Apocrypha, Development of the Canon

     “Apocrypha is the word most commonly used in reference to texts considered by Protestants to be non-canonical and not legitimately part of the Bible; however, they are included in some protestant Bibles between the O.T and N.T. and labelled Apocrypha. These writings are however considered canonical and included as part of the O.T. Scriptures in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Bibles.
     Disagreement between Christian Churches is almost non-existent about the canon of the New Testament, but the inclusion of some books in the Old Testament canon is disputed.
     Although the apocryphal books may be of roughly similar style and age as the accepted canonical Scriptures, many of which were included in versions of the early Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint), these Jewish writings are not part of the Hebrew Bible (the Masoretic text). Since these books were primarily written in the intermediate time between the Old and New Testaments, Protestant scholars sometimes call them “intertestamental” writings, and view them as no different from other historical writings.
     Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox consider these texts equally canonical as books of the Bible, with Catholics terming them deuterocanonical (from Greek: second canon). This is primarily based on their inclusion in the Septuagint and the fact that many of the early church fathers frequently quoted from them. The Vulgate was basically a Latin translation of the Septuagint.
     The Church of England takes an intermediate position on the Apocrypha; its Sixth Article of Religion says of them “the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine”.
     Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox: Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Ben Sira, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah
     Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox: 1 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, Odes, Psalm 151
     Russian and Oriental Orthodox: 2 Esdras
     Oriental Orthodox: Jubilees Enoch
     – Theopedia, Apocrypha

     “Roman Catholics and Protestants agree on many central doctrines of the Christian faith, including the Trinity, deity of Christ, and bodily resurrection of Jesus. But one important issue which separates Roman Catholics and Protestants is the extent of canonized Scripture. While both groups have the same 27 books in the New Testament, Roman Catholics have an additional seven books in their Old Testament (along with four additions to other OT books). These extra books and writings are referred to as the “Apocrypha” or “deuterocanonical” (second canon) books. They are as follows:
     The Wisdom of Solomon (Book of Wisdom), Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), Additions to Esther (10:4-16:24), Prayer of Azariah (Daniel 3:24-90), Susanna (Daniel 13), Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14).
     The status of the Apocrypha became a watershed issue between Roman Catholics and Protestants during the Counter-Reformation. It was at this time that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) officially and infallibly canonized these books and pronounced an anathema (under God’s condemnation) on anyone who rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture, which would include all Protestants.”
     – Aaron, Is the Apocrypha Scripture?

     “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. 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. 5Lk. 24:27Jn. 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 Zechariah 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 Zachariah, 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
     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. 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.
     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.)

– The command to use magic (Tobit 6:5-7).
– Forgiveness of sins by almsgiving (Tobit 4:1112:9).
– Offering of money for the sins of the dead (2 Maccabees 12:43-45).

     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. 9:2714:41).”

     – Michael Marlowe, The Old Testament Canon and Apocrypha
     – Internet Sacred Text Archive, Apocrypha Index
     – Pseudepigrapha.com, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha and Sacred Writings


     – Michael Kruger, Lectures on the Canon
     – Greg Koukl, Is the Canon Reliable?

     – Saddleback Church, The Ahmanson Lecture Series
     – Ben Stuart, Has the Bible Been Corrupted?” (03/30/10)

     – The Ehrman Project, The Ehrman Project
     – Daniel Wallace, Five Myths About Bible Translation
     – Daniel Wallace, Fifteen More Myths About Bible Translation
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