Comments sent on May 1, 2011 The information on this page is simply not accurate and presents unhistorical information. The Apocrypha IS in Codex Sinaticus which is the oldest known Christian Bible dated around 350AD WAY before Jerome was born and contains the books called Apocrypha today yet in this codex there is no distinction between old testament and apocrypha. Catholicism teaches that Scripture involves more than the canon accepted by the Jews, Jesus and the Church of the first four centuries, i.e., the 39 books of the Protestant Old Testament.
'The Jewish canon, or the Hebrew Bible, was universally received, while the Apocrypha added to the Greek version of the Septuagint were only in a general way accounted as books suitable for church reading, and thus as a middle class between canonical and strictly apocryphal (pseudonymous) writings. And justly; for those books, while they have great historical value, and fill the gap between the Old Testament and the New, all originated after the cessation of prophecy, and they cannot therefore be regarded as inspired, nor are they ever cited by Christ or the apostles' (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 9)
21 reasons why the Apocrypha is not inspired:
And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchers of their fathers. And they found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain. Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins. (2 Maccabees 12:39-46)
Ecclesiasticus 25:19 Any iniquity is insignificant compared to a wife's iniquity.
Ecclesiasticus 25:24 From a woman sin had its beginning. Because of her we all die.
Ecclesiasticus 22:3 It is a disgrace to be the father of an undisciplined, and the birth of a daughter is a loss.
And they laid up the stones in the mountain of the temple in a convenient place, till there should come a prophet, and give answer concerning them. (1 Maccabees 4:46)
And there was a great tribulation in Israel, such as was not since the day, that there was no prophet seen in Israel.
(1 Maccabees 9:27)
And that the Jews, and their priests, had consented that he should be their prince, and high priest for ever, till there should arise a faithful prophet. (1 Maccabees 14:41)
'From Artexerxes to our own time the complete history has been written but has not been deemed worthy of equal credit with the earlier records because of the failure of the exact succession of the prophets.' .. 'We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine..'(Flavius Josephus, Against Apion 1:8)
They debated the canonicity of a few books (e.g., Ecclesiastes), but they changed nothing and never proclaimed themselves to be authoritative determiners of the Old Testament canon. 'The books which they decided to acknowledge as canonical were already generally accepted, although questions had been raised about them. Those which they refused to admit had never been included. They did not expel from the canon any book which had previously been admitted. 'The Council of Jamnia was the confirming of public opinion, not the forming of it.' (F. F. Bruce, The Books and Parchments [Old Tappan, NJ.: Fleming H. Revell, 1963], p. 98])
Is the Apocrypha Inspired? Does it really belong in the Bible?
Let us consider while we are at this point, the subject of the Catholic apocrypha, for which they make such great claims; and because of which they deny the Bible in common use by most brethren. 2 Macc 12:38-46 seems to be the principal reason they cling to the apocrypha. There is no other doctrine that depends so heavily upon support in the apocrypha. If I were not afraid of absolute statements, I would say that their defense of the apocrypha is only because of the passage and their claims about its teachings.
The Catholics have 46 Old Testament books rather than the 39 found in our Bibles. However, they have added much more material to other books which does not appear under separate titles. That material follows: The Rest of Esther added to Esther; The Song of the Three Holy Children, The History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon added to Daniel; Baruch; 1 and 2 Maccabees; Tobias; Judith; Ecclesiasticus; and the Wisdom of Sirach.
The only powerful support for these books is that they appear in the Septuagint version. However, in many of our Bibles there is much material that is uninspired, including history, poetry, maps, dictionaries, and other information. This may be the reason for the appearance of this material in the Septuagint. The apocrypha was not in the Hebrew canon.
There are reputed to be 263 quotations and 370 allusions to the Old Testament in the New Testament and not one of them refers to the Apocryphal
The usual division of the Old Testament by the Jews was a total of 24 books: The Books of Moses (51, The Early prophets 14; Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings ~, The Late Prophets (4; Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the 12 Minor Prophets), and the Hagiagrapha (11; Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon. Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles i. These 24 books contain all the material in our numbering of 39.
