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This work was written in A. Therefore these books were never part of the Hebrew canon of Scripture. The books of the Apocrypha were written during the four hundred silent years between the Book of Malachi and the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist. Jewish and New Testament sources both agree that no divinely inspired prophetic utterance occurred during this time. The fact that the Apocrypha is found in the Septuagint translation does not prove anything.

It merely testifies that the Alexandrian Jews translated other religious material into Greek apart from the Old Testament Scripture. A Greek translation is not the same thing as a book being part of the Hebrew canon. There is no evidence that the books of the Apocrypha were in the Septuagint as early as the time of Christ. The earliest manuscripts that contain them date back to the fourth century A. This does not demonstrate that the books of the Apocrypha were part of the Septuagint in pre-Christian times.

Even if they were in the Septuagint at this early date, it is noteworthy that neither Christ nor the apostles ever quoted from them as they did with most of the Old Testament books. In addition, books were merely translated in Alexandria, Egypt - they were not canonized there. There is no clear answer as to what they first century Septuagint contained.

The fourth or fifth century Greek manuscripts, in which the Apocrypha appears, have no consistency with the number of books or their order. It has been argued that the canon of the Alexandrian Jews was larger than the present Hebrew Old Testament. However, there is no evidence that the Jews in Alexandria, Egypt had a wider canon than the Jews living in Israel.

Philo of Alexandria, who lived in the first century A. He acknowledged the Jews believed in the divine authority of the Hebrew canon. However, he gave no indication that there was a wider canon used by the Jews living in Egypt. From Philo we find that the canon in Alexandria, Egypt was the same as in Palestine. He knows the threefold division of the Old Testament as ascribes divine inspiration to many of the books.

In addition, he says nothing about the Apocrypha. Consequently there is no evidence anywhere that the Alexandrian Jews accepted the Apocrypha as Holy Scripture. It must be remembered that it was not the Jews in Egypt but rather some of the Greek-speaking Christians who gave some measure of authoritative status to certain of these books translated with the Septuagint plus. To the Jews, these books were never considered divinely inspired Scripture. In the early years of the church it drew up various lists of the books it considered to be Old Testament Scripture. The books of the Apocrypha do not appear on any list until late in the fourth century.

This demonstrates the acceptance of these writings was not immediate. The earliest existing list of the Old Testament canon comes from a man named Melito, a bishop of Sardis. When I came to the east and reached the place where these things were preached and done, and learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, I set down the facts and sent them to you.

These are their names: This list of Melito is highly instructive. He includes all the books of the present canon except Esther. The reference to the four books of the kingdom would be 1,2 Samuel and 1,2 Kings.

Ezra was the common way to refer to Ezra-Nehemiah. Wisdom was merely a fuller description of the Book of Proverbs - not the Apocryphal book by that name.

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Among ancient writers Proverbs was often called Wisdom. While including all of the books of the present Old Testament canon except Esther Melito nowhere mentions any of the books of the Apocrypha. While a few of the early leaders of the church accepted some of the books of Apocrypha as Scripture, most of the great church leaders did not-Athanasius, Origen, and Jerome, to name a few. Many great church leaders spoke out against the Apocrypha.

Those who do cite the Apocrypha as Scripture were few in number. It is also worth noting that none of the church fathers that quoted the Apocrypha as Scripture knew any Hebrew. In this letter he affirmed all the books of the present Old Testament canon except Esther as well as all the books of the present New Testament canon. He also mentioned some of the books of the Apocrypha.

Of those he said. This is another ancient and powerful testimony that the books of the Apocrypha were not considered to be Holy Scripture. The Church Fathers do not restrict themselves to the books that now make up the Apocrypha. Irenaeus cited the Book of Wisdom as being divinely inspired. Therefore appeal to the church fathers cannot settle the matter, seeing that they give conflicting evidence. The fact that some of the books from the Apocrypha are found in early Greek manuscripts of the Bible is not decisive.

These manuscripts also contain other written works that are neither part of the Scripture nor part of the Apocrypha - everyone rejects them as having any divine authority. For example, 3 and 4 Maccabees and the Psalms of Solomon are found in these early Greek manuscripts along with the Greek Old Testament and the Apocrypha.

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If someone points to the inclusion of the Apocrypha among these early manuscripts as proof of their divine authority, then what do they do with these other works? Should they also be added to the Old Testament? In the three most important Greek manuscripts the order and the contents of the books are different. In Vaticanus we find: In Sinaiaticus the list includes: In Alexandrinus the order is: One of the main problems with accepting the Apocrypha as Scripture is that it is not a well-defined unit.

