What Is the Apocrypha?

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What is the Apocrypha? Why is the Protestant Bible shorter than the Catholic Bible? Should these books be considered inspired by God?

The Apocrypha, which comes from the Greek word meaning “hidden,” is a list of some 13 books written after Malachi and before the New Testament. They are fascinating books about the history and beliefs of intertestamental Judaism. For example, they contain a more developed doctrine of angels and highlight the significance of alms-giving for securing salvation. For parallels between New Testament teaching and the Apocrypha, compare Eph. 6:13-17 with Wis. Sol. 5:17-20 and Heb. 11 and Sir. 44 (view an online source here).

The Greek Bible—or the Septuagint—that Paul and other apostles had probably included the Apocrypha. By 90 AD and definitely into the second century, Jewish and Christian leaders decided not to include them in their official list of an accepted canon. By the time of the Reformation, Christian scholars rejected the Apocrypha as a source of doctrine. It’s safe to say that it is illuminating to read apocryphal books but Christians should not draw doctrine or theology from them.

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Dr. William D. Mounce is a scholar of New Testament Greek and president of BiblicalTraining.org He has written numerous books, including Greek textbooks which are used widely by college and seminary students.

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