Archive for Apocrypha

Agreements Between Catholics/Protestands & Differences

Posted in Bible with tags on December 3, 2008 by egoeimi3

This material posted here is taken from the book that I have in my library on my hard drive from my personal study materials.  The book is:  

Roman Catholics and Evangelicals: Agreements and Differences

Protestants and Roman Catholics find they are not as separated theologically as they may have thought in this comparative study of beliefs. Shows what joins and what divides the two faiths, laying out the essential issues.


And below if you choose to read why Protestants do not accept the Apocrypha here is why.  If you want me to post the Catholic position leave a comment.  See below from the book stated above.


A Response to Catholic Arguments
in Favor of the Apocrypha

Our response will follow the order of the arguments given by Catholics discussed above. Thus, the numbering will correspond point by point.

1. There may be New Testament allusions to the Apocrypha, but there are no clear New Testament quotations from it. Not once is there a direct quotation from any apocryphal books accepted by the Roman Catholic Church. 5  Further, although the New Testament cites the Hebrew Old Testament, it never once quotes any of the fourteen (or fifteen) apocryphal books as divinely authoritative or canonical. For example, they are never cited with introductory phrases like “thus says the Lord” or “as it is written” or “the Scriptures say,” such as are typically found when canonical books are quoted.

2. The fact that the New Testament often quotes from the Greek Old Testament in no way proves that the apocryphal books contained in the Greek manuscript of the Old Testament are inspired. First, it is not certain that the Septuagint (LXX) of the first century contained the Apocrypha. The earliest Greek manuscripts that include them date from the fourth century a.d. Further, even if they were in the Septuagint of apostolic times, Jesus and the apostles never once quoted them, although they are supposed to have been included in the very version of the Old Testament (the LXX) that they usually cited. Finally, even the notes in the current Roman Catholic Bible ( nab ) make the revealing admission that the apocryphal books are “religious books used by both Jews and Christians which were not included in the collection of inspired writings.” Instead, they “were introduced rather late into the collection of the Bible. Catholics call them ‘deuterocanonical’ (second canon) books.” 6 

3. Citations of the church fathers in support of the canonicity of the Apocrypha are selective and misleading. While some Fathers accepted their inspiration, others used them only for devotional or homiletical (preaching) purposes but did not accept them as canonical. As a recent authority on the Apocrypha, Roger Beckwith, observes,

When one examines the passages in the early Fathers which are supposed to establish the canonicity of the Apocrypha, one finds that some of them are taken from the alternative Greek text of Ezra (1 Esdras) or from additions or appendices to Daniel, Jeremiah or some other canonical book, which . . . are not really relevant; that others of them are not quotations from the Apocrypha at all; 7  and that, of those which are, many do not give any indication that the book is regarded as Scripture. 8 

So unqualified Catholic appeal to the use of the Apocrypha is misleading. For, as Beckwith notes, in many cases the Fathers were not claiming divine authority for one or more of the eleven books infallibly canonized by the Council of Trent. Rather, they were either citing a book that was part of the Hebrew canon or not quoting the apocryphal books as Scripture.

4. Although some individuals in the early church had a high regard for the Apocrypha, there were many who vehemently opposed it. 9  For example, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Origen, and the great Roman Catholic biblical scholar and translator of the Latin Vulgate, Jerome, all opposed the Apocrypha (see below). Even the early Syrian church did not accept the Apocrypha. In the second century a.d. the Syrian Bible (Peshitta) did not contain the Apocrypha. 10 

5. As even many Catholic scholars will admit, scenes from the catacombs do not prove the canonicity of the books whose events they depict. Such scenes need not indicate any more than the religious significance that the portrayed events had for early Christians. They may show a respect for the books containing these events without recognizing that they are inspired.

6. None of the great Greek manuscripts (Aleph, A, and B) contain all of the apocryphal books. In fact, only four (Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, and Sirach [Ecclesiasticus]) are found in all of them, and the oldest manuscripts (B or Vaticanus) totally exclude the books of Maccabees. Yet Catholics appeal to this manuscript for proof of their deuterocanonical books that include the Apocrypha! What is more, no Greek manuscript has the same list of apocryphal books accepted by the Council of Trent ( a.d. 1545–63). 11 

7. There are some important reasons why citing these church councils does not prove the Apocrypha belonged in the canon of the Christian church. First, these were only local councils and were not binding on the whole church. 12  Local councils have often erred in their decisions and have been overruled later by the universal church.

Second, these books were not part of the Christian (New Testament period) writings and hence were not under the province of the Christian church to decide. They were the province of the Jewish community that wrote them and had centuries before rejected them as part of the canon, for books were accepted by the contemporary generations who were in the best position to verify the prophetic claims of their authors (cf. Heb. 2:3–4 ).

Third, the books accepted by these Christian councils may not have been the same ones in each case. Hence, they cannot be used as evidence of the exact canon later infallibly proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church in a.d. 1546.

