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The deuterocanonical books are the books that Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Oriental Orthodoxy include in the Old Testament that were not part of the Jewish Tanakh. The word deuterocanonical comes from the Greek meaning 'second canon'. Canonization is the official acceptance of authority and standardization of a text. In Catholicism, deuterocanonical means that the canonicity of the books was definitively settled at a later date than the rest of the canon. Among Orthodox, the term is understood to mean that they were composed later than the Hebrew Bible.
Like the Tanakh, most Protestant Bible versions exclude these books, although they were initially included in the King James version. Their acceptance among early Christians is generally well-testified. As early as the Council of Rome in 382, an official canon including these books was published. The large majority of Old Testament references in the New Testament are taken from the Greek Septuagint which includes the deuterocanonical books. In the New Testament, Hebrews 11:35 explicity refers to an event that only occurs in one of the deuterocanonical books (2 Macc. 7).
Using the word apocrypha (which means hidden) to describe texts, although not necessarily pejorative, implies to some people that the writings in question should not be included in the Bible. This classification comingles them with certain other gospels and New Testament Apocrypha. The Style Manual for the Society of Biblical Literature recommends the use of the term "deuterocanonical literature" instead of "Apocrypha" in academic writing.
In the Catholic Church, the following books are considered deuterocanonical: Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch; as well as some additions to Esther and Daniel. The various Orthodox churches include a few others, often including 3 Maccabees, Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, Odes, Psalms of Solomon, and occasionally even 4 Maccabees. This last book is often relegated to an appendix, because it has certain tendencies approaching pagan thought.
There is also a strong tradition of studying the Book of Enoch in the Ethiopian church, a denominational family in the Oriental Orthodoxy.
Most Septuagint manuscripts include the deuterocanonical books and passages. Like the New Testament, the deuterocanonical books were mostly written in Greek. Several appear to have been written originally in Hebrew, but the original text has long been lost. Archeological finds in the last century, however, have provided a text of almost 2/3 of the book of Sirach, and fragments of other books have been found as well. One of these books, 2 Esdras, survives only in an ancient Latin translation dated to the second century AD but was probably composed in Greek. This particular book is not widely accepted by the Orthodox and is rejected by Catholics. The Septuagint was widely accepted and used by Jews in the first century, even in the region of Roman Palestine, and therefore naturally became the text most widely used by early Christians.
- Canon of the Old Testament at the Catholic Encyclopedia
- Deuterocanon Use in New Testament
- Deuterocanonical books - Full text from Saint Takla Haymanot Church Website (also available the full text in Arabic
- Defending the Deuterocanonicals
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