Sunday, April 4, 2010

Word For The Day: apocryphal

Apocryphal - "ah-pock-rah-full" - adjective: 1) hidden, 2) esoteric or top secret, 3) spurious or false, 4) of questionable authenticity, 5) non-canonical Christian (esp. text).  Etymology: from the Greek "those having been hidden away".   Author's Note: apparently what qualifies as Apocryphal (the word itself is strangely capitalized more often than not - particularly whenever it is being used in a religious context) depends on who is appraising the noun to which it is being applied.  Thus, to various religious authorities different ancient texts are Apocryphal - or not.  The word has acquired a negative connotation (3 and 4) over time as religious authorities have employed it to describe ancient works that contradict their own particular religious dogma.  Your humble scribe, atheist that I am, prefers the original Greek meaning which relates to something hidden, ostensibly for safe-keeping.  Even describing something, eg. the Dead Sea Scrolls, as esoteric or top secret seems a stretch when they were found lying about in earthenware vessels in a cave in the desert.  (Admittedly, the cave could have been guarded way-back-when.)  It appears then that this word has been hi-jacked by religious authorities, but a word "is what it is" according to Popeye - warts and all.  Your thoughts?