"Concerning these scriptures, which are called apocryphal, for the reason that many things are found in them corrupt and against the true faith handed down by the elders, it has pleased them that they not be given a place nor be admitted to authority." Other uses of apocrypha developed over the history of Western Christianity.The Gelasian Decree (generally held now as being the work of an anonymous scholar between 519 and 553) refers to religious works by church fathers Eusebius, Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria as apocrypha.However, a strict explanation of this text would indicate it was meant for only the Book of Revelation. (KJV) states: "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." In this case, if one holds to a strict hermeneutic, the "words of the prophecy" do not refer to the Bible as a whole but to Jesus' Revelation to John.The early Christian theologian Origen, in his Commentaries on Matthew, distinguishes between writings which were read by the churches and apocryphal writings: In general use, the word "apocrypha" came to mean "false, spurious, bad, or heretical." This meaning also appears in Origen's prologue to his commentary on the Song of Songs, of which only the Latin translation survives: De scripturis his, quae appellantur apocriphae, pro eo quod multa in iis corrupta et contra fidem veram inveniuntur a maioribus tradita non placuit iis dari locum nec admitti ad auctoritatem.Today Orthodox accept a few more books than appear in the Catholic canon. Most of these texts have been destroyed as Emperors, particularly during the Han dynasty, collected these legitimizing objects and proscribed, forbade and burnt nearly all of them to prevent them from falling into the hands of political rivals.The word "apocryphal" ( because they were the vehicles of esoteric knowledge considered too profound or too sacred to be disclosed to anyone other than the initiated. These artifacts were used as symbols legitimizing and guaranteeing the Emperor's Heavenly Mandate. It is therefore fitting with the Greek root of the word, as these texts were obviously hidden away to protect the ruling Emperor from challenges to his status as Heaven's choice as sovereign.While Catholic tradition considers the texts to be deuterocanonical, Protestants consider them apocryphal.Thus, Protestant bibles do not include the books within the Old Testament but have often included them in a separate section.
These three opinions regarding the apocryphal books prevailed until the Protestant Reformation, when the idea of what constitutes canon became a matter of primary concern for Roman Catholics and Protestants alike.John Wycliffe, a 14th-century Christian Humanist, had declared in his biblical translation that "whatever book is in the Old Testament besides these twenty-five shall be set among the apocrypha, that is, without authority or belief." Martin Luther did not class apocryphal books as being Scripture, but in both the German (1534) translation of the Bible, the apocrypha are published in a separate section from the other books, although the Lutheran and Anglican lists are different.In some editions (like the Westminster), readers were warned that these books were not "to be any otherwise approved or made use of than other human writings." A milder distinction was expressed elsewhere, such as in the "argument" introducing them in the Geneva Bible, and in the Sixth Article of the Church of England, where it is said that "the other books the church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners," though not to establish doctrine.In 1546 the Catholic Council of Trent reconfirmed the canon of Augustine, dating to the second and third centuries, declaring "He is also to be anathema who does not receive these entire books, with all their parts, as they have been accustomed to be read in the Catholic Church, and are found in the ancient editions of the Latin Vulgate, as sacred and canonical." The whole of the books in question, with the exception of 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, were declared canonical at Trent.The Protestants, in comparison, were diverse in their opinion of the deuterocanon early on.
For example, the disciples of the Gnostic Prodicus boasted that they possessed the secret ( Sinologist Anna Seidel refers to texts and even items produced by ancient Chinese sages as apocryphal and studied their uses during Six Dynasties China (A. Examples of these include talismans, charts, writs, tallies, and registers. "Apocrypha" was also applied to writings that were hidden not because of their divinity but because of their questionable value to the church.