Apocrypha, the

The name given to a collection of books that were thought to contain “hidden” or “secret” truths (from the Gk apokryptō, “to hide, conceal”). The books of the Apocrypha are considered canonical by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches but are not included in the Jewish or most Protestant Scriptures. The apocryphal OT includes books that are still deemed important for Judaism and Protestant Christianity, such as 1 and 2 Maccabees and Wisdom of Solomon, even though they are not considered canonical. These books have a different status from the apocryphal Gospels, letters and apocalyptic literature written between the second and sixth centuries a.d., and is not part of any Christian canon. See also deuterocanonical books; Nag Hammadi Library; Oxyrhynchus papyri; gospel.

apparatus, critical

The text-critical footnotes found on the pages of most editions of the Hebrew OT and Greek NT. These notes cite various manuscript sources and readings that either support or differ from the printed text. Current English versions of the Bible occasionally indicate important textual differences with the phrase “some ancient manuscripts omit” or “some ancient manuscripts add” in the footnotes. See also textual criticism.

deuterocanonical books

Books that are not included in the Hebrew canon but are found in the Greek Old Testament (lxx; Septuagint). These books are more commonly called the Apocrypha, and to one extent or another are part of the Catholic or Orthodox canons of Scripture. The Protestant Reformers, following Martin Luther, accepted only those books that were found in the Hebrew canon, but the Roman Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 declared the Apocrypha (with the exclusion of 1 and 2 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh, and 3 and 4 Maccabees) to be canonical. Thus the adjective deuterocanonical, which means literally “second-canon,” can be viewed as pejorative by Christian communions that include these books in their canon of Scripture.


In the NT, a form of praise, blessing or glory to God (Gk doxa, “praise, glory,” + legō, “to speak”) used in the context of worship and often ending with an “Amen.” Philippians 4:20 offers one example: “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen” (cf. Rom 1:25; 16:27; Eph 3:21; 1 Tim 1:17; Rev 1:6; 7:12).


A Greek term usually translated as “church,” “gathering,” “assembly,” or “congregation.” Outside of Scripture it could stand for any group that assembles; in the Septuagint it occasionally refers to the qāhāl of Israel (the people of Israel assembled to hear the word of God). In the NT it became a standard term for the church.

feminist hermeneutics, feminist criticism

Approaches to interpretation that begins less with the biblical text and more with the concerns of feminism as a worldview. It recognizes that women have been marginalized by men throughout history. That is, women have not had access to positions of authority and therefore have not had adequate influence on social structures and roles. Feminist criticism adopts different approaches to the text, but the major strategy is to expose the means by which women have been written out of texts and the underlying justification by those texts. Feminist biblical critics range from those who seek out and expose the many ways women are suppressed in the Bible (even when a women is named, she frequently has little or no voice to speak; e.g., the stories of Sarah being passed off by Abraham as his sister) to those who find that even in a male-dominated text “pro-women” elements can be found and utilized. A feminist approach, then, not only seeks to understand what is being said about women in the text, but also evaluates the texts in the light of feminist concerns.

Kittel, Gerhard (1888–1948)

German scholar known primarily for editing the nine-volume Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament (1933–73), translated into English by Geoffrey W. Bromiley as Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1964–74).

Lightfoot, J. B. (1828–1889)

British NT scholar. Lightfoot was bishop of Durham and was known for his hermeneutical passion to interpret the text of the Bible within the context of the languages and cultures of the time in which they were written. In addition to being a brilliant scholar, he championed many causes for the church, such as lay ministries and female participation in church leadership. His essay “The Christian Ministry” in his commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (1897) remains a timeless statement on this topic.

Mark, Secret Gospel of

An apocryphal Gospel. The Secret Gospel of Mark is a conflated form of Mark’s Gospel, known only from a letter reportedly written by Clement of Alexandria in which he quotes two passages from it (Morton Smith is apparently the only scholar to have seen the manuscript copy of Clement’s letter, in 1958 in a Palestinian monastery). Most scholars believe that the Gospel is nothing more than an imitation of the canonical Gospel of Mark, composed to support certain esoteric initiations.

Ignatius, St. (c. a.d. 35–107)

An early church father, bishop of Antioch. He wrote a number of letters to churches in Asia Minor as well as one to Rome, where he was martyred by Emperor Trajan. His letters reveal several developments in Christian theology from the apostolic period to the second century a.d.

Synoptic Gospels

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. These three Gospels are notable for their similarities (they use much of the same material), and thus they “see together” the story of Jesus. See also Griesbach, Johann Jakob; synopsis (of the Gospels); Synoptic Problem.


A definitive compendium of rabbinic law setting forth the beliefs and practices of Judaism. In Jewish tradition, when God gave the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave it in two forms: the written Torah and the oral Torah. The written Torah consists of the first five books of the Bible, the Pentateuch. The oral Torah refers to further discussions and rulings on points of law as changing circumstances dictated, and these were passed down as oral tradition from generation to generation. The Mishnah (“study”), written in Hebrew, was codified in the second century a.d.; the Gemarah (“completion”), a commentary on the Mishnah, was written in Aramaic and codified in two forms, the Babylonian and the Jerusalem, during the sixth century a.d. Together the Mishnah and the Gemarah form the Talmud(s). The Torah and the Talmud form the basis for orthodox Jewish faith and practice.


The four-letter name for God in Judaism (Gk tetragrammaton, “four-letter word”). In Jewish tradition the holy name of God is not pronounced, and the “four letters” are written without vowels as yhwh. In Jewish texts today the name of God is often represented either by “G-d” or HaShem, “the Name,” rather than by the four letters and is frequently pronounced as Adonai, “Lord.” See also Yahweh, yhwh.