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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

- Introduction to the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books

As the terms are used in the New Revised Standard Version translation, the Apocryphal/ Deuterocanonical books are those works that are included in the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible with additions, or in the Old Latin and Vulgate translations, but are not included in the Hebrew text that forms both the canon for Judaism and the Protestant Old Testament. All of these works, whether they are individual books or additions to the Hebrew texts of Esther and Daniel, have been regarded as canonical by one or more Christian communities, but not by all. (The exception is 4 Maccabees, which appears in an appendix to the Greek Bible.)

“Apocrypha” means “hidden things,” but it is not clear why the term was chosen to describe these books. It could mean that they were “hidden” or withdrawn from common use because they were viewed as containing mysterious or esoteric teaching, too profound to be communicated to any except the initiated (see 2 Esd 14.45–46 ). Or it could mean that such books deserved to be “hidden” because they were spurious or heretical. This ambivalence has continued into the present, although increasingly even scholars from traditions that do not regard these books as canonical consider them of great value for understanding Judaism in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, and thus the later books in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as well.

“Deuterocanonical,” along with its coordinate term “protocanonical,” is used in Roman Catholic tradition to describe the status of the two groups of books of the Old Testament. The “protocanon” consists of the books of the Hebrew Bible, and the “deuterocanon” consists of the books whose inspiration came to be recognized later, after the matter had been discussed among theologians and local churches. This distinction, introduced by Sixtus of Sienna in 1566, acknowledges the differences between the two categories while making clear that Roman Catholics accept as fully canonical those books and parts of books that Protestants call the Apocrypha (except the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 3 and 4 Maccabees, and 1 and 2 Esdras, which both groups regard as apocryphal). Thus, although the terms “Deuterocanonical” and “Apocryphal” can describe the same collection of writings, they clearly indicate the difference in the status of the writings among different groups.

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