On the Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha

“For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

2 Pet. 1:16

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.  And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness;”

2 Cor. 11:13-15

“The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.”

2 Thess. 3:17

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Subsection

Commentaries on the Apocrypha

The Dead Sea Scrolls

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Order of Contents

Introduction
Critiques of Apocryphal Works in regard to the Biblical Canon  24+
.       Latin  12+
Read them
Introductions & Background to Them  55+
History of the Use of the Apocrypha  5+
Bibliographies  10+

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Introduction

Why Should I Read a Significant Portion of the Apocryphal Literature?

Because falsehood and deception breeds on ignorance.  When someone asks, “But what about the Gospel of Thomas, and other books that never made it into the Bible?”, the only reason this objection may seem to have some plausibility to it, is if one has never read the Gospel of Thomas (50-140 A.D.).

If one has read this brief work and is familiar with it, they will know that the Gospel of Thomas, from the very first sentence, has gnostic characteristics which are contrary to the other gospels (for instance, Mt. 10:27) and the rest of Scripture, many of its teachings (in the mouth of Jesus) are capricious (the last verse, #114, is choice) and it is not grounded in the previously confirmed revelation of God, the Old Testament.

The ‘Gospel of Thomas’ does not contain substantial historical context which can be verified, nor does it have compelling evidence for it being based off of a first-hand witness (as the other gospels do).  The work does not portray a messianic understanding of Jesus (further displacing it from the stream of the previous revelation of God, the O.T.), or an understanding of salvation by redemptive sacrifice; nor does it mention Jesus’s crucifixion or resurrection, or the Final Judgment.

The ‘Gospel of Thomas’ was written in the Egyptian, Coptic language (rather far removed from Jesus’s Israeli context) and was never understood to have a legitimate claim to apostolic sanction.  So far from it ever receiving widespread reception by the early Church, the early Church historian Eusebius (d. 340 A.D.) included it among a catalogue of books that were ‘believed by most ecclesiastical writers’ to not only not be among ‘those works, which according to ecclesiastical tradition, are true and genuine and commonly accepted’.  Rather it was amongst those works which were:

“…cited by the heretics under the name of the apostles, including, for instance, such books as the Gospels of Peter, of Thomas, of Matthias, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew and John and the other apostles, which no one belonging to the succession of ecclesiastical writers has deemed worthy of mention in his writings.” (Church History, Book 3, ch. 25, section 6)

Hippolytus’s Refutation of All Heresies, 5.7.20 (A.D. c. 222-235) and Origen’s Homilies in Luc. 1 (A.D. c. 233) reflect similarly on the Gospel of Thomas.  Forgeries and false prophets have abounded in every age.

The ‘Gospel of Thomas’ was not discovered by moderns until it was dug up in 1945 in Egypt, in a collection of other gnostic writings.  The earliest fragments of the work only date from A.D. 130-250.  If God teaches in Scripture that his Word will be, “by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages” (WCF 1.8; Mt. 5:18), then the Church being without the Gospel of Thomas for so many ages demonstrates that it is not the Word of God.

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How to Tell if a Work is Apocryphal:
Extrinsic & Natural Markers

Not every apocryphal work is quite so easy to recognize as the Gospel of Thomas.  How can one know if a work is apocryphal or whether it is inspired of God?  There are both extrinsic and natural markers, and internal and spiritual markers.

One important extrinsic marker, as highlighted by Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.5 is that “[w]e may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to a high and reverend esteem of the holy scripture (1 Tim. 3:15, ‘…the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.’)”.

Consequently if a work has not been recognized as inspired by the chosen and spiritual people of God (1 Cor. 2:15; 1 Cor. 4:37), who are inwardly illuminated and taught of God (1 Jn. 2:27) and for whom the God-inspired writings were given and designed (Rom. 3:2; 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11), this gives a strong presumption that the work is not Scripture.

This principle rules out the whole Old Testament Apocrypha.  John Gill wrote:

“It is frequently said by the Jews,¹ that after the death of the latter prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Ghost departed from Israel, or prophecy ceased; and that this is one of the five things wanting [lacking] in the second temple, the Holy Ghost, that is prophecy;² and that there was no prophet under that temple;³ meaning, after the building of it was finished, for they suppose it continued whilst the three above prophets lived; and they all agree that Malachi was the last of the prophets; and whom Aben Ezraª calls sof n’vieem, the end of the prophets, at whose death prophecy ceased:

and if there were no spirit of prophecy, nor any prophet after those times, until prophecy began to dawn in John the Baptist, Malachi prophesies of, then there could be no books written by the inspiration of the Spirit of God within that period.

¹ T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 11. i.
² Baal Aruch in voce cheved.  fol. 75. 3.
³ Vid. Nizzachon Vet p. 52. Ed. Wagenseil.
ª Comment. in Mal. i. l.”

– ‘A Dissertation on the Apocryphal Writings’  in An Exposition of the Old Testament…  vol. 4  (London, 1852-4), p. 896

When Jesus demarcated in his day what the Scriptures were, He spoke only of “the law of Moses’, ‘the prophets’ (which included the historical books) and ‘the psalms’ (Lk. 24:44; see also Lk. 16:29; 24:27; Jn. 1:45; Acts 28:23).  These categories of the Hebrew canon did not include the Old Testament apocryphal books.

But what about the claimed-books surrounding the canon of the New Testament?  For the sake of the certainty of your faith for the rest of your life, take 10 minutes and look over this chapter of Archibald Alexander in which he gives 10 safe and commonsense, natural rules for how to tell if a work is apocryphal or not:

Section 15, ”Rules for Determining what Books are Apocryphal…”  in  The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained: or the Bible Complete Without the Apocrypha and Unwritten Tradition  new ed., rev. (1833; Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board, 1851), pp. 270-280

Every apocryphal work that exists fails under these natural rules, and every book inspired of God in the Canon passes these rules.

For a further enumeration of the disqualifying problems of the apocryphal books, see these succinct and helpful articles (in order of length):

Jackson, Wayne – ‘Is the Apocrypha Inspired of God?’  ChristianCourier.com

Stewart, Don – ‘Why Were the Books of the Old Testament Apocrypha Rejected as Holy Scripture by the Protestants?’  at BlueLetterBible.org  Gives 27 reasons with quotes from the Apocrypha.

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Internal & Spiritual Markers

If a work came from the breath of God through holy men of old (2 Pet. 1:20-21), one would expect that it would have the marks of coming from the mind of God.  What are the marks that we would expect would characterize God’s own words?

Westminster Confession 1.5 enumerates the traditional marks that have been recognized through Church history as manifesting the imprint of God’s Spirit:

1. ‘the heavenliness of the matter’
2. ‘the efficacy of the doctrine’
3. ‘the majesty of the style’
4. ‘the consent of all the parts’
5. ‘the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God)’
6. ‘the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation’
7. ‘the many other incomparable excellencies’
8. ‘and the entire perfection thereof’

These marks of inspiration have sometimes been characterized as merely subjective, and therefore relative to the eye of the beholder and thus uncertain.  However, take a careful look at these marks again: near all of them are objective and may be objectively discerned as being present, or not, in a given document.  Not surprisingly, the Gospel of Thomas is objectively devoid of near-all of these markers.

