Symb. Apost. p. 26), who practically recognised the distinction drawn by Jerome, though he would not apply the more opprobrious epithet to books which were held in honor.
4. It was reserved for the age of the Reformation to stamp the word Apocrypha with its present signification. The two views which had hitherto existed together, side by side, concerning which the Church had pronounced no authoritative decision, stood out in sharper contrast. The Council of Trent closed the question which had been left open, and deprived its theologians of the liberty they had hitherto enjoyed, by extending the Canon of Scripture so as to include all the hitherto doubtful or deuterocanonical books, with the exception of the two books of Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, the evidence against which seemed too strong to be resisted (Sess. IV de Can. Script.). In accordance with this decree, the editions of the Vulgate published by authority contained the books which the Council had pronounced canonical, as standing on the same footing as those which had never been questioned, while the three which had been rejected were printed commonly in smaller type and stood after the New Testament. The Reformers of Germany and England, on the other hand, influenced in part by the revival of the study of Hebrew and the consequent recognition of the authority of the Hebrew Canon, and subsequently by the reaction against this stretch of authority, maintained the opinion of Jerome and pushed it to its legitimate results.
The principle which had been asserted by Carlstadt dogmatically in his "de Canonicis Scripturis libellus" (1520) was acted on by Luther. He spoke of individual books among those in question with a freedom as great as that of Jerome, judging each on its own merits, praising Tobit as a "pleasant comedy," and the Prayer of Manasseh as a "good model for penitents," and rejecting the two books of Esdras as containing worthless fables. The example of collecting the doubtful books into a separate group had been set in the Strasburg edition of the Septuagint, 1526. In Luther's complete edition of the German Bible, accordingly (1534), the books (Judith, Wisdom, Tobias, Sirach 1:1-30 and 2 Maccabees, Additions to Esther and Daniel, and the Prayer of Manasseh) were grouped together under the general title of "Apocrypha, i.e. Books which are not of like worth with Holy Scripture, yet are good and useful to be read." In the history of the English Church, Wicliff showed himself in this as in other points the forerunner of the Reformation, and applied the term Apocrypha to all but the "twenty-five" Canonical Books of the Old Testament. The judgment of Jerome was formally asserted in the sixth Article. The disputed books were collected and described in the same way in the printed English Bible of 1539 (Cranmer's), and since then there has been no fluctuation as to the application of the word. (See DEUTERO-CANONICAL).
II. Biblical Apocrypha. — The collection of books to which this term is popularly applied includes the following. The order given is that in which they stand in the English version.
1. 1 Esdras 2:1-30. 2 Esdras 3:1-36. Tobit 4:1-42. Judith 5:1-24. The rest of the chapters of the Book of Esther, which are found neither in the Hebrew nor in the Chaldee. 6. The Wisdom of Solomon. 7. The Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, or Sirach 8:1-19. Baruch. 9. The Song of the Three Holy Children. 10. The History of Susanna. 11. The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon. 12. The Prayer of Manasseh, King of Judah. 13. 1 Maccabees 14:1-49. 2 Maccabees.
The separate books of this collection are treated of in distinct articles. Their relation to the canonical books of the Old Testament is discussed under CANON (See CANON) . We propose here to consider only the history and character of the collection as a whole in its relation to Jewish literature.
Whatever questions may be at issue as to the authority of these books, they have in any case an interest, of which no controversy can deprive them, as connected with the literature, and therefore with the history, of the Jews. They represent the period of transition and decay which followed on the return from Babylon, when the prophets, who were then the teachers of the people, had passed away, and the age of scribes succeeded. Uncertain as may be the dates of individual books, few, if any, can be thrown farther back than the beginning of the third century B.C. The latest, the 2d Book of Esdras, is probably not later than 30 B.C., 2 Esdras 7:28 being a subsequent interpolation. The alterations of the Jewish character, the different phases which Judaism presented in Palestine and Alexandria, the good and the evil which were called forth by contact with idolatry in Egypt, and by the struggle against it in Syria, all these present themselves to the reader of the Apocrypha with greater or less distinctness. In the midst of the diversities which we might naturally expect to find in books written by different authors, in different countries, and at considerable intervals of time, it is possible to discern some characteristics which belong to the entire collection.
