Introduction

 

One of the most crucial things we should know is what writings are parts of God’s Holy Bible. Without this matter being cleared up, it is likely that some Christians will accept ideas and practices which God does not accept.

My book “Highest Authority: Church, Scripture Or Tradition?” provides much detail as to why certain books can be accepted as part of the God’s Holy Scriptures and why other books cannot be accepted. In “Highest Authority…”, the God-inspired attitudes of the Lord Jesus and the holy Apostles to the Books of the Old Testament were also discussed in detail.

In “Highest Authority…”, I did not comment on the writings which are called “The Old Testament Apocrypha”. My text here investigates the question of whether the Old Testament Apocrypha are a part of the God-inspired Scriptures.


 

Chapter 1.

 

Errors about the Old Testament Apocrypha

 

Some people argue that what is known as “the Old Testament Apocrypha” should be regarded as being as part of God’s Holy Scriptures. These Apocryphal writings include Tobit, Judith, Additions to the Book of Esther, The Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), Additions to the Book of Daniel (The Prayer of Azariah, The Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon), 1 Maccabees and 2 Macabees. [1]

The above Apocryphal writings must be distinguished from what is called the New Testament Apocrypha. The New Testament Apocryphal writings include Protoevangelium Jacobi (or the so-called Gospel of James), Thomas Gospel of the Infancy, Gospel of Matthias, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Bartholomew, Gospel of the Hebrews, the Gospel of the Egyptians, History of Joseph the Carpenter, Acts of Peter, Acts of John, Acts of Thomas, Epistle of the Apostles, Apocalysis Beatae Mariae, Virginis de poenis and the Apocalypse of Paul.

Almost all of those today who argue that the above Old Testament Apocryphal writings should be part of the Old Testament do not believe that these New Testament Apocryphal writings should be a part of the New Testament.

 

A false argument

 

One of the main arguments used by those who say we should accept the Old Testament Apocrypha as a part of the Old Testament is that certain church councils decided this should be so. As shown, however, by Chapter 4 “The Church – Highest Authority?” in my book “Highest Authority: Church, Scripture Or Tradition?”, such a reliance on the decisions of certain church councils is very unwise.

 

A second common argument

 

Another argument is that we should accept the Old Testament Apocryphal writings as a part of the Old Testament because certain early Church Fathers and so-called “Saints” called one or more of these writings by the term “Scripture” or at least quoted from them. For example, “Saint” Hippolytus of Rome included the apocryphal additions of Susanna and the Song of the Three Children in his commentary on the Old Testament Book of Daniel. [2]

 

The above argument is poor because of three main reasons:

 

Church Fathers and “Saints” making errors about the New Testament

First, some of these Church Fathers and “Saints” doubted whether certain Books that God included in His New Testament were really accepted by Him as His New Testament Scriptures.

In his Chapter 25 “The Divine Scriptures that are accepted and those that are not” in Book 3 of his “Church History”, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (264-340 A.D.) wrote about which books were accepted, rejected or disputed by the Church before and during his era: “Since we are dealing with this subject it is proper to sum up the writings of the New Testament which have been already mentioned. First then must be put the holy quaternion of the Gospels; following them the Acts of the Apostles. After this must be reckoned the epistles of Paul; next in order the extant former epistle of John, and likewise the epistle of Peter, must be maintained. After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Apocalypse of John, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings. Among the disputed writings, which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James and that of Jude, also the second epistle of Peter, and those that are called the second and third of John, whether they belong to the evangelist or to another person of the same name. Among the rejected writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted. And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books.”[3]

Eusebius stated that in the Church before and during his time:

 

a)        some said the Books of James, Jude, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and the Book of Revelation were not parts of the New Testament.

b)        some rejected the Book of Hebrews even though Jewish converts to Christ were delighted with this Book.

c)        rejected the Acts of Paul and Thecla, Shepherd of Hermas, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Didache or Teachings of the Apostles as being parts of the New Testament.

 

The fact that some early church leaders wrongly rejected the Books of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John and Revelation from being classified as parts of the divinely-inspired New Testament shows that God oversaw the formation of the New Testament regardless of the opinions of bishops, theologians and other church leaders.

The Church Council of Trullo in 692 A.D. recorded that in 394 A.D., the Canon of Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium stated that some in the Church in his era did not accept the Books of 2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John and the Book of Revelation as being parts of the New Testament. [4]

But note the Muratorian Canon dated about 170 A.D. includes the Revelation or Apocalypse of John as being a part of the God-inspired New Testament. [5]

Also when quoting Revelation 17:15, Bishop Cyprian of Carthage referred to it as “…the divine Scripture in the Apocalypse…” [6] Also “Saint” Hippolytus of Rome numerous times stated that the Apostle John wrote the Apocalypse of Book of Revelation and Hippolytus quoted from Revelation 5:1-2, [7] 5:6-9 [8] and 17:1-18:23. [9]

In one of the Fragments of Papias, it states that numerous early church leaders accepted the Book of Revelation as being inspired by God: “With regard to the inspiration of the book (Revelation), we deem it superfluous to add another word; for the blessed Gregory Theologus and Cyril, and even men of still older date, Papias, Irenaeus, Methodius, and Hippolytus, bore entirely satisfactory testimony to it.” [10]

In his “Church History”, Eusebius of Caesarea recorded what the leaders of the church and ecclesiastical writers before or during his era stated were genuine writings of the Apostles: “One epistle of Peter, that called the first, is acknowledged as genuine. And this ancient elders used freely in their own writings as an undisputed work. But we have learned that his extant second Epistle does not belong to the canon; yet, as it appeared profitable to many, it has been used with the other Scriptures. The so-called Acts of Peter, however, and the Gospel which bears his name, and the Preaching and the Apocalypse, as they are called, we know have not been universally accepted, because no ecclesiastical writer, ancient or modern, has made use of testimonies drawn from them. But in the course of my history I shall be careful to show, in addition to the official succession, what ecclesiastical writers have from time to time made use of any of the disputed works, and what they have said in regard to the canonical and accepted writings, as well as in regard to those which are not of this class. Such are the writings that bear the name of Peter, only one of which I know to be genuine and acknowledged by the ancient elders.

Paul’s fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews, saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul. But what has been said concerning this epistle by those who lived before our time I shall quote in the proper place. In regard to the so-called Acts of Paul, I have not found them among the undisputed writings.

But as the same apostle, in the salutations at the end of the Epistle to the Romans, has made mention among others of Hermas, to whom the book called The Shepherd is ascribed, it should be observed that this too has been disputed by some, and on their account cannot be placed among the acknowledged books; while by others it is considered quite indispensable, especially to those who need instruction in the elements of the faith. Hence, as we know, it has been publicly read in churches, and I have found that some of the most ancient writers used it.

This will serve to show the divine writings that are undisputed as well as those that are not universally acknowledged.” [11]

Eusebius stated here that:

 

a)        The elders of the Church prior to his time did not accept the Book of 2 Peter as being a part of the canon of the New Testament. But because this Book appeared profitable to many in the Church, they used it with the other Scriptures.

b)        The Church of Rome taught that the Book of Hebrews was a disputed book. Following the lead of the Roman Church, many other Christians rejected the Book of Hebrews, saying it was not inspired by God.

c)        Some leaders of the Church had considered the Shepherd of Hermas as an “indispensable” book and they publicly read it in the churches. Also some of the earliest Christian writers used the Shepherd of Hermas as a supposed God-given authority. (The Shepherd of Hermas contains the unbiblical heretical teaching that after you have repented twice, you cannot be saved.)

 

The early church leader Jerome wrote: “Jude, the brother of James, left a short epistle which is reckoned among the seven catholic epistles, and because in it he quotes from the apocryphal book of Enoch it is rejected by many. Nevertheless by age and use it has gained authority and is reckoned among the Holy Scriptures.” [12]

 

Church Fathers and “Saints” making errors about the New Testament Apocrypha

Secondly, some of these Church Fathers and so-called “Saints” taught wrongly that certain apocryphal books were a part of the New Testament Scriptures.

For example, Clement of Alexandria regarded the writings called the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas as being God-inspired New Testament Scriptures. [13] Tertullian (approx. 155-220 A.D.) falsely regarded the Jewish writing called the Sibylline Oracles as being totally inspired by God. He did not specifically say it is a part of the Scriptures but he said: “Now earlier than all literature was the Sibyl; that Sibyl, I mean who was the true prophetess of truth…” [14] Saint Irenaeus also wrongly introduced the Shepherd of Hermas with the words “Truly, then, the Scripture declared, which says”. [15] The Church Father Origen accepted the apocryphal Epistle of Barnabus and the Shepherd of Hermas as being parts of the New Testament. [16] Tertullian said: “And, of course, the Epistle of Barnabas is more generally received among the Churches than that apocryphal Shepherd…” [17]

Origen stated that some members of the Church used the Apocryphal books called the Gospel of Peter and the Protoevangelium of James as God-inspired authorities for the idea that the brothers of Jesus mentioned in the New Testament were his step-brothers who were sons of Joseph by a previous wife: “But some say, basing it on a tradition in the Gospel according to Peter, as it is entitled, or ‘The Book of James’, that the brethren of Jesus were sons of Joseph by a former wife, whom he married before Mary. Now those who say so wish to preserve the honor of Mary in virginity to the end, so that that body of hers…might not know intercourse with a man after that the Holy Ghost came into her…” [18]

In the oldest surviving manuscript of the Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament, Codex Fuldensis which was commissioned by Victor, the bishop of Capua in Italy in 546 A.D., it includes the apocryphal Epistle to the Laodiceans as a part of the New Testament.

Because early Church Fathers and Saints were wrong in their attitudes to some of the God-inspired Books of the New Testament and to some of the fallible New Testament Apocrypha, we would be foolish to accept their opinions about the Old Testament Apocrypha as being infallible God-given authorities on the matter. This is especially since as Chapter 7, “A Written Record” in my book “Highest Authority: Church, Scripture or Tradition” reveals, the writings of early Church Fathers and Saints contain so many areas of disagreement among themselves.

