Spiritual developmentReligion

Apocrypha is ... From forgery to secret revelation

Developed religious institutions that have a well-coordinated social structure, a clear hierarchy, developed a cult and well thought-out doctrine, usually also have a complex of authoritative texts serving as a yardstick and source of all religious life and philosophy. Such texts are called sacred and often claim to be a divine revelation. Eloquent examples are the sacred books of Christians, Muslims and Jews - the Bible, the Koran and the Torah, respectively. However, before becoming a sacred revelation, such texts pass a difficult path from writing through a series of subsequent editions to the finished canon, which is proclaimed the final and inspired scripture. At this stage another line of texts, called apocrypha, comes to the forefront. In Greek, the "apocrypha" is "secret" or "spurious". According to the translation, there are two types of apocryphal writings.

Apocrypha is a forgery of revelation

As much as possible simplifying, we can say that the apocrypha is a religious text, the authorship of which is attributed to the founder of religion, his disciples or other outstanding authorities of tradition. But unlike the canonical texts, the apocrypha is not recognized as genuine and is not revered as inspired in the official and predominant current. Therefore, they are called forsaken, that is, apocrypha.

Secret knowledge

Some experts also distinguish another kind of apocryphal literature, erected to the second meaning of the Greek term - secret. It is postulated that in most religious systems the internal level is open, only for advanced adepts and dedicated to certain secrets of the cult. In contrast to Scripture for all, the Apocrypha plays the role of an esoteric concomitant tradition, interpreting Scripture on the highest, mystical level and revealing great truths. From the layman these revelations are hidden, and therefore the books in which they are presented and disclosed are secret for him. An example of such literature is the secret gospel of Mark, once held in the Church of Alexandria, as reported by the Orthodox teacher Clement.

Apocrypha in Christianity

If we talk about the apocrypha of the Christian tradition, we can conditionally distinguish four groups of texts:

  1. Old Testament Apocrypha.
  2. New Testament Apocrypha.
  3. The intercessionary apocrypha.
  4. Extracavern Apocrypha.

1. The most ancient apocrypha is Old Testament. Relate to the time of writing the main texts of the corps of the Old Testament. Often attributed to outstanding biblical characters - Adam, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and other patriarchs and prophets of Tanakh. There are a lot of such books. For example, you can recall the apocryphal Book of Jeremiah or the Psalms of Solomon.

2. The New Testament group of apocrypha includes a number of texts that are close in genre and time to writing works that make up the canon of the New Testament. Their nominal authors are among the closest disciples of Christ - apostles and some disciples of the Savior. An example of this type of apocrypha is the proto-gospel of Jacob.

3. The intercovenant apocrypha is another group of texts. The conditional time of their compilation is from 400 BC. For 30-40 years. AD This period is due to the fact that the last book of the Jewish canon was written about 400 years BC, and the first book, belonging to the class of New Testament, in the 30-40's. Their authorship is attributed to the Old Testament characters. In its nature, inter-covenant literature is often apocalyptic. Among other similar books, one can distinguish the Book of Enoch.

4. Extramundial apocrypha - so you can designate a group of works that in their scale and meaning clearly represent something more than just religious literature. They were also postulated by some preachers as inspirational books. But because of their nature and content can not be attributed to three other categories. A vivid illustration of such works is the Gnostic writings. Among them you can recall a collection of texts from Nag Hammadi. This is not even a book of apocrypha, but a whole library of esoteric Christian literature.

What characterizes almost any apocrypha? This is that all of them at different times claimed to fully enter the official canon of inspired scriptures. Some even managed to do it for some time. Others have had a considerable influence on the formation of the generally accepted version of the Word of God. For example, the apocryphal Book of Enoch is cited in the canonical epistle of the apostle Judah. And in the Ethiopian Church, it is still among the sacred, along with the Torah and the four universally recognized Gospels.

Other apocrypha, almost all stubbornly denied at first, were later universally recognized as canonical. In the New Testament such books are the Revelation of John the Theologian and a number of apostolic epistles.


At the dawn of the spread of Christianity, when a certain leader did not emerge among the numerous schools and sects, there were a huge number of texts claiming the role, if not of divine revelation, then at least of the highest human authority. There were more than fifty gospels, and in fact each community had its own collection of authoritative works. Then, in the process of the spread and development of Catholic orthodoxy, some texts began to prevail over others, and the leaders of large communities began to forbid their adherents to read unrecognized works. When in the IV century the party of catholics received the all-round support of the state, a "real war" was declared for "heretical" texts. Special decrees of the emperor and orders of the bishops all the works that were not included in the canon were to be destroyed. Among them were even those writings that were previously venerated as sacred among the adherents of orthodoxy. For example, the gospel of Peter. Therefore today every newly found apocrypha is a real sensation in the scientific world. This is confirmed by the recent discovery of the gospel from Judah, previously considered lost. And yet, a significant, and probably most of the Christian apocrypha is destroyed and irretrievably lost.

Similar articles





Trending Now






Copyright © 2018 en.birmiss.com. Theme powered by WordPress.