Josephus spoke concerning the canon, but his book division combined Ruth-Judges and Lamentation-Jeremiah for a total of 22 books rather than 24:
'For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, .. only 22 books. which contain the records of ail the past times; which are justly believed to be divine;..It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers;..and how firmly we have given credit to these books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, or to make any change in them.' (Flavius Josephus Against Apion Book 1, Section 8).
Plainly Josephus distinguishes between those books written before and after Artaxerxes. This eliminates most of the apocrypha, especially the Maccabees.
The apocrypha itself denies all notion of inspiration. Referring to the events in the Maccabees the author makes these statements:
'..all such things as have been comprised in 5 books by Jason of Cyrene, we have at-tempted to abridge in one book. For considering the difficulty that they find that desire to undertake the narrations of histories, because of the multitude of the matter, we have taken care for those indeed that are willing to read,..And as to ourselves indeed, in undertaking this work of abridging, we have taken in hand no easy task, yea. rather a business full of watching and sweat. . Leaving to the authors the exact handling of every particular, and as for ourselves. according to the plan proposed, studying to brief.. For to collect all that is known, to put the discourse in order, and curiously to discuss every particular point, is the duty of the author of a history. But to pursue brevity of speech and to avoid nice declarations of things, is to be granted to him that maketh an abridgement.' (2 Maccabees 2: 24-32).
'..I will also here make an end of my narration. Which if I have done well, and as it becometh the history, it is what I desired; but if not so perfectly, it must be pardoned me. For as it is hurtful to drink always wine, or always water, but pleasant to use sometimes the one, and sometimes the other, so if the speech be always nicely framed, it will not be grateful to the readers..' 12 Maccabees 15: 39-40).
This forms a bizarre contrast with passages in the New Testament:
'Take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak. but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you' (Matthew 10: 19-20).
'Now we have received. not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God: that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth' (1 Corinthians 2: 12-131.
This is refuted because:
Early Christians quote from the apocrypha proves it belongs in the Bible
Early Christians quoted from all kinds of uninspired writings other than the apocrypha. Why do Catholics not include these in their Bible's
They were included in the Septuagint.
The Jews Never accepted the apocrypha as part of the Old testament canon.
The Church Councils at Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419), listed the apocrypha as Scripture. Since these same councils also finalized the 66 canonical books which all Christians accept, they must accept them all.
False. The canon of the New Testament was set from the first century. It is Catholic myth that Catholics gave the world the Bible!
The New Testament never quotes from the any of the apocryphal books written between 400 - 200 BC. What is significant here is that NONE of the books within the 'apocryphal collection' are ever quoted. So the Catholic argument that 'the apocryphal books cannot be rejected as uninspired on the basis that they are never quoted from in the New Testament because Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon are also never quoted in the New Testament, and we all accept them as inspired.' The rebuttal to this Catholic argument is that 'Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther' were always included in the 'history collection' of Jewish books and 'Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon' were always included in the 'poetry collection'. By quoting one book from the collection, it verifies the entire collection. None of the apocryphal books were ever quoted in the New Testament. Not even once! This proves the Catholic and Orthodox apologists wrong when they try to defend the apocrypha in the Bible.
The apocrypha does not belong in the Bible because It IS not inspired.
Blog Me - Feel passionate about this subject? Join my blog and lets talk about it. You'll have to register but it's quick and easy.
Is the Apocrypha inspired scripture?
The term apocrypha has several meanings. From its Greek root, it means hidden, or concealed. However, it also referred to a book whose origin was unknown. Over time, this term came to be used to describe any book that was non-canonical. Today, due to the apocryphal books included in the Catholic Bible, most Protestants understand this term to refer to those books in the Catholic Bible that are not in the Protestant Bible.