 

Church Fathers teaching the Old Testament Apocryphal books were not God-inspired Scriptures

Thirdly, other Church Fathers and “Saints” held contrary opinions to these Church Fathers and Saints. The early church theologian “Saint” Jerome (approx. 347-419 A.D.) recorded that the Church at the time did not accept the Old Testament Apocryphal books as part of the Old Testament Scriptures. He wrote: “As then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church.” [19]

Jerome also wrote: “Wisdom, therefore, which finally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobit and the Shepherd are not in the canon.” [20]

Jerome also stressed that the Apocryphal Additions to Daniel – the Story of Susanna, the Hymn of the Three Children and the myths of Bel and the Dragon were not in the original Hebrew Bible: “But when I repeat what the Jews say against the Story of Susanna and the Hymn of the Three Children and the fables of Bel and the Dragon, which are not contained in the Hebrew Bible…” [21]

In his Preface to the Book of Daniel, Jerome stated: “…the Book of Daniel, which in Hebrew contains neither the history of Susanna, nor the hymn of the three youths, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon.” [22]

In his “Preface to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings”, Jerome said there are 22 Books of the Old Testament. [23] He stated these were Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges and Ruth as one book, 1 and 2 Samuel as one book, 1 and 2 Kings as one book, 1 and 2 Chronicles as one book, Ezra and Nehemiah as one book, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations as one book, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the twelve minor prophets as one book. [24]

In his “Preface to Tobit and Judith”, Jerome stated that the two books of Tobit and Judith were apocryphal and not in the Canon of Scriptures. [25] But he also said that the Church Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. had, contrary to the teaching of the Hebrew people, argued Judith was a part of the Scriptures. [26] The Church Council of Nicea was right in its condemnation of the Arian heresy but wrong about of Judith.

The early church leader Rufinus (born approx. 344 or 345 A.D.) stated: “But it should be known that there are also other books which our fathers call not ‘Canonical’ but ‘Ecclesiastical’: that is to say, Wisdom called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas, (and that) which is called The Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, but not appealed to for the confirmation of doctrine. The other writings they have named ‘Apocrypha’. These they would not have read in the Churches. These are the traditions which the Fathers have handed down to us, which as I said, I have thought it opportune to set forth in this place, for the instruction of those who are being taught the first elements of the Church and of the Faith, that they may know from what fountains of the Word of God their draughts must be taken.” [27]

Rufinus also listed all of the present Books of the Old and New Testaments which were the Canon of Scripture for most of the Church at the time: “This then is the Holy Ghost, who in the Old Testament inspired the Law and the Prophets, in the New the Gospels and the Epistles. Whence also the Apostle says, ‘All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for instruction.’ And therefore it seems proper in this place to enumerate, as we have learnt from the tradition of the Fathers, the books of the New and the Old Testament, which according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have been handed down to the Churches of Christ. Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of all there have been handed down five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Then Jesus Nave, (Joshua the son of Nun), The Book of Judges together with Ruth; then four books of Kings (Reigns), which the Hebrews reckon two; the Book of Omissions, which is entitled the Book of Days (Chronicles), and two books of Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah), which the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the twelve (minor) Prophets, one book; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book. Solomon gave three books to the Churches, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles. These comprise the books of the Old Testament.

Of the New there are four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John; the Acts of the Apostles, written by Luke; fourteen Epistles of the Apostle Paul, two of the Apostle Peter, one of James, brother of the Lord and Apostle, one of Jude, three of John, the Revelation of John. These are the books which the Fathers have comprised within the Canon, and from which they would have us deduce the proofs of our faith.” [28] If you add the number of Books of the Old Testament which Jerome said the Church accepted, this including numerous combinations of present-day Old Testament Books, the total is 22.

In his Thirty-Ninth letter, the Church Father “Saint” Athanasius says what Books should be regarded as a part of the Old Testament. [29] Here, “Saint” Athanasius includes only one of the Apocryphal writings in his list of Books of the Old Testament. [30] This is the book of Baruch. In paragraph 7 of his same letter, he specifically states that the Apocryphal writings are not included in the Canon of Scripture but are merely suitable for Christians to read: “But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us…The Wisdom of Solomon and the Wisdom of Sirach and Esther, and Judith and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles and the Shepherd.” [31] But note Athanasius also regarded the writing on Susanna as part of the Book of Daniel [32] and revealed that many early church fathers taught that the Book of Esther was not a part of the Old Testament. [33]

 “Saint” Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem (315-386 A.D.) listed the Old Testament as containing the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings (which he called the four books of Kings), 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah (which he called the first and second books of Esdras), Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel and the twelve Books of Minor Prophets. [34] But note Cyril also included the Book of Baruch as part of the Book of Jeremiah. [35]  Cyril combined numerous Old Testament Books, resulting in a total of 22 Books. Cyril wrote: “Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament…” [36] This number 22 is the same number listed by Jerome above and by Flavius Josephus, the Jewish historian, as we will see later.

In his “Commentary on the Apocalypse of the Blessed John from the Fourth Chapter”, the early church leader Victorinus (died approx. 304 A.D.), bishop of Pattau in Pannonia (in what is today called Austria) stated: “These are the testimonies of the books of the Old Testament. Thus, twenty and four make as many as there are elders sitting upon the thrones…And the books of the Old Testament that are received are twenty-four, which you will find in the epitomes of Theodore.”

The above 24 Books most likely corresponded to the present 39 Books of the Old Testament excluding the Old Testament Apocrypha. The likely reason for the number 24 instead of Josephus’ 22 is that there were four books which were combined as two books in Josephus’ list which were not combined in Victorinus and Theodore’s lists.

In his “Iambics”, Bishop Amphilochius of Iconium (approx. 339 or 340-approx. 394 to 403 A.D.) wrote a list of the canon of the Old and New Testament Scriptures. [37] He introduced this list by saying: “We should know that not every book which is called Scripture is to be received as a safe guide. For some are tolerably sound and others are more than doubtful. Therefore the books which the inspiration of God hath given I will enumerate.” [38]

Then he listed 38 of the 39 Books of the Old Testament and excluded the apocryphal books of Tobit, Judith, Baruch, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees. [39] He added a note “…to these some add Esther.” [40] Then Amphilochius listed all of the Books of the New Testament except the Book of Revelation and added: “But some add to these the Revelation of John, but by far the majority say that it is spurious. This is the most true canon of the divinely given Scriptures.” [41]

Canon 60 of the Synod of Laodicea has the same list of Books of the Old Testament as the list of Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem above. [42]

“Saint” John of Damascus, also known as John Damascene (died 780 A.D.) included the same books in the Old Testament that Bishop Cyril of Jerusalem did. [43] But John does not mention the Book of Baruch as being a part of the Book of Jeremiah. Also John states that the books of Wisdom and Sirach or Ecclesiasticus are “virtuous and noble, but are not counted nor were they placed in the Ark.” [44] In other words, John says they were not counted by the Churches as a part of the Canon of Scripture.

“Saint” Ephraim the Syrian (306-373 A.D.) wrote that the Books of the Apocrypha were the writings called Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, Wisdom, Maccabees, Judith, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon and Baruch. [45] Ephraim called these books “deutero-canonical” meaning they were not a part of the Canon of the Old Testament Scriptures.

 

Bishop Melito – a church writer of a great distinction from the 100’s A.D.

In his Chapter 21 “The Ecclesiastical Writers that Flourished in Those Days”, Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea (approx. 264-340 A.D.) stated that Bishop Melito was a very influential writer in the Church in the 100’s A.D. When referring to Melito, Irenaeus and other major church writers who lived in the 100’s A.D., Eusebius wrote: “From them has come down to us in writing, the sound and orthodox faith received from apostolic tradition.” [46]

When again referring to Melito, Eusebius reveals that Melito was the Bishop of Sardis, the church writer Clement of Alexandria also referred to Melito and Melito provided a list of the Books which the Churches in the East in the 100’s A.D. stated were the only Books of the Old Testament: “In those days also Melito, bishop of the parish in Sardis, and Apolinarius, bishop of Hierapolis, enjoyed great distinction. Each of them on his own part addressed apologies in behalf of the faith to the above-mentioned emperor of the Romans who was reigning at that time…

And Clement of Alexandria refers to this work in his own discourse On the Passover, which, he says, he wrote on occasion of Melito’s work…

But in the Extracts made by him the same writer gives at the beginning of the introduction a catalogue of the acknowledged books of the Old Testament, which it is necessary to quote at this point. He writes as follows: ‘Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: Since thou hast often, in thy zeal for the word, expressed a wish to have extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Savior and concerning our entire faith, and hast also desired to have an accurate statement of the ancient book, as regards their number and their order, I have endeavoured to perform the task, knowing thy zeal for the faith, and thy desire to gain information in regard to the word, and knowing that thou, in thy yearning after God, esteemest these things above all else, struggling to attain eternal salvation. Accordingly when I went East and came to the place where these things were preached and done, I learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, and send them to thee as written below. Their names are as follows: Of Moses, five books: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus, Deuteronomy; Jesus Nave, Judges, Ruth; of Kings, four books; of Chronicles, two; the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, Wisdom also, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Job; of Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah; of the twelve prophets, one book; Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From which also I have made the extracts, dividing them into six books.’ Such are the words of Melito.” [47] “Jesus Nave” refers to the Book of Joshua.

Note Melito reveals that the Churches in the East in the 100’s A.D. did not accept the Apocryphal books of Judith, Tobit, Sirach, Baruch, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Additions to Esther and Additions to Daniel as part of the Old Testament, but did accept the Apocryphal book of Wisdom as a part of the Old Testament.

Bishop Melito of Sardis was regarded by the Church in the Western and Eastern parts of the Roman Empire as a church leader of great distinction and whose views were highly respected.

 

The List of Sixty from the 600’s A.D.

The “List of Sixty” is an anonymous catalogue written in the 600’s A.D. and probably represented the attitude of many in the Church in the Eastern Roman Empire to the books which they believed were inside or outside the Canon of the New and Old Testaments. [48]

Note this catalogue:

 

a)        includes 26 of the present 27 Books of the New Testament but excludes the Revelation of John. [49]

b)        states the Scriptures exclude the apocryphal books of the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Judith and Tobit. [50]

c)        leaves out of its list of Scriptures the Old Testament Book of Esther. [51]

d)        states that the Scriptures exclude many other writings such as the Book of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, the Psalms of Solomon, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Acts of Paul and Thecla. [52]

 

Patriarch Nicephorus’ list

In the 800’s A.D., Nicephorus, the Patriarch of Constantinople and therefore supposed head of the Orthodox Churches in the East at the time wrote: “These were the divine Scriptures delivered into the canon by the Church…1. Genesis…2. Exodus…3. Leviticus…4. Numbers…5. Deuteronomy…6. Joshua…7. Judges and Ruth…8. first and second Kings…9.third and fourth Kings…10. first and second Chronicles…11. first and second Ezra…12. Psalms…13. Proverbs of Solomon…14. Ecclesiastes…15. Song of Songs…16. Job…17. the prophet Isaiah…18. the prophet Jeremiah…19. Baruch…20. Ezekiel…21. Daniel…22. the twelve prophets…” [53]

Then Patriarch Nicephorus stated that the following books were doubtful in relation to them being books of the Old Testament: “1. Three books of Maccabees…2. Wisdom of Solomon…3. Sirach…4. Psalms and Songs of Solomon…5. Esther…6. Judith…7. Susanna…8. Tobit…” [54]

Note Patriarch Nicephorus substituted the Old Testament Book of Esther with the apocryphal book of Baruch.

