What About the Apocrypha?

c.200-100 B.C.

"Apocrypha" is a term that commonly means writings in Catholic and Orthodox Old Testaments that are not in modern Protestant and Jewish Bibles. This tract explains what the Apocrypha is, why some say it is Godís word, and why others say it is not.

The Apocrypha is:

Tobit (Tobias) -1 historical error - 9 pgs

Judith -14 historical errors -14 pgs

Additions to Esther -2 historical errors - 4 pgs

Wisdom of Solomon -2 contradict doct. -19 pgs

Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) -8 contradict doct. -44 pgs

Baruch -4 historical errors - 7 pgs

Song of the 3 Holy Children (in Daniel) - 2 pgs

Susanna (in Daniel) - 2 pgs

Bel & the Dragon (in Dan) -1 error - 2 pgs

1 and 2 Maccabees -2 historical errors -41 pgs

¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾ ¾

1 and 2 Esdras (a.k.a. 3 4 Esdras)

Prayer of Manasses

 

Where the Apocrypha Came From

These fourteen writings first appeared after the Old Testament was translated to Greek about 200-100 BC. This translation, called the Septuagint, was well done for the Pentateuch, not that well done for some of the prophetic books. Jews in Palestine never called it scripture. Greek speaking Jews and Christians outside of Palestine assumed it was scripture, since it was in the Septuagint.

When the early Christian monk Jerome translated the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, he had to answer a question: "Should he include these books or not?" Early in his life he thought all the Septuagint was inspired, but later he believed only the Hebrew originals, and not the apocrypha were scripture. Jerome coined a term to describe these books: Apocrypha from the Greek word for hidden, to distinguish these from both "true scripture" and other religious writings.

In 90 AD. the Jewish Council at Jamnia excluded from the Old Testament all but the writings Jews and Protestants accept today. Among Christians there was no consensus until Augustine championed the Apocrypha at the Council of Carthage in 397 AD (after Jerome's death). These writings were in Bibles used by Christians for over 1,100 years. Even the King James Bible originally included it.

Which Apocrypha?

When both some Catholic theologians and all Protestant reformers excluded the Apocrypha from the Bible, the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 AD. took action. Besides condemning Luther to hell, the Council officially recognized all the books of the Council of Carthage as being in the Bible -- except for the Prayer of Manasses and 1 and 2 Esdras. (Some Catholic Bibles call Esther and Nehemiah 1,2 Esdras, which changes 1,2 Esdras into 3,4 Esdras.) Thus the Catholic Apocrypha today is three books shorter than the Apocrypha throughout most of history and the Orthodox Church today.

 

Why Some Say It IS Godís Word

Inference: It was in the Septuagint. It was affirmed at Carthage 397 AD., and Trent in 1546. The Catholic & Orthodox Churches have decreed it scripture.

Rebuttal: If Trent was correct in declaring previous tradition wrong on the three extra books, tradition can be wrong on the others too. Since the Council of Trent actually reconvened in three or four different cities, since bubonic plague seemed to follow it, many would see Trent as a reason NOT to accept it.

Inference: Many early Christian leaders taught it as scripture. Some are: Ambrose, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome, Hippolytus, Irenaeus, Lactantius, Patrick, Sulpitius Severus, and Theodotus. Are all these men in error?

Rebuttal: Many early Christian leaders did not believe it scripture. Some are: Ambrose, Amphilochus, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nanzianzus, Jerome, Melito of Sardis, and Origen. The Jews Josephus and Philo also rejected it. Many others, such as Justin Martyr, wrote volumes yet never once cited it. Ambrose was contradictory. Even many for it, like Augustine, believed it inspired in a lesser way.

Proof: Since Godís true word endures, and the Apocrypha has been in some Bibles continuously for 2100 years, then none of the Apocryphaís unique doctrines (prayers for the dead, etc.) corrupted Godís word. Since Godís revelation would be substantially different if these doctrines were excluded vs. included, and since Godís word cannot be corrupted (substantially altered), then these doctrines and the Apocrypha must be true.

Rebuttal: The Apocrypha were additions to the Bible, not corruptions of the Bible. The distinction of the Apocrypha was always known. Godís word enduring means that His truth will always be present; cultists make corrupt copies of the Bible all the time.