If the books in the Septuagint plus should be made part of the Old Testament then why are these three books omitted? First and Second Esdras are found in most Latin manuscripts of Scripture.

Biblical apocrypha

In addition, they are placed with the Apocrypha when the full King James Version is printed. However the Roman Catholic Church does not call these three books Scripture. Sometimes these three books are printed as an appendix to Roman Catholic Bibles after the New Testament. Sometimes they are omitted entirely. In addition, not every church Father, which accepted the Apocrypha as canonical, had exactly the same list of books in mind.

This adds to the problem as to the exact content of the Apocrypha. The fact that the councils of Hippo and Carthage accepted the canonical status of the Apocrypha is not decisive. First, they were not larger more representative councils. In addition, these councils had no qualified Hebrew scholar in attendance. Basically the Apocrypha was canonized at these councils because of the influence of one person - Saint Augustine. It is often argued that the great scholar, St. Augustine, accepted the books of the Apocrypha as authoritative. However, Augustine seemed to have changed his mind about the authority of the Apocrypha.

At one point he implied that the Apocrypha did not have the same status as Holy Scripture City of God At best his testimony is ambiguous. Moreover Augustine's testimony, while important, is certainly not the last word on the matter. Augustine mistakenly accepted the miraculous account of the origin of the Septuagint.


While this was a popular thing to do at his time, no one today takes the story seriously. Jerome rejected the Apocrypha as Holy Scripture in the strongest of terms. He refused to place it in his translation of the Old Testament. It was only after the death of Jerome that the Apocrypha was placed in the Vulgate - the official translation of the Roman Catholic Church. His expert testimony was rejected. The fact that stories from the Apocrypha were depicted in early Christian art only shows that they were considered valuable in some sense by believers.

However the divine authority of any work is not determined by whether it is included or missing in art collections by Christians. Even the Roman Catholic Church made a distinction between the Apocrypha and the other books of the Bible prior to the Protestant Reformation. An example of this is Cardinal Cajetan.

He is the man who opposed Martin Luther at Augsburg. His commentary, however, did not include the Apocrypha. Cardinal Ximenes made a distinction between the Apocrypha and the Old Testament in his work called the Complutensian Polyglot Thus there was no unanimity of opinion among Roman Catholic scholars that these books should be considered Scripture. Consequently, before the Protestant Reformation these books were not considered canonical by all of the church authorities.

While councils at Hippo and Carthage listed the Apocrypha as canonical, this was not the stated view of the entire church. As we have seen there were Roman Catholic works at the time of the Protestant Reformation that did not include the Apocrypha with the Old Testament. It is only since the Council of Trent that the Apocrypha has had an authoritative status.

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The first official council of the Roman Catholic Church to ratify these books was at the Council of Trent in There is no official record of the acceptance of the writings as authoritative Scripture before this time. In addition, the decision at Trent has many problems. Rather than accepting the entire fourteen or fifteen books of the Septuagint plus as Holy Scripture they rejected First and Second Esdras which they call Third and Fourth Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh. It is interesting to note that Second Esdras, or Fourth Esdras in Roman Catholic reckoning, contains a strong objection against prayers for the dead - one of the important doctrines practiced by the Roman Catholic Church at that time.

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  7. Second Esdras also limits the Old Testament canon to twenty-four books. This of course, would exclude the Apocrypha. It must also be noted that at the Council of Trent there seems to have been no Hebrew scholars and only a few good Greek scholars. Most scholars believe that the people who lived at the place near the Dead Sea, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, were the Essenes. Although they were rivals of mainstream Judaism they accepted the same books as Holy Scripture. While it is true that the books of the Apocrypha were found among the scrolls left by this group, they not the only non-canonical books that were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

    The materials found at Qumran were part of a library - they were not merely books of Scripture. While commentaries of the biblical books have been found at Qumran no commentary has thus far been found on the Apocryphal books. Consequently there is no evidence whatsoever that the Dead Sea Community held the books of the Apocrypha to be divinely inspired.

    Even if evidence were someday found that showed the Essenes believed the Apocrypha to be divine, this would prove nothing. This group was a sect that was not in the mainstream of Jewish thinking. While some Protestants may find some use of the Apocrypha, such as printing it between the testaments and using it in some measure in public worship, it has never been accepted as Holy Scripture. The use by Protestants of the Apocrypha has never been to establish doctrine or settle doctrinal issues.