Fourth, the local councils of Hippo and Carthage in North Africa were influenced by Augustine, who is the most significant voice of antiquity that accepted the same apocryphal books later canonized by the Council of Trent in a.d. 1546. 13  However, Augustine’s position is ill-founded for several reasons. (a) His contemporary, Jerome, a greater biblical authority than Augustine, rejected the Apocrypha (see below). (b) Augustine himself recognized that the Jews did not accept these books as part of their canon. 14  (c) Augustine erroneously reasoned that these books should be in the Bible because of their mention “of extreme and wonderful suffering of certain martyrs.” 15  On that ground one could argue that Foxe’s Book of Martyrs  16  should also be in the canon! (d) Augustine was inconsistent, since he rejected books not written by prophets yet accepted a book that appears to deny being prophetic ( 1 Macc. 9:27 ). 17  (e) Augustine’s acceptance of the Apocrypha seems to be connected with his mistaken belief in the inspiration of the Septuagint, whose later Greek manuscripts contained them. 18 

8. The Greek church has not always accepted the Apocrypha, nor is its present position unequivocal. At the synods of Constantinople ( a.d. 1638), Jaffa (1642), and Jerusalem (1672) these books were declared canonical. But even as late as 1839 their Larger Catechism expressly omitted the Apocrypha on the grounds that its books did not exist in the Hebrew Bible. This is still their position.

9. At the Roman Catholic Council of Trent ( a.d. 1546) the infallible proclamation was made accepting the Apocrypha as part of the inspired Word of God. 19  Unfortunately, the proclamation came a millennium and a half after the books were written and in an obvious polemic against Protestantism. 20  Furthermore, the official infallible addition of books that support prayers for the dead is highly suspect, coming as it did only a few years after Luther protested against this very doctrine. It has all the appearance of an attempt to provide ecclesiastical support for Roman Catholic doctrines that lack biblical support (see chap. 16 ).

10. Apocryphal books did appear in Protestant Bibles prior to the Council of Trent, but were generally placed in a separate section because they were not considered of equal authority. 21  While Anglicans and some other non-Roman Catholic groups had a high regard for the devotional and historical value of the Apocrypha, they did not consider it inspired and of equal authority with Scripture. Even Roman Catholic scholars throughout the Reformation period made the distinction between the Apocrypha and the canon. Cardinal Ximenes made this distinction in his Complutensian Polyglot ( a.d. 1514–17) on the very eve of the Reformation. Cardinal Cajetan, who later opposed Luther at Augsburg in 1518, published a Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament ( a.d. 1532) many years after the Reformation began which did not contain the Apocrypha. Luther spoke against the Apocrypha in 1543, placing its books at the back of his Bible. 22 

11. The discovery at Qumran included not only the community’s Bible (the Old Testament) but their library, with fragments of hundreds of books. Among these were some Old Testament apocryphal books. But the fact that no commentaries were found on an apocryphal book and that only canonical books, not the Apocrypha, were found in the special parchment and script indicates that the Qumran community did not view the apocryphal books as canonical. 23  The noted scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Millar Burroughs, concluded: “There is no reason to think that any of these works were venerated as Sacred Scripture.” 24 

Actually, all that the arguments used in favor of the canonicity of the apocryphal books prove is that various apocryphal books were given varied degrees of esteem by different persons within the Christian church, usually falling short of canonicity. Only after Augustine and the local councils he dominated mistakenly pronounced them inspired did they gain wider usage and eventual acceptance by the Roman Catholic Church at Trent. This falls far short of the kind of initial, continual, and complete recognition of the canonical books of the Protestant Old Testament and Jewish Torah (which exclude the Apocrypha) by the Christian church. It exemplifies how the teaching magisterium of the Catholic church proclaims infallible one tradition to the neglect of strong evidence in favor of an opposing tradition because it supports a doctrine that lacks any real support in the canonical books. 25 

