History of the “Apocrypha”

“While Noah Webster, just a few years after producing his famous Dictionary of the English Language, would produce his own modern translation of the English Bible in 1833; the public remained too loyal to the King James Version for Webster’s version to have much impact. It was not really until the 1880’s that England’s own planned replacement for their King James Bible, the English Revised Version(E.R.V.) would become the first English language Bible to gain popular acceptance as a post-King James Version modern-English Bible. The widespread popularity of this modern-English translation brought with it another curious characteristic: the absence of the 14 Apocryphal books.”

“Up until the 1880’s every Protestant Bible (not just Catholic Bibles) had 80 books, not 66! The inter-testamental books written hundreds of years before Christ called “The Apocrypha” were part of virtually every printing of the Tyndale-Matthews Bible, the Great Bible, the Bishops Bible, the Protestant Geneva Bible, and the King James Bible until their removal in the 1880’s! The original 1611 King James contained the Apocrypha, and King James threatened anyone who dared to print the Bible without the Apocrypha with heavy fines and a year in jail. Only for the last 120 years has the Protestant Church rejected these books, and removed them from their Bibles. This has left most modern-day Christians believing the popular myth that there is something “Roman Catholic” about the Apocrypha. There is, however, no truth in that myth, and no widely-accepted reason for the removal of the Apocrypha in the 1880’s has ever been officially issued by a mainline Protestant denomination.”
Timeline of Bible Translation History
1,400 BC: The first written Word of God: The Ten Commandments delivered to Moses.

500 BC: Completion of All Original Hebrew Manuscripts which make up The 39 Books of the Old Testament.

200 BC: Completion of the Septuagint Greek Manuscripts which contain The 39 Old Testament Books AND 14 Apocrypha Books.

1st Century AD: Completion of All Original Greek Manuscripts which make up The 27 Books of the New Testament.

367 AD: Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, identifies the 27 books of the New Testament which are today recognized as the canon of scripture.

382 AD: Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Manuscripts Produced which contain All 80 Books (39 Old Test. + 14 Apocrypha + 27 New Test).

397 AD: The Council of Carthage officiated the New Testament canon which included the apocrapha.

500 AD: Scriptures have been Translated into Over 500 Languages.

600 AD: LATIN was the Only Language Allowed for Scripture.

995 AD: Anglo-Saxon (Early Roots of English Language) Translations of The New Testament Produced.

1384 AD: Wycliffe is the First Person to Produce a (Hand-Written) manuscript Copy of the Complete Bible; All 80 Books.

1455 AD: Gutenberg Invents the Printing Press; Books May Now be mass-Produced Instead of Individually Hand-Written. The First Book Ever Printed is Gutenberg’s Bible in Latin.

1516 AD: Erasmus Produces a Greek/Latin Parallel New Testament.

1522 AD: Martin Luther’s German New Testament.

1526 AD: William Tyndale’s New Testament; The First New Testament printed in the English Language.

1535 AD: Myles Coverdale’s Bible; The First Complete Bible printed in the English Language (80 Books: O.T. & N.T. & Apocrypha).

1537 AD: Tyndale-Matthews Bible; The Second Complete Bible printed in English. Done by John “Thomas Matthew” Rogers (80 Books).

1539 AD: The “Great Bible” Printed; The First English Language Bible Authorized for Public Use (80 Books).

1560 AD: The Geneva Bible Printed; The First English Language Bible to add Numbered Verses to Each Chapter (80 Books).

1568 AD: The Bishops Bible Printed; The Bible of which the King James was a Revision (80 Books).

1609 AD: The Douay Old Testament is added to the Rheims New Testament (of 1582) Making the First Complete English Catholic Bible; Translated from the Latin Vulgate (80 Books).

1611 AD: The King James Bible Printed; Originally with All 80 Books. The Apocrypha was Officially Removed in 1885 Leaving Only 66 Books.

1782 AD: Robert Aitken’s Bible; The First English Language Bible (KJV) Printed in America.

1791 AD: Isaac Collins and Isaiah Thomas Respectively Produce the First Family Bible and First Illustrated Bible Printed in America. Both were King James Versions, with All 80 Books.

1846 AD: The Illuminated Bible; The Most Lavishly Illustrated Bible printed in America. A King James Version, with All 80 Books.”
This English Bible History Article & Timeline is ©2002 by author & editor: John L. Jeffcoat III. Special thanks is also given to Dr. Craig H. Lampe for his valuable contributions to the text. This page may be freely reproduced or quoted, in whole or in part, in print or electronically, under the one condition that prominent credit must be given to “WWW.GREATSITE.COM” as the source.


