The collective name given to the collection of fifteen books written generally during the period between the writing of the last books of the Old Testament and those of the New Testament. The word apocrypha literally means "things that are hidden." When the canon or official list of books was established for the Jews (the Old Testament) these books were not included. A Greek translation of the Old Testament books, however, known as the Septuagian, which circulated widely in the early Christian church, did include the books. The Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize these books as authoritative. Protestants have not recognized the books of the Apocrypha as Scripture or authoritative; therefore, they are not included in most Bibles used by Protestants. If the Apocrypha is printed at all, it is as a separate section and is included in recognition of the use made by other groups and for the information it contains concerning the period between those of the Old and New Testaments. Reading from the Apocrypha is now an option in the commonly used lectionaries.
Source: A Dictionary for United Methodists, Alan K. Waltz, Copyright 1991, Abingdon Press. Used by permission.