1. The absence of the prophetic element. From first to last the books bear testimony to the assertion of Josephus (Revelation 1:1-20; Revelation 8:1-13), that the ἀκριβὴς διαδοχή of prophets had been broken after the close of the O.T. canon. No one speaks because the word of the Lord had come to him. Sometimes there is a direct confession that the gift of prophecy had departed (1 Maccabees 9:27), or the utterance of a hope that it might one day return (ibid. 1 Maccabees 9:4; 1 Maccabees 9:46; 1 Maccabees 14:41). Sometimes a teacher asserts in words the perpetuity of the gift (Wisdom of Solomon 7:27), and shows in the act of asserting it how different the illumination which he had received was from that bestowed on the prophets of the canonical books. When a writer simulates the prophetic character, he repeats with slight modifications the language of the older prophets, as in Baruch, or makes a mere prediction the text of a dissertation, as in the Epistle of Jeremy, or plays arbitrarily with combinations of dreams and symbols, as in 2 Esdras. Strange and perplexing as the last-named book is, whatever there is in it of genuine feeling indicates a mind not at ease with itself, distracted with its own sufferings and with the problems of the universe, and it is accordingly very far removed from the utterance of a man who speaks as a messenger from God.
2. Connected with this is the almost total disappearance of the power which had shown itself in the poetry of the Old Testament. The Song of the Three Children lays claim to the character of a psalm, and is probably a translation from some liturgical hymn;,but, with this exception, the form of poetry is altogether absent. So far as the writers have come under the influence of Greek cultivation, they catch the taste for rhetorical ornament which characterized the literature of Alexandria. Fictitious speeches become almost indispensable additions to the narrative of a historian, and the story of a martyr is not complete unless (as in the later Acta Martyrum of Christian traditions) the sufferer declaims in set terms against the persecutors (Song of the Three Child., 3-22; 2 Maccabees 6:7).
3. The appearance, as part of the current literature of the time, of works of fiction, resting or purporting to rest on a historical foundation. It is possible that this development of the national genius may have been, in part, the result of the Captivity. The Jewish exiles brought with them the reputation of excelling in minstrelsy, and were called on to sing the "songs of Zion" (Psalms 137:1-9). The trial of skill between the three young men in 1 Esdras 3:4, implies a traditional belief that those who were promoted to places of honor under the Persian kings were conspicuous for gifts of a somewhat similar character. The transition from this to the practice of story-telling was, with the Jews, as afterward with the Arabs, easy and natural enough. The period of the Captivity, with its strange adventures, and the remoteness of the scenes connected with it, offered a wide and attractive field to the imagination of such narrators. Sometimes, as in Bel and the Dragon, the motive of such stories would be the love of the marvellous mingling itself with the feeling of scorn with which the Jew looked on the idolater. In other cases, as in Tobit and Susanna, the story would gain popularity from its ethical tendencies. The singular variations in the text of the former book indicate at once the extent of its circulation and the liberties taken by successive editors. In the narrative of Judith, again, there is probably something more than the interest attaching to the history of the past. There is indeed too little evidence of the truth of the narrative for us to look on it as history at all, and it takes its place in the region of historical romance, written with a political motive, Under the guise of the old Assyrian enemies of Israel the writer is covertly attacking the Syrian invaders, against whom his countrymen were contending, stirring them up, by a story of imagined or traditional heroism, to follow the example of Judith, as she had followed that of Jael (Ewald, Gesch. Israels, 4, 541). The development of this form of literature is, of course, compatible with a high degree of excellence, but it is true of it at all times, and was especially true of the literature of the ancient world, that it belongs rather to its later and feebler period. It is a special sign of decay in honesty and discernment when such writings -are passed off and accepted as belonging to actual history.
4. The free exercise of the imagination within the domain of history led to the growth of a purely legendary literature. The full development of this was indeed reserved for a yet later period. The books of the Apocrypha occupy a middle place between those of the Old Testament in their simplicity and truthfulness and the wild extravagances of the Talmud. As it is, however, we find in them the germs of some of the fabulous traditions which were influencing the minds of the Jews at the time of our Lord's ministry, and have since in some instances incorporated themselves more or less with the popular belief of Christendom. So in 2 Maccabees 1:2, we meet with the statements that at the time of the captivity the priests had concealed the sacred fire, and that it was miraculously renewed — that Jeremiah had gone, accompanied by the tabernacle and the ark, "to the mountain where Moses climbed up to see the heritage of God," and had there concealed them in a cave together with the altar of incense. The apparition of the prophet at the close of the same book (15:15), as giving to Judas Maccabaeus the sword with which, as a "gift from God," he was to "wound the adversaries," shows how prominent a place was occupied by Jeremiah in the traditions and hopes of the people, and prepares us to understand the rumors which followed on our Lord's teaching and working that "Jeremias or one of the prophets" had appeared again (Matthew 16:14). So again in 2 Esdras 13:40-47, we find the legend of the entire disappearance of the Ten Tribes, which, in spite of direct and indirect testimony on the other side, has given occasion even in our own time to so many wild conjectures. In chap. 14 of the same book we recognize (as has been pointed out already) the tendency to set a higher value on books of an esoteric knowledge than on those in the Hebrew canon; but it deserves notice that this is also another form of the tradition that Ezra dictated from a supernaturally-inspired memory the sacred books which, according to that tradition, had been lost, and that both fables are exaggerations of the part actually taken by him and by "the men of the Great Synagogue" in the work of collecting and arranging them. So also the rhetorical narrative of the Exodus in Wisdom of Solomon 16:1-29; Wisdom of Solomon 17:1-21; Wisdom of Solomon 18:1-25; Wisdom of Solomon 19:1-22 indicates the existence of a traditional, half- legendary history side by side with the canonical. It would seem, indeed, as if the life of Moses had appeared with many different embellishments. The form in which that life appears in Josephus, the facts mentioned in St. Stephen's speech and not found in the Pentateuch, the allusions to Jannes and Jambres (2 Timothy 3:8), to the disputes between Michael and the devil (Judges 1:9), to the "rock that followed" the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:4), all bear testimony to the wide-spread popularity of this semi- apocryphal history. (See ENOCH (BOOK OF).)