While “we may be moved and induced…  to a high and reverend esteem of the holy Scripture” through the foregoing marks, ‘yet, notwithstanding,’ says W.C.F. 1.5 rightly, “our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts. (1 Jn. 2:20,27; Jn. 16:13,14; 1 Cor. 2:10-12; Isa. 59:21)”

This is true because, as God promises in his Word, the Holy Spirit reveals and confirms his Word to us.  As this is subjectively experienced on the one hand, it is a real experience that individuals may keenly know, experience and be assured of for themselves.  On the other hand, this action worked upon us is objectively and actually done by the Holy Spirit, from an external source, and that in accordance with only the writings that the Holy Spirit actually inspired, as He does not confirm forgeries.

While it is true that individual persons may, and do, err in their assessment of their own subjective impressions (though there remains a large difference between the genuine internal confirmation of the Holy Spirit and a fleshly persuasion devoid of the Spirit), yet as the Holy Spirit objectively confirms Christians in all ages of these things, it is thus that much more unlikely that the whole Church (‘the pillar and ground of the truth’) has erred on this point.

In accordance with a fundamental principle of God’s existence, his Word and of Protestantism, we deal not with men, but directly with God Himself.  Thus, when, by the inward working of the Holy Spirit, we find the marks of God’s inspiration laced through the Scriptures, it is upon God’s authority itself that we receive them as given from Him as the highest authority in heaven and on earth.  W.C.F. 1.4:

“The authority of the holy scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or church, but wholly upon God, (who is truth itself,) the author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the word of God.†

2 Pet. 1:19,21; 2 Tim. 3:16; 1 John 5:9; 1 Thess. 2:13

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But What about Some of the More Controversial Canonical Books through Church History?

John Owen answers well how it is conceptually possible that some parts of the early Church did not initially receive some of the divinely inspired books as canonical (such as Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John & Revelation); and how some of the Church throughout history has sometimes received some books of the apocrypha as canonical:

Objection 3, pp. 635-638  of ‘The Testimony of the Church is not the Only, nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God’  in Puritan Sermons, 5.606-648 & in Works, 8.495-543

See also the details of many of the resources below in order to further establish your confidence in the divine inspiration (or lack thereof) in some of these more controversial books.

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The Lord our Shield & Light
(Gen. 15:1; Ps. 27:1)

The Truth does not fear the unknown, or anything at all; rather, it exposes darkness for what it is.  Do not found your faith on ignorance.  Have you found God’s Word to be true in view of every other option?  When every other alternative is surveyed and found out, it is seen that there are no competitors to God’s Word, no part of God’s Word has been lost, and necessarily no other book will ever be added to the Canon of the inspired Word of God.

In reading a substantial portion of the apocryphal works, not only will it be greatly confirmed to you that the 66 books of the protestant Bible are in fact the Word of God and that the Church through history has rightly recognized this, but you will find the revelation of God in Scripture to be all the more glorious set against the dark backdrop of the fallible productions of mere men.

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The Historical Value of some of the Apocryphal Books

The Jewish Apocrypha consists of 14-15 books which were included in the Septuagint (the ancient Greek, Jewish translation of the Old Testament), though were not included in the Hebrew canon.  While not being inspired of God, they do give some very helpful light upon the history and thought of the Inter-testamental period, as most of the works were written during the first few centuries B.C. and give some context to the background of the New Testament.

For instance, the books of Maccabees are our main primary source for much of the Jewish history during the second century B.C.  Scripture says in the prophecies of Daniel that during the Maccabean time, “the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Dan. 12:32)  Read about them!

‘Pseudepigrapha’ means writings written under a false name, which are not a part of the O.T. Apocrypha.  These religious writings, written during the first few centuries B.C. through the first few centuries A.D. do give some light on the genres of literature current to the writing of the New Testament.

The New Testament apocryphal works (including the Gospel of Thomas) are not generally useful to understanding the background of the New Testament, as they post-date it, though they do have a very limited use in giving more light to the context of post-Biblical, early Church history in exemplifying its erroneous strands and dangers (which Paul warned against in Galatians, Colossians, etc.).

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The Spiritual Value of Some of the Apocryphal Books

While the apocryphal books have some errors in them, many of them were also devout and pious writings of the ancient era.  This is why the apocrypha has been esteemed through much of Church history as useful for edification, and why many reformed theologians of the puritan era wrote commentaries on the apocrypha, as may be found here:

Commentaries on the Apocrypha

For an intriguing Introduction to the place of the Apocrypha as held and developed through the Reformation and puritan eras, see Wes Bredenhof, ‘Guy de Bres and the Apocrypha’  (Westminster Theological Journal, 74:2, Fall, 2012).

For a brief introduction into the spiritual value of the Apocrypha, see David Briones, ‘Should Protestants Read the Apocrypha?’ (at Table Talk Magazine).

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Where to Start?

Don’t let the number of resources on this webpage intimidate you.  They are designed to let you explore as far into this subject as you desire.

Where should you begin?

– In order to understand the Scriptural view better, what God says about this subject, read a few orthodox articles on the Biblical canon regarding that there is a canon, why there is a canon, and how the canon has formed and been recognized through Biblical and post-Biblical history.

– Read a few articles from the section immediately below on this webpage explaining why the apocryphal books are rightly not in the canon.

– Read Edgar Goodspeed’s, The Story of the Apocrypha (1939) along with the Apocrypha itself.

– Read a handful of the O.T. pseudepigrapha with the introductions to them at The Wesley Center.

– Read a handful or two of the Christian apocryphal works at Early Christian Writings.

To progress after this, if you desire, read the scholarly introductions to these apocryphal and pseudepigraphic works as referenced below.  Most of all though, don’t let scholars fool you: their claims about these works are only as good as the evidence it is based on (and even the proposed evidence is often founded on a significant amount of interpretation).  Most of these scholars do not know God in Christ, and a babe in Christ may be able to better spiritually (and sometimes even naturally) evaluate these writings than they:

“For it is written, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’  Where is the wise? where is the scribe?…  hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?”

May a further exploration and knowledge of these writings confirm you in the truth of God and make his sacred, canonical Word glorious in your eyes above the pitiful darkness and corruption of men.  May Christ be your Teacher:

“Lead me in thy truth, and teach me:
for Thou art the God of my salvation;
on Thee do I wait all the day.”

Ps. 25:5

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Critiques of Apocryphal Works in regard to the Biblical Canon

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Articles

Early Church

Eusebius – Ch. 25, ‘The Divine Scriptures that are accepted and those that are not’  Book 3 of Ecclesiastical History

Eusebius (A.D. 260/265 – 339/340) was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and a Christian polemicist.

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1500’s

Whitaker, William – First Question of the First Controversy, ‘Of the Number of the Canonical Books of Scripture’  in A Disputation on Holy Scripture against the Papists, especially Bellarmine and Stapleton  (1588; Cambridge, 1849), pp. 25-109

Whitaker (1548-1595) was a reformed, Anglican puritan.