Bottom Line: When the church speaks, the thinking is done. Since the both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches say the Apocrypha is scripture, who are we to question the True Church with our private views?

Why Some Say It Is NOT Godís Word

Inference: The ~250 Old Testament quotes in the New Testament do not include even one quote from the Apocrypha. (even though it quotes Greek poets and pseudipegrapha), much less said it was Scripture. Everyone would accept the Apocrypha as scripture if Jesus said so. He never did.

Rebuttal: The New Testament does not quote from Esther, Ecclesiastes, or Song of Solomon either.

Inference: The Jewish Council of Jamnia in 90 AD. excluded the Apocrypha. Jesus never criticized the Pharisees for not believing in the Apocrypha.

Rebuttal: Jews, not Christians, convened at Jamnia.

Inference: Many Middle Age Christians also did not believe it was scripture. Some are: Pope Gregory the Great (1st Maccabees), Cardinal Cajetan (1469-1534) a foremost Catholic Theologian, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli. If the Apocrypha is scripture, then all of these were in error on this point.

Rebuttal: Zwingli did not accept Revelation as scripture. Comparing the doctrinal value (not canonicity) of James, Luther said, "--these are the books which show to thee Christ, and teach everything that is necessary and blessed for thee to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book of doctrine. Therefore, St. Jamesí Epistle is a perfect straw-epistle compared with them, for it has in it nothing of an evangelic kind." From Ryrie Basic Theology p.109.

Inference: The Apocrypha teaches as Godís Word things found no where else. For example:

An angel named Uriel (2 Esdras)

A good soul fell to Solomonís lot. Wisdom 8:19, 20

The body weighs down the soul. Wisdom 9:15

Whoever honors his father atones for sins. Sirach 3:3

God is unaware the origin of some is evil. Wisd. 12:10

" That is why God gave them a chance to repent which they did not take.

To none has he [God] given power to proclaim his works;..." Sirach

Never use deceit (Sirach 25:26) vs. Deceive people for God (Judith)

Divorce if your wife does not obey you-Sirach 25:26

"for from garments comes the moth, and from a woman comes woman's wickedness. Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good; and it is a woman who brings shame and disgrace." Sirach 42:14

"Wine is like life to men, if you drink it in moderation. What is life to a man who is without wine? It has been created to make men glad." (Sirach 31:27) {Does A.A. quote this often?}

"Pamper a child, and he will frighten you; play with him, and he will give you grief." Sirach 30:9

"Speak, you who are older, for it is fitting that you should, but with accurate knowledge and do not interrupt the music." Sirach 32:3

"My son, do not lead the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg." (and it goes on) Sirach 40:28-30.

Jeremiah, though dead, prays for Jews 2 Mac5:12-16

We should pray for the dead 2 Macc 12:44

Jeremiah took the tabernacle of the ark to a cave in the mountain Moses saw Canaan. 2 Macc 2:1-16

Other verses Sirach 42:14

Rebuttal: Maybe all Christians should believe these.

Proof: Since Godís Word is true, and the Apocrypha has the following provable falsehoods, the Apocrypha is not Godís inerrant word.

· Tobias used magic, the heart, liver, and gall of a fish, to drive away a demon. The Bible says we are not to use magic. An angel lies and claims to be Azarius son of Ananias

· Tobit 1:4-5 + 1:11-13 + 14:1-3 say Tobit saw the revolt of the northern tribes (997 BC.); he was deported to Ninevah with Naphtali (740 BC.) yet he only lived 102 years.

Judith: It is unclear where the Book was Judith was written. The at least fourteen errors in the book cover falsehoods of the people and geography of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and even gross errors on the geography of Israel. In short, · Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon; he did not rule from Ninevah, · he was not king of the Assyrians, and the Assyrians (or Babylonians) · never sacked Ecbatana or Ragae. · Assyrians and Babylonians did not rely predominately on their cavalry. · The Babylonian and Assyrian rulers wanted people to worship their gods, but not them-selves (unlike later Romans and Persians.) · The people had not returned from exile in the time of the Assyrians or Babylonians. · The Moabites and Ammonites were descendents of Lot; they were not Canaanites. · General Holofernes and his massive campaign in Palestine are unknown to history and archaeology. · a city with towers called Bethulia, on the plain of Esdraelon near Dothan, able to resist 132,000 soldiers, has not been found. · Balbaim and · Cyamon have not been found either.