  1. Hi Mike… I believe the time line presented above is not entirely accurate. Don’t get me wrong. I have no beef with the Apocrypha. I own one as a stand alone with study notes, and another as part of my NRSV Bible. While I don’t accept the view of the inspiration of them, I still believe they are useful in the way the early church writings are useful.

    I’ll have to do some digging, the bulk of my library is in storage until summer :-(, to quote my sources, but if memory serves my well, Jerome rejected the Apocrypha and stated so explicitly in his commentary what translating – I believe it was 2 Kings. He did this because while translation the Old Testament – to correct all of the thousands of “Old Latin” translations floating about – he traveled to Israel where he discovered that Rabbinic Judaism at the end of the first century did not canonize the Apocrypha. So the Apocrypha was not a part of the original Jerome Vulgate. However, since it was so steeped in the Christian communities which either used the Old Latin versions, the Syriac Versions or the Greek XXL – as the Apostles clearly did – histories believe that gradually over the following two or so hundred years after Jerome, the Old Latin versions of the Apocrypha crept into Jerome’s Vulgate.

    My only point is that, while timelines can be helpful, they often fail to take into consideration (because of their natural limitations) the complexities of historical developments, such as the claim that Protestants only removed the Apocrypha in the ninteenth century – remember Luther back in the sixteenth century? “Protestant” does not just equal “English bible”, as the post above seemed to indicate. Perhaps the article should have focused more narrowly: “History of the Apocrypha in the English Bible” since the focus was on the KJV, RSV, Geneva, etc.

  2. Jerome did include those books in his transaltion. What he first said about certain books of the OT as being “hidden” (apocrypha) is unwarranted. He was not a bishop and was totally out of line by making the comment he did. The early Church used the Septuigant, which had the apocrypha in it. St. Paul quoted it.

    Luther included the so-called apocrypha but put it in the back of the Bible. He wanted James out of the canon more than any other book.

    Of course the devil would use the “Jews” to mix things up, because he knew that many confused Christians would acutally think they still had authority in the matter (not being Spirit lead – impossible without Christ in ecclesial matters). Were those Jews not heretics? They were certainly not in the covenant. The time you are speaking of is post-ressurection.

  3. Athanasoius Brown says:

    now lets look at that, being as though the number 8 is eternal… and six is the number of man, is it safe to say that sense the protestants deleted the 14 books that their bibles are …lets say man driven and inspired where as though every doctrine of Orthodox and even some catholic dogmas alike can and do find reference in the 14 deleted books that protestants , if they choose to re-examine their selves can realize that what we say and do can be found in the canon, moreover what are they doing with Church property any way?!

  4. That’s funny about the numbers. But yes, what are they doing with Church property anyway?

  5. Jerome did hold the Apocrypha to be suspect initially, but He was a good Christian who heeded to the voice of the Church. Also, should we heed the voice of St. Jerome or the Church? Where in the Scriptures does it say, “Follow my servant Jerome and the Rabbinic Jews?” Let’s look at some of this Jerome data…

    St. Jerome: “What sin have I committed if I follow the judgment of the churches? But he who brings charges against me for relating [in my preface to the book of Daniel] the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susannah [Dan. 13], the Song of the Three Children [Dan. 3:29–68, RSV-CE], and the story of Bel and the Dragon [Dan. 14], which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant. I WAS NOT RELATING MY OWN PERSONAL VIEWS, but rather the remarks that they are wont to make against us. If I did not reply to their views in my preface, in the interest of brevity, lest it seem that I was composing not a preface, but a book, I believe I added promptly the remark, for I said, ‘This is not the time to discuss such matters’” (Against Rufinius 11:33 [A.D. 401]).


    Among the Hebrews the Book of Judith is found among the Hagiographa, the authority of which toward confirming those which have come into contention is judged less appropriate. Yet having been written in Chaldean words, it is counted among the histories. But because this book is found by the Nicene Council to have been counted among the number of the Sacred Scriptures, I have acquiesced to your request, indeed a demand, and works having been set aside from which I was forcibly curtailed, I have given to this (book) one short night’s work translating more sense from sense than word from word. I have removed the extremely faulty variety of the many books; only those which I was able to find in the Chaldean words with understanding intact did I express in Latin ones.

    Receive the widow Judith, an example of chastity, and declare triumphal honor with perpetual praises for her. For this one, imitable not only for women, but also for men, has the Rewarder of her chastity given, Who has granted such strength, that she conquered the one unconquered by all men, she surpassed the insurpassable.


    Jerome to the Bishops in the Lord Cromatius and Heliodorus, health!