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1600’s

Broughton, Hugh – Principal Positions for Grounds of the Holy Bible; a Short Oration of the Bible’s Translation; Positions Historique: and of the Apocrypha; Tobit Particularly Handled; Judith Severally Handled  (1609)  31 pp.

Broughton (1549-1612) was a reformed Anglican and scholar.

Leigh, Edward – Bk. 1, ch. 5, ‘Of the Books Called Apocrypha’  in A System or Body of Divinity  (London, 1654)

Dickson, David – Ch. 1, Question 6  in Truth’s Victory Over Error: or the True Principles of the Christian Religion  Buy  (1662)

Owen, John – Objection 3, pp. 635-638  of ‘The Testimony of the Church is not the Only, nor the Chief Reason of our Believing the Scripture to be the Word of God’  in Puritan Sermons, 5.606-648 & in Works, 8.495-543

Owen answers well how it is conceptually possible that some of the Church had not initially received some of the canonical books as canonical, such as Hebrews, 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John & Revelation; and how it sometimes received some of the books of the apocrypha as canonical.

Turretin, Francis – 2nd Topic, Question 9, ‘Ought Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the two first books of the Maccabees, Baruch, the additions to Esther and Daniel to be numbered among the canonical books?  We deny against the Papists’  in Institutes of Elenctic Theology, 3 vols.  Buy  trans. James Dennison Jr.  (1679–1685)

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1700’s

Burnet, Gilbert – ‘Of the Apocrypha’  in Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England  (d. 1715; London, 1833), pp. 104-106

John Gill – ‘A Dissertation on the Apocryphal Writings’  in An Exposition of the Old Testament…  vol. 4  (d. 1771; London, 1852-4), pp. 896-903

Gill (1697-1771), besides being a particular baptist theologian, was also a scholar in Hebrew and Jewish writings.

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1800’s

Haldane, Robert – Ch. 2, ‘Apocrypha’  in The Books of the Old and New Testaments, Canonical and Inspired; with Remarks on the Apocrypha  1st American ed. (Boston, 1840)

Wordsworth, Christopher – Lecture 4, ‘On the True Character and Position of the Apocrypha’  in On the Canon of the Scriptures of the Old & New Testament, and on the Apocrypha: Eleven Discourses… being the Hulsean Lectures for the year 1847  (London, 1848), pp. 91-117  Other parts of the book are relevant as well.

Wordsworth (1807–1885) was an English bishop in the Anglican Church and a man of letters.  He was the nephew of the poet William Wordsworth.

Wordsworth, in this section and in Appendix E (Thomas Hooker, Ecclesiastical Polity) & Appendix G (‘On the Consequences which would follow from the Total Rejection of the Apocrypha’), argues the Church of England position, that, while the Apocrypha is not inspired, yet it is useful for religious instruction and should be kept printed in Bibles and publicly read and taught from in divine service. 

Ellicott, Charles J. – ‘Apocryphal Gospels’  in Cambridge Essays, contributed by members of the University, 1856  (London: John W. Parker & Son), pp. 154-208

Ellicott (1819–1905) was an Anglican scholar, theologian, and churchman, known for his fine commentaries on the epistles of Paul.

Cunningham, William – ‘The Apocrypha and the Canon of the New Testament’  (1878)  34 pp.   from his Theological Lectures,  p. 412 ff.

Gaussen, Louis – ‘On the Apocrypha’  1863  32 p.  from his The Canon of the Holy Scriptures from the Double Point of View of Science and of Faith   Buy  629 pp.

Stowe, Calvin E.

Origin & History of the Books of the Bible, both the Canonical and the Apocryphal, Designed to Show What the Bible is Not, What it is and How to Use It  (Hartford, CT: Hartford Publishing, 1868)

Ch. 7, ‘The Apocryphal Gospels and Fragments of Gospels Supposed to be Lost’, pp. 203-252

Ch. 9, ‘The Acts of the Apostles & the Apocryphal Acts’, pp. 313-334

Ch. 11, ‘The Catholic Epistles and the Apocryphal Epistles’, pp. 391-467

Ch. 12, ‘The Revelation of St. John & the Apocryphal Revelations’, pp. 469-508

Ch. 14, ‘The Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament, and the Reasons for their Exclusion from the Sacred Canon’, pp. 541-583

Stowe (1802–1886) was an American Bible Scholar and a professor at Andover Theological Seminary, and the husband of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Hodge, A.A. – ‘Canon & Apocrypha’  in The Westminster Confession of Faith: a Commentary

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1900’s

Green, William – Ch. 11, ‘The Apocrypha Condemned by Internal Evidence’  in General Introduction to the Old Testament: vol. 1: the Canon (1911-13), pp. 195-200

Green (1825–1900) was an imminent Princeton, Hebrew scholar.

Young, G. Douglas – ‘The Apocrypha’  1959  13 pp. in Revelation and the Bible. Contemporary Evangelical Thought, ed. Carl Henry, pp. 171-185

Bahnsen, Greg – ‘Application of Canonicity’ being the last subsection in The Concept and Importance of Canonicity  12 paragraphs

Beckwith, Roger –Introduction’, ‘The Fact of the Canon’ (b), (c), (d), (e) & (f) of ‘The Identity of the Canonical Books: The Books Excluded As Uncanonical’  iThe Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church  Buy  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), pp. 1-15, 63-104, 366-408, 419-33

“Beckwith’s book is the most significant contribution on canon in a century.  His purpose is to describe the canon as it existed in the first century A.D., particularly the canon of Jesus’ day.  He marshals strong evidence that Jesus’ canon was the same as that in contemporary Protestantism.” – Tremper Longman III, 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon, C. Matthew – ‘The Apocrypha is Not Scripture — Main Introduction, pt. 1, ‘It is Not Scripture’, pt. 2, ‘Not Written by Prophets’, pt. 3, ‘Church Fathers & Councils Reject it’, pt. 4, ‘Select Contradictions in the Apocrypha’, pt. 5, ‘A Closing Remark’

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2000’s

Kruger, Michael J.

‘Ten Basic Facts about the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize: #2: “Apocryphal Writings are All Written in the Second Century or Later”’

’10 Misconceptions about the NT Canon: #6: “In the Early Stages, Apocryphal Books Were as Popular as the Canonical Books”’

‘Apocryphal Books in Early Christian Codices: Evidence for their Canonical Status?’

‘Apocryphal Gospels, Conspiracy Theories, and the Mainstream Media’

Kruger has been a professor of New Testament & early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, and a minister in the PCA.

Stewart, Don – ‘Why Were the Books of the Old Testament Apocrypha Rejected as Holy Scripture by the Protestants?’  at BlueLetterBible.org  Gives 27 reasons with quotes from the Apocrypha.  Substantial & helpful.

Jackson, Wayne – ‘Is the Apocrypha Inspired of God?’  ChristianCourier.com  Succinct & helpful.

