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Thoughts For Young Men


Are the Apocrypha Books Scripture?

This month I'll focus on an issue that many people aren't even aware of; the differences between the Protestant's Bible and the Roman Catholic Bible. The Catholic Bible has included in it the Deuterocanonical Books, whereas the Protestants Bible excludes these books and refers to them as the Apocrypha Books. The Apocrypha consists of 12 books and portions of books which were produced during the intertestamental period. So the Old Testament Books in question are: Tobit, Judith,The additions to the Book of Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabees,the Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch and the Additions to the Book of Daniel.

In Catholic Bibles there are twelve that are interspersed among and attached to the undisputed thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. Since several of the apocryphal writings are combined with canonical books, the Catholic Bible numbers altogether forty-six books in its Old Testament.

It appears that the Catholic Church claims that these books should be part of Scriptures and states that the Apostles, and Christians in general, used the Greek 'Septuagint' as their Bible in the first century. The Septuagint is the Old Testament translation into Greek from Hebrew, and it had all 46 books including the Deuterocanonicals. In 397 the Old Testament anon containing all 4 books was formalized along with the 27 inspired books of the New Testament at the Council of Carthage. St. Jerome completed a Latin translation of the entire Bible in 405, called the 'Vulgate' which can still be found today. It always had all 73 books. All Christian Bibles for the next 1100 years had all 73 books. Martin Luther, at about 1521 decided to remove the seven Deuterocanonicals from the Old Testament and put them in an appendix, because they had teachings of the Catholic Church which he rejected, such as Purgatory.

The Council of Trent was called in 1545 in response to the Protestant Reformation. One of the things they accomplished at Trent was a "reaffirmation that the seven disputed books were indeed inspired and would continue to be included in the canon of the Old Testament". They did not add them. They merely reconfirmed that they should be there. All Christian Bibles for the first 1500 years of Christianity had 46 books in the Old Testament, and all Catholic Bibles today continue to have them.     Protestants have repeatedly said there is no evidence that Deuterocanonical books are inspired, as none of them are referenced in the New Testament. This is absolutely not true, as there are several references (28 different examples are then given) with the closing statement being that "the seven disputed books should have not been removed by Protestants from the Bible."

Catholic apologists give the following main reasons for the Apocrypha to be included in the Bible:

  • All of the OT quotes found in the NT were from the Septuagint, and therefore the early Church considered the Apocrypha to be canonical since the Apocrypha also appeared in the Septuagint.

* The New Testament contains a number of allusions to and quotations of apocryphal works.

  • The Apocrypha appears in the Septuagint, so it was considered scripture along with the rest of the (canonical) books also found in the Septuagint.
  • The Apocrypha was considered to be scripture by the Church from the very inception of Christianity.
  • Early Christian writers uniformly held the Apocrypha to be Scripture, on the level with the true canon.
  • The Council of Trent merely affirmed what the Church had known since the very beginning, that the Apocrypha was Scripture

Now in response to this, we'll look at the Protestant side of this discussion. I clearly must let you know that my information of this below is primarily taken with permission from an internet website. They are unaffiliated with any ministries and they're only interested in seeing the commandments of Scripture are kept and that we should guard the purity and sanctity of God's Word. This article, is covered in much greater detail then I have shown, but because of space, I've narrowed them down to what follows. It, in fullness, can be found at:  http://www.studytoanswer.net/rcc/rvb_apocrypha.html#ntwriters.

Was the Apocrypha Ever Considered To Be Part of the Jewish Scripture?   It must be first and foremost noted that the Apocryphal books were not included in the Hebrew canon, and never appeared in the Hebrew Bibles. The Jews did not consider the Apocryphal works to be inspired scripture, and the testimony of Jewish authorities on this matter confirms that the Jews considered the prophetic, inspiring spirit to have departed from Israel during the time of Artaxerxes, king of Persia (468-425 BC). The testimony of the patristic writers, which will be investigated in much greater detail below, shows very little reliance upon the Apocryphal works until at least two centuries AFTER Christ.  Further, we should note, the Apocryphal books do not contain the mark of propheticity upon them (they contain errors, contradictions internally, and contradictions with canonical books).