    I do not cease to wonder at the constancy of your demanding. For you demand that I bring a book written in Chaldean words into Latin writing, indeed the book of Tobias, which the Hebrews exclude from the catalogue of Divine Scriptures, being mindful of those things which they have titled Hagiographa. I have done enough for your desire, yet not by my study. For the studies of the Hebrews rebuke us and find fault with us, to translate this for the ears of Latins contrary to their canon. BUT IT IS BETTER TO BE JUDGING THE OPINION OF THE PHARISEES THAN TO DIPLEASE AND TO BE SUBJECT TO THE COMMANDS OF BISHOPS. I have persisted as I have been able, and because the language of the Chaldeans is close to Hebrew speech, finding a speaker very skilled in both languages, I took to the work of one day, and whatever he expressed to me in Hebrew words, this, with a summoned scribe, I have set forth in Latin words. I will be paid the price of this work by your prayers, when, by your grace, I will have learned what you request to have been completed by me was worthy.

    h/t to Dave Armstrong: “…with Jerome, there were several anomalies (or changes of mind or vacillations?), of such a nature that the would shock many a Protestant who rely on him as a “champion” in opposing the Deuterocanon. Gary Michuta enumerates several of these curious inconsistencies:

    He . . . flatly denies that Tobit is part of the canon, [1] although elsewhere he cites it without qualification! [2] . . . Jerome adopts the popular convention in his Letter to Oceanus by quoting Baruch as a voice made by “the trumpets of the prophets.” [3] Sirach is both rejected and quoted as Scripture, [4] although it is formally quoted [5] and occasionally used without qualification. [6] Wisdom is also occasionally formally quoted. [7] Jerome even attributes the passages from Wisdom to the Holy Spirit. [8] Maccabees is used without distinction. [9] Jerome at times alludes to the Deuterocanonical sections of Daniel in his letters. [10] Deuterocanonical passages from Esther are likewise quoted. [11] . . . he lists Judith as one of the virtuous women of sacred Scripture . . . [12].

    [1] Prologue to John.
    [2] Commentary in Eccles. 8.
    [3] Letter 77:4.
    [4] Commentary on Isaiah, Book 2, 3:12; Letters 77:6: 108:22; 118:1; 148:2,16,18.
    [5] Commentary on Jeremiah, Book 4, 21:14; Commentary on Ezekiel, Book 6, 18:6; and Letter 64:5.
    [6] Commentary on Isaiah, Book 8, 24:4; Commentary on Ezekiel, Book 6, 18:6; Letter 57.1 To Pammachius; and Letter 125.19, To Rusticus.
    [7] Commentary on Isaiah, Book 1, 1:24; Commentary on Zechariah, Book 3, 14:9; and Commentary on Malachi, 3:7 ff.
    [8] Commentary on Galatians, Book 1, 3:2 . . . and Breviarium in Psalmos, Ps 9.
    [9] Against Pelagians, Book 2:30; Letter 7, To Chromatius, Jovinus and Eusebius.
    [10] Letter 3, 1 To Rufinus the Monk; Letter 22,9-10, To Eustochium; Letter 1, 9 to Innocent.
    [11] Letter 48, To Pammachius, 14.
    [12] Letter 65,1.

    (Michuta, ibid., 149-150; again, my own footnote numbering) ”

  6. And before we move on to St. Athanasius the Great:

    “As Athanasius includes Baruch and the ‘Letter of Jeremiah’ . . . so he probably includes the Greek additions to Daniel in the canonical book of that name, and the additions to Esther in the book of that name which he recommends for reading in the church, . . . Only those works which belong to the Hebrew Bible (apart from Esther) are worthy of inclusion in the canon (the additions to Jeremiah and Daniel make no appreciable difference to this principle . . . In practice Athanasius appears to have paid little attention to the formal distinction between those books which he listed in the canon and those which were suitable for the instruction of new Christians [he cites Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, and Tobit] . . . and quoted from them freely, often with the same introductory formulae – ‘as it is written’, ‘as the scripture says’, etc. [footnote 46: He does not say in so many words why Esther is not included in the canon . . . ]” (F. F. Bruce, The Canon of Scripture, Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1988, 79-80)

    Dave Armstrong: St. Athanasius included Baruch (and other additional Greek chapters) but not Esther, in the Old Testament.

    St. Athanasius is one of the favorites of Protestants (probably second to St. Augustine in that regard). It’s true that he did seem to lower the status of the deuterocanonical books somewhat, but not to a sub-biblical level, as noted by my good friend Gary Michuta, in his excellent book, Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger (Port Huron, Michigan: Grotto Press, 2007, 110-112; footnote numbering my own):

    Athanasius quotes both Baruch and Susanna right along passages from Isaiah, Psalms, Romans, and Hebrews; he makes no distinction or qualification between them [1]. Wisdom also is used as an authentic portion of sacred Scripture . . .:

    But of these and such like inventions of idolatrous madness, Scripture taught us beforehand long ago, when it said, ‘The devising of idols, as the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them, the corruption of life . . .’ [Ws 14:12] [2]

    And later in the same work:

    For since they were endeavouring to invest with what Scripture calls the incommunicable name . . . [3]

    This reference to the “incommunicable name” comes from Wisdom 14:21 . . .