The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible even says in Intro "The book of Judith in particular shows a bland indifference to history and geography."

· Mordecai taken by Nebuchadnezzar (617 BC.)

2nd year of Artaxerxes court (~130 years later). Contradicts regular part of Esther: (additions to Esther)

· Haman was an Agagite, not Macedonian. -add Esth.

· Do not remember the dead (Sirach 38:21-23) vs. pray for the dead (2 Macc 12:44)

· Baruch not really in Babylon 1:1,2 vs. Jer.43:5-7

· Baruch 6:2 says the Jews would serve Babylon for 7 generations. Jeremiah 25:11 & 29:11 says 70 years; .

· The Babylonians did not worship and feed a living dinosaur-like creature. (additions to Daniel 14:23-27)

· In 2 Macc 8:10 Nicanor wanted to pay 2,000 talents to the Romans; the Seleucids were not under the Romans.

· In 2 Macc 8:20 8K Seleucids plus 4K Macedonians did not destroy 120,000 Galatians in Babylonia.

· Minor historical discrepancies between 1 & 2 Mac.

Rebuttal: Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits it has errors on details.

Inference: Writers of Sirach (prologue) and 2 Mac (2:24-43; 15:38-40) indicate they were not inspired.

Rebuttal: A writer might not know he was inspired.

Bottom Line: When we have to choose between a human viewpoint and the truth of God, we follow God. We, who together are the True Church, must never cease to recognize and follow Godís truth. www.BibleQuery.org.

Here are Apocryphal books early Christian writers referred to.

Cr 1 Clement (of Rome) (16 pgs) 97/98 A.D.

Ba Epistle of Barnabas (13 pgs) c.100 A.D.

Ig Ignatius (21 pgs) c.110-117 A.D.

Pa Papias disciple of John (3 pgs) 110-113 A.D.

Di Didache (Teach. of 12 Disc.)(6 pgs) < 125 A.D.

Dg (anonymous) to Diognetus (6 pgs) c.130 A.D.

Po Polycarp, disciple of John (4 pgs) c.150 A.D.

Jm Justin Martyr (119 pgs) 138-165 A.D.

He Shepherd of Hermas (47 pgs) 160 A.D.

Th Theophilus [Antioch] (33 pgs)168-181/188 A.D.

Me Melito of Sardis (11 pgs) 170-177 A.D.

Ae Athenagoras (34 pgs) c.177 A.D.

Ir Irenaeus (264 pgs) 182-188 A.D.

Te Tertullian [Rome] (854 pgs) 200-220 A.D.

Ca Clement of Alexan. (424 pgs) 193-217/220 A.D.

Hi Hippolytus, (233 pgs) 225-235/6 A.D.

Or Origen (622 pgs) 230-254 A.D.

Nv Novatian (39 pgs) 250-257 A.D.

an Anonymous against Novatian(7 pgs) c.255 A.D.

And Treatise on Rebaptism (11 pgs)

Cp Cyprian and friends (270 pgs) 248-258 A.D.

Not shown are Bardesan (154-230) [ref. to Gen] or Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.). [Neh,Dan by name, allude Ex]

W = Books or quotes mentioned by name or by writer

G = Mentioned as words of God + quoted

B = Mentioned as scripture or quoted + "it is written"

Q = quote of 1 or more verses. Ĺ = quote of Ĺ a verse

A = Allusion. Ė = no reference

Writer

Cr

Ba

Ig

Pa

Di

Dg

Po

JM

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Ir

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CA

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JA

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Cp

Tobit

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Judith

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Wisdom

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Baruch

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Bel

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Susan

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3 Holy

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Manass

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Esdras -general

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1,2 Mac

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3,4 Mac

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Writer

Cr

Ba

Ig

Pa

Di

Dg

Po

JM

He

Th

Me

Ae

Ir

Te

CA

Hi

Or

JA

Nv

an

Cp

Time

97/98 A.D.

150 A.D.

168 A.D.

200

225 A.D. 258 A.D.

Pages

151 pages

135 pgs

264

854

424

225

622

8

57 pgs

270