Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible

Catholics and Protestants disagree regarding the exact number of books that belong in the Old Testament Scriptures.  The dispute between them is over seven books, part of what is known as the Apocrypha: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Wisdom (Wisdom of Solomon), Baruch, Tobit, Judith, and additions to Daniel and Esther.1 However, there are a number of reasons why the Old Testament Apocrypha should not be part of the Canon, or standard writings of Scripture.

Rejection by Jesus and the Apostles

1.  There are no clear, definite New Testament quotations from the Apocrypha by Jesus or the apostles.  While there may be various allusions by the New Testament to the Apocrypha, there are no authoritative statements like “thus says the Lord,” “as it is written,” or “the Scriptures say.”  There are references in the New Testament to the pseudepigrapha (literally “false writings”) (Jude 14-15) and even citations from pagan sources (Acts 17:22-34), but none of these are cited as Scripture and are rejected even by Roman Catholics.  In contrast, the New Testament writers cite the Old Testament numerous times (Mt. 5; Lk. 24:27; Jn. 10:35) and use phrases such as “thus says the Lord,” “as it is written,” or “the Scriptures say,” indicating their approval of these books as inspired by God.

2.  Jesus implicitly rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture by referring to the entire accepted Jewish Canon of Scripture, “From the blood of Abel [Gen. 4:8] to the blood of Zechariah [2 Chron. 24:20], who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation (Lk. 11:51; cf. Mt. 23:35).”

Abel was the first martyr in the Old Testament from the book of Genesis, while Zecharias was the last martyr in the book of Chronicles.  In the Hebrew Canon, the first book was Genesis and the last book was Chronicles.  They contained all of the same books as the standard 39 books accepted by Protestants today, but they were just arranged differently.  For example, all of the 12 minor prophets (Hosea through Malachi) were contained in one book.  This is why there are only 24 books in the Hebrew Bible today.  By Jesus referring to Abel and Zacharias, He was canvassing the entire Canon of the Hebrew Scriptures which included the same 39 books as Protestants accept today.  Therefore, Jesus implicitly rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.

Rejection by the Jewish Community

3.  The “oracles of God” were given to the Jews (Rom. 3:2) and they rejected the Old Testament Apocrypha as part of this inspired revelation.  Interestingly, Jesus had many disputes with the Jews, but He never disputed with them regarding the extent of the inspired revelation of God.2

4.  The Dead Sea scrolls provide no commentary on the Apocrypha, but do provide commentary on some of the Jewish Old Testament books.  This probably indicates that the Jewish Essene community did not regard them as highly as the Jewish Old Testament books.

5.  Many ancient Jews rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.  Philo never quoted the Apocrypha as Scripture.  Josephus explicitly rejected the Apocrypha and listed the Hebrew Canon to be 22 books. 3 In fact, the Jewish Community acknowledged that the prophetic gifts had ceased in Israel before the Apocrypha was written.

Rejection by many in the Catholic Church

6.  The Catholic Church has not always accepted the Apocrypha.  The Apocrypha was not officially accepted by the Catholic Church at a universal council until 1546 at the Council of Trent.  This is over a millennium and a half after the books were written, and was a counter reaction to the Protestant Reformation.4

7.  Many church Fathers rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture, and many just used them for devotional purposes.  For example, Jerome, the great Biblical scholar and translator of the Latin Vulgate, rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture though, supposedly under pressure, he did make a hurried translation of it.  In fact, most of the church fathers in the first four centuries of the Church rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture.  Along with Jerome, names include Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius.

8.  The Apocryphal books were placed in Bibles before the Council of Trent and after, but were placed in a separate section because they were not of equal authority.  The Apocrypha rightfully has some devotional purposes, but it is not inspired.

False Teachings

9.  The Apocrypha contains a number of false teachings (see: Errors in the Apocrypha).  (To check the following references, see http://www.newadvent.org/bible.)

Not Prophetic

10.  The Apocryphal books do not share many of the chararacteristics of the Canonical books: they are not prophetic, there is no supernatural confirmation of any of the apocryphal writers works, there is no predictive prophecy, there is no new Messianic truth revealed, they are not cited as authoritative by any prophetic book written after them, and they even acknowledge that there were no prophets in Israel at their time (cf. 1 Macc. 9:27; 14:41).

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About Disciple of Christ, Wife, Mommy of 5 blessings & NM Top Earner.

As a wife, homeschooling stay at home mom of 5 beautiful blessings, taxi, chef, doctor, philosopher etc, my life is full of adventures everyday. Most of the adventures lead me to find another lost piece of my identity concealed deep within my heart. I have always felt that there was more to life than just “making it through”. After 5 little ones (4 under 4 & in diapers), I lost all the pieces I had found along the way. I was left with thinking my identity was being a wife and mom. “This can’t be all there is to me!”, I reasoned. Who am I? What’s in my heart? Why do I thrive around beauty and my heart leaps for joy when experiencing something as simple as a sunset. A feeling like I am free, inside. My heart can breathe again as if it had been holding its oxygen all along. Did God make me like this, I wondered? I felt guilty for longing to let my heart be free once again. After all the picture we have of a “perfect” woman is one that is ALWAYS busy! Always volunteering, always giving of herself with never once a thought of the state of her inner being. That is why we lose our hearts. Vulnerability is not welcomed anywhere. Femininity in its purest form is frowned upon. Why? Because women are supposed to be tough! The kind of tough that is just wrong. We are trained to hide our vulnerability, along with our femininity, very early in life. The wounds we have received as little girls leave us reacting as women like that wounded little girl would: we retreat, we regress. The message we received? You can’t trust anyone! Your femininity and vulnerability is a weakness. Most of us walk through life “playing” or pretending to be someone we’re truly not. As adults, we make choices based on how we were programmed when we were young. The real us hides somewhere inside, waiting to be rescued. Like a wounded animal hiding from its master, wanting to trust and soar again, but so afraid of the uncertainty that awaits. The risk is not worth it, we think to ourselves. To be quite honest most of you have not found a safe place to be yourselves. Embarking on a quest to find the real you takes courage. God created you in His image. Adam bears the image of a warrior God. A man is supposed to tell the world, on God’s behalf, He will come through for you. Eve bears the image of a captivating God and her heart is made to show His beauty. A woman is supposed to tell the world, everything is ok. She is that calm & quiet spirit. Safety; a place of refuge and healing beauty. This is what our hearts long for; Eden. The place for which we were created. The place in our hearts we know we belong. I am just a simple girl on a quest to finding my heart. Not the way I was “shaped” by the world but the way God created me. I pray that this journey will be encouraging and uplifting to others. I am going on an adventure and invite you to come with me! I am very transparent because that is what this world needs! With all my love, Laire

Posted on May 2, 2010, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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