5 There are, of course, allusions to pseudipigraphal (false writings) that are rejected by Roman Catholics as well as Protestants, such as the Book of Enoch ( Jude 14–15 ) and the Bodily Assumption of Moses ( Jude 9 ). There are also citations from pagan poets and philosophers ( Acts 17:28 ; 1 Cor. 15:33 ; Titus 1:12 ). But none of these are cited as Scripture nor as a divine authority. The New Testament simply refers to a truth contained in these books which otherwise may (and do) have many errors. Roman Catholics agree.
6 New American Bible, p. 413.
7 “Thus, Epistle of Barnabas 6.7 and Tertullian, Against Marcion 3.22.5, are not quoting Wisd. 2.12 but Isa. 3:10 LXX, and Tertullian, On the Soul 15, is not quoting Wisd. 1.6 but Ps. 139.23, as a comparison of the passages shows. Similarly, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 129, is quite clearly not quoting Wisdom but Prov. 8.21–5 LXX. The fact that he calls Proverbs ‘Wisdom’ is in accordance with the common nomenclature of the earlier Fathers.” See Roger Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), p. 427 n. 208.
8 Ibid., p. 387.
9 J. D. N. Kelly’s comment that “For the great majority [of early fathers] . . . the deutero-canonical writings ranked as scripture in the fullest sense” is out of synch with the facts just cited by Beckwith.
10 See Norman L. Geisler and W. E. Nix, General Introduction to the Bible, Revised and Expanded (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), chaps. 27–28.
11 See Beckwith, Old Testament Canon, pp. 194, 382–83.
12 Some Catholic apologists argue that even though the council was not ecumenical its results are binding since they were confirmed by a pope. However, they acknowledge that there is no infallible way to know which statements by popes are infallible and which are not. Indeed, they admit that other statements by popes were even heretical, such as the teaching of the monothelite heresy by Pope Honorius I (see chap. 11 ).
13 The Council of Rome did not list the same books accepted by Hippo and Carthage. It does not include Baruch, thus listing only six, not seven, of the apocryphal books later pronounced canonical by the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic scholars assume it was part of Jeremiah. However, Trent lists it as a separate book. See Denzinger, Sources, 84, p. 34.
14 Augustine, City of God 19.36–38.
15 Of the books of Maccabees Augustine said, “These are held to be canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs” ( City of God 18, 36).
16 John Foxe (1516–87), Acts and Monuments of Matters Happening in the Church (1563).
17 This verse denies there was a prophet during the period it was written, which would mean the author was not a prophet. In response, Catholics appeal to verses that say there were no prophetic visions in Israel before God raised up Samuel ( 1 Sam. 3:1 ). But this misses the point: the books of Samuel were not written before God began to speak to Samuel but after. Likewise, Psalm 74:9 refers to no prophet being left “in the land,” since the Babylonians had destroyed the temple (v. 3 ) and the prophets were in exile (e.g., Daniel and Jeremiah). And Lamentations 2:9 does not say there were no prophets anywhere (Jeremiah, who wrote it, was a prophet) but that there were none in the land who were getting a “vision from the Lord.” By contrast, the writer of 1 Maccabees was bemoaning the fact that there were no longer any prophets in Israel, even after they had returned to the land. Nor does 1 Maccabees state that the prophetic lull in Israel was to be only temporary. Indeed, Judaism has acknowledged that even before the time of Maccabees the prophetic spirit had departed from Israel (see Josephus, Antiquities, Against Apion 1.8: “From Artaxerxes until our time everything has been recorded, but has not been deemed worthy of like credit with what preceded, because the exact succession of the prophets ceased.”
18 However, Augustine’s later acknowledgment of the superiority of Jerome’s Hebrew text over the Septuagint’s Greek text should have led him to accept the superiority of Jerome’s Hebrew canon as well, which did not include the Apocrypha.
19 Some Catholic scholars claim that the earlier Council of Florence ( a.d. 1442) made the same pronouncement. However, this is a disputed council, and its action here does not have any real basis in Jewish history, the New Testament, or early Christian history.
20 Even before Luther, the Council of Florence ( a.d. 1442) had proclaimed the Apocrypha inspired, which helped bolster the doctrine of purgatory that had already blossomed in Roman Catholicism. However, the manifestations of this belief in the sale of indulgences came to full bloom in Luther’s day, and Trent’s infallible proclamation of the Apocrypha was a clear polemic against Luther’s teaching.
21 Even knowledgeable Catholics acknowledge that the appearance of apocryphal books in Protestant bibles does not prove they were accepted as inspired but only that they were valued.
22 See Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (New York: Oxford University Press, 1957), pp. 181f. Luther also had some initial doubts about James, but he eventually placed it alongside the other New Testament books.
23 Menahem Mansoor, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 203, lists the following fragments of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: Tobit, in Hebrew and Aramaic; Enoch, in Aramaic; Jubilees, in Hebrew; Testament of Levi and Naphtali, in Aramaic; Apocryphal Daniel literature, in Hebrew and Aramaic; and Psalms of Joshua. See New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2:390.
24 Millar Burroughs, More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 178.
25 The (proto) canonical books were received immediately by the people of God into the growing canon of Scripture (see Geisler and Nix, General Introduction, chap. 13). The subsequent debate was by those who were not in a position, as was the immediate audience, to know whether they were from an accredited apostle or prophet. Hence, this subsequent debate over the antilegomena was directly over their authenticity, not canonicity—they were already in the canon. What some individuals in subsequent generations questioned was whether they rightfully belonged there. Eventually, all of the antilegomena were retained in the canon. This is not true of the Apocrypha, for Protestants reject all of the books and even Roman Catholics reject some of them (e.g., 3–4 Esdras and The Prayer of Manasseh).
Geisler, N. L., & MacKenzie, R. E. 1995. Roman Catholics and Evangelicals : Agreements and differences . Baker Books: Grand Rapids, Mich.