Meaning of Apocryphal

The Greek term apókryphos derived in a Latin word that, in turn, came to Spanish as apocryphal. The first meaning mentioned in the dictionary refers to an adjective that qualifies the simulated, the nonexistent or the feigned.

For example: “An apocryphal nobleman appeared in the newspaper office denouncing that he had been swindled by the mayor”, “In the town they have the habit of worshiping an apocryphal saint”, “The young man tried to enter the country with an apocryphal document, but was arrested by the police. ”

The most common use of apocryphal is linked to the authenticity of a work with respect to its authorship. For various reasons, a creation is often incorrectly attributed to a certain person. In those cases, the work is said to be apocryphal.

Suppose that a public letter supposedly written by an actor begins to circulate on social networks, the text of which presents strong criticism of the government in power. The actor in question, upon learning of the letter attributed to him, denies his authorship. The letter is therefore apocryphal.

There are even famous phrases that are apocryphal since they are wrongly attributed. An example is “They bark, Sancho: sign that we ride”, an expression that is usually believed was pronounced by Don Quixote de la Mancha in the famous work of Miguel de Cervantes, although it does not appear in the book.

Despite the fact that this quote has not been attributed correctly, since it does not belong to Don Quixote de la Mancha, its history is very interesting and far from a mere error. Some specialists believe that it may derive from a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, published in 1808, in which three of his verses say “They bark loudly… / But their shrill barks / They are only a sign that we are riding. ” Regarding the name “Sancho”, it seems that Rubén Darío added it many decades later, when he appropriated these verses to create the expression that over time became an apocryphal quote.

The meaning of this expression is that criticism from detractors often shows us that we are on the right track. In this particular case, we can note that the term apocryphal does not always have a “dangerous” connotation; Although the students of the literature and the authors involved in the confusion may not be happy, it is a mistake that does not intend to harm anyone, and that has a very simple solution: read the story in question to discover that the quote does not it’s correct.

In the field of religion, finally, what is not accepted in the canons is described as apocryphal. There are apocryphal gospels that are not part of the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Another name by which the apocryphal gospels are known is extracanonical gospels. It is a series of texts that emerged during the beginning of Christianity to describe Jesus of Nazareth, which are not included in the canon of the Tanach or in any Bible used by the different Christian congregations. One of the most outstanding manuscripts of this group is that of Nag Hammadi.

Despite being called gospels, these apocryphal writings have a style and content clearly different from those that we can find in the canonical texts. While the latter do not rely on the decorations for their apostolic preaching, the former are characterized by the abundance of extravagant and exaggerated situations, typical of fantasy, and the teachings they present are not equivalent to those of the official Bible.