5. As the most marked characteristic of the collection as a whole and of the period to which it belongs, there is the tendency to pass off supposititious books under the cover of illustrious names. The books of Esdras, the additions to Daniel, the letters of Baruch and Jeremiah, and the Wisdom of Solomon, are obviously of this character. It is difficult, perhaps, for us to measure in each instance the degree in which the writers of such books were guilty of actual frauds. In a book like the Wisdom of Solomon, for example, the form may have been adopted as a means of gaining attention by which no one was likely to be deceived, and, as such, it does not go beyond the limits of legitimate personation. The fiction in this case need not diminish our admiration and reverence for the book any more than it would destroy the authority of Ecclesiastes were we to come to the conclusion, from internal or other evidence, that it belonged to a later age than that of Solomon. The habit, however, of writing books under fictitious names is, as the later Jewish history shows, a very dangerous one. The practice becomes almost a trade. Each such work creates a new demand, to be met in its turn by a fresh supply, and thus the prevalence of an apocryphal literature becomes a sure sign of want of truthfulness on one side, and want of discernment on the other.
6. The absence of honesty, and of the power to distinguish truth from falsehood, shows itself in a yet more serious form in the insertion of formal documents purporting to be authentic, but in reality failing altogether to establish any claim to that title. This is obviously the case with the decree of Artaxerxes in Esther 16. The letters with which 2 Maccabees opens from the Jews at Jerusalem betray their true character by their historical inaccuracy. We can hardly accept as genuine the letter in which the king of the Lacedaemonians (1 Maccabees 12:20-21) writes to Onias that "the Lacedaemonians and Jews are brethren, and that they are of the stock of Abraham." The letters in 2 Maccabees 9:1-29; 2 Maccabees 11:1-38, on the other hand, might be authentic so far as their contents go, but the recklessness with which such documents are inserted as embellishments and make-weights throws doubt in a greater or less degree on all of them.
7. The loss of the simplicity and accuracy which characterize the history of the Old Testament is shown also in the errors and anachronisms in which these books abound. Thus, to take a few of the most striking instances, Haman is made a Macedonian, and the purpose of his plot is to transfer the kingdom from the Persians to the Macedonians (Esther 16:10); two contradictory statements are given in the same book of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes (2 Maccabees 1:15-17; 2 Maccabees 9:5-29); Nabuchodonosor is made to dwell at Nineve as the king of the Assyrians (Judith 1:1).
8. In their relation to the religious and ethical development of Judaism during the period which these books embrace, we find
(1.) the influences of the struggle against idolatry under Antiochus, as shown partly in the revival of the old heroic spirit, and in the record of the deeds which it called forth, as in Maccabees, partly again in the tendency of a narrative like Judith, and the protests against idol- worship in Baruch and Wisdom.
(2.) The growing hostility of the Jews toward the Samaritans is shown by the confession of the Son of Sirach (Sirach 1:1-30; Sirach 25:1-26; Sirach 26:1-29).
(3.) The teaching of Tobit illustrates the prominence then and afterward assigned to alms-giving among the duties of a holy life (Tobit 4:7-11; Tobit 12:9). The classification of the three elements of such a life, prayer, fasting, alms, in Tobit 12:8, illustrates the traditional ethical teaching of the Scribes, which was at once recognised and purified from the errors that had been connected with it in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:1-18).