The Apocrypha Was Not Used as Inspired Scripture by the New Testament Writers. By the hands of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit thus delivers again His own inspired message.  Many of the so-called quotations of the Apocrypha turn out simply to be quotations from canonical books, though the wording in the apocryphal book may be similar. Now, it can be granted that certain passages in the New Testament do in fact make reference to events which are recorded in Apocryphal books. However, it doesn't logically follow that this gives canonicity to these books. Rather, the author of Hebrews simply makes a reference to events which were probably quite well known among Jews, as part of their national heritage. The Bible's merely making a reference to an event does not impute inspiration and canonicity to a document which also happens to record that event. There are several times where there were quotes because, at the particular point of the quote, they contained truth which was not in contradiction to the Truth of God, and which was used by the writers under inspiration to make certain points to knowledgeable and receptive audiences. We ought to recognize that simple quotation by the New Testament does not necessarily impute the status of inspired scripture to the works which are quoted.

The Patristic Writers Were Far From Unanimous in Their Use of the Apocrypha. From the so-called Apostolic Fathers and those who came in the first two generations after them in the 1st and 2nd centuries, there can be found among the generally known authors, no known evidence to indicate that they actually considered the Apocrypha to be inspired scripture, on par with the Hebrew canon. The majority of the prominent writers from this period were completely silent concerning the use of these books. From the so-called Apostolic Fathers and those who came in the first two generations after them in the 1st and 2nd centuries, there can be found among the generally known authors, no known evidence to indicate that they actually considered the Apocrypha to be inspired scripture, on par with the Hebrew canon. The majority of the prominent writers from this period were completely silent concerning the use of these books. In spite of Catholic arguments based upon the authority of tradition, the acceptance of the Apocrypha as canonical scripture was an anti-traditional position within the early churches.

The Majority of Early Christians Who Prepared Lists of the Old Testament Canon Specifically Excluded the Apocrypha.

The Mere Presence of the Apocrypha in the Septuagint Does Not Mean That the Apocrypha is Canonical. It ought to be apparent that there is a great difference between a writer quoting from an Apocryphal book and building a doctrine of faith upon that foundation, and a writer quoting from one of these books to give a pertinent illustration or to use a particularly appealing turn of phrase. The Apocryphal books, to a greater or lesser degree depending on time and place, seem to have been viewed as useful devotional and didactic literature, but rarely as canon. Thus, there is little historical or traditional support for the view that the Apocrypha is inspired scripture, worthy of a place in the official canon of the body of Christ.

There is No Clear Evidence That the Apocryphal Books Were Even Included in the Septuagint until the 3rd Century.

The Apocrypha Was Indeed Added to the Canon in 1546 by the Council of Trent as Specific Response to the Reformation. The Council of Trent was the first place in which the Apocrypha was considered part of an "infallibly decreed" canon of Scripture. For the first time, the specific declaration of anathema was made against those who did not accept the Apocrypha as scripture. It was at that point that the Apocrypha passed from being disputed ecclesial writings in the eyes of the Roman Catholic religion, and to the official status of scripture which must be accepted as such by all good Catholics.

The Conclusion - The rule of faith and practice, belief and doctrine, for the body of true Christians is, and has always been, the Holy Bible. The only sort of tradition approved of in the Old Testament scriptures is the tradition of teaching and applying the Word of God and passing it down the generational lines. It then becomes important for Christians to distinguish what are the Holy Scriptures, and it is herein that much confusion still arises because of the falsehood propagated by apostate Christianity and by Roman Catholicism. The primary area of confusion lies in the acceptance by many groups of the Apocrypha. These books are not, for a multitude of reasons which have been explored, part of the Word of God. Instead, they are uninspired additions which were added by Roman Catholicism so as to bolster support for certain practices for which Catholicism was coming under fire for during the early part of the Reformation. The Roman Catholic religion (and others) therefore errs by its consideration of these books as canon, on par with the Old Testament.

The existence of these books, in and of themselves, is not necessarily wrong. Though they are uninspired, they do contain much truth derived from the true Word of God, just as a commentary or a devotional book may. The Apocryphal books may make for good reading, provided that they (like everything else) are examined and judged in the light of the true scriptures. But they do not belong in the canon of the scriptures, and it is clear from the testimony of history that the Jews never considered them scripture, and neither did the true church of God. For more information on this article, contact Gospel Light Ministries.