 

Church Fathers teaching the Old Testament Apocrypha were God’s Scriptures

The early church theologian Origen (approx. 185-approx. 254 A.D.) wrote that the book of Wisdom, [55] one of the books of Maccabees [56] (he does not specify which book) and Susanna, [57] which is one of the supposed Additions to Daniel, are parts of the Old Testament Scriptures. But Origen admitted that Susanna was not in the Hebrew copy of the Book of Daniel, but was only added to the Greek version of Daniel. [58]

In his Chapter 25 “His Review of the Canonical Scriptures” Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea says that Origen stated the books of Maccabees are a part of the Canonical Scriptures. But Eusebius does not say how many or which books of Maccabees he was referring to. Also Eusebius does not say Origen included any of the other books of the Old Testament Apocrypha in Origen’s list of Canonical Scriptures. [59]

Bishop Cyprian of Carthage (200-258 A.D.) quoted from Additions to Daniel. [60] Cyprian quoted a reference about Susanna and the ridiculous Addition to Daniel that there was supposedly no prophet among the Jews in the time of Daniel the prophet. Cyprian wrote: “Moreover in Daniel…and there is not at this time any prince, or prophet…” [61]

In section 53 of his same writing mentioned above, Cyprian quoted three times from the book of Wisdom and once from one of the books of Maccabees in the same context as quoting from three New Testament Books of Paul and from Isaiah. [62]

In his “Treatise 8”, Cyprian quoted from Tobit 12:9 when he taught that God’s anger against us as sinners is pacified or propitiated by good works and that prayers and fastings accompanied by almsgiving or giving to the needy and other good works merit God’s mercy, cleansing from sin, redemption and salvation from death: “The remedies for propitiating God are given in the words of God Himself; the divine instructions have taught what sinners ought to do, that by works of righteousness God is satisfied, that with the deserts of mercy sins are cleansed…Raphael, the angel also witnesses the like, and exhorts that alms should be freely and liberally bestowed, saying, ‘prayer is good, with fasting and alms; because alms doth deliver from death, and it purgeth away sins.’ He shows that our prayers and fastings are of less avail, unless they are aided by almsgiving; that entreaties alone are of little force to obtain what they seek, unless they be made sufficient by the addition of deeds and good works. The angel reveals and manifests, and certifies that our petitions become efficacious by almsgiving, that life is redeemed from dangers by almsgiving, that souls are delivered from death by almsgiving.” [63]

In the early church writing “The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles”, [64] it:

 

a)        adds the books of Judith, Sirach or Ecclesiasticus and three of the books of Maccabees to the Canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. In other words, it even adds a third book of Maccabees.

b)        adds 1 Clement, 2 Clement and the Constitutions of the Holy Apostles to the New Testament Scriptures.

c)        omits the Book of Revelation from the New Testament Scriptures.

 

Commenting on the attitudes of Bishop Ambrose of Milan (approx. 340-397 A.D.) to the Canon of Scripture and the Old Testament Apocrypha, the English editors of his “Selected Works and Letters” stated: “He admits Tobit as prophetic, Judith as canonical, nor does he distinguish canonical and deuterocanonical…He quotes Baruch as Jeremiah, and refers to the History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and other apocryphal works as ‘Scripture’…he quotes the fourth book of Esdras.” [65] For example, in his “Exposition of the Christian Faith”, Ambrose introduced a quote from Baruch 3:35-37 with the phrase: “Again, Scripture speaks, in the Book of Jeremiah…” [66]

In his letter “Consulenti Tibi – To Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse” in 405 A.D., Innocent 1, the Bishop of Rome gave a list of what he believed were the Canon of Scripture. [67] Note in this list, Innocent included all of the Old Testament Apocryphal books except the book of Baruch. [68] Whether Innocent 1 assumed that the book of Baruch was a part of the Book of Jeremiah is debatable.

The Church Father “Saint” Augustine, bishop of Hippo supported the idea that the Apocryphal writings were a part of the Old Testament Scriptures. In his Chapter 8 “The Canonical Books” Book 2 of his “On Christian Doctrine”, Augustine included the books of Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Macabees, Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus or Sirach as parts of the Scriptures. Augustine introduced his comments on the list of books which included the above apocryphal books, with the words: “Now the whole canon of Scripture on which we say this judgment is to be exercised, is contained in the following books.” [69]

In his treatise “On Care to be had for the Dead”, Augustine states: “In the books of the Maccabees we read of sacrifice offered for the dead.” [70] Here Augustine uses the books of Maccabees as supposed God-given authorities for offering sacrifices for the dead.

In his “The City of God”, Augustine said the following about the books of Maccabees: “These are held as canonical, not by the Jews, but by the Church…” [71] Augustine admitted that the Jews did not accept the book of Judith as a part of the Scriptures: “During the same time also those things were done which are written in the book of Judith, which, indeed, the Jews are said not to have received into the canon of the Scriptures.” [72]

The early church leader Bishop Augustine of Hippo stated that the Western Church regarded the Books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus as having God-given authority. [73] He also wrote: “…Scripture says in the Book of Ecclesiasticus…” [74] Augustine also stated: “The authority of the Old Testament is contained within the limits of these forty-four books.” [75] There are only 39 Books of the Old Testament, so Augustine was including Apocryphal Books in this figure.

Canon 24 of the Church Council of Carthage in North Africa in 419 A.D. stated that the books of Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees were part of the Canon of Old Testament Scriptures.[76] Canon 24 stated that there were “Five books of Solomon” which were Scriptures. [77] This means that the Council of Carthage regarded the books of Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus as being authored by Solomon and a part of the Scriptures. [78]

Canon 85 of the Apostolical Canons, a collection of canon laws, says that the books of 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees and 3 Maccabees are “venerable”, “sacred” and parts of the Old Testament. [79] Some versions of this same canon 85 include the book of Judith as a part of the Old Testament Scriptures also. [80]

The Descretum Gelasianum is a church primary source document, of which the oldest existing copy dates from the 500’s A.D. It probably records the opinions of a church synod held at Rome under Damasus who was bishop of Rome from 366-384 A.D. [81]

The Descretum Gelasianum comprised 5 parts. Part 2 lists what this church synod believed were the books which comprised the Old and New Testaments. Note the list:

 

a)        included all 39 Books of the present Old Testament and all 27 Books of the present New Testament.

b)        included the apocryphal books of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees as parts of the Old Testament.

c)        excluded the apocryphal book of Baruch which the Council of Trent in the 1500’s claimed was a book of the Old Testament.

 

Therefore, because the early Church Fathers and “Saints” disagreed among themselves about whether the Apocrypha should be a part of the Old Testament, we cannot quote their opinions as God-given infallible authorities on the matter.

 

Examples of attitudes of Roman Catholic Medieval theologians and writers

In the Middle Ages, there were many Roman Catholic theologians and writers who stated that either they and/or the Church taught the Apocryphal books Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees were not parts of the Canon of the Old Testament Scriptures. Here are seven examples of such theologians and authors:

 

a)        Radulphus Falvicencius, “Commentary on Leviticus”, Preface to Book XIV

 

b)        (i) Hugh of St Victor, “De Sacramentis”, Prologue, Cap. VII. PL 176:185D-186D

(ii)Hugh of St Victor, “De Scripturis et Scriptoribus Sacris Praenotatiunculae, Cap. VI, De Ordine, numero et auctoritate librorum sacrae Scripturae”. PL 175:15D-16

 

c)        Richard of St Victor, “Tractatus Exceptionum: Qui continet originem et discretion em artium, situmque terrarum, et summam historiarum; distinctus in quatuor libros. Book II, Cap. IX., De duobos Testamentis”, PL. 177:193

d)        John of Salisbury, “The Letters of John of Salisbury”, Letter 209

e)        Hugh of St Cher, “In Postillam super Librum Iosue: Prologus”

f)         Nicholas of Lyra, “Postilla Nicolai de Lyra super librum Edsrae”, cap. I, Biblia cum glosa ordinaria et expositione Lyre litterali et morali

g)        Sancti Antonini, Archiepiscopi Florentini, Summa Theologica, In Quattuor Partes Distributa, Pars Tertia, Tit xviii, Cap vi, Sect 2, De Dilatatione Praedicationis, Col 1043-1044

 

In the Middle Ages, there were numerous Roman Catholic writers and theologians who stated that the number of Books of the Old Testament was 22 while others said it was 24. Those who said it was 24 meant that the Book of Ruth was counted as a separate Book from the Book of Judges and the Book of Lamentations was counted as a separate Book from the Book of Jeremiah. When the total was taken as 22, the Books of Judges and Ruth were combined and the Books of Jeremiah and Lamentations were combined.

Here is a list of ten of these authors who said the number of Old Testament Books was 22 or 24:

 

a)        The Venerable Bede, “Commentary on Revelation”, PL 93:144.

b)        Agobard of Lyons, “To Bishop Bernard, concerning the privileges and rights of the priesthood VI”.

c)        Haymo of Halberstadt, “Exposition of the Apocalypse of S. John, Book 7”, Book 1, Chapter IV, PL 117:1007 and 1010.

d)        Ambrose Autpert, “Expositionis in Apocalypsin”, Libri III (4, 4).

e)        Hugh of St Victor, “De Scripturis et Scriptoribus Sacris Praenotatiunculae, Cap. VI, De ordine, numero et auctoritate librorum sacrae Scripturae, PL 175:15D-16.

f)         Richard of St Victor, “Tractatus Exceptionum: Qui continet originem et discretionem artium, situmque terrarum, et summam historiarum; distinctus in quatuor libros”, Book II, Cap. IX, De duobus Testamentis. P.L. 177:193.

g)        John of Salisbury, “The Letters of John of Salisbury”, Letter 209.

h)        Peter Cellensis, “De Panibus”, Cap 2, PL 202:935-936.

i)          Commentary of Rupert, Abbot of Deutz, “On the Apocalypse of John”, Book 3, Chapter 4.

j)          Adam Scotus, “De Tripartito Tabernaculo”, Pars Secunda, De Tabernaculo Christi Quod Est in Fide, Caput VIII. PL 198:697B.

k)        Thomae Waldensis, “Doctrinale Fidei Catholicae”, Tomus Primus, Articulus Secundus, cap 2, p. col. 353.