(4.) The same book indicates also the growing belief in the individual guardianship of angels and the germs of a grotesque daemonology, resting in part on the more mysterious phenomena of man's spiritual nature, like the cases of daemoniac possession in the Gospels, but associating itself only too easily with all the frauds and superstitions of vagabond exorcists.
(5.) The great Alexandrian book of the collection, the Wisdom of Solomon, breathes, as we might expect, a strain of higher mood; and though there is absolutely no ground for the patristic tradition that it was written by Philo, the conjecture that it might have been was not without a plausibility which might well commend itself to men like Basil and Jerome. The personification of Wisdom as "the unspotted mirror of the power of God and the image of his goodness" (7, 26), as the universal teacher of all "holy souls" in "all ages" (7, 27), as guiding and ruling God's people, approaches the teaching of Philo, and foreshadows that of the Apostle John as to the manifestation of the unseen God through the medium of the Logos and the office of that divine Word as the light that lighteth every man. In relation again to the symbolic character of the Temple as "a resemblance of the holy tabernacle" which God "has prepared from the beginning" (John 9:8), the language of this book connects itself at once with that of Philo and with the teaching of the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But that which is the great characteristic of the book, as of the school from which it emanated, is the writer's apprehension of God's kingdom and the blessings connectcd with it as eternal, and so as independent of men's conceptions of time. Thus chapters 1, 2, contain the strong protest of a righteous man against the materialism which then, in the form of a sensual selfishness, as afterward in the developed system of the Sadducees, was corrupting the old faith of Israel. Against this he asserts that the "souls of the righteous are in the hands of God." (John 3:1); that the blessings which the popular belief connected with length of days were not to be measured by the duration of years, seeing that "wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age."
(6.) In regard to another truth also this book was in advance of the popular belief of the Jews of Palestine. In the midst of its strong protests against idolatry, there is the fullest recognition of God's universal love (John 11:23-26), of the truth that His power is but the instrument of His righteousness (John 12:16), of the difference between those who are the "less to be blamed" as "seeking God and desirous to find Him" (John 13:6), and the victims of a darker and more debasing idolatry. Here also the unknown writer of the Wisdom of Solomon seems to prepare the way for the higher and wider teaching of the New Testament. (See LOGOS).
III. Spurious and Pseudepigraphal Books, as distinct from Antilegomena or Ecclesiastical. — Among this class are doubtless to be considered the 3d and 4th books of Esdras; and it is no doubt in reference to these that, in his letter to Vigilantius, Athanasius speaks of a work of Esdras which he says that he had never even read. Of the same character are also the book of Enoch, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, the Assumption of Moses, etc.; which, as well as 3 and 4 Esdras, being by many considered as the fictions of Christians of the second and third centuries, it is doubtful whether they ought to be classed in the Apocrypha of the Old or of the New Testament. Origen, however, believed the New Testament to have contained citations from books of this kind written before the times of the apostles, as is evident from his reference to such in his preface to the Canticles. Then, in his Letter to Apianus, he observes that there were many things kept from the knowledge of the public, but which were preserved in the hidden or apocryphal books, to which he refers.the passage (Hebrews 11:37), "They were sawn asunder." Origen probably alludes here to that description of books which the Jews called genuzim, גְּנוּזִים, a word of the same signification with apocrypha, and applied to books laid aside, or not permitted to be publicly read or considered, even when divinely inspired, not fit for indiscriminate circulation: among the latter were the first chapter of Genesis, the Song of Solomon, and our last eight chapters of the prophet Ezekiel. The books which we have here enumerated, such as the book of Enoch, etc., which were all known to the ancient fathers, have descended to our times; and, although incontestably spurious, are of considerable value from their antiquity, as throwing light upon the religious and theological opinions of the first centuries. The most curious are the 3d and 4th books of Esdras, and the book of Enoch, which has been but recently discovered, and has acquired peculiar interest from its containing the passage cited by the apostle Jude. (See ENOCH). Nor are the apocryphal books of the New Testament destitute of interest. Although the spurious Acts extant have no longer any defenders of their genuineness, they are not without their value to the Biblical student, and have been applied with success to illustrate the style and language of the genuine books, to which they bear a close analogy. The American translator of Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History terms them "harmless and ingenious fictions, intended either to gratify the fancy or to silence the enemies of Christianity."