Since the Catholic church believes it is infallible, and since they state that the Council of Trent issued infallible decrees, and since at the Council of Trent the Catholic church “infallibly” declared the apocryphal books to be canonical (i.e., God breathed Scripture), it is worth looking at these books and the reasons why the Jews and Protestants do not include them in their OT canon.
At Trent (Session IV), the Catholic church explicitly named the books of both the OT and NT: “It [the Council] has thought it proper, moreover, to insert in this decree a list of the sacred books, lest a doubt might arise in the mind of someone as to which are the books received by this council.” Going even further, the Council of Trent pronounced that those who do not accept the apocryphal books as Scripture are accursed:
If one believes the Catholic church is infallible, then it would be very important to follow their decree so as not to be anathematized (i.e., accursed). As we examine the apocryphal books, however, we’ll see that the Catholic church is not only not infallible, they are in gross error to include the apocryphal books.
Before we examine these books, it’s important to point out how we received the apocryphal books. The original OT canon was Jewish, and contained the twenty two books (the same thirty nine in today’s Protestant Bible). This canon was known as the Palestinian canon. When the Hebrew OT was translated into Greek (the Septuagint) in Alexandria, Egypt, included in the canon were fifteen books known as the Apocrypha. These were likely included due to the tradition of many churches viewing these books as “useful”, but not canonical, as we will see. It should also be noted that not all of these books were accepted by the Council of Trent. Per Vlach:
Vlach also provides a very useful summary of each of these fifteen books, as shown below.
1. The First Book of Esdras (150—100 B.C.) (not included in Catholic Bible) – This work begins with a description of the Passover celebration under King Josiah and relates Jewish history down to the reading of the Law in the time of Ezra. It reproduces with little change 2 Chronicles 35:1—36:21, the book of Ezra and Nehemiah 7:73—8:13a. It also includes the story of three young men, in the court of Darius, who held a contest to determine the strongest thing in the world. 1 Esdras has legendary accounts which cannot be supported by Ezra, Nehemiah or 2 Chronicles.
2. The Second Book of Esdras (c. A.D. 100) (not included in Catholic Bible) Differs from the other fifteen books in that it is an apocalypse. It has seven revelations (3:1—14:48) in which the prophet is instructed by the angel Uriel concerning the great mysteries of the moral world. It reflects the Jewish despair following the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
3. Tobit (c. 200—150 B.C.) The Book of Tobit describes the doings of Tobit, a man from the tribe of Naphtali, who was exiled to Ninevah where he zealously continued to observe the Mosaic Law. This book is known for its sound moral teaching and promotion of Jewish piety. It is also known for its mysticism and promotion of astrology and the teaching of Zoroastrianism (The Bible Almanac, eds. Packer, Tenney and White, p. 501).
4. Judith (c. 150 B.C.) Judith is a fictitious story of a Jewish woman who delivers her people. It reflects the patriotic mood and religious devotion of the Jews after the Maccabean rebellion.
5. The Additions to the Book of Esther (140-130 B.C.) 107 verses added to the book of Esther that were lacking in the original Hebrew form of the book.
6. The Wisdom of Solomon (c. 30 B.C.) This work was composed in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew who impersonated King Solomon.
7. Ecclesiasticus, or the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach (c. 180 B.C.) This book is the longest and one of the most highly esteemed of the apocryphal books. The author was a Jewish sage named Joshua (Jesus, in Greek) who taught young men at an academy in Jerusalem. Around 180 B.C. he turned his classroom lectures into two books. This work contains numerous maxims formulated in about 1,600 couplets and grouped according to topic (marriage, wealth, the law, etc.).
8. Baruch (c. 150-50 B.C.) This book claims to have been written in Babylon by a companion and recorder of Jeremiah (Jer. 32:12; 36:4). It is mostly a collection of sentences from Jeremiah, Daniel, Isaiah and Job. Most scholars are agreed that it is a composite work put together by two or more authors around the first century B.C.