 

Confusion which led to error

But note that in the Middle Ages, some Roman Catholic authors wrote in a very confused way about the books of the Old Testament Apocrypha. For example, Alphonsi Tostati states in his “Question 3” section: “Question 3: This ought to be considered to understand that books may be called Apocrypha in two ways. One way, that it is not established concerning their authors, whether they wrote with the Holy Spirit composing, and it is not established concerning everything that is contained it them, whether it is all true. Yet there is not something in them that is demonstrably false or is very much suspected of falsehood. In another way they are called Apocrypha, it is not established concerning their authors, whether they were inspired by God and moreover many things that are held (in these books) are either demonstrably false or are very much suspected of error. Understanding in the first way that these books are Apocrypha, Scripture does not place them in the canon of its books, that faith ought of necessity be applied to them, yet it allows those wishing to do so to read what they read, since nothing unsuitable seems to result: also the Church itself does not read them. Understanding in the second way that these books are Apocrypha, not only does the Church not place them in its canon, it does not place them with its own books in any way, not does it favor those who read them; (although it does not altogether prohibit them. Yet it declares that those books are very much suspected of falsehood, that it might warn people when they read them and that they might see to what they should apply their trust.) Certain books are Apocrypha in the first way, which are placed outside the canon of the Old Testament, yet they are counted among the books of Holy Scripture, namely, the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobias, and Maccabees, for concerning their authors, it is not established for the Church, whether they wrote them with the Holy Spirit composing; yet it did not find anything false in them or very much suspected of falsehood; but rather, there is abundant holy and faithful doctrine in them. For this reason the Church reads them and counts them among its books. Thus Jerome says in his Prologue to Judith that the book of Judith which is of the Apocrypha…” [82]

Tostati here claims that the books of Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Tobit, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees were books of Holy Scripture but are not parts of the Canon of the Old Testament.

Jean Driedo wrote similarly: “Hagiographies of this sort among the Hebrew are the stories of Judith and Tobias and Ecclesiasticus and first Maccabees, which books, although they keep and read them, yet they do not count them among the canonical books, but among the Apocrypha, not because they are false, but because their secret origin was not apparent to the entire Synagogue. But third and fourth Ezra, second Maccabees, the Hymn of the three children, and the stories of Susanna and Bela and the Dragon either they do not keep or even reject, and report that they were made up. But the Christian Church, on account of the authority of certain ancient scriptures which are read to make use of evidence from stories of this kind, reads these same scriptures with pious faith, and furthermore does not reject or despise them, even if it does not receive these books with authority equal to the canonical scriptures.” [83]

Here Driedo named the books of Judith, Tobit, Ecclesiasticus, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Additions to Daniel (The Hymn of the Three Children, Susanna and Bel and the Dragon) and the books of 3 Esdras and 4 Esdras as Scriptures but not parts of the Canon of Scripture.

Similarly, John Ferus wrote: “What are the books of the Old Testament? Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, four books of Kings, two books of  Chronicles, four books of Ezra, Tobit, Judith, Esther, Job, the Psalter, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, the Twelve Prophets, two books of Maccabees. Some of these are sometimes called Apocrypha (that is, hidden) because it was allowed to read them privately at home each according to his own inclination. In the Church they are not read publically, nor is any of them rewarded with authority. The apocryphal books are: third and fourth Ezra, Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, and the two books of Maccabees. All the others are called canonical, since they are of irrefutable authority, even among the Jews. And so all the books of the Old Testament number thirty-seven, that is twenty-eight canonical and nine apocrypha.” [84]

Here Ferus says that Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees are books of the Old Testament but are not “canonical” – not part of the canon of Scripture.

By writing in such confused foolish ways, writers like Tostati, Driedo and Ferus led their churchgoing readers including bishops and theologians, into wrong confused attitudes to the Old Testament and these Apocryphal writings.

 

A third argument

 

The Jews who lived in Alexandria in Egypt possessed a Greek translation of the Old Testament.[85] This translation is known as the “Septuagint” and supposedly occurred somewhere between 250-150 B.C. [86] Copies of each of the writings of the Old Testament Apocrypha were kept together with copies of each of the Old Testament writings. This has led some to argue that the Jews in Alexandria regarded the Apocryphal Old Testament writings as being a part of the Old Testament and therefore we should do the same.

The above argument has many great weaknesses. First, there is no evidence that the Jews living in Judea kept the Old Testament Apocryphal writings together with the Old Testament writings. For example, in “Against Apion” (Book 1:38) the Jewish historian, Josephus (A.D. 37-98) revealed that the Jews in Palestine did not accept the Old Testament Apocrypha or the myriad of other ancient religious writings as being inspired by God. Josephus stated that the Palestian Jews only regarded 22 Books as being divinely-inspired. He said that out of these 5 were written by Moses, 13 by the Prophets and the other 4 contained hymns to God and principles of conduct.

These 22 Books mentioned by Josephus are equal to the 39 Books of the present Old Testament but with some books combined into one. In my previous section, I recorded that Jerome revealed how the Jews combined some of the 39 Old Testament Books into one. The list Jerome gave showed these combinations resulted in 22 Old Testament books.

When Josephus referred to 13 Old Testament books being written by the Prophets, it is likely he meant:

 

a)      Joshua

b)      Judges and Ruth as one Book

c)      1 and 2 Samuel as one Book

d)      1 and 2 Kings as one Book

e)      1 and 2 Chronicles as one Book

f)       Ezra and Nehemiah as one Book

g)      Esther

h)      Isaiah

i)        Jeremiah and Lamentations as one Book

j)        Ezekiel

k)      Daniel

l)        Job

m)    The twelve minor prophets as one Book

 

Secondly, note that Philo, the Jewish writer, who lived in Alexandria approximately between 25 B.C. and 50 A.D., quoted from 32 of the 39 Books of the Old Testament as having authority from God but never once referred to even one of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings as being authoritative Scripture. [87] Also observe that an early church leader at Alexandria – Bishop Athanasius – did not regard the Old Testament Apocrypha as being a part of the Scriptures. [88] His listings of the Books of the Old Testament exclude every Old Testament Apocryphal writing except the book of Baruch. [89] I do not regard the opinions of Philo and early church leaders like Athanasius as infallible. But they do show that the poor nature of theory that at Alexandria, all Jews and every Christian accepted the Old Testament Apocryphal writings as being God-inspired Scriptures.

Thirdly, just because the Old Testament Apocryphal writings were kept together with the Old Testament writings does not necessarily mean that the Alexandrian Jews regarded the Apocryphal writings as a part of the Sacred Scriptures. This becomes clear when we understand how these writings were kept together. The Alexandrian Jews did not have the Old Testament writings and the Apocryphal Old Testament writings bound together in a single book. Instead each individual book of the Old Testament and each Apocryphal writing were kept as individual papyrus or parchment scrolls. [90] All of these scrolls were kept together in various containers or rooms. [91] As a result, we cannot say that just because the Alexandrian Jews kept the scrolls of the Old Testament writings together with the scrolls of the Apocryphal Old Testament writings, that this means the Alexandrian Jews regarded the Apocryphal Old Testament writings as a part of the Old Testament.

Since the invention of printed books, it is easy to put the various Books of the Old and New Testament together in one volume. By excluding all other religious writings from this volume, it is easy for us to know they are not a part of the Sacred Scriptures. For example, in my cupboard, I have many Christian books kept together with copies of the Bible. But because they are in book form, it is easy for anyone going to my cupboard to know that these other Christian writings are not a part of the Bible.

Imagine though if all of my Christian books were in scrolls and each Book of the Old and New Testament were kept by me in scrolls. It would be easy for someone to look in my cupboard and think that the scrolls of my ordinary Christian books were a part of the Holy Scriptures just as much as were my Old and New Testament scrolls.

Therefore, it is a false argument to suggest that just because the Alexandrian Jews kept copies of the Apocryphal scrolls together with copies of the Old and New Testament scrolls, that this proves the Alexandrian Jews regarded the Apocryphal writings as being a part of the Sacred Scriptures.

Evidence of the habit of some religious leaders putting non-Scriptural books together with Scriptural Books can be found in three Greek manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments. These manuscripts are called Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus. Codex Sinaiticus was found at Saint Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai and dates from the 4th Century A.D. [92]

Codex Sinaiticus omits Baruch but includes the apocryphal book of 4 Maccabees, even though the Council of Trent did not include 4 Maccabees in its list of the Books of the Old Testament. [93] Codex Sinaiticus not only contained Books of the New Testament. It also contained the New Testament aprocryphal books – the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas which were also excluded by the Council of Trent from their list of the canon of the New Testament. [94]

Codex Alexandrinus was supposed to have come from Alexandria in Egypt and is dated from the 5th Century A.D. [95] Codex Alexandrinus includes all of the Old Testament Apocrypha which the Roman Catholic Church regard as inspired by God plus 3 and 4 Maccabees, 3 Esdras, the Psalms of Solomon and the Prayer of Manasseh. [96] Codex Alexandrinus also includes the early Christian writings called 1 and 2 Clement as parts of the New Testament. [97] As seen in the sections “”A legalistic teaching of Clement, bishop of Rome” and “2 Clement” in Chapter “Early Church Meriting Legalism”, 1 and 2 Clement teach some unbiblical legalistic errors.

Codex Vaticanus omits the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees which the Council of Trent claims are parts of the Old Testament but includes 3 Esdras which the Council of Trent did not include as a part of the Old Testament. [98]

Fourthly, the three most important Greek manuscripts containing the Septuagint – Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus and Codex Vaticanus – contain some different books from each other. Therefore, none of these three can be used as an infallible guide as to which Jewish writings comprise the Books of the Old Testament. [99]

Fifthly, observe that the Roman Catholic Pope and bishops at the Council of Trent on April 8, 1546, pronounced that the Old Testament Apocrypha, except for 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees, were infallible Old Testament Scripture. [100] This was despite the fact that 3 Esdras, the Prayer of Manassah, 3 Maccabees and 4 Maccabees were each found in some of the copies of the Septuagint that are preserved till this time.