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Book-Length Works

1700’s

A Love of Truth – An Essay Concerning the Books Commonly Called Apocrypha, and the Public Reading of Them in the Church  (London, 1740)

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1800’s

Alexander, Archibald – The Canon of the Old and New Testaments Ascertained: or the Bible Complete Without the Apocrypha and Unwritten Tradition  new ed., rev.  (1833; Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board, 1851)  374 pp.

Alexander was the first professor of Old Princeton Seminary.

Thornwell, James, H. – ‘Romanist Arguments for the Apocrypha Discussed’  in Part 2, Papal Controversy’  in Collected Writings, vol. 3, Theological and Controversial  (1871), pp. 413-805

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Latin  (including on the Pseudepigrapha)

For more see the section on ‘Scripture’ on the webpage, Works Against Robert Bellarmine, who was the most famous apologist for Romanism, which held the O.T. Apocrypha to be canonical.

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1600’s

Tilen, Daniel – 4. Of the Number of the Canonical Books & Notes of Apocryphal Works  in An Ordered Arrangement of Theological Disputations held in the Academy of Sedan, vol. 1  (1607, 1611), pp. 28-38

Tilen  (1563-1633)

Rainolds, John – A Censure of the Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament, Against the Papists, especially Robert Bellarmine, whereby the divine and canonical authority of Sacred Scripture is most solidly asserted, and in which is especially accurately explained the Duration of the Persian Monarchy and the 70 Weeks of Daniel, in 50 lectures in the Academy of Oxford drawn into a tract posthumously, vols. 12  (Oppenheim, Germany, 1611)

Rainolds (1549-1607) was an reformed English academic and churchman, of Puritan views.  He is remembered for his role in the Authorized Version of the Bible, a project of which he was initiator.

On Rainolds, see T.H. Horne, Manual, p. 154.

Pareus, David – Collection 5, Disputations, 2. Of the Canonical & Apocryphal Books  in Theological Collections of Universal Orthodox Theology, where also All of the Present Theological Controversies are Clearly and Variously Explained, vol. 1  (1611/20), pp. 538-542

Pareus (1548-1622)

Chamier, Daniel

8. Of the Authority of Revelation, & of the Canonical & Apocryphal Books & 17. Of the Apocryphal Books  in A Body of Theology, or Theological Common Places  (Geneva, 1653), pp. 8-9 & 30-35

Chamier (1564–1621)

Locus 1, Inquiry 2, Book 4, Of the Apocryphal Books: Papal Arguments & Book 5, Catholic Arguments  in Panstratiae Catholicae, or a Body of the Controversies of Religion Against the Papists, vols. 1 (Canon)  (Frankfurt, 1627-1629), pp. 45-71

Daille, Jean – Of the Apostolic Pseudepigrapha, or 8 Apocryphal Books of the Apostolic Constitutions, in 3 Books  (Hardervic, 1653)  Table of contents

Hottinger, Johann Heinrich – A Theological Dissertation on the Prophecy of Enoch, and other Pseudepigraphic Books of the Old Testament  (Heidelberg, 1660)

Burman, Francis – Bk. 1, Locus 1, ch. 6, ‘Of the Canonical, Apocryphal & Supposed Books’  in A Synopsis of Theology, and especially of the Economy of the Covenant of God, from the beginning of ages to the consummation of all things, vol. 1  (Utrecht, 1671), pp. 34-41

Burman (1628-79)

Braun, Johannes – Part 1, ch. 3, ‘Of the Canon, the Apocryphal Books, Traditions & of an Enthusiastic Spirit’  in The Doctrine of the Covenants, or A System of Didactic and Elenctic Theology  (Amsterdam, 1691), pp. 19-23

Braun (1628-1708)

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1700’s

Heidegger, Johann Heinrich

2. Of Sacred Scrpture, 19. Of the Apocryphal Books  in The Marrow of Christian Theology: an Introductory Epitome of the Body of Theology  (Zurich, 1713), pp. 24-25

Heidegger (1633-1698)

Locus 2, 7. Of the Apocryphal Books, theses 53-55  in A Body of Christian Theology, Exhibiting True Doctrine, which is according to godliness, vol. 1 (Zurich, 1700), pp. 37-38

Mosheim, Johann Lorenz – Ch. 2, ‘A Defense for the Canon of the New Testament’  in Old Vindications of the Instruction [Disciplinae] of Christians, contra the Celebrated Johann Toland…  (Hamburg, 1722), pp. 342-371

Mosheim (1693-1755) was a Luthern ecclesiastical historian, and is often regarded as the father of modern, critical Church history.

Benzel, Henry

A System of Dissertations in the Academy of Lund…  (Frankfort & Leipzig, 1745)

‘Dissertation on the Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament in General’, pp. 297-316

‘Of the Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament in Specific’, pp. 316-339

Benzel (1689-1758) a prominent Swedish theologian and archbishop.

Stosch, Ferdinand

A Theological Tract on the Epistles of the Apostles being their own, in that the apostles wrote their letters not by amanuensis, but by their own hand, lucidly demonstrated  (Guelpherbyti, 1751)  Table of contents

Stosch (1717-1780) was a German reformed theologian.

Apostolikon Olokleron Hoc Est Tractatvs Theologicvs De Epistolis Apostolorum Non Deperditis: Quo Nullam Ex Epistolis Ab Apostolis Jesu Christi Exaratis Periisse Luculenter Demonstratur…  Ref  (Groningen, 1753)  [A Theological Tract, that the Epistles of the Apostles have not Perished, and that No Lost Epistles of the Apostles of Jesus Christ have been dug up, Lucidly Demonstrated]

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Read the O.T. Apocrypha

Website

The Wesley Center Online

‘Old Testament Apocrypha’

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Books

ed. Charles, R.H. – The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, with Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes, vol. 1 (Apocrypha), 2 (Pseudepigrapha)  (1913; rep. 1976)

This is the standard, older, scholarly edition of these books, though it has been surpassed by the Charlesworth edition below.

Goodspeed, Edgar – The Apocrypha: an American Translation  (1938/89)

Goodspeed, a significant early scholar on the Apocrypha, also wrote an Introduction to the Apocrypha (below).

Metzger, Bruce & Herbert Gordon May – The Oxford Annotated Bible, with the Apocrypha  (New York: Oxford, 1965)

ed. Metzger, Bruce – The Oxford Annotated Apocrypha: the Apocrypha of the Old Testament, Revised Standard Version, expanded edition…  (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1977)

ed. H.F.D. Sparks – The Apocryphal Old Testament  Buy  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984/5)

“Presents new translations of the more important noncanonical books, the selection being smaller than Charlesworth’s and less heavily annotated. A companion volume, The Apocyphal New Testament edited by J.K. Elliott, was published in 1993.” – Bible Researcher

ed. Ridling, Zaine – ‘The Apocrypha, with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books’  in NRSV: The Bible with the Apocrypha  (National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, 1989)

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Read Them in their Original Greek

ed. Brenton, Lancelot Charles Lee – The Septuagint Version of the Old Testament and Apocrypha: with an English Translation and Various Readings and Critical Notes  (London, New York: Bagster, 1900)  1980 reprinting

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Read the O.T. Pseudepigrapha

Website

The Wesley Center Online

‘Old Testament Pseudepigrapha’

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Books

1900’s

ed. Charles, R.H. – The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, with Introductions and Critical and Explanatory Notes, vol. 1 (Apocrypha), 2 (Pseudepigrapha)

This is the standard, older, scholarly edition of these books, though it has been surpassed by the Charlesworth edition below.

ed. Charlesworth, James – The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, 2 vols.  Buy  1983  1,000 pp. each  Doubleday/Anchor  Very hard to find.

