After the Fall of Jerusalem (70 CE) the future of Judaism was maintained by rabbis of the Pharisaic tradition. They accepted as authoritative the twenty-four books of the Hebrew scriptures but rejected a number of Jewish works which were used in Alexandria and which are known to us in MSS of the LXX and called the Apocrypha (Greek for ‘things hidden away’). Being composed after the time of Ezra, when prophecy was held to have ceased, these Greek works, even if originally composed in Hebrew (e.g. 1 Maccabees), were unacceptable. By and large, the Christians accepted the longer list—though when Jerome translated the OT into Latin for his Vulgate, he treated the apocryphal additions as edifying but not part of the canon. Eventually, however, the writings which Jerome had rejected were included from the Old Latin version which Jerome had worked so hard to supersede.

The books of the Apocrypha are called deuterocanonical (= at second-level) by Roman Catholics, to distinguish them from protocanonical (= first-level) books, but they are regarded as authoritative and included at appropriate places within the body of the OT. (But 3 and 4 Esdras were rejected as authoritative by the Council of Trent (1545–64) and relegated to an appendix.) At the Reformation Protestants reverted to the shorter canon of the Hebrew OT because they detected in 2 Maccabees hints of the doctrine of purgatory, which they repudiated; they also claimed to find in Tobit the unacceptable Catholic doctrine of justification by works. Luther's Bible of 1534 relegated these books to an appendix. The Church of England included the Apocrypha ‘for example of life and instruction of manners’ but not for the establishment of doctrine. The exact extent of the Apocrypha is not universally agreed, and some of the books are known by different titles. A list is given in the Introduction to this Dictionary.