Therefore, the Pope and bishops at the Council of Trent were inconsistent in their treatment of the Apocryphal scrolls that the Alexandrian Jews kept together with the Old Testament scrolls. The Pope and these bishops did not accept as Sacred Scripture all of the Apocryphal scrolls that were kept together with Old Testament scrolls. Such inconsistency is a further indication of the weakness of the argument that just because the Apocryphal scrolls were kept together with Old Testament scrolls by Jews in Alexandria that this proves these Apocryphal writings are Sacred Scriptures also.

At the Council of Trent, the Pope and Bishops decided which Apocryphal writings they believed were a part of the Old Testament on the basis of their own mere subjective human opinion. They claimed divine authority for their error.

Many of the New Testament authors quoted from the Septuagint version of the Old Testament. The reasons why they quoted from the Septuagint is that they wrote the New Testament in Greek and the Septuagint was the only Greek translation of the Old Testament available during Christ's and the Apostles’ time.

But as we will see later in my writing here, not once in their New Testament writings did the New Testament authors use a direct quote from one of the Old Testament Apocryphal scrolls that had been kept together in Alexandria in Egypt with the Old Testament scrolls.

Seventhly, note also there is no historical proof that the Jews in Alexandria rejected the decisions of the Jewish religious leaders held at Jamnia in A.D. 90 and 118. [101] At this Council, the Jewish religious leaders stated that the Old Testament Apocrypha were not a part of God’s Sacred Scriptures. In fact, during the 100’s A.D., the Jews in Alexandria used Aquila’s Greek version of the Old Testament which excluded all the Old Testament Apocryphal books. [102]

Eighthly, all versions of the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament which we have today are from early church groups but not from Jewish sources. [103] Therefore, to try to use these as infallible evidence of what the Jews in Alexandria regarded as the accepted Books of the Old Testament is highly dubious.

Ninthly, the fact that the oldest copy of the Septuagint Old Testament which we have dates from about 350 A.D., which is the very long period of roughly 500 to 600 years after the Septuagint Greek translation was originally done, [104] provides further doubt about the claim that the Jews in Alexandria originally included the Apocryphal books as parts of the Old Testament.


 

Chapter 2

Four Main Tests

 

So if we cannot judge whether the apocryphal writings should be a part of the Old Testament on the basis of the opinions of church councils, early Church Fathers and “Saints”, or of their lying in a container of scrolls in Alexandria, how can we determine the answer to this question? There are four main tests which must be applied to these books.

The first test relates to checking all the New Testament Books to see if the Lord Jesus Christ, His Apostles or other New Testament authors ever directly quoted from these Old Testament Apocryphal writings. The second test involves checking if the Old Testament Apocryphal writings contain teachings which are contrary to the teachings of the Books of the Old Testament and New Testament. The third test entails seeing whether the Jews in Palestine around Jesus’ time accepted the Old Testament Apocrypha as a part of their Sacred Scriptures. The fourth test involves checking to see if the Old Testament Apocryphal Books contain any historical and/or geographical errors.

We will deal with the first test in this chapter. The second, third and fourth tests will be dealt with in subsequent chapters.

The Old Testament Apocrypha must be tested by these four tests and not just one of these tests in order to obtain a good evaluation of these Apocryphal books.

 

The first test

 

As stated above, the first test involves checking the God-inspired New Testament Books to see if the Lord Jesus Christ, His Apostles and other New Testament authors ever directly quoted from these Old Testament Apocryphal writings. One reason why this first test is so important is that Jesus Christ is God and therefore has a perfect understanding of which writings God regards as Sacred Scripture. Another reason is that the Apostles spent three years in very close communication with the Lord Jesus and as a result knew His will better than others. Similarly, the Apostle Paul was taken into the third heaven to be given surpassingly great revelations of God’s will (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-7). Note also all of Paul’s writings were accepted by the Apostle Peter as God-inspired Sacred Scriptures (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). Therefore, by studying Jesus’ and the Apostles’ recorded words [105], we can see which writings they revealed are Sacred Scripture by God’s will.

But note that this first test involves looking in the New Testament for direct quotes from the Apocrypha and not similar thoughts or supposedly hidden allusions to the words of the Apocrypha. A direct quote is one that has the same words or almost the same words in it as those found in the related verse or passage in the Apocryphal writing. Here are some examples of verses or passages in the New Testament which are direct quotes from the Old Testament: Matthew 2:18 is a direct quote from Jeremiah 31:15. Matthew 4:4 is a direct quote from part of Deuteronomy 8:3. The latter part of Matthew 4:7 is a direct quote from the first part of Deuteronomy 6:16. The latter part of Mark 7:6 is a direct quote from part of Isaiah 29:13.

Another key aspect of this first test is that any direct quote from an Apocryphal writing must be introduced in the New Testament by such expressions as “Then was fulfilled what was spoken by…the prophet, saying” (see Matthew 2:17, 27:9), “It is written:” (see Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 4:10, 21:13, 26:31 and Luke 19:46), “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:” (see Matthew 13:35 and 21:4), “How then does David in the Spirit…saying:” (see Matthew 22:43), “As it is written in the prophets:” (see Mark 1:2), “Have you not even read this Scripture:” (see Mark 12:10), “Have you not read in the book of Moses…:” (see Mark 12:26). “Have you not read:” (see Matthew 19:4), “You have heard that it was said:” (see Matthew 5:27 and 5:38), “For God commanded saying” (see Matthew 15:4), “Isaiah said again” (see John 12:39), “As it is written in the book of the words of…the prophet, saying:” (see Luke 3:4), “For it is written:” (see 1 Corinthians 3:19, Galatians 3:10 and 4:27), “Is it not written in your Law:” (see John 10:34), “that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:” (see John 19:24), “…another Scripture says:” (see John 19:37), “For it is written in the book of Psalms:” (see Acts 1:20), “who by the mouth of your servant David have said:” (see Acts 4:25), “…said God:” (see Acts 7:7), “as it was written in the book of the Prophets:” (see Acts 7:42), “For so the Lord has commanded us:” (see Acts 13:47), “And with this, the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:” (see Acts 15:15), “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet…saying:” (see Acts 28:25), “as it is written:” (see John 6:31, 12:14, Romans 2:24, 3:4, 3:10, 4:17, 8:36, 9:13, 9:33, 11:8, 11:26, 15:9, 15:21, 1 Corinthians 2:9, 2 Corinthians 8:15 and 9:9), “For the Scripture says…:” (see Romans 9:17 and 1 Timothy 5:18), “In the Law, it is written…:” (see 1 Corinthians 14:21), “For He says:” (see 2 Corinthians 6:2), “As God (He) has said:” (see 2 Corinthians 6:16 and Hebrews 4:3), “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:” (see Hebrews 3:7), “For He testifies:” (see Hebrews 7:17), “But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us, for after He had said before:” (see Hebrews 10:15) and “that the word of…the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:” (see John 12:38).

 

Biblical quotes from non-Biblical sources

 

The main reason why we must look for these introductory expressions is that in the New Testament, we find that some other sources are quoted that are not a part of the Old Testament. For example, on a few occasions, the Apostle Paul quoted from certain writings that are indisputably not a part of the Sacred Scriptures. For example, in Acts 17:28 Paul used the words of a Greek poet, probably Aratus of Soli. Here, Paul did not quote the poet as a divine authority, but merely as a means of influencing his pagan Greek listeners in Athens at the time. In this instance, Paul did not begin the quote from the Greek poet with such expressions as “Scripture says:” or “As God has said:” or “As it is written:”

The prophet Moses also quoted some Hebrew poets in Numbers 21:27-30. Their words are not from any other passage of Old Testament Scripture.

Note that the absence of introductory phrases such as “It is written” or “For the Scripture says” does not ensure that a quote is not a direct quote from one of the Books of the Old Testament. For example, Matthew 12:7 is a direct quote from Hosea 6:6 but is not accompanied by an introductory phrase. But to be fair in our testing, we will only look at those quotes in the New Testament which have one of these introductory phrases.

Just because the Lord Jesus and the Apostles quoted the sayings of another person or persons does not prove that these sayings originate in some part of the Old Testament Sacred Scriptures. Proof of this can be found in 1 Corinthians 15:33 when Paul said: “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.’”

The expression “Evil company corrupts good habits” in this verse is not from the Old Testament Scriptures. It is not prefaced by such expressions as “Have you not even read this Scripture:” or “Is it not written in your Law:” Despite this, Paul quoted this saying in such a way that we can see he believed it was true.

This saying found in 1 Corinthians 15:33 became a part of New Testament Scripture because it agreed with God’s thoughts and because God inspired Paul to mention it. But note that it is a clear example of a quoted saying found in the New Testament that is not a direct quote from any other Old Testament Book or even another New Testament Book.

Paul’s above quote in 1 Corinthians 15:33 is similar to David’s quote in 1 Samuel 24:13: “As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Wickedness proceeds from the wicked.’ But my hand shall not be against you.”

David here says that a common saying among Israelites was true. This is even though it was not previously recorded in the Scriptures.

In Luke 4:23, we find that the Lord Jesus quoted a proverb that is not found in any of the Old Testament Books: “And He said to them, ‘You will surely say this proverb to Me, “Physician, heal yourself…”’” But note Jesus’ words in this verse and surrounding verses – Luke 4:22 and 4:24-27 – reveal He did not agree with this proverb. Jesus quoted this non-Scriptural proverb to the Jews in His hometown synagogue as part of His answer to their questioning of Him.

 

Quoting mere human proverbs

Ezekiel 18:1-3 shows that on odd occasions, God inspired His Prophets to quote proverbs that were common among the Jews but were contrary to God’s thoughts on a relevant matter. Ezekiel 18:1-3 says: “The word of the Lord came to me again, saying, ‘What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying: “The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge”? As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘you shall no longer use this proverb in Israel.’”

This above proverb was a mere human religious opinion that became a proverb in Israel. It was not one of God’s proverbs.

Ezekiel 12:21-23 contains another example of God’s prophet quoting a proverb that he states God disagrees with: “And the word of the Lord came to me saying, ‘Son of man, what is this proverb that you people have about the land of Israel, which says, “The days are prolonged, and every vision fails”? Tell them therefore, “Thus says the Lord God: ‘I will lay this proverb to rest, and they shall no more use it as a proverb in Israel.’” But say to them, “The days are at hand, and the fulfilment of every vision.”’”

