Question: Are the books of the apocrypha/deuterocanonicals definitely considered a part of the Old Testament in Orthodoxy or is this still an open question? Kallistos Ware’s The Orthodox Church seems slightly noncommittal.
Answer: Questions are most welcomed & feel free to ask away. You asked a very good question.
The Orthodox Church uses the Septuagint (hereafter LXX) for the OT canon. Jewish leading scholars translated the Hebrew canon into Greek in the 3rd century BC because of the many Greek Jews who were unfamiliar with Hebrew. Check out this page: The Orthodox Church still puts great importance in translating writings & conducting liturgical services in the native language of the country where they are, most do anyway.
The LXX was considered the OT canon at the time of Christ & the apostles & the early Church. Where the OT is quoted in the NT, it is usually the LXX that is quoted rather than the Masoretic (MT) Hebrew text. Early in the 1st century AD the Jewish religious leaders began dropping some books from its OT canon primarily where references that could be interpreted as prophecies of Christ were concerned. This “revised” canon was adopted by the West (RC) in the form of the Vulgate. Protestants then “revised” the OT canon further according to the example of Martin Luther who used a 9th century AD Jewish canon under the mistaken notion that the oldest manuscripts were those in Hebrew. Ironically, the oldest complete OT canon extant is the LXX dated in the 4th cenutry AD while the oldest MT is dated in the 11th century AD.
You used the term “apocrypha/deuterocanonicals”. For the most part, the term apocrypha refers to any collection of scriptural texts that falls outside the canon. The term apocrypha is basically unused in Orthodoxy. Few Protestants realize that the earliest English KJV published had the “apocryphal” books included in a separate section in the back. Today they are usually omitted from most commonly purchased bibles. Thus most Protestants mistakenly believe that Roman Catholics & the Orthodox have added to the canon of Scripture. Instead it is the Western traditions that have deemed many of these books to be “apocrypha/deuterocanonical”, i.e. outside of the canon.
Also check out:
I uploaded a PDF of the differences between the Orthodox, RC & Protestant canons of the OT to the blog site. Click the Orthodoxy page link at the top & you will find it.
Thanks for your question 🙂