Article

Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

David A. deSilva

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2010 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780195393361-0007
Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

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Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha are terms used to label a large body of early Jewish and early Christian literature written between the 3rd century bce and the first centuries of the common era. The Apocrypha, or Deuterocanonical Books (a term referring to the collection’s canonical status within certain Christian bodies), exists as a collection because of the reading practices of early Christians, who placed an especially high value on these texts and often included them in codices of their Scriptures (the Septuagint), and by ongoing canonical debates about the extent of the “Old Testament” within the Christian Church. Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches include these books as part of the Old Testament; Protestant Christians, following the Jewish canon of Scriptures, do not. The Pseudepigrapha is a much broader collection of extrabiblical literature. “Pseudepigrapha” refers technically to texts with a false attribution of authorship, though the collection has come to include several anonymous texts as well. The scope of texts included in the collection varies from edition to edition. Generally, the collection contains at a minimum pseudonymous Jewish extrabiblical writings from about 200 bce to 200 ce. The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha are of immense value as windows into the development of biblical interpretation, theology, ethics, and liturgy in Early Judaism and Christianity, as well as into the sociocultural and historical contexts within which these developments occurred.

Article.  17007 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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