    Athanasius quotes another passage from Wisdom as constituting the teachings of Christ, the Word of God. He undoubtedly uses it to confirm doctrine. [4] In another argument against Arians, he calls both the Protocanonical Proverbs and the Deuterocanonical Wisdom “holy Scripture” . . . [5] . . .

    Athanasius also quotes the book of Sirach without distinction or qualification, in the midst of several other scriptural quotations. [6] . . . Athanasius calls the Book of Judith Scripture. [7] Tobit is cited right along with several Protocanonical quotations [8] , and even introduced with the solemn formula “it is written.” [9]

    [1] Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 1.12.
    [2] Against the Heathen, 11.1. Emphasis added.
    [3] Against the Heathen, 1, 17.3.
    [4] On the Incarnate Word, 4.6; 5.2.
    [5] Defense Against Arius, 1, 3.
    [6] Life of Anthony, 28 and Apology Against the Arians, 66.
    [7] Four Discourses Against the Arians, Discourse 2.35 . . .
    [8] Defense of Constantius, 17. Tobit is cited after Matthew and Isaiah.
    [9] Defense Against Arius, Part 1, 11.

  7. I’m not entirely sure when it is that most publishers stopped printing the apocrypha in the KJV either. I would have thought it was some time in the 1700s.

  8. I do believe that most printers stopped publishing the apocrypha in the late 1700s when the Presbyterians began the Revolution. yes, that’s right! nearly 80% of the Rebels were Reformed Presbyterian (Calvinist) and hated the Bible in many ways.

  9. If you mean American Revolution, the founding fathers were Deists. I would think probably, therefore, many of the movers and shakers of the revolution were too. Thomas Paine who wrote Common Sense was one of the ones whose writings kept the revolution going and he was a Deist. If these guys hated anything, it was the Calvinists they hated most of all. They might have used the Calvinists to win the war (Paine used Bible quotations in Common Sense as if he believed the Bible which he didn’t) but they hated the Calvinists more than the crown to be sure. (I’m assuming you meant the American Revolution, although I could be wrong.)

  10. Of course it would be absurd to accuse Deists of removing the apocrypha from the Bible. I would rather think that Deists would appreciate those books more than the canonical books actually, especially the book of Sirach with its appreciation of Wisdom above all else in the first 24 chapters. I think it would appeal to men who believe that everything to be known about God can be discerned by Reason. They would probably even equate Wisdom in Sirach with what they call Reason and would be glad to nearly deify it as Jesus ben-Sira did when he spoke so much of Wisdom as if she was a Divine being.

  11. I think that the Diests and the Masons were the brains behind it all. The Calvinists were indeed the pawns, and there were many of them. Many came to Ameican in the first place because of their Calvinistic beliefs. They changed the wording in the Geneva Bible to include the word Tyrant in place of King. This sparked all kinds of hate toward King George. Most Calvinists would have nothing to do with the Apocrypha.

  12. These links help one to see the process of removing the “Apocrypha” from contemporary Christianity. First they confined it to an appendix between the Testaments, then they removed the cross-references in the New Testament which referred the reader to “Apocryphal” books and demonstrated that the Apostles quoted them, then they finally just stopped printing it altogether.

    The Pilgrims’ Regress – The Geneva Bible And The “Apocrypha”

    The Inconvenient Tale of the Original King James Bible

  13. Hello,
    I live in a stone house my 5thgreatgrandfather Thomas Amis’ built in 1780 in east Tennessee. Recently, while going through a box of old newspapers from the attic, I came across a very old Bible. Unfortunately there is no cover, front or back. The 5 spines on the edge of the book look like they were made with some type of cord. The scriptures do not begin until Deuteronomy XV. At the end of Malachi I, which says “The End of the Prophets,” the next section is all of the books of the Apocrypha. The book ends with Maccabees II, Chapt.X. There are birthyears of family members listed at the end of Malachi, such as born 1762, 1788, 1792.

    Can anyone make a guess at how old this Bible might be, or who might help?

    Thanks so much,

  14. Wendy,

    This guy should be able to help you. He lives in the same area as me. He is very knowledgeable on this kind of thing. http://www.holylandpottery.com/symposium_info.htm


  15. I’m just now reading the apocrypha. Just found
    Out about it. Please tell me if I am incorrect, but I
    Read that the books of the apocrypha were
    removed from the King James Version in the 1880s.
    Is that not when Darwin’s book of natural selection
    was published and does anyone think that this might
    have something to do with it’s removal.

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