Apocrypha Handout #1
September 30 – November 11, 2018
WEEK ONE: Introduction to the Apocrypha
What is it? “The Apocrypha is a collection of additional books written by people of the Old Covenant, and used in the Christian Church” (Catechism, BCP, p.853).
What are these books? The number of these books accepted as part of the Bible has differed in Western and Eastern Christian Churches. See the chart below to note the differences.
Are they part of the Bible? The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox churches see them as fully part of the canon of the Old Testament, but consider them as “Deuterocanonical,” a “second canon” within the Hebrew Bible. Jews do not consider them as part of their scriptures as most Protestants do not. As we see in the catechism definition, Anglicans have always included the Apocryphal Books as accepted by the Roman (Western) Church as a second canon, but not for the establishment of any belief or doctrine that could not be found in the rest of the Old Testament. (See the fuller description in the handout by Christopher Bryan).
Genres: Reflects the general genres of the Hebrew Bible including poetry, narrative, wisdom literature, history, and even apocalyptic.
When were they written? Among the latest books of the Old Testament, but difficult to date precisely for most of themthey span probably as early as the third century and into the first century BCE.
The Apochryphal Books, Judaism and the early Church: The early Church used a greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, meaning “the seventy” (LXX). This version contained many of the Books known as the Apocrypha. When Jews defined their canon of the Bible, they omitted these books. Many church fathers readily refer to them in their writings.
The use of these writings in our lectionary and liturgy: Canticles at Morning Prayer, daily office and Eucharistic lectionary in the BCP and also on saints’ days.
We will study the following of the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books in this series: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom Sirach (Eccesiasticus), Baruch and I and II Maccabees.