The is the most exhaustive, scholarly and standard edition of the O.T. Pseudepigrapha, including 65 works, many more than what is in R.H. Charles’ older edition above.

“The brief introductions and notes are much inferior to those in the edition of R.H. Charles.” – Bible Researcher

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2000’s

ed. Lumpkin, Joseph B. – The Encyclopedia Of Lost And Rejected Scriptures; The Pseudepigrapha And Apocrypha  (Fifth Estate Publishers, 2010)

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Greek & Latin

Fabricius, Johann Albert – Codex Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament, vol. 1, 2  (Hamburg & Leipzig, 1713)

Fabricius (1668-1736) was a German classical scholar and bibliographer from the Lutheran tradition.

“This collection contains every fragment of such productions; with important remarks on their character, evidence, etc., from which Lardner, Jones and others have drawn largely.” -Howard Malcom

See the comments of Horne, Manual, p. 148.  See also the article ‘The Modern Invention of ‘Old Testament Pseudepigrapha’  Ref  in The Journal of Theological Studies 60(2), Oct., 2009.  See the abstract.

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The Original Languages

Website

The Online Critical Pseudepigrapha

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Read the New Testament Apocryphal Books

Websites

Early Christian Writings

‘Apocrypha’  27 writings

‘Gnostics, Gnostic Gospels & Gnosticism’  16 writings

‘Early Christian Writings: Index’  225+ writings, most of which are apocryphal and before the mid-300’s

The Wesley Center Online

‘Apocryphal NT Acts’

These indexes contain numerous works not above.

‘Apocryphal NT Apocalypse’

‘Apocryphal NT Gospels’

‘Pseudonymous Writings’

The Gnostic Society Library

‘The Nag Hammadi Library’

This collection of over 50 gnostic writings was found in Egypt in 1945.  See the Alphabetical Index for the writings themselves.

North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature

‘Manuscripta apocryphorum’  (Apocryphal Manuscripts)

A collection of online manuscripts by geographical region.

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Books

NT Apocrypha & Pseudepigapha

1800’s

Walker, Alexander – Apocryphal Gospels, Acts & Revelations  in Ante-Nicene Christian Library…  vol. 16,  ed. Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson (Edinburgh, 1870)

Hone, William – The Apocryphal New Testament, being all the Gospels, Epistles and other Pieces Now Extent, Attributed in the First Four Centuries to Jesus Christ, his Apostles & their Companions; and not included, by its compilers, in the Authorized New Testament  (Philadelphia, 1880)

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1900’s

ed. Wake, William & Nathaniel Lardner – The Apocryphal New Testament, comprising the Gospels and Epistles now Extant, that in the First Four Centuries were more or less accredited to the Apostles and their coadjutors, but were finally excluded from the New Testament Canon  New Edition  (London, 1901)

James, Montague Rhodes – The Apocryphal New Testament: Being the Apocryphal Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Apocalypses, with Other Narratives and Fragments Newly Translated  (Oxford: Clarendon, 1924)  reprinted many times

The main, handy scholarly collection before Elliott below.  James deliberately imitated the language of the KJV.

Hennecke, Edgar, Wilhelm Schneemelcher, R.M. Wilson – New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 1 & vol. 2  Buy  (Westminster Press, 1963-65/1990)

“Scholarly introductory articles on the canon of the New Testament, the origin of the Apocrypha, non-Biblical material about Jesus, the Gnostic writings, studies of work and sufferings of Jesus, a scholarly series of articles on the apostles and apostolic pseudepigrapha, etc.  A work for the scholar.” – Cyril J. Barber

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2000’s

ed. Elliott, J.K.

The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation  Buy  (Oxford, 2005)  747 pp.

An update from the collection of M.R. James in 1924.  “The collection is designed to give readers the most important or famous of the Christian apocrypha and a small sample of gnostic texts.”

The Apocryphal Jesus: Legends of the Early Church  Buy  (Oxford, 1996)

“This handy book collects the apocryphal legends of Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, Pontius Pilate, Veronica, and the ‘harrowing of Hell.'” – Bible Researcher

ed. Lumpkin, Joseph B. – The Encyclopedia Of Lost And Rejected Scriptures; The Pseudepigrapha And Apocrypha  (Fifth Estate Publishers, 2010)

ed. Ehrman, Bart D. & Plese Zlatko – The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts & Translations  (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011)

Burke, Tony & Brent Landau – New Testament Apocrypha:  More Noncanonical Scriptures  Buy  (Eerdmans, 2016)  635 pp.

“Compilation of little-known and never-before-published apocryphal Christian texts in English translation.”  Another volume is being planned.

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Latin & Greek

1700’s

Fabricius, Johann Albert – An Apocryphal Codex of the New Testament, Collected & Corrected, and by Testimonies, Criticisms and Animadversions Illustrated, vol. 1, 2, 3  (Hamburg, 1703)

Fabricius (1668-1736) was a German classical scholar and bibliographer from the Lutheran tradition.

“A curious collection of apocryphal pieces, which is not very often to be met with complete.  The learned Mr. Jones made great use of it, and, in fact, translated the greater part of it in his elaborate work on the Canon of the New Testament…” – Horne

“This collection contains every fragment of such productions; with important remarks on their character, evidence, etc., from which Lardner, Jones and others have drawn largely.” -Howard Malcom

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Gnostic Writings

Grant, Robert M. – Gnosticism: A Source Book of Heretical Writings from the Early Christian Period  Buy  (New York: AMS Press, 1961)

ed. Robinson, James M. – The Nag Hammadi Library in English  Buy  (New York: Harper & Row, 1977)  The 1988 3rd ed. is thoroughly revised.

“In this volume, 47 short Gnostic tractates in the Coptic language that were discovered at Nag Hammadi in Egypt are translated into English by 38 members of the ‘Coptic Gnostic Library Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont, California’.  Most of the texts are quite obscure in many places, so that the reader can scarcely make sense of them.  Some help is given in the brief introductions to each tractate, but unfortunately the edition provides no annotations whatsoever.  Probably the translators themselves were at a loss to explain much of it.  The reader may however get from this volume a good idea of how utterly strange and perverse the Gnostic literature was.” – Bible Researcher

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Introductions & Background

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Introductions & Background to the O.T. Apocrypha

The critical works above also include introductions and background to these works.

