Since 382 AD, when Saint Jerome began his historic revision of the Latin Bible, up to the present day version of these works, the books known collectively as the Biblical Apocrypha, or simply “the Apocrypha” have been distinguished by controversy, acceptance, inclusion, exclusion and curiosity.
The word “Apocrypha” originates from the Greek word apókruphos; which means “hidden”, referencing to its selective state in different renditions of books - consequently, many have sought to discover why this is so. For many, this relates to a sense of the forbidden has swirled around these books, even though the Apocrypha was included in the Old Testament of the ancient historic churches. Others feel that it plays against their personal beliefs as well as the beliefs of others.
When Jerome settled in Bethlehem in 388, he devoted the last 34 years of his life to translating the Old Testament from its original Hebrew text into Latin. He, as many other scholars to follow him, made notes about the Apocryphal books and their relative value in terms of scripture. Jerome completed “the Vulgate” in 405 AD. Upon his death on September 30th 420 AD Jerome was buried in Bethlehem making the Latin Vulgate the standard Bible for the Western world.
The Apocrypha is considered to be valuable because it was included in the Greek translation of the primary Old Testament, named the Septuagint, or LXX, of the early Church. Seventy scholars completed the Septuagint, which roughly translated actually means “the Seventy”. This translation would soon be known as the Old Testament which Jesus and His Apostles would have known.
The books called the Apocrypha were written during the 3rd to the 1st centuries B.C. They would get their origins from such diverse places such as Alexandria (Egypt), Antioch (Syria), and Israel. Some of these books were written in Greek, which was the common language throughout the Mediterranean during those times and continuing into the time of the New Testament. Many of these works were originally written in Aramaic and Hebrew before they would be translated into Greek.
The Apocrypha has been part of the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic and other ancient churches which have a history tracing back to apostolic times, but have not been recognized by Orthodox Jews or Protestant Christians as scriptures inspired by God and therefore non-canonical. These books have been published in many historic bibles. Many of these renditions can be found here:
•Within the Old Testament
•Between the Old and New Testaments
•Added in appendix form after the New Testament
•Published separately and identified as:
a)Intertestamental- the gap in time between the Hebrew Old and Christian New Testaments, as named by many Protestant traditions
b)Deuterocanonical- the gap in time as named by Catholic and Orthodox traditions
c)Canon of scripture- determined by the Church as part of the official list of books in the Bible
d)Non-canonical- identified as not part of the books considered as authoritative scripture