What is the view of the apocrypha in the Church?

When referring to the texts the Church does not regard as canonical scripture, however were found in the appendix of the Clementine Vulgate, and most Vulgates prior; and also the Douay Rheims until 1752, and are used in liturgy, namely 1(3) Esdras, 2(4) Esdras, and the Prayer of Manasseh.
Is the view of these books somewhat relatable to how many Protestants view their apocrypha which consists of all of the Catholic deuterocanonical books plus these three, in that they are good for reading and applying to life however are not meant to be used as applied to creating doctrine? Is this sort of how the Church views these books?

The Church sees them as not being the word of God.
This does not mean that the Church does not see them as worthwhile. Shakespeare’s play “King Lear” has much to say, that Christians in fact could take to heart. But it is not something from God, as the canonical books of the Bible are.

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I’ve heard that the Catholic Church uses them to understand the historical and cultural environment of the era.

In many, if not most cases, they were preserved (including publication), “Lest they be lost completely.”

Or words to that effect.

What liturgy?

The Prayer of Manasseh is used in Great Compline with Litiya for the Eves of the Nativity (12/24) and Theophany (1/5) respectively. It’s very moving and profoundly contrite.

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Is this a Byzantine Liturgy or Eastern Orthodox?

It is curious, because the REASON for the Canon at all is that all Canonical Scripture is ok for Liturgical use. I wonder if the Roman liturgy uses the prayer of Manasseh?

In any event, there is nothing preventing the use of various prayers that are not Canonical Scripture in the Liturgy. For example the Prayer of St. Basil the Great.

Byzantine Catholic liturgies are the same as those of the Eastern Orthodox, including that of Great Compline, so yes, Eastern Catholics who are Byzantine use the Prayer of Manasseh at Great Compline.

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In the Latin Rite 2(4) Esdras 2:36-37 is cited on the second Sunday of Easter
Receive the joy of your glory, giving thanks to God,
who has called you into the heavenly kingdom, alleluia.

and chapter 2:34-35 on Masses for the dead.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.

The Prayer of Manasseh is used as a Responsory in the office of readings on the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time after the first reading along with Psalm 51.
Prayer of Manasseh 9-10; Ps 51:3-4
℟. My sins are more in number than the sands of the sea. My transgressions abound, and I am not worthy to look up and gaze at the height of heaven because of the number of my wrongdoings, because I have provoked your wrath.
I have done what is evil in your sight.
℣. My offences, truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned.* I have done what is evil in your sight.*

They are used more in the EF, here is a good article if interested.

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So basically the Anglicans regard these books as more authoratative than Catholics. I mean in the 39 Articles of Faith they have these three texts right with the books we consider canonical. In short, to Anglicans 2 Maccabees is no more authoratative than 2(4) Esdras.

Of the Names and Number of the Canonical Books. Genesis, The First Book of Samuel, The Book of Esther,
Exodus, The Second Book of Samuel, The Book of Job,Leviticus, The First Book of Kings, The Psalms,Numbers, The Second Book of Kings, The Proverbs,Deuteronomy, The First Book of Chronicles, Ecclesiastes or Preacher,Joshua, The Second Book of Chronicles, Cantica, or Songs of Solomon, Judges, The First Book of Esdras, Four Prophets the greater, Ruth, The Second Book of Esdras, Twelve Prophets the less.

And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:
The Third Book of Esdras, The rest of the Book of Esther,The Fourth Book of Esdras, The Book of Wisdom,The Book of Tobias, Jesus the Son of Sirach,The Book of Judith, Baruch the Prophet,The Song of the Three Children, The Prayer of Manasses,The Story of Susanna, The First Book of Maccabees,Of Bel and the Dragon, The Second Book of Maccabees.

All the Books of the New Testament, as they are commonly received, we do receive, and account them Canonical.

Thanks, very interesting.
Although, as I said earlier, not everything in the Liturgy must come from Scripture, nevertheless, it is still interesting that passages from apocryphal books DO make it into the Liturgy.

The article also said that these passages do not imply the Church’s view on said books.

Oh of course. In my original post I only said these texts were preserved in the Vulgate through the centuries (probably how they came to be just part of the standard Protestant apocrypha with the rest of the Catholic deuterocanonical books), but nonetheless I was just saying they are used in liturgy, but yah that doesn’t mean they are canon because of that.
Something I wonder though is do these three texts have more authority in the Church because of their history in the Vulgate and usage than say just another random apocryphal text that was never used by the Church. I think that is what I was referring too.

Yes, like you said in your earlier post. At least I think so too.

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Great Compline with Litiya is part of the Horologion (Liturgy of the Hours) in the Byzantine Tradition, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

The Ukrainian Greek Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia issued a booklet in 1990 for the Nativity & Theophany. It contains Great Compline with Litiya and the liturgical propers from the Eve of the Nativity to the Great Blessing of Water on Theophany. (It doesn’t have Festal Matins or the Little Hours though.)

Yah I mean there’s a lot of apocryphal works so yah I would assume the Church at least promotes reading these as opposed to other questionable ones. The term apocryphal I never cared for. It means hidden. How are these that are in the Vulgate hidden?

3 & 4 Ezra are not canonical, but the rest are canonical as per the Council of Trent.

And in the Latin West it’s prayed at Matins in the Dominican Office for Ash Wednesday. It’s also local custom here to pray it before Confession. :slight_smile:

Thank you!

Given that the apocrypha is larger than this canon, I’m curious why you singled out these books? Or were they not meant to be an all-inclusive list?

Because they were in the appendix of the Clementine Vulgate and in the Vulgate even prior to that. So they differ from other apocrypha in that the Church has openly promoted Catholics reading them throughout the centuries.

Also Protestants make no distinction from these and the deuterocanonical books which they call the apocrypha. So it is interesting we always talk about Protestants removing these books from their Bibles but what about the fact that the Apocrypha also includes these which both of us don’t view as canon?

Your question actually hits exactly the point I’m making. These three are in Catholic Bibles. Or at least they used to be in an appendix. Newer ones refrain from it. Yes the apocrypha consists of many books but these three seem to have a place of elevated status if that makes any sense, since they were in the Vulgate and also are used in liturgy.
Other apocryphal texts don’t have that going on for them. The fact that they were preserved in the Vulgate seems like the Church then must have held them in esteem even if they weren’t considered Canon.

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