Some of the apocryphal books have not been without their defenders in modern times. The Apostolical Canons and Constitutions, and the various Liturgies ascribed to St. Peter, St. Mark, etc., and published by Fabricius in his Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, were considered by the learned and eccentric William Whiston, and the no less learned Grabe, to be of equal authority with any of the confessedly genuine apostolic compositions (see Whiston's Primitive Christianity and Grabe's Spicilegium). They are, however, regarded by most as originally not of an earlier date than the second century, and as containing interpolations which betray the fourth or fifth; they can, therefore, only be considered as evidence of the practice of the Church at the period when they were written. They have generally been appealed to by the learned as having preserved the traditions of the age immediately succeeding the apostolic; and, from the remarkable coincidence which is observable in the most essential parts of the so-called Apostolic Liturgies, it is by no means improbable that, notwithstanding their interpolations, they contain the leading portions of the most ancient Christian forms of worship. Most of the apocryphal Gospels and Acts noticed by the fathers, and condemned in the catalogue of Gelasius, which are generally thought to have been the fictions of heretics in the second century, have long since fallen into oblivion. Of those which remain, although some have been considered by learned men as genuine works of the apostolic age, yet the greater part are universally rejected as spurious, and as written in the second and third centuries. A few are, with great appearance of probability, assigned to Leucius Clarinus, supposed to be the same with Leontius and Seleucus, who was notorious for similar forgeries at the end of the third century.
The authorship of the Epistle of Barnabas (q.v.) is still a matter of dispute; and there appears but too much reason to believe that there existed grounds for the charge made by Celsus against the early Christians, that they had interpolated or forged the ancient Sibylline Oracles. In the letter of Pope Innocent I to St. Exupere, bishop of Toulouse, written about the year 405, after giving a catalogue of the books forming the canon of Scripture (which includes five books of Solomon, Tobit, and two books of Maccabees), he observes: "But the others, which are written under the name of Matthias, or of James the Less, or those which were written by one Leucius under the name of Peter and John, or those under the name of Andrew by Xenocheris and Leonidas the philosopher, or under the name of Thomas; or if there be any others, you must know that they are not only to be rejected, but condemned." These sentiments were afterward confirmed by the Roman Council of seventy bishops, held under Pope Gelasius in 494, in the acts of which there is a long list of apocryphal Gospels and Acts, the greater part of which are supposed to have perished. The acts of this council, however, are not generally considered to be genuine. But, whatever authority is to be ascribed to these documents, it cannot be denied that the early Church evinced a high degree of discrimination in the difficult task of distinguishing the genuine from the spurious books, as has been well observed by Jones (New and Full Method, 1, 15) and Baxter (Saint's Rest, p. 2). (See CANON).
The following is a list of the genuine writings mentioned in the OLD TEST., but now lost, or generally thought so to be:
The "Prophecy of ENOCH" (Judges 1:14). But (See ENOCH)
The "Book of the Wars of the Lord" (Numbers 21:14).
The "Book of the Just" (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18). (See JASHER).
The "Book of the Order of the Kingdom," or of the Royal Administration, written by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:25). See KING.
The "Books of NATHAN and GAD" concerning King David (1 Chronicles 29:29).
The "Books of NATHAN, AHIJAH, and IDDO" concerning King Solomon
The "Book of the Acts of SOLOMON" (1 Kings 11:41).
The "Book of SERAIAH" concerning King Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 12:15). The "Book of JEIU" concerning Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 20:34). The "Book of ISAIAH" concerning King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:22)
The "Volume of JEREMIAH" burned by Jehudi (Jeremiah 36:2; Jeremiah 36:6; Jeremiah 36:23). But (See JEREMIAH).
The "Chronicle of the Kings of Judah" (1 Kings 14:29; 1 Kings 15:7). But (See CHRONICLES).
The Chronicle ‘ of the Kings'of Israel" (1 Kings 14:29). But (See CHRONICLES).
The following is a list of pseudepigraphal hooks relating to the Old Test., still extant (exclusive of those contained in the definitively so called "Apocrypha"), with the language in which ancient copies have been discovered. See each title, or professed author here cited, under its proper head in the body of this Cyclopaedia.
The "History of ANTIOCHUS" Epiphanes (Heb.). This appears to be a garbled Hebraic version of the accounts of that tyrant in the books of the Maccabees (see Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigr. 5,1. 1, 1165 sq., where a Latin translation is given of it).
The "History of ARENATHI," Joseph's Wife (Lat. Given by Fabricius, ib. 1, p. 774 sq.).