These verses reveal that the proverb was a mere human religious opinion. It was not inspired by God.

 

Four of Paul’s quotes

In 1 Corinthians 6:12-13, the Apostle Paul possibly quotes two sayings: “All things are lawful for me…” and “Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods.” Paul does not preface these says by an introductory phrase such as “For the Scripture says:” or “as it is written:” because these two sayings were not quotes from the Old Testament or from the Lord Jesus. We cannot be certain of the source of these two sayings, [106] but in no way did Paul suggest that they were from any Book of the Old or New Testaments.

In Titus 1:12, Paul quotes the testimony of a prophet from the island of Crete: “One of them, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’” Paul did not state that this saying originally came from the Scriptures. Also he does not say this prophet is a prophet of God. Instead he says the person was “a prophet of their own” – a prophet of the pagan Cretans. Paul calls this Cretan saying “a testimony” and says it is true. [107] In Greek, the word “testimony” is “marturia” and means in this context “a judgement on moral matters passed by one person upon another” [108] or “to provide information about a person or an event concerning which the speaker has direct knowledge”. [109]

In 1 Corinthians 15:32, Paul quotes a common saying from his time in history [110]: “…If the dead do not rise, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’”

Note in context, Paul does not agree with the philosophy of “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.” Neither does he say God agrees with this philosophy. Paul instead teaches that if the bodies of believers are not resurrected, we might as well just focus on eating and drinking. Previously in 1 Corinthians 15:12-30, Paul had been emphasising the truth of the resurrection of believers’ bodies.

In Ephesians 5:14, Paul says: “Therefore He says: ‘Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’”

Here Paul is either paraphrasing Isaiah 60:1 in its New Testament application to Christ or quoting an early Christian hymn which is a paraphrase of Isaiah 60:1.

 

Peter’s quote

In 2 Peter 2:22, Peter quotes from a combination of Proverbs 26:11 and either a saying which was used by either Jews or non-Christians in general or early Christians: “But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit’, and, a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”

Peter says that those who turn to sin from Christ fulfil symbolically both Proverbs 26:11 and the other saying.

 

 

1 Enoch

Jude 14-15 contains a direct quote from a writing which is not one of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings that the Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have added to the Old Testament. This writing is known as 1 Enoch. Jude 14-15 says: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’”

The Apostle Jude does not say that 1 Enoch is a God-inspired Book of Sacred Scripture. Jude merely quotes one small part of 1 Enoch as being a true prophecy of God.

Let us compare this to 1 Timothy 5:18. In this verse, Paul quotes from Jesus’ words in Luke 10:7. Note that Paul says that Luke 10:7 is a God-inspired Scripture. Therefore, even though the New Testament was still being written when Paul stated these words in 1 Timothy, he stated that the Gospel of Luke was a Book of God-inspired Scripture. Note that the Apostle Jude did not say the same about 1 Enoch.

The situation with 1 Enoch seems to be similar to two other books that are mentioned in the Old Testament. These are the book of Jashar (see Joshua 10:13 and 1 Samuel 1:18) and the book of the Wars of the Lord (see Numbers 21:14-15). These two books are quoted by the authors of Numbers, Joshua and 1 Samuel as revealing certain truths. But note that neither the book of Jashar or the book of the Wars of the Lord are Books of the Old Testament Scriptures. These two books may have been merely historical or devotional literature of the early Hebrew nation.

Observe also that Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Baruch and other Old Testament Apocryphal writings, which are included in Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bibles, have even less claim to being included as a part of Sacred Scripture than what the book of 1 Enoch has. This is because at least the New Testament directly quotes 1 Enoch once, whereas it does not even once directly quote from any of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings.

 

Direct quotes accompanied by introductory phrases

 

When we look through the New Testament, we do not find even one place where the Lord Jesus, the Apostles or other New Testament writers quote from any of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings using introductory expressions such as, “Have you not even read this Scripture?” or “As God has said:” or “As it is written in the prophets”. In fact, there is not one direct quote in the New Testament from even one of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings.

When we compare this to the accepted Books of the Old Testament, we find a massive difference. Below is a list of all the Books of the Old Testament which have direct quotes in the New Testament commencing with introductory phrases such as “Have you not even read this Scripture?” or “As it is written in the prophets”.

 

Genesis             – Matthew 19:4, 19:5, Acts 3:25, 7:2-3, 7:6-7, Romans 4:3, 4:17, 4:18, 1 Corinthians 6:16, 2 Corinthians 4:6, Galatians 3:8, 3:16, 4:30, Hebrews 4:5, 6:13-14, 11:18 and James 2:23.

Exodus             – Matthew 15:4, 22:29-32, Mark 7:9-10, 12:26, Luke 2:23, Acts 7:31-32, 7:33-34, 23:5, Romans 7:7, 9:15, 9:17, 1 Corinthians 10:7, 2 Corinthians 8:15 and James 2:11.

Leviticus           – Matthew 15:4, Luke 2:24, 10:27, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8 and 1 Peter 1:16.

Numbers           – 2 Timothy 2:19.

Deuteronomy    – Matthew 4:4, 4:7, 15:4, Mark 7:9-10, 10:19, Luke 4:4, 4:8, 4:12, 10:27, Acts 3:22-23, 7:37, Romans 7:7, 12:19, 1 Corinthians 9:9, Galatians 3:10, 3:13, 1 Timothy 5:18, Hebrews 1:6, 10:30, 12:21, 13:5 and James 2:11.

2 Samuel           – Romans 15:9, 2 Corinthians 6:18 and Hebrews 1:5.

1 Kings             – Romans 11:2-3 and 11:4.

1 Chronicles      – Hebrews 1:5.

Job                   – 1 Corinthians 3:19.

Psalms              – Matthew 13:35, 21:16, 21:42, 22:43-44, Mark 12:10-11, 12:36, Luke 20:17, 20:42-43, John 2:17, 6:31, 13:18, 15:25, 19:24, 19:36, Romans 15:3, 1 Corinthians 3:20, 2 Corinthians 4:13, 9:9, Ephesians 3:8, Hebrews 1:5, 1:7, 1:8-9, 1:12, 1:13, 2:12, 3:7-11, 3:15, 4:3, 4:7, 5:5, 5:6, 7:17, 7:21 and 10:7.

Proverbs           – Hebrews 12:5-6 and James 4:6.

Ecclesiastes      – Romans 3:12.

Isaiah               – Matthew 1:23, 8:17, 13:14-15, 18:17-21, 15:7-9, 21:13, Mark 1:2, 7:6-7, 11:17, Luke 3:4-6, 4:17-21, 19:46, 22:37, John 1:23, 6:45, 10:34-35, 12:38, 12:40, Acts 7:48-49, 8:32-35, 13:47, 28:25-27, Romans 2:24, 3:15-17, 9:33, 10:11, 10:15, 11:8, 11:26, 15:21, 1 Corinthians 1:19, 2:9, 14:21, 15:54, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Galatians 4:27, Hebrews 2:13 and 1 Peter 2:6.

Jeremiah           – Matthew 2:18, 27:9-10, 1 Corinthians 1:31, Hebrews 8:8-12, 10:15-16 and 10:17.

Ezekiel              – Romans 2:24 and 2 Corinthians 6:16.

Daniel               – Matthew 24:15.

Hosea               – Matthew 2:15, Romans 9:25, 9:26 and 1 Corinthians 15:55.

Joel                  – Acts 2:16-21.

Amos               – Acts 7:42-43 and 15:15-18.

Micah               – Matthew 2:6

Habbakuk         – Acts 13:40-41 and Romans 1:17.

Haggai              – Hebrews 12:26.

Zechariah         – Matthew 21:4-5, 26:31, Mark 14:27, John 12:15 and 19:37.

Malachi            – Matthew 11:10, Luke 7:27 and 9:13.

 

There are 169 direct quotes from the accepted Old Testament Books here above. [111] What a massive difference there is when we compare this number to the number of direct quotes from the Old Testament Apocryphal writings found in the New Testament – a grand total of nil.

 

Mentions and quotes from God’s Old Testament commands

 

Besides these direct quotes from various Books of the Old Testament accompanied by introductory phrases, there are also some places in the New Testament where the authors mention Old Testament commandments of God and quote from them:

Genesis             – Mark 10:6-8.

Exodus             – Matthew 19:18-19, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9 and Hebrews 12:20.

Leviticus           – Matthew 19:19, 22:39 and Mark 12:31.

Deuteronomy    – Matthew 15:4, 22:36-37, Mark 10:19, 12:30, Luke 18:20, Romans 13:9 and Ephesians 6:2.

 

Indirect quotes of Old Testament events

 

There are also many places in the New Testament where the Lord Jesus, the Apostles or other God-inspired writers quote from specific events that are recorded in various Books of the Old Testament. A small sample is listed below:

 

Genesis             – Luke 17:26-29 (cross-reference with Genesis 7:1-16, 7:19-23 and 19:1-25).

Joshua              – Acts 7:45 (cross-reference with the Books of Exodus, Joshua and 2 Samuel).

Judges              – Acts 13:20 (cross-reference with Judges 3:16) and Hebrews 11:32.

Ruth                 – Matthew 1:3-6 (cross-reference with Ruth 4:18-22).

1 Samuel           – Acts 13:21-22 (cross-reference with 1 Samuel 9:15-10:1), Acts 13:22 (cross-reference with 1 Samuel 13:14), Matthew 12:3-4 (cross-reference with 1 Samuel 21:1-6) and Mark 2:25-26 (cross-reference with 1 Samuel 21:1-6).

2 Samuel           – Hebrews 1:5b (cross-reference with 2 Samuel 7:14).

1 Kings             – Luke 4:25-26 (cross-reference with 1 Kings Chapter 17 and 18:1) and James 5:17-18 (cross-reference with 1 Kings Chapters 17 and 18).

2 Kings             – Hebrews 11:35 (cross-reference with 2 Kings 4:18-37) and Luke 4:27 (cross-reference with 2 Kings 5:1-27).

1 Chronicles      – Hebrews 1:5b (cross-reference with 1 Chronicles 17:13) and Luke 1:5 (cross-reference with 1 Chronicles 24:10).

2 Chronicles      – Matthew 12:42 (cross-reference with 2 Chronicles 9:1-12).

Jonah                – Matthew 12:39-41 (cross reference with Jonah 1:17).