    The use of the Apocrypha is limited. The Church of England in their Bible readings say the Apocrypha is to be used for example of life, but not to establish any doctrine. The books commonly called the Apocrypha. The Apocrypha also contains demonstrable historical errors. We can cite a number of examples. I, Tobit, walked in the ways of truth and righteousness all the days of my life.

    I performed many acts of charity for my kindred and my people who had gone with me in exile to Nineveh in the land of the Assyrians.

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    When I was in my own country, in the land of Israel, while I was still a young man, the whole tribe of my ancestor Naphtali deserted the house of David and Jerusalem. This city had been chosen from among all the tribes of Israel, where all the tribes of Israel should offer sacrifice and where the temple, the dwelling of God, had been consecrated and established for all generations forever. All my kindred and our ancestral house of Naphtali sacrificed to the calf that King Jeroboam of Israel had erected in Dan and on all the mountains of Galilee Tobit 1: Yet the text says that Tobit was still alive when the Assyrians captured the northern kingdom of Israel in B.

    This means that he lived over two hundred years! So ended Tobit's words of praise. Tobit died in peace when he was one hundred twelve years old, and was buried with great honor in Nineveh Tobit This is an obvious contradiction. Those who believe in an inerrant Scripture cannot accept the Apocrypha as God's Word.

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    It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh. In those days Arphaxad ruled over the Medes in Ecbatana Judith 1: There are two historical errors in this verse. Nebuchadnezzar was the ruler of the Babylonians, not the Assyrians, and he ruled from Babylon, not Nineveh. While it is possible for Bible scholars, using the most up-to-date archaeological knowledge, to defend the historical accuracy of the books of the Bible, it is not possible to argue for the historical accuracy of the books of the Apocrypha.

    Many of them have demonstrable errors that cannot be reconciled.

    Why Were the Books of the Old Testament Apocrypha Rejected as Holy Scripture by the Protestants?

    The content of the books of the Apocrypha is below that of canonical Scripture. When one reads these books alongside canonical Scripture the differences become obvious. The books of the Apocrypha do not contain anything like predictive prophecy, or the firsthand testimony of miracles, that would give evidence of their divine authority. If God divinely inspired these books, then we should expect to see some internal evidence confirming it. But there is none. From the documents themselves we find no claim of authority. This is in contrast to the books of the Old Testament that claim to record the words that God spoke and the deeds that He performed among the people.

    Therefore it is not logical to attribute God's authority to the books of the Apocrypha when they themselves make no claim to divine authority. While the books of the present Old Testament canon were written in Hebrew, with small parts in Aramaic, some of the books of the Apocrypha have no Hebrew original behind them.

    They were composed in Greek. These include Susanna, the Letter of Jeremiah, and the additions to Esther. While the Hebrew language is not a determining factor as to what books should be part of the Old Testament canon all of the undisputed books of the Old Testament were composed in Hebrew - none of them were composed in Greek.

    Greek did not become the international language till about B. This was about seventy years after the close of the Old Testament. The fact that a number of the books of the Apocrypha were originally written in Greek shows their late date and their lack of claim to be part of the Old Testament. The teaching of the Apocrypha adds nothing new to the faith that God has revealed to humanity. There is nothing in these books that adds to our knowledge of God's character or His plan.

    At best, they simply repeat what is already revealed in the Old Testament. Consequently they do not contain any further revelation. It is clear that in the first century the Old Testament was complete. Jesus put His stamp of approval on the books of the Hebrew Old Testament but said nothing concerning the Apocrypha. However, He did say that the Scriptures were the authoritative Word of God and they could not be broken. Any adding to that which God has revealed is denounced in the strongest of terms. Jesus asked the religious leaders a penetrating question.

    Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? Therefore I send you prophets, sages, and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town, so that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.

    Truly I tell you, all this will come upon this generation Matthew He mentions Abel and Zechariah as the first and last messengers of God that were murdered. Abel's murder is mentioned in Genesis while Zechariah's was in 2 Chronicles - the last Old Testament book in the Hebrew canonical order. The fact that these two are specifically mentioned is particularly significant.

    Several writings of Church Fathers Bibles are still available with Apocrypha: Authorized King James Version with Apocrypha: August Edition: April For years there were efforts to purge these the Apocrypha from the Bible: There was a Preface written for the original King James Bible, which is mysteriously missing from that work: There was also a Dedication written for the original King James Bible: A clear history exists of the inclusion of the Apocrypha in the King James Bible: It always included, though with varying degrees of recognition, the so-called Apocrypha or Deutero-canonical books.

    If, however, any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have by custom been read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin Vulgate, and knowingly and deliberately rejects the aforesaid traditions, let him be accursed.