The "Epistle of BARUCH" (Lat. In Fabricius, ib. 2, 147 sq.). The "Book of ELIAS" the Prophet (see ib. 1, 1070). The "Book of ENOCH" (Ethiopic). The "THIRD [Engl. First] Book of ESDRAS" (Gr. and Lat.). The "FOURTH [Second] Book of ESDRAS" (Lat., Arab., and Eth.). The "Ascension of ISAIAH" (Ethiopic). The "Book of JASHER" (Heb.). The "Book of JEZIRAH" or Creation (Heb.). The "Third Book of MACCABEES " (Gr.). The "Fourth Book of MACCABEES " (Gr.). The "Fifth Book of MACCABEES" (Ar. and Syr.) The Assumption of MOSES" (see Fabricius, 1:825). The "Preaching of NOAH" to the Antediluvians, according to the Sibylline Oracle. (Fabricius, 1:230).
The "Testament of the Twelve PATRIARCIS" (Gr. Given by Fabricius, with a Latin translation, Coder Pseudepigr. A. T. 1, 519 sq.).
The "Psalter of SOLOMON" (Gr. Given in like manner, ib. 1, 917 sq.). The "Book of ZOHAR" or Light (Heb.). The following is a list of all the apocryphal pieces relating to the NEW TEST., not now extant, mentioned by writers in the first four centuries after Christ, with the several writings in which they are (last) cited or noticed. See each name in its alphabetical place.
(1.) The "Acts of ANDREW" (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 25; Philastr. Heres. 87; Epiphan; Heres. 47, 1; 61:1; 63:2; Gelasius, in Decret. ap. Concil. Sanct. 4, 1260). But (See ANDREW).
(2.) "Books" under the name of ANDREW (Augustine, contr. Adversar. Leg. et Prophet. 1, 20; Innocent I, Epist. 3, ad Exuper. Thiolo.. Episc. 7).
(3) The "Gospel of ANDREW" (Gelas. in Decret.).
A "Gospel" under the name of APELLES (Jerome, Praef. in Conmmenn. in Matt.).
The "Gospel according to the Twelve APOSTLES" (Origen, Hom 1. in Luke 1:1-80; Luke 1:1-80; Ambrose, Comment. in Luke 1:1-80; Luke 1:1-80; Jerome, Praef. in Comment. in Matt.).
The "Gospel of BARNABAS" (Gelas. in Decret.). (1.) The "Gospel of BARTHOLOMEW" (Jerome, Catal. Scrit. Eccles. in Pantsen.; Prief. in Comment. in Matt.; Gelas. in Decret.).
(2.) The; "Writings of BARTHOLOMEW the Apostle" (Dionys. the Areopagite, De Theol. Hist. 1, 1).
The "Gospel of BASILIDES" (Origen, in Luke 1:1-80; Luke 1:1-80; Ambrose, in Luke 1:1-80; Luke 1:1-80; Jerome, Praef. in Comm. in Matt.).
(1.) The "Gospel of CERINTHUS" (Epiplan. Haeres. 51, 7).
(2.) The "Revelation of CERINTHUS" (Caius, Presb. Rom., lib. Disput. ap. Fuseb. Hist. Eccl. 2, 28).
(1.) Some "Books" under the name of CHRIST (Augustine, De Consens. Evang. 1, 3)
(2.) An "Epistle of CHRIST " produced by the Manicheans (Augustine, comltr. Faust. 28, 4).
(3.) An "Epistle of CHRIST to Peter and Paul" (Augustine de Consen. Evang. 1, 9, 10).
(4.) A "Hymn of CHRIST" taught to his disciples (Episcop. ad Ceret. Epist.).
(1.) The "Acts of the Apostles" made use of by the EBIONITES
(Epiphan. Haeres. 30, 16).
(2.) The "Gospel of the EBIONITES" (ib. 13).
The "Gospel according to the EGYPTIANS" (Clem. Alex. Strom. 3, 452, 465; Origen, in Luke 2:1-52; Jerome, Praef. in Comm. in Matt.; Epiphan. Haeres. 62:2).
The "Gospel of the ENCRATITES" (Epiphan. Haeres. 46, 1). The "Gospel of EVE" (ib. 26, 2).
The "Gospel according to the HEBREWS" (Heges'p. lib. Comment. sp Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 4, 22; Clem. Alex. Strom. 2, p. 380; Origen, Tract. 8 in Matthew 19:19; and in Joan. p. 58; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 25, 27, 39; Jerome, often).
The "Book of the HELKASAITES" (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6, 38). The false "Gospels of HESYCHIUS" (Jerome, Praef. in Evang. ad Darnas.; Gelasius, in Decret.).
(1.) The "Book of JAMES" (Origen, Comm. in Matthew 13:55-56.
(2.) "Books" forged and published under the name of JAMES (Epiphan. Haeres. 30, 23; Innocent I, Epist. 3 ad Exuper. Tholos. Episc. 7).
