I can’t find any solid information on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and why these books are not considered inspired scripture.  I know they are considered false writings, but why?  Are the Old Testament pseudepigrapha and the Old Testament apocrypha consideredto be the same thing?   Is the OT Pseudepigrapha just a branch of the OT apocryphal writings?   Are therefore the same principles are applied to the OT Pseudepigrapha about their rejection as  the OT apocrypha?  I’m not sure if you have any lectures on this subject already.  Any thing would help at this point.


The Old Testament Apocrypha and the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha are not the same thing. The contents of the OT Apocrypha is pretty much fixed. The Apocrypha is, by definition, those extra books beyond the canonical 39 which are accepted by all Christians and Jews as part of the Old Testament canon. These extra books are found, for example, in Roman Catholic Bibles. The Old Testament Apocrypha includes Judith, Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, Susannah and the additions to Daniel. The Ethiopian Coptic Church also includes 1 Enoch in its canon.

The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha is a loosely-defined set of Jewish writings from about 250 BC to about 150 AD which are characterized by the fact that they are credited as being authored by an important Old Testament character who almost certainly did not write that book. With this definition, 1 Enoch and perhaps Baruch could be included as part of the “Pseudepigrapha,” so there is some overlap between the OT Apocrypha and the OT Pseudepigrapha. There are many books which fit the second category, but which were never included in any Christian or Jewish canon. These would include Odes of Solomon, 1, 2, 3, and 4th Esdras, Revelation of Moses, 2 and 3 Baruch, The Book of Adam and many more.

Neither the OT Apocrypha nor the OT Pseudepigrapha is accepted as inspired scripture by the majority of Christian (or by any Jews for that matter) for a few reasons. The principle reason is that the Jews themselves did not ever accept these as canonical. Even if they did (for which we have no evidence) they certainly are not accepted today. God gave to the Jewish scribes and teacher the job of collecting the list of inspired writings. By faith, I conclude that the books they chose are in fact inspired. Whether other books are in fact inspired is really not all that important if we accept, again by faith, that God chose to act to make sure that the accepted Jewish canon contained what he wanted it to contain.

Another reason these books ought to be rejected is found from the content of the books themselves. Please check it out for yourself. If you read Bel and the Dragon or 3 Baruch or 1 Enoch you will discover for yourself that there are clear marks that these are not inspired. The author of 2 Maccabees apologizes for the poor quality of his work at the end of the letter. Can you imagine John or Isaiah saying that? Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus contain wise sayings, but also blatant false doctrines, such as the claim that by deeds ones sins are atoned for.

A third reason these books are to be rejected is that, without exception, they were written hundreds of years after the Old Testament was complete. One can make a strong argument that God brought to an end prophetic utterance through the Jews from the time of Nehemiah or Malachi until the coming of the Messiah. This is the opinion of virtually all Jews, which is a significant reason they reject all of these apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books.

Another reason that these are rejected by virtually all is that they were not even written in Hebrew in the first place, but in Aramaic (in some cases) or in Greek (in most cases). This is not as strong a reason as the other three, but can be taken in mind in judging these writings. It is one reason Jerome rejected these writings at the end of the 4th century AD.

If you want more information on this topic, there is a fairly detailed appendix in by book “Daniel, Prophet to the Nations” available at

John Oakes

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