9. The Letter of Jeremiah (c. 300-100 B.C.) This letter claims to be written by the prophet Jeremiah at the time of the deportation to Babylon. In it he warns the people about idolatry.
10. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men (2nd— 1st century B.C.) This section is introduced to Daniel in the Catholic Bible after Daniel 3:23 and supposedly gives more details of the fiery furnace incident.
11. Endless space 2 relics. Susanna (Daniel 13 in the Catholic Bible) (2nd — 1st century B.C.) In this account, Daniel comes to the rescue of the virtuous Susanna who was wrongly accused of adultery.
12. Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14 in the Catholic Bible) (c. 100 B.C.) Bel and the Dragon is made up of two stories. The first (vv. 1-22) tells of a great statue of Bel (the Babylonian god Marduk). Supposedly this statue of Bel would eat large quantities of food showing that he was a living god who deserved worship. Daniel, though, proved it was the priests of Bel who were eating the food. As a result, the king put the priests to death and allowed Daniel to destroy Bel and its temple. In the second story (vv. 23-42), Daniel, in defiance of the king, refuses to worship a great dragon. Daniel, instead, asks permission to slay the dragon without “sword or club” (v. 26). Given permission, Daniel feeds the dragon lumps of indigestible pitch, fat and hair so that the dragon bursts open (v. 27).
13. The Prayer of Manasseh (2nd or 1st century B.C.) (Not in Catholic Bible) This work is a short penitential psalm written by someone who read in 2 Chronicles 33:11-19 that Manasseh, the wicked king of Judah, composed a prayer asking God’s forgiveness for his many sins.
14. The First Book of the Maccabees (c. 110 B.C.) “The First Book of Maccabees is a generally reliable historical account of the fortunes of Jewish people between 175 and 134 B.C., relating particularly to their struggle with Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his successors. . . . The name of the author, a patriotic Jew at Jerusalem is unknown” (Metzger, p. 169). The book derives its name from Maccabeus, the surname of a Jew who led the Jews in revolt against Syrian oppression.
15. The Second Book of the Maccabees (c. 110-70 B.C.) This book is not a continuation of 1 Maccabees but an independent work partially covering the period of 175-161 B.C. This book is not as historically reliable as 1 Maccabees.
Why do Christians reject the Apocryphal books as canonical? There are at least eight good reasons why Christians reject the apocryphal books as being included in the OT canon. These include history and evidence from some of the books themselves.
First, no apocryphal books were written by a prophet. All of the OT Scriptures were written by prophets, while none of the apocryphal books were; therefore, the apocryphal books are not canonical. Scripture attests to this view in that the OT is referred to as the Scriptures of the prophets. Specific references include (with emphases added):
More Scripture could be quoted, but clearly, the prophets are equivalent to the OT, as God spoke His word solely through prophets. Furthermore, it is generally agreed (especially among the Jews) that Malachi was the last prophet before John the Baptist. Yet most of the writers of the apocrypha lived after Malachi. In addition, the apocrypha was not written in Hebrew as was all of the OT (most were written in Greek). If inspired, it would only make sense that the writers would write in the language of Israel.
Second, the apocryphal books were not accepted by the Jews as part of the OT. If these books were part of the canonical OT, then surely Jesus would have criticized the Jews for excluding them from Scripture, yet He never does.
Third, Jesus and the apostles never quote from the apocryphal books. The OT testifies of Christ, and He gives testimony to the validity of the OT by quoting from many of its books. The apostles, likewise, quote from the OT. Yet they never quote from any of the apocryphal books.
Why does Jude quote the Book of Enoch then? This book was not one of the apocryphal books of which we’re speaking; rather, it was part of the Pseudepigrapha, which were a set of supposed scripture that were universally rejected as false writing. Nevertheless, Jude mentions the book because it was well known in his day, and evidently it contained some useful information despite not begin inspired scripture.