(1.) The "Acts of JOHN" (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 25; Athanas. in Synopis. 76; Philastr. Haeres. 87; Epiphan. Haeres. 47, 1; Augustine. contr. Advers. Leg. 1, 20).
(2.) "Books" under the name of JOHN (Epiphan. Haeres. 38:1; Innocent 1, 1. c.).
A "Gospel" under the name of JUDAS Iscariot (Iren. adv. Haeres. 1, 25). A "Gospel" under the name of JUDE (Epiphan. Haeres 38:1).
The "Acts of the Apostles" by LEUCIUS (Augustine, de Fide contr. Manich. 38).
(1.) "The Acts of the Apostles" by LENTITIUS (Augustine, de Act. cam,. foelic. Manich. 2, 6).
(2.) The "Books of LENTITIUS" (Gelas. in Decret.).
The "Acts" under the Apostles' name, by LEONITUS (Augustine, de Pide contr. Maanich. 5).
The "Acts of the Apostles" by LEUTHON (Jerome, Epist. ad Chromat. et Helionor).
The false "Gospels" published by LUCIANUS (Jerome, Praef. in Evang. et Damas.).
The "Acts of the Apostles" used by the MANICHEANS (Augustine, contr. Adimant. Manich. 17).
"Books" under the name of MATTHEW (Epiphan. Haeres. 30:23).
(1.) A "Book" under the name of MATTHIAS (Innocent I, ut sup.)
(2.) The "Gospel of MATTHIAS" Origen, Comm. in Luke 1:1-80; Luke 1:1-80; Euiseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 25; Ambrose, in Luke 1:1-80; Luke 1:1-80; Jerome, Praef. in Comm. in Matt.).
(3.) The "Traditions of MATTHIAS" (Clem. Al 10 Strom. 2, p. 38; 3, 436; 7:748).
The "Gospel of MERINTHUS" (Epiphan. Haeres. 2, 7).
The "Gospel according to the NAZARENES." (See above, "Gospel according to the Hebrews.")
(1.) The "Acts of PAUL" (Origen, de Princip. 1, 2; in Joan. 2, p. 298; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 3 and 25; Philastr. Haeres. 87.
(2.) A "Book" under the name of PAUL (Cyprian, Epist. 27).
(3.) The "Preaching of PAUL and PETER" (Lactantius, De Ver. Sap. 4, 21; Script. anonym. ad calcem Opp. Cypr.; and [according to some] Clem. Alex. Strom. 6, 636).
(4.) The "Revelation of PAUL" (Epiphan. Haeres. 38, 2; Augustine, Tract 98 in Joan. s. f.; Gelas. in Decret.).
The "Gospel of PERFECTION" (Epiphan. Haeres. 26, 2).
(1.) The "Acts of PETER" (Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiastes 3:1-22; Ecclesiastes 3:1-22; Athanas. in Synops. S. S. 76; Philastr. Haeres. 87; Jerome, Capit. Script. Eccl. in Petr.; Epiphan. Haeres. 30, 15).
(2.) "Books" under the name of PETER (Innocent I, Epist. 3 ad Exupa. Tholos Episc. 7).
(3.) The "Doctrine of PETER" (Origen, Procem. in lb. de Princip.).
(4.) The "Gospel of PETER" (Serapion, De Evang. Petri, ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6, 16; Tertull. adv. Macc. 4, 5; Origen, Comn. in Matthew 13:55-56; vol. 1, p. 223; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 3 and 25; Jerome, Catal. Script. Eccl. in Petr.).
(5.) The "Judgment of PETER" (Rufin. Expos. in Symbol. Apost. 36; Jerome, Catal. Script. Eccles. in Peter.).
(6.) The "Preaching of PETER" (Heracl. ap. Origen, lib. 14 in Joan.; Clem. Alex. Strom. 1, 357; 2:390; 6, 635, 636, 678; Theolot. Byzant. in Excerpt. p. 809, ad calc. Opp. Clem. Alex.; Lactant. De Fer. Sap). 4, 21; Euseb. Hist. Ecclesiastes 3:1-22; Ecclesiastes 3:1-22; Jerome, Catal. Scrip'. Eccles. in Petr.).
(7.) The "Revelation of PETER" (Clem. Alex. lib. Hypntopos. ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 6, 14; Theodot. Byz. in Excerpt. p. 806, 807, ad calc. Opp. Clem. Alex.; Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 3, 3 and 25; Jerome, Catal. Script. Eccl. in Petr.).
(1.) The "Acts of PHILIP" (Gelas. in Decret.).
(2) The "Gospel of PHILP" (Epiphan. Haeres. 26, 13).
The "Gospel of SCYTHIANUS" (Cyrill. Catech. 6, 22; Epiphan. Haeres. 66, 2).