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Articles

1700’s

Lewis, Thomas

Book 8  of Origines Hebraeae: The Antiquities of the Hebrew Republic, vol. 4  (London, 1725)

Ch. 4, ‘Of the Apocryphal Books’, pp. 208-212

Ch. 6, ‘Books Cited in the Old Testament that are Lost’, pp. 215-221

Ch. 7, ‘Books not Inserted into the Canon of the Old Testament, but forged either by Jews or by Heretics among the Christians’, pp. 222-227

Chs. 46-54, ‘The Apocryphal Books’, pp. 310-324

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1800’s

Gray, Robert – ‘Key to the Apocryphal Books’  in A Key to the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, or an Account of their Several Books, their Contents & Authors, and of the Times in which they were Respectively Written…  to which is added A Key to the New Testament by Thomas Percy  (London, 1842), pp. 272-345

Horne, Thomas Hartwell

An Introduction to the Critical Study and Knowledge of the Holy Scriptures  (different editions)

vol. 1, Appendix, ‘On the Books Commonly Termed the Apocrypha’, pp. 469-527

vol. 4, Part 1, Ch. 5, ‘On the Apocrypha’, pp. 242-52

Horne (1780–1862) was a Church of England minister, a bibliographer and on staff at the British museum.  This evangelical and orthodox Introduction was used at Old Princeton for a time.

“Of great value to the Bible expositor.  Provides a comprehensive compendium of Biblical knowledge covering hermeneutics, history and geography, and apologetics.” – Cyril J. Barber

ed. Kitto, John – ‘Apocrypha’  in Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, vol. 1 (A-H)  (1880), pp. 176-179

ed. McClintock & Strong – ‘Apocrypha’  in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature  (1867-1887)  Conservative

ed. Schaff, Philip – ‘Apocrypha of the Old Testament’  in A Religious Encyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal and Practical Theology, vol. 1 (A-D)  (1891), pp. 99-107

ed. Smith, William & J.M. Fuller – ‘Apocrypha’  in A Dictionary of the Bible, Comprising its Antiquities, Biography, Geography and Natural History, vol. 1.1 (A-Ely)  (1893), pp. 161-197

This was the most standard and scholarly of the older Bible dictionaries.

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1900’s

ed. Cheyne, T.K. & J. Sutherland Black – ‘Apocrypha’  in Encyclopedia Biblica, vol. 1 (A-D)  (1899-1903), cols. 249-261  Liberal

‘Apocrypha’  in The Jewish Encyclopedia  (1901-1906)

‘Apocrypha’  in The Catholic Encyclopedia  (1907-1912)

The 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia was the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. 

ed. Hastings, Selbie, Davidson, Driver, Swete – ‘Apocrypha’  in A Dictionary of the Bible Dealing with its Language, Literature and Contents, including the Biblical Theology, vol. 1 (A-Fea)  (1908), pp. 110-123  Liberal

‘Apocryphal Literature’  in Encyclopedia Britannica, vol. 2  11th Edition   (1911)

This was the best, longest and most in-depth Encyclopedia Britannica ever printed.  When published in 1911, this encyclopedia contained over 40 million words in nearly 40,000 articles written by 1,500 authors respected in their fields. For this reason it represented the sum of human knowledge at the beginning of the 20th century.

ed. Orr, James, et al. – ‘Apocrypha’  in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  1915/1939  Conservative/Evangelical

Bruce, F.F. – ‘The Apocrypha, Revised and Introduced’  Eternity Magazine (Nov., 1957): 18-19, 42.

Bruce was an evangelical and a professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, England.

Buttrick, George – ‘Apocrypha’  in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: an Illustrated Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (A-D)  (1962), pp. 161-166  Abingdon is liberal

Webster, William – ‘The Old Testament Canon & the Apocrypha:  A Survey of the History of the Apocrypha from The Jewish Age to the Reformation’  Webster specializes as an evangelical Christian apologist against Romanism.

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Books

1800’s

Wilson, Charles – The Books of the Apocrypha, with Critical & Historical Observations prefixed to each book; also Two Introductory Discourses  (Edinburgh, 1801)

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1900’s

Ferrar, William John – The Uncanonical Jewish Books: a Short Introduction to the Apocrypha and Other Jewish Writings, 200 B.C.-100 A.D.  (Society for Promoting Christian, 1918)

Goodspeed, Edgar J. – The Story of the Apocrypha  (Univ. of Chicago Press, 1939)  145 pp.

“Where should you begin?  Read the Apocrypha and E.J. Goodspeed, The Story of the Apocrypha…” – Joel Beeke, Reader’s Guide

Oesterley, William O.E. – An Introduction to the Books of the Apocrypha  (New York: MacMillan, 1935)  350 pp.

“…has been superseded by Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha…” – Joel Beeke, Reader’s Guide

Pfeiffer, Robert H. – Part 2: ‘The Books of the Apocrypha’  in History of New Testament Times, with an Introduction to the Apocrypha  (1949)

Metzger, Bruce M. – An Introduction to the Apocrypha  Buy  (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1957/63)

“A comprehensive examination of the books of the Apocrypha together with an evaluation of their history and significance.” – Cyril J. Barber

“Many readers who could not bring themselves to read the more technical Introductions to the Apocrypha that are used in the study and classroom will find Professor Metzger’s book the very thing they want as a companion to the R.S.V. Apocrypha.” – F.F. Bruce

Andrews, Herbert Tom – An Introduction to the Apocryphal Books of the Old and New Testament  Buy  rev. Charles F. Pfeiffer  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1964)

“Concentrates on the historic value and literary importance of these noncanonical books.” – Cyril J. Barber, also recommended by Joel Beeke

Eissfeldt, Otto – II. ‘Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha’  in Part 4, ‘The Canon’  in The Old Testament: an Introduction, including the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and also the works of similar type from Qumran; the History of the Formation of the Old Testament  (Harper & Row, 1965/6)  Liberal

This work of Eisfeldt (1887-1973) has been a standard amongst liberals, giving a detailed literary-critical assessment of the history of the formation of each part of the Old Testament on the basis of the documentary hypothesis.

This work is not for the beginner, but for scholars.  Its bibliographies at the beginning of each section make it particularly valuable.

Harrison, R.K. – Part Fifteen: ‘The Apocrypha’  in Introduction to the Old Testament, with a comprehensive review of Old Testament studies and a special supplement on the Apocrypha  Buy  (Eerdmans, 1969), pp. 1173-1278

This is perhaps the most scholarly, generally conservative, modern work in the field of Old Testament introduction.  Tremper Longman described him as “one of the most competent Old Testament evangelical scholars today.”

Harrison (1920-1993) was a professor of Old Testament at the Univ. of Toronto.

“Where should you begin?  Read the Apocrypha and E.J. Goodspeed…  followed by Harrison and Metzger’s Introduction.” – Joel Beeke, Reaer’s Guide

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2000’s

eds. Evans, Craig A., and Stanley E. Porter – Dictionary of New Testament Background  Buy  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000)

Evans is an evangelical.  “Contains entries on each book of the Apocrypha and the major Pseudepigrapha by a variety of scholars, giving overviews of contents, historical setting, major themes, and importance for the study of early Judaism and Christianity. Of value to the beginning student and as a starting point for further research.” – Oxford Bibliographies

Helyer, Larry R. – Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period: A Guide for New Testament Students  Buy  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002)  Evangelical publisher

“An accessible guide to many of the books of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (and other Second Temple Jewish literature) with particular attention to historical context, theological ideas, and influence upon early Christian literature.”Oxford Bibliographies

DeSilva, David – Introducing the Apocrypha: Message, Context, and Significance  Buy  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002).