Just because Jude quotes this book does not mean Enoch is inspired. If that logic were true, then we’d have to say that heathen writings are also inspired. This is because Paul quotes from certain heathen poets, such as Aratus (Acts 17:28), Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33), and Epimenides (Titus 1:12). Just because Scripture quotes a truthful source does not make that source automatically inspired Scripture.
Fourth, many Jewish scholars and early church fathers rejected the apocryphal books as canonical. Jewish writers such as Philo and Josephus, and the rabbis at the Council of Jamnia all rejected the apocryphal books as canonical. Most of the early church also rejected them, including Origen, Athanasius, Hilary, Cyril, Epiphanius, Ruffinus, and Jerome. Interestingly, cardinal Cajetan, the man the Catholic church sent to debate Luther, also rejected these books as canonical. In his commentary of the history of the OT, he writes the following:
This is interesting because not only is cardinal Cajetan a Catholic, he also provides evidence for how some viewed the apocryphal books as canonical, the most famous of which is Augustine. There is other evidence from Augustine that corroborate this view, meaning when he said the apocrypha was canonical, he did not mean it in the sense of being inspired. Rather, it was meant in the sense of being useful for edification.
Indeed, Athanasius, after naming the twenty two Hebrew OT books (thirty nine in Protestant Bibles), says “But, besides these, there are also other non-canonical books of the old Testament, which are only read to the catechumens.”, and then he names the apocryphal books. This is why Jerome included those books in the Latin Vulgate, which he translated.
Fifth, some apocryphal books contain many historical and geographical inaccuracies. As we have shown in our prior study on the inspiration of Scripture, the Bible does not contain such inaccuracies. These errors prove the books that contain them are non- canonical. Some of the errors are shown below:
- There are several inconsistencies in the additions to Esther, one of which in chapter 6 mentions Ptolemy and Cleopatra. Both lived after the times of Mordecai, so including these two later historical figures clearly shows this addition was written well after Esther was completed. In addition, the added chapters were written in Greek, not Hebrew.
- In the book of Judith, Holofernes is incorrectly described as the general of “Nebuchadnezzar who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Ninevah” (1:1). In truth, Holofernes was a Persian general, and Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylon.
Sixth, the apocryphal books often contradict Scripture. Examples include:
- The Book of Tobit teaches magic (Tobit 6:4,6-8). The Bible clearly condemns magical practices such as this (consider Deuteronomy 18:10-12; Leviticus 19:26,31; Jeremiah 27:9; Malachi 3:5).
- 2 Maccabees 12:43-45 states: “He also took up a collection .. and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. .. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen asleep would arise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead .. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” This teaches prayers for the dead, as well as salvation by works, both of which contradict Scripture. Hebrews 9:27 makes clear that judgment comes after death, while numerous Scriptures clearly show that salvation is solely by faith in Christ alone.
- The Book of Tobit 12:9 states: “For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin.” This clearly contradicts Scripture (e.g., Leviticus 17:11, Titus 3:5, Romans 4 and 5, etc.).
Seventh, the apocryphal books were never accepted by the church until the Council of Trent. Roughly 1,500 years after these books were written, the Catholic church decided to “officially” recognize the apocrypha as Scripture. As we’ve seen above, these books were not accepted as canonical Scripture by either the Jews or the early Christian church. It is clear that the Catholic church adopted these books as canonical in opposition to Protestantism, as some of the apocrypha (falsely) supported Catholicism’s teaching regarding salvation.
And finally, no apocryphal book makes the claim that it is the word of God. While most OT books do claim to be God’s word, none of the apocrypha claim this status.
While some of the apocryphal books are useful, especially from a historical perspective, it’s clear they are not inspired, and therefore do not belong in the OT canon. We encourage believers to read these books, however, so they can judge for themselves as well.
You may also be interested in another article on why we can trust the BIble.