The "Acts of the Apostles" by SELEUCUS (Jerome, Epist. ad Chromat. et Heliodor.).
The "Revelation of STEPHEN" (Gelas. in Decret.).
The "Gospel of THADDAEUS" (ib.).
The Catholic "Epistle of THEMISON" the Montanist (Apollon. lib. contr. C taphya. ap. Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 5,18).
(1.) "The Acts of THOMAS" (Epiphan. Haeres. 47, 1; 61:1; Athanas. in Synops. .S. .76; Gelas. in Decret.).
(2.) "Books" under the name of THOMAS (Innocent I, up sup.).
(3 ) The "Revelation of THOMAS" (Gelas. in Decret.).
The Gospel of TITIAN" (Euseb. Hist. Eccl. 4, 29).
The "Gospel of TRUTH" made use of by the Valentinians (Iren. adv. Haeres. 3, 11). The "Gospel of VALENTINUS" (Tertull. de Proescript. adv. Haeres. 49). The following list comprises those pseudepigraphal works relating to the New Test. which still exist, with the language in which ancient copies have been preserved. See each title and professed author in its place.
A "History of the Contest between the Apostles" by ABDIAS (Lat.).
The "Letter of ABGARUS to Christ," and the "Reply of Christ to Abgarus" (Gr.). The "General Epistle of BARNABAS" (Gr). The "First Epistle of CLEMENT to the Corinthians" (Gr.). The "Second Epistle (of CLEMENT to the Corinthians" (Gr.). The "Descent of CHRIST into Hell" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Apostolical CONSTITUTIONS" (Gr., Eth., and Copt ). The First Book of HERMAS," called his Visions (Gr. and Lat.). The "Second Book of HERMAS," called his Commands (Gr. and Lat.). The "Third Book of HERMAS," called his Similitudes (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistle of IGNATIUS to the Ephesians" (Gr. and Lat.). The Epistle of IONATRUS to the Magnesians" (Gr. and Lat.). The Epistle of IGNATIUS to the Philadelphians" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistle of IGNATIUS to Polycarp" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistle of IGNATIUS to the Romans" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistle of IGNATIUS to the Smyrnaans" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistle of IGNATIUS to the Trallians" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Gospel of the INFANCY" of the Savior (Arab. and Lat.) The "Protevangelium of JAMES" (Gr. and Lat.). The (mutilated and altered) "Gospel of St. JOHN" (Gr.). The (apocryphal) "Book of the Apostle JOHN" (Lat.). The "Narrative of JOSEPH of Arimathaea" (Gr.).
The "Sacred Memorial Book of Joseph," a Christian. (The Greek text, — entitled Ι᾿ωσήππου Βιβλίον ῾Υπομνηστικόν , is given in fall by Fabricius, Cod. Pseudepigr. V. T. 2, ad fin., with a Latin translation). The "Epistle of Paul to the LAODICEANS" (Gr.).
The (fragmentary) "Gospel of MARCION" (Gr.). The "Gospel of [Pseudo-] MATTHIAS" (Lat.). The "Gospel of the Nativity of St. MARY" (Lat.). The "Gospel of the Nativity of MARY, and of the Infancy of the Savior" (Lat.).
The "Gospel of NICODEMUS" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistles of the Corinthians to PAUL, and of Paul to the CORINTHIANS" (Armen ). The "Acts of PILATE" (Gr. and Lat ). The "Apprehension of PILATE" (Gr.). The "Death of PILATE" (Gr. and Lat ). The "First Epistle of PILATE" (Gr. and Lat ). The "Second Epistle of PILATE" (Gr. and Lat.). The "Epistle of POLYCARP to the Philippians" (Gr.). The "Vindication of the SAVIOUR" (Lat.). The "Epistles of Paul to SENECA," and "of Seneca to PAUL" (Gr.). The "SIBYLLINE Oracles" (Gr.). The "Acts of Paul and THECLA" (Gr.). The "Gospel of THOMAS" the Israelite (Gr. and Lat.).
IV. Literature. — The best accounts of these and other apocryphal documents will be found in Fabricii Codex Pseudepigraphus V. T. (Hamb. and Lpz. 1713 and 1741), and Codex Apocrphus N.T. (Hamb. 1713-1722); Auctarium Codicis Apocryphi N.T. Fatbriciani, edidit And. Birch
(Copenh. 1804); A new and full Method of settling the Canon of the N.T., by the Rev. Jeremiah Jones (Oxf. 1726 — last edition, Oxf.
These files are public domain.
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Apocrypha'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/a/apocrypha.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.