“A thorough and readable introduction from a conservative Protestant point of view.” – Bible Researcher

Evans, Craig A. – Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature  Buy  (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005)

Evans is an evangelical.  “Evans provides brief introductions and valuable bibliographical guides for each text.  The Apocrypha are treated on pages 9–25, the Pseudepigrapha on pages 26–75.” – Oxford Bibliographies

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Introductions & Background to the O.T. Pseudepigrapha

The critical works above also include introductions and background to these works.

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Articles

1800’s

Edersheim, Alfred

Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vol. 2  (d. 1889; New York & London: Longmans, Green, 1912)

Appendix 1, ‘Pseudepigraphic Writings’, pp. 655-658

Appendix 5, ‘Rabbinic Theology & Literature’, pp. 683-700

Edersheim (1825-1889) was raised an orthodox Jew, became converted to Christ partially through the influence of John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and entered into the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland.  Later he would join the Church of England, becoming one of the premier scholars of his time on 1st century studies.

ed. McClintock & Strong – ‘Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament’  in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature  (1867-1887)

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1900’s

Pfeiffer, Robert H.

History of New Testament Times, with an Introduction to the Apocrypha  (1949), Part 1, ‘Judaism from 200 B.C. to A.D. 200’

(A) Palestinian Judaism

III. Literary History, pp. 60-92

(B) Hellenistic Judaism

IV. Hellenism

Section 3. Hellenistic Literature, pp. 101-110

VI. Alexandrian-Jewish Literature, pp. 197-232

Eissfeldt, Otto – (b) ‘Pseudepigrapha’  in II. ‘Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha’  in Part 4, ‘The Canon’  in The Old Testament: an Introduction, including the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, and also the works of similar type from Qumran; the History of the Formation of the Old Testament  (Harper & Row, 1965/6), pp. 603-637   Liberal

This work of Eisfeldt (1887-1973) has been a standard amongst liberals, giving a detailed literary-critical assessment of the history of the formation of each part of the Old Testament on the basis of the documentary hypothesis.

This work is not for the beginner, but for scholars.  Its bibliographies at the beginning of each section make it particularly valuable.

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Books

1800’s

Deane, William J. – Pseudepigrapha: An Account of Certain Apocryphal Sacred Writings of the Jews & Early Christians  (Edinburgh, 1891)  A collection of journal articles

Deane (1823-1895) was an English scholar.

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1900’s

Ferrar, William John – The Uncanonical Jewish Books: a Short Introduction to the Apocrypha and Other Jewish Writings, 200 B.C.-100 A.D.  (Society for Promoting Christian, 1918)

Russell, David Syme

Between the Testaments  Buy  (London, SCM Press, 1960)

“Adequate sections on ‘The Cultural and Literary Background,’ and ‘The Apocalyptists’.  Contains a treatment of the Messiah as the Son of Man.  An excellent synthesis.” – Cyril J. Barber, also recommended by Joel Beeke

The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic: 200 BC-AD 100  Buy  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1964)  Liberal publisher

Surburg, Raymond F. – Introduction to the Intertestamental Period  Buy  (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1975)  Conservative publisher, associated with the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church

Rost, Leonhard – Judaism Outside the Hebrew Canon: An Introduction to the Documents  Buy  (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1976)  Liberal publisher

Nickelsburg, George W.E. – Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah: an Historical and Literary Introduction  Buy  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981/2005)  Liberal publisher

“A general survey of Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, and other Jewish literature carefully set in historical context (and presented in chronological order).  A revision and expansion of the 1981 edition.” – Oxford Bibliographies

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2000’s

eds. Evans, Craig A. & Stanley E. Porter – Dictionary of New Testament Background  Buy  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2000)

Evans is an evangelical.  “Contains entries on each book of the Apocrypha and the major Pseudepigrapha by a variety of scholars, giving overviews of contents, historical setting, major themes, and importance for the study of early Judaism and Christianity. Of value to the beginning student and as a starting point for further research.” – Oxford Bibliographies

Helyer, Larry R. – Exploring Jewish Literature of the Second Temple Period: A Guide for New Testament Students  Buy  (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002)  Evangelical publisher

“An accessible guide to many of the books of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (and other Second Temple Jewish literature) with particular attention to historical context, theological ideas, and influence upon early Christian literature.”Oxford Bibliographies

Evans, Craig A. – Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature  Buy  (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005)

Evans is an evangelical.  “Evans provides brief introductions and valuable bibliographical guides for each text.  The Apocrypha are treated on pages 9–25, the Pseudepigrapha on pages 26–75.” – Oxford Bibliographies

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Introductions & Background to Christian Apocryphal Works

Articles

1800’s

ed. McClintock & Strong – ‘Apocrypha’ & ‘Acts, Spurious, or Apocryphal’ in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature  (1867-1887)  Conservative

1900’s

ed. Orr, James, et al. – International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  1915/1939  Conservative/Evangelical

‘Apocryphal Acts, General’

‘Apocryphal Acts, the Separate Acts’

‘Apocryphal Epistles’

‘Apocryphal Gospels’

Buttrick, George – ‘Apocrypha, N.T.’  in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: an Illustrated Encyclopedia, vol. 1 (A-D)  (1962), pp. 166-169  Abingdon is liberal

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Books

1900’s

Andrews, Herbert Tom – An Introduction to the Apocryphal Books of the Old and New Testament  Buy  rev. Charles F. Pfeiffer  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1964)

“Concentrates on the historic value and literary importance of these noncanonical books.” – Cyril J. Barber, also recommended by Joel Beeke

Bruce, F.F. – Jesus and Christian Origins Outside the New Testament  Buy  (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974)

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2000’s

ed. Nicklas, Verheyden, Gregory, Tuckett – The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Apocrypha  Buy  (Oxford, 2015)

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Introductions & Background to the Gnostic Writings & Gnosticism

Articles

1800’s

McClintock & Strong – ‘Gnosticism’  in Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature  (1867-1887)  Conservative

ed. Schaff, Philip – ‘Gnosticism’  in A Religious Encyclopaedia, or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal and Practical Theology, vol. 2 (E-L)  (1891), pp. 877-881

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1900’s

‘Gnosticism’  in The Catholic Encyclopedia  (1907-1912)

ed. Hastings, James – ‘Gnosticism’  in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, vol. 6 (Fiction-Hyksos)  (1908-1927), pp. 231-242  Liberal

ed. Orr, James – ‘Gnosticism’  in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  1915/1939  Conservative/Evangelical

Buttrick, George – ‘Gnosticism’  in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible: an Illustrated Encyclopedia, vol. 2 (E-J)  (1962), pp. 404-406  Abingdon is liberal