Micah               – Matthew 2:6 (cross-reference with Micah 5:2), Matthew 10:21 (cross-reference with Micah 7:6), Mark 13:12 (cross-reference with Micah 7:6), Luke 2:4 (cross-reference with Micah 5:2), Luke 12:53 (cross-reference with Micah 7:6) and John 7:42 (cross-reference with Micah 5:2).

 

These clear specific mentions by the Lord Jesus, the Apostles and other New Testament authors of characters and events in the accepted Old Testament Books are similar to the New Testaments direct quotes from various Old Testament Books. These specific quoting of characters and events from the Books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel and so on by the Lord Jesus, the Apostles and other New Testament authors to support their teachings, reveals that they regarded these Old Testament Books as totally God-inspired authoritative Scriptures.

Supposed paraphrased allusions

 

Someone may argue that even though there are no direct quotes in the New Testament from the Old Testament Apocrypha, that there are paraphrased allusions to them in the New Testament. For example, someone may argue that 1 Timothy 1:2 is a paraphrased allusion to Wisdom 4:15, Ephesians 6:13-17 is a paraphrase of Wisdom 5:12-20, Revelation 3:4 of Wisdom 3:5, 1 Corinthians 8:5 of Wisdom 13:2, James 1:2-4 of Ecclesiasticus 2:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:4 of Wisdom 9:15, Hebrews 1:3 of Wisdom 7:26 and Romans 1:20-32 of Wisdom 13:1-9 and 14:22-31.

But arguing this way is just as fruitless as trying to prove that the Apostle John was quoting from the writings of the pagan Greek philosopher Plato as sacred Scripture when John said in John 1:1 that Jesus Christ is the “Logos” of God or Word of God. The word “Logos” was commonly used by Plato. [112]

It is just as foolish trying to prove the Lord Jesus quoted as Sacred Scripture from the writings of the pagan Greek philosopher Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, by finding similar mentions in Zeno’s writings and Jesus’ recorded words of the importance of living a good virtuous life. [113]

It is just as foolish trying to prove that the Apostle Paul quoted as Sacred Scripture from the writings of Buddha, just because Buddha rightly taught his followers to speak truthfully and kindly, not to be hateful and to always express concern for other people. [114] Paul spoke similar things to this (see Ephesians 4:25, Romans 12:17-21 and Galatians 6:10). But Paul did not quote Buddha, the pagan. Paul quoted from the prophet Moses, who lived centuries before Buddha, from God’s other Old Testament prophets and from the revelations which the Lord gave him (see 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 and Galatians 1:11-12) and which the other Apostles confirmed (see Galatians 2:1-2 and 6-10).

Similarly, let us assume an archaeologist dug up an ancient writing and found this writing declared that adultery and murder was wrong. We would be fools to argue that Jesus Christ and the Apostles quoted from this book, just because they also say that adultery and murder is wrong.

Someone may, for example, say, “James 1:19 is based on Sirach 5:11 and Ephesians 6:11 is founded on Wisdom 5:17. Therefore, Sirach and Wisdom are parts of the Scriptures.”

James 1:19 says: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Sirach 5:11 states: “Be quick to hear and be deliberate in answering.” There is only one thing in common between the two verses and James 1:19 does not say it is a quote from another verse of Scripture.

Let us compare the above to two other New Testament verses. In John 7:38, Jesus gives a paraphrased quote from Isaiah 44:3. Even though the wording of John 7:38 and Isaiah 44:3 are different from each other, note Jesus says “as the Scriptures has said.” Also in James 4:5, James either provides a paraphrase of Genesis 6:3 or he gives a general teaching which is found across various parts of the Old Testament taken together. But note once again, James introduces his paraphrase or general Old Testament teaching with the phrase “the Scripture says.”

Hebrews 11:35-36 may partly refer to the events recorded in 2 Maccabees Chapters 6 and 7. But even if this is true, this does not mean 2 Maccabees is part of God’s Scriptures. This is because as stated earlier, Joshua 10:13 and 1 Samuel 1:18 refer to historical events recorded in the book of Jashar and Numbers 21:14-15 refers to historical events mentioned in the book of the Wars of the Lord. But nowhere in the Bible are the book of Jashar and the book of the Wars of the Lord called Scripture or the Word of the Lord.

 

Concluding comments

 

This means that there are 31 Books of the Old Testament out of 39 Books that are directly quoted or from which specific characters and/or events are mentioned by the Lord Jesus, the Apostles and other divinely-inspired New Testament authors.

What a difference we find when we compare this to the Old Testament Apocrypha! We do not find one direct quote from any of the Old Testament Apocryphal writings. Nor do we find any of the original characters which are recorded in the Old Testament Apocryphal writings but which are not also mentioned in the Old Testament Books, being quoted by the Lord Jesus, the Apostles or other God-inspired writers of the New Testament. There is no mention of Tobit, Raphael, Judith, the great dragon of Babylon, Susanna the daughter of Hilkiah, the five sons of Mattathias [115] – Judas Maccabeus, John Gaddi, Simon, Eleazar and Jonathan – and other characters that are similarly not mentioned in the Old Testament Books, but who are mentioned in the Old Testament Apocrypha. [116]

Also, there is no mention in the New Testament of any of the events that are found in the Old Testament Apocrypha but are not found in the Old Testament Books.

We must distinguish here between characters and events found in the Old Testament Apocryphal writings not also found in the Old Testament Books, from those which were originally written in the Old Testament Books and then later were quoted also in the Apocryphal writings. For example, the person Judith written about in the Apocryphal writing called “Judith” and the events surrounding her life are not also found in any of the Old Testament Books. If, however, we refer to Sirach Chapters 44 to 48 we find examples of people such as Abraham, Moses, David and Elijah and some of the events associated with their lives being quoted by the Apocryphal author, but these are merely mentions of facts found in previously written Old Testament Books. If we find some of these people and/or events later quoted in the New Testament, this would not mean that the New Testament author was quoting the Apocryphal book. This is because the Apocryphal writing was not the original source document of these characters band/or events.

This is similar to the modern situation in which many present-day Christian authors write about various characters and events mentioned in the Scriptures. We would be foolish to believe that just because we saw the same Biblical characters and events quoted in the writings of some 17th century Christian authors that this means the present-day Christian authors were quoting the writings of these 17th century Christian authors as though the latters’ writings were parts of the Bible.

 


 

Chapter 3

 

The Second Test

 

The second test that we need to apply to the Old Testament Apocryphal writings is this: Do any of these writings contain teachings which are contrary to the teachings of the Books of the Old Testament and New Testament? God the Holy Spirit inspired the Prophets, the Apostles and other writers of the Old and New Testament Books. There is only one Holy Spirit. There are not two different Holy Spirits with different thoughts. Also, because God the Holy Spirit is perfect in understanding and character, it is impossible for Him to contradict Himself. Therefore, if we find that some of the teachings in the Apocryphal writings are contrary to the teachings of the Old Testament and New Testament Books, this reveals that such writings were not totally inspired by God the Holy Spirit. As a result, such writings cannot be accepted as part of the infallible Sacred Scriptures.

Refer to Chapter 5 “Can the Spirit and the Scriptures Disagree?” in my book Highest Authority: Church, Scripture Or Tradition? for more comments on the above matters.

In Matthew 4:5-7, the Lord Jesus Christ revealed that we can check if an interpretation of one verse or passage of Scripture is correct, by comparing it to what other verses or passages of Scripture say on the same topic. By using this God-inspired method, Jesus was able to show that Satan’s interpretation of Psalm 91:11-12 was incorrect.

Similarly, by using Jesus’ method of interpretation of Scripture we know that the book of Mormon and the Muslim Koran are not inspired by God. This is because many of their parts are contrary to the teachings of the Old and New Testaments.

 

God’s sacred writings do not disagree with each other

 

There are some parts of the Old Testament which reveal how God’s prophets accepted the writings of God’s earlier prophets as being totally inspired by Him. For example, the prophet Daniel treated the writings of the prophet Jeremiah as being God-inspired. Daniel 9:2 reveals this: “in the first year of his reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the Lord, given through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

Similarly, Daniel’s words recorded in Daniel 9:11-13 reveal that he accepted all of Moses’ writings as God-inspired also. 1 Kings 2:3 reveals the prophet David had a similar attitude to Moses’ writings. This verse records David’s words to his son Solomon: “And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn.”

Nehemiah 8:1-18, Malachi 4:4 and some other Old Testament verses speak similarly about the God-given authority of Moses’ writings.

Zechariah 7:12 reveals that the prophet Zechariah accepted the words of the Law of Moses and the words of God’s previous prophets as being God-inspired: “Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of Hosts.”

The above verses reveal that God’s true prophets in each generation did not regard anything that God’s earlier prophets stated or wrote as being contrary to what they were writing at a later time. This reveals we can test to see if a writing is totally God-inspired by comparing it to the writings of God’s holy prophets. When we do this test, we find seven out of the nine Old Testament Apocryphal writings teach things contrary to the undisputedly accepted Old Testament Books.

 

Tobit

 

Tobit 12:9 teaches the legalistic concept that giving to the needy atones for our sins: “For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin…” (Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition). This teaching is contrary to the Old and New Testament Books which emphasise that sin is purged through the sacrifice of blood and the benefits of such atonement is received by repentance and faith in God.

 

Additions to the Book of Esther

 

In this Apocryphal writing, we find evidence of a filthy practice that is not sanctioned anywhere in the Old or New Testament. This is when Queen Esther is claimed to have put faeces on her head when she prayed. Refer to Additions to Esther 14:3. In Matthew 11:21, Jesus showed approval of putting ashes on oneself and wearing sackcloth as signs of humbling oneself before God. Putting faeces on one’s head is a pagan practice similar to the way prophets of Baal cut themselves (see 1 Kings 18:25-28).

Deuteronomy 23:12-14 reveals that God had commanded the Israelites prior to Esther’s time to be exceptionally hygienic and clean when dealing with human faeces: “Also you shall have a place outside the camp, where you may go out; and you shall have an implement among your equipment, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and turn and cover your refuse. For the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you.”

In verse 14, Moses insists that cleanliness in relation to dealing with human faeces was an important aspect of living in holiness under the Mosaic Covenant. [117]

 

Pagan Greek philosophy about females in the book of Ecclesiasticus

 

One of the books of the Old Testament Apocrypha is called Ecclesiasticus or Sirach. This is different from the God-inspired Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes. One of the reasons Ecclesiasticus is not fully inspired by God is it contains some verses which are inspired by pagan Greek philosophy.

