The Apocrypha (απόκρυφα means “hidden”) is a set of books written between approximately 400 B.C. and the time of Christ that is rejected by Protestants and officially accepted by the Roman Catholic Church in 1546 as being inspired. These books are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch.
But if the Apocrypha is a Scripture, then it should not have any errors. But since it does have errors, as will be demonstrated below, this puts into question whether or not the Roman Catholic Church has properly used its self-proclaimed position as the teaching authority of the Christian Church. If it can error in such an important manner as what is Scripture, can it be trusted to properly teach the Christian Church? The following references can be verified at http://www.newadvent.org/bible.
Problems in the Apocrypha
When we look into the Apocrypha itself, we find numerous problems. For example, we see it advocating magic where the smoke of a fish heart on a fire drives away devils.
Condones the use of magic
Tobit 6:5-7, “Then the angel said to him: Take out the entrails of this fish, and lay up his heart, and his gall, and his liver for thee: for these are necessary for useful medicines. 6 And when he had done so, he roasted the flesh thereof, and they took it with them in the way: the rest they salted as much as might serve them, till they came to Rages the city of the Medes. 7 Then Tobias asked the angel, and said to him: I beseech thee, brother Azarias, tell me what remedies are these things good for, which thou hast bid me keep of the fish? 8 And the angel, answering, said to him: If thou put a little piece of its heart upon coals, the smoke thereof driveth away all kind of devils, either from man or from woman, so that they come no more to them.”
Is it true that the smoke from a fish’s heart, when burned, drives away evil spirits? Of course not. Such a superstitious teaching has no place in the word of God.
Teaches that forgiveness of sins is by human effort.
Salvation by works:
- Tobit 4:11, “For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness.”
- Tobit 12:9, “For alms delivereth from death, and the same is that which purgeth away sins, and maketh to find mercy and life everlasting.”
We know from Scripture that alms (money or food given to the poor or needy as charity) does not purge our sins. The blood of Christ is what cleanses us – not money or food given to poor people. “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin,” (1 John 1:7).
Money as an offering for the sins of the dead:
2 Maccabbees 12:43, “And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection.”
Can anyone truly accept that money isn’t offering for the sins of dead people? Such a superstitious and unbiblical concept has no place in Scripture.
Wrong historical facts:
- Judith 1:5, “Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor, king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Ninive the great city, fought against Arphaxad and overcame him.”
- Baruch 6:2, “And when you are come into Babylon, you shall be there many years, and for a long time, even to seven generations: and after that I will bring you away from thence with peace.”
The book of Judith incorrectly says that Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Assyrians when he was the king of the Babylonians.1
Baruch 6:2 says the Jews would serve in Babylon for seven generations where Jer. 25:11 says it was for 70 years. “And this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”
Obviously, the Apocrypha has serious problems. From magic, to salvation by works, to money as an offering for the sins of the dead, and blatant incorrect historical facts – it is full of false and unbiblical teachings. It isn’t inspired by God. Likewise, neither is the Roman Catholic Church, which has stated the Apocrypha is inspired. This shows the Roman Catholic Church is not the means by which God is communicating his truth to his people, that the Magisterium has erred greatly, and that it is infested with man’s false tradition rather than God’s absolute truth.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox Faith Examined and
“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:
- The Roman Catholic Church did not officially canonize the Apocrypha until the Council of Trent (1546 AD). This was in part because the Apocrypha contained material which supported certain Catholic doctrines, such as purgatory, praying for the dead, and the treasury of merit.
- Not one of them is in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament.
- Not one of the writers lays any claim to inspiration.
- These books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, and therefore were never sanctioned by our Lord.
- They were not allowed a place among the sacred books, during the first four centuries of the Christian Church.
- They contain fabulous statements, and statements which contradict not only the canonical Scriptures, but themselves; as when, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in as many different places.
- The Apocrypha inculcates doctrines at variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead and sinless perfection.
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)
- The apocrypha contains offensive materials unbecoming of God’s authorship.
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.
- It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation.
- The apocryphal books themselves make reference to what we call the Silent 400 years, where there was no prophets of God to write inspired materials.
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)
- Josephus rejected the apocryphal books as inspired and this reflected Jewish thought at the time of Jesus
“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)
- The Manual of Discipline in the Dead Sea Scrolls rejected the apocrypha as inspired.
- The Council of Jamnia held the same view rejected the apocrypha as inspired.
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])
- Although it was occasionally quoted in early church writings, it was nowhere accepted in a canon. Melito (AD 170) and Origen rejected the Apocrypha, (Eccl. Hist. VI. 25, Eusebius) as does the Muratorian Canon.
- Jerome vigorously resisted including the Apocrypha in his Latin Vulgate Version (400 AD), but was overruled. As a result, the standard Roman Catholic Bible throughout the medieval period contained it. Thus, it gradually came to be revered by the average clergyman. Still, many medieval Catholic scholars realized that it was not inspired.
- The terms “protocanonical” and “deuterocanonical” are used by Catholics to signify respectively those books of Scripture that were received by the entire Church from the beginning as inspired, and those whose inspiration came to be recognized later, after the matter had been disputed by certain Fathers and local churches.
- Pope Damasus (366-384) authorized Jerome to translate the Latin Vulgate. The Council of Carthage declared this translation as “the infallible and authentic Bible.” Jerome was the first to describe the extra 7 Old Testament books as the “Apocrypha” (doubtful authenticity). Needless to say, Jerome’s Latin Vulgate did not include the Apocrypha.
- Cyril (born about A.D. 315) – “Read the divine Scriptures – namely, the 22 books of the Old Testament which the 72 interpreters translated” (the Septuagint)
- The apocrypha wasn’t included at first in the Septuagint, but was appended by the Alexandrian Jews, and was not listed in any of the catalogues of the inspired books till the 4th century
- Hilary (bishop of Poictiers, 350 A.D.) rejected the apocrypha (Prologue to the Psalms, Sec. 15)
- Epiphanius (the great opposer of heresy, 360 A.D.) rejected them all. Referring to Wisdom of Solomon & book of Jesus Sirach, he said “These indeed are useful books & profitable, but they are not placed in the number of the canonical.”
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.
Catholics argue: 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 every 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.