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Books

von Harnack, Adolph – Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God  (1924; Durham, NC: Labyrinth Press, 1990)

“An English translation of a work first published in German in 1924.  This is the classic study of Marcion.  Harnack [a liberal] was the first to demonstrate Marcion’s significance for the development of the orthodox church.” – Bible Researcher

Grant, Robert M. – Gnosticism and Early Christianity  Buy  (London, 1959)

Grant, Robert Mcueen & David Noel Freedman – The Secret Sayings of Jesus: A Modern Translation of the Gospel of Thomas with Commentary  Buy  (Garden City: Doubleday and Co., 1960)

“Provides an authoritative interpretation of the manuscripts.” – Cyril J. Barber

Summers, Ray – The Secret Sayings of the Living Jesus: Studies in the Coptic Gospel according to Thomas  Buy  (Waco: Word Books, 1968)

“A concise evaluation of the fourth-century library discovered at Nag Hammadi, Egypt.” – Cyril J. Barber

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History of the Use of the Apocrypha

Through the Whole of Church History

Daubney, William Heaford – The Use of the Apocrypha in the Christian Church  (London, 1900)

Webster, William – ‘The Old Testament Canon & the Apocrypha:  A Survey of the History of the Apocrypha from The Jewish Age to the Reformation’  Webster specializes as a Christian apologist against Romanism.

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During the Reformation Era

Bredenhof, Wes – ‘Guy de Bres and the Apocrypha’  Westminster Theological Journal, 74:2, Fall, 2012.  de Bres was an author of the Belgic Confession.

“Did you know that the first editions of the Belgic Confession included two proof-texts from the apocrypha?  Did you know that our contemporary editions continue to include one small quote from the apocrypha?

Elsewhere in his writings, Guido de Brès referred more often to these non-canonical writings.  Moreover, de Brès was not exceptional in doing this.  Other Reformers did likewise, and so did other Reformed confessions.  In this paper, I outline de Brès’ use of the apocrypha, put it in the historical context of the Reformation, and attempt to explain it.”

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A British Controversy about a Bible Society Circulating the Apocrypha, 1825-6

Statement of the Committee of the Edinburgh Bible Society Relative to the Circulation of the Apocrypha by the British & Foreign Bible Society  (London, 1825)  8 pp. with a 5 page Appendix, ‘Corruptions of the Apocryphal Books…’, being a categorized list of quotes from the Apocrypha illustrating its corruptions

‘Controversy Respecting the Apocrypha: Review of Books’  in Christian Guardian (Aug., 1825)

These first three pieces contain bibliographies on the subject.  The legitimate ethical issues involved are more than at what may first appear.

Orme, William – ‘Controversy in the Bible Society Respecting the Apocrypha, Reprinted from the Congregational Magazine for April, 1826’  (London)

Orme (1787–1830) was a Scottish Congregational minister, known as a biographer of Richard Baxter and other nonconformist figures.

Conder, Josiah – ‘Remarks on the Controversy Respecting the Apocrypha, Reprinted from the Eclectic Review’  (Jan. 1825)

Conder (1789–1855) was the editor of the British literary magazine, The Eclectic Review, the Nonconformist and abolitionist newspaper, The Patriot, and was an author of romantic verses, poetry, and many popular hymns that survive to this day.

Gorham, G.C. – ‘Gorham’s Reply to Van Ess’  2 pp.

This short piece is valuable mainly for the extracts it contains of the two letters of professor, Leander Von Ess to Gorham, entitled Two Letters Addressed to the Rev. G.C. Gorham on Some Points of his Statement on the Apocryphal Books…  (which does not appear to be online).

Von Ess’s Two Letters establish through a survey of over 200 editions of the Apocrypha through Church history, that initially the apocryphal books, though interspersed among canonical, were distinguished with headers as not being canonical.  It was not till the Council of Trent and after that Rome changed this publication format and sought to make the Apocryphal books appear to be more canonical.  See T.H. Horne, Manual, p. 155 for a further description of the important ‘Two Letters’.

The British & Foreign Bible Society ended up, in 1826, making a law for itself excluding the society from distributing the Apocrypha, per this notice

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Bibliographies

Of Older Printed Editions of the Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha

Horne, T.H. – A Manual of Biblical Bibliography...  (London, 1839)

Ch. 3, Section 1, ‘Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament’, pp. 141-150

Ch. 3, Section 2, ‘Apocryphal Books of the New Testament’, pp. 150-151

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Of Literature on the Apocrypha

Darling, James – ‘Commentaries, etc. on the Books Called Apocrypha’  in Cyclopaedia Bibliographica: a Library Manual of Theological and General Literature...  (London, 1859)

Malcolm, Howard – ‘Apocrypha’  in Theological Index, References to the Principal Works in every Department of Religious Literature…  (Boston, 1868)

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Of Literature on the O.T. Pseudepigrapha

Charlesworth, James H. – The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, with a Supplement  Buy  (Chico: Scholars Press, 1981)

“A bibliographical report on the current state of study of the pseudepigrapha.  Excludes pre-1960 materials, material on Qumran, and material on the N.T. apocrypha…  A 1,618-item list covers 1960-1976 and a 750-item supplement brings it up to 1979.  Arranged topically…” – Kepple & Muether

Bible-Researcher – ‘Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha’

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Of Christian Apocryphal Writings

North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature

‘e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha’

This is a scholarly online bibliography of known Christian apocryphal works.  The links take one to further references and aids for the work, though the works themselves are not provided online here.

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Of Literature on the N.T. Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha

Charlesworth, James H. & James R. Mueller – The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: a Guide to Publications, with Excurses on Apocalypses  Buy  (Metuchen, NJ: American Theological Library Association, 1987)

“A companion to the above [work of Charlesworth on the OT Pseudepigrapha], listing 5,000 citations to primary and secondary literature on NT apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.” – Kepple & Muether

Bible-Researcher – ‘Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha’

Oxford Bibliographies

‘Apocrypha & Pseudepigrapha’

‘Apocryphal Acts’

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On Gnostic Writings

Scholer, David M. – Nag Hammadi Bibliography, 1948-1969  Buy  (Leiden: Brill, 1971)

“Includes all types of published materials, listing 2,425 items; intends to be exhaustive.  This bibliography is continued by the annual Nag Hammadi bibliography in Novum Testamentum.” – Kepple & Muether

Scholer, David M. – Nag Hammadi Bibliography, 1970-1994  Buy  (Brill, 1997)  478 pp.

Scholer, David M. – Nag Hammadi Bibliography, 1995-2006  Buy  (Brill)

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“And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

2 Tim. 4:4

“O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true…”

2 Sam. 7:28

“Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.”

Jer. 14:14

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.”

1 Jn. 4:1

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Related Pages

The Canon

Commentaries on the Apocrypha

The Dead Sea Scrolls

Bible Background

New Testament Background, Survey, Authenticity & Introduction

The Life & Times of Jesus Christ

Judaism

Prophecy: Infallible & Ceased