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Doctrinal Matters: Catholicism

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Reasons to Reject the Apocrypha

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Most people affiliated with Christianity or Judaism have heard of the Apocrypha. The term apocrypha comes from the Greek word apokryphos, meaning “hidden,” and is used most commonly in reference to the “extra” books contained in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible. Written sometime between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100, the apocryphal books, as found in the Greek translation of the Old Testament (known as the Septuagint) and the Latin Vulgate, were pronounced by the Roman Catholics as canonical and authoritative on April 8, 1546, in the Fourth Session of the Council of Trent. Since that time, Catholics have read from an Old Testament that contains 46 books, instead of 39—the number of Old Testament books that most non-Catholics accept today. According to the edict established by the Council of Trent, anyone who does not accept all books of the Catholic Bible, as “sacred and canonical,” including such apocryphal books as Tobias, Judith, and Wisdom, are to be “anathema” (i.e., cut off from Jehovah without any hope of salvation) [“Council of Trent”].

In an effort to reaffirm the Christian’s confidence in the 39 books of the Old Testament, and to help the Christian in building an arsenal that can be used in defending the Truth against all error, specifically the errors propagated by Catholicism, the following brief list is provided. The Christian’s rejection of the Apocrypha is based upon solid evidence (see Woods).

  • The books never were included in the Hebrew canon. Although they appear in the Septuagint, it is very likely that they gradually found their way into later copies, yet were not in its original translation (see The New Bible Handbook, 1962, p. 39).
  • Various credible ancient sources that frequently allude to, and quote from, the Old Testament, exclude the apocryphal books from the canon. Philo (20 B.C.-A.D. 50), Josephus (A.D. 37-95), and Melito (who wrote c.A.D. 165-175), among others, rejected the Apocrypha.
  • Apocryphal books are never quoted in the New Testament. Although these writings existed in the first century, and likely were (by this time) incorporated into the Septuagint, they never were quoted or explicitly cited by Jesus or the apostles in the New Testament. Such a fact truly is significant when one realizes that the New Testament writers quote from, or allude to, the Old Testament (minus the Apocrypha) approximately 1,000 times. In all, thirty-five of the thirty-nine Old Testament books are referred to in the New Testament.
  • No apocryphal book actually claims to be inspired by God. In fact, some either disclaim it, or reveal evidence of errancy. Several historical, geographical, and chronological mistakes can be found in the apocryphal books—errors that are not characteristic of the 39 Old Testament books.

Although the books of the Apocrypha are not totally useless (they do provide much insight into ancient literature, life during the intertestamental period, etc.), they form no part of Scripture. Their entrance into the Catholic Bible simply is another testimony of Catholicism’s rejection of Truth.

REFERENCES

“Council of Trent—1545-1563 A.D. [On-line], URL: http://www.dailycatholic.org/history/19ecume1.htm

The New Bible Handbook (1962), Chicago, IL: Intervarsity Press.

Woods, Clyde, “Fact Sheet: Reasons for Rejecting the Apocrypha from the Canon,” (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman University).




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