Here are some examples:

 

a)        Sirach 22:3 teaches the peasant pagan idea that “the birth of a daughter is a loss” (Jerusalem Bible and Revised Standard Version (R.S.V.) Catholic Edition).

b)        Sirach 25:19 states: “No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman, may a sinner’s lot be hers.” (Jerusalem Bible).

c)        Sirach 26:14 declares “A silent wife is a gift from the Lord” (Jerusalem Bible and R.S.V. Catholic Edition).

d)        Sirach 25:32 states that if a wife does not do exactly what her husband says, he should get rid of her or “separate her from himself” (R.S.V. Catholic Edition): “Do not let water find a leak, do not allow a spiteful woman free rein for her tongue. If she will not do as you tell her, get rid of her” (Jerusalem Bible).

 

This is contrary to Deuteronomy 24:1-4 which provides the only grounds for divorce under the Old Covenant – different grounds to that stated in Sirach 25:32.

The pagan ancient Greeks generally regarded men and boys as being superior in all ways to women and girls, believed it is better for a woman to give birth to sons than daughters, and thought that females are generally more wicked than males. The pagan ancient Greeks permitted men to divorce their wives for any reason but did not allow women to divorce their husbands.

 

More unbiblical errors in Ecclesiasticus or Sirach

 

Sirach 3:3 claims, “Whoever honours his father atones for sins…” Such a claim is contrary to the teachings found in the Old Testament Books of Leviticus and Numbers which say that the death of a sacrifice atones for sin.

Sirach 30:9-10 says: “Pamper a child, and he will frighten you; play with him, and he will give you grief. Do not laugh with him, lest you have sorrow with him, and in the end you will gnash your teeth.” It is not good to spoil children, but this teaching in Sirach is the opposite of this. It commands us not to play with and laugh with our children. Such ascetic nonsense is nowhere to be found in the Old and New Testament Books

Sirach 48:4 claims that Elijah had the right to boast about himself: “How glorious you were, O Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! And who has the right to boast which you have?” These words are contrary to Jeremiah 9:23 which commands: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches;’” and to James 5:17: “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours…” and Romans 3:27: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith” and Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” and Revelation 5:1-12 which reveals that Jesus is the only person among humans or angels who is perfectly worthy in God’s eyes and has the right to boast. Romans 4:2 speaks similarly.

Sirach 49:4 claims: “Except David, Hezekiah and Josiah all sinned greatly, for they forsook the law of the Most High; the kings of Judah came to an end.” This is contrary to the teaching of the Old Testament, because 2 Chronicles 20:31-32 reveals that King Jehoshaphat of Judah also walked closely to God: “So Jehoshaphat was king over Judah. He was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. And he walked in the way of his father Asa, and did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the Lord.”

Note Jehoshaphat’s sins (see 2 Chronicles 19:1-3 and 20:35-37) were no worse than David’s sins of adultery (see 2 Samuel 11:1-4), murder (see 2 Samuel 11:14-27) and lying resulting in the death of the priests of Nob (see 1 Samuel 21:1-2, 5 and 8). But contrary to this, Sirach 49:4 infers wrongly that Jehoshaphat was a far greater sinner than David.

 

Additions to Daniel – The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men

 

The Roman Catholic Church added these Apocryphal sections to Daniel Chapter 3.

Additions to Daniel verse 15 (or verse 38 in some translations) claimed: “And at this time, there is no prince, or prophet, or leader, no burnt offering, or sacrifice, or oblation…” These words were correct except for claiming there was no prophet at this time. Such a claim was contrary to the teaching of the Book of Daniel. Daniel Chapters 1-2 reveal Daniel was operating as a prophet at and even before this time.

Azariah was the person who was supposed to have prayed the words found in the “Prayer of Azariah”. But note Daniel 1:19-20 and 2:17 reveal Daniel and Azariah (also called Abednego – see Daniel 1:17) had a close relationship to one another. Daniel Chapter 2 shows Azariah knew of Daniel’s prophetic interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Also Daniel 1:17 reveals Daniel had been given much understanding by God in dreams and visions. This all occurred before Azariah supposedly prayed the Apocryphal prayer in the flaming furnace.

In Matthew 24:15, Jesus declared that Daniel was a prophet. So obviously the apocryphal Prayer of Azariah was not part of God’s inspired Scriptures.

 

2 Maccabees

 

2 Maccabees 12:39-45 records that the Jews took up a collection to pay for a sin offering, supposedly to atone for the sins of some other Jews. The latter Jews had died because they sinfully had sacred tokens of idols under their clothes. The Jews took up this offering so that these idol-worshippers above could supposedly be forgiven of their sins and receive the resurrection of their bodies.

But note 2 Maccabees 12:39-45 refers to those who have committed the sin of idolatry. Throughout the Scriptures, God constantly states that the ongoing practicing of idolatry is not a minor matter but means the offender has abandoned his relationship to God. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5, Paul stresses that those who practice idolatry up to the point of their deaths will not have any inheritance in the Kingdom of God. Deuteronomy 27:15 declares: “Cursed is the one who makes any carved or molded image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret. And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen’!”

2 Maccabees 7:9 says those who die for the laws of the Mosaic Covenant will be resurrected in eternal life: “And when he was at the last breath, he said, ‘You accursed wretch, you dismiss us from this present life, but the King of the universe will raise us up to an everlasting renewal of life, because we have died for his laws.’” (R.S.V. – Catholic edition). Read also “The Septuagint with Apocrypha” translation of 2 Maccabees 7:9: And when he was at the last gasp, he said, Thou like a fury takest us out of this present life, but the King of the world shall raise us up, who have died for his laws, unto everlasting life.”

 

Judith and Baruch

 

In Chapter 5 “The Fourth Test”, we see that in the Old Testament Apocryphal books of Judith and Baruch, there are not only historical errors. There are also statements in these two Apocryphal books which are contrary to the teachings of Old Testament Books which were quoted as Scripture by Jesus, the Apostles and God-inspired New Testament authors.


 

Chapter 4

 

The Third Test

 

The third test that we must apply to the Old Testament Apocrypha is seeing whether the Israelites around Jesus’ time regarded them as being a part of their Sacred Scriptures. This test has some importance because of the fact that in Romans 9:4, God inspired the Apostle Paul to say: “who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises.”

Here we see that God gave His written Law, promises and the various covenants found in the Old and New Testaments originally to the people of Israel.

In Romans 3:2-3, God shows that He appointed the Jews as the custodians of His Scriptures: “Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? Will their unbelief make the faithfulness of God without effect?”

Even though many Jews did not have saving faith and frequently disobeyed Him, He put His Scriptures into their care.

The two main pieces of evidence which show that most Palestinian Jews in Christ’s time did not regard the Old Testament Apocrypha as totally inspired by God and a part of His Scriptures are:

 

1.          the words of the Jewish historian Josephus.

2.          the Council of Jewish religious leaders meeting at Jamnia in A.D. 90 rejected the authority of these books also.

 

Josephus

 

Josephus was a Jewish historian who lived between A.D. 37 to A.D. 100. In his writing “Against Apion”, he wrote: “For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another (as the Greeks have), but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all past times; which are justly believed to be divine; and of them five belong to Moses, which contain his laws and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history hath been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but hath not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there hath not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation, is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them, to take anything from them; or to make any change in them but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them. For it is no new thing for our captives, many of them in number, and frequently in time, to be seen to endure racks and deaths of all kinds upon the theatres, that they may not be obliged to say one word against our laws and the records that contain them…” [118]

Note that Josephus here makes a number of points. Firstly, he argues that there is no discrepancy among or contradiction between any of the Books of the Sacred Scriptures of the Israelites. In Palestine, the Israelites would not have accepted the Apocryphal writings as Scripture if the Apocrypha contradicted their accepted Books of Sacred Scripture.

Secondly, Josephus said that the Jews believed that all of the writers of the Old Testament Scriptures were prophets of God. Since 1 Maccabees 9:27 infers that God-inspired prophets did not write this Apocryphal writing, it is highly unlikely that the Jews would have accepted this writing as infallible Sacred Scripture. 1 Maccabees 9:27 says: “Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.”

Thirdly, Josephus says that the Israelite Old Testament Scriptures number twenty two. These possibly were set out in the form of the Books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Joshua, Judges and Ruth combined, 1 and 2 Samuel combined, 1 and 2 Kings combined, 1 and 2 Chronicles combined, Ezra and Nehemiah combined, Esther, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Lamentations combined, Ezekiel, Daniel, the twelve minor prophets combined and Song of Solomon.

Fourthly, Josephus says that from the time of the Persian king Artaxerxes to Josephus’ time, Jewish history had been recorded. Here Josephus is referring to some of the Old Testament Apocrypha. But note that he states that such historical writings are not inspired by God because they were not written by prophets of God. In fact, 1 Maccabees 9:27 quoted previously and 2 Maccabees 15:38 – both parts of the Apocrypha – tend to confirm what Josephus says here.

Fifthly, Josephus reveals that the Jews honoured their God-given Scriptures so much that they were fanatical to ensure that no-one added, subtracted or altered even one of these verses of Scripture.

 

Limitations of this test

 

We cannot use this test alone. This is because:

 

1.         The Palestinian Jews at the time of Christ differed in some ways among themselves in their attitudes to the Old Testament Scriptures. The Pharisees believed that all of the Old Testament as we have it today excluding the Old Testament Apocrypha, were God-inspired Scriptures. But the Sadducees taught that the first five books of the Old Testament were God’s primary written authority.

2.         The Jewish leaders at the Council of Jamnia in A.D. 90 not only rejected the Old Testament Apocrypha. They also rejected all the Books of the New Testament.

3.         God has not authorised Jewish and Christian leaders to decide which books are a part of His written Word. These leaders can only ever at maximum confirm what God has already chosen. In Isaiah 55:11, God declares: “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

 

This third test is like the fourth test. Both of them have limitations. But when they combine with the first and second tests, they provide a good basis by which we can judge if a religious writing can be accepted as a Book of God’s Sacred Scripture.


 

Chapter 5

 

The Fourth Test

 

The fourth test that we can apply to the Old Testament Apocryphal books is: Do they contain historical errors?

This fourth test is the most subjective of the four tests. The first two tests are more authoritative because we have infallible authorities which we use to do the testing. The infallible authorities are the written Words of the Lord Jesus, the Apostles, other New Testament authors and the authors of the undisputed Books of the Old Testament.

Even though this fourth test is more subjective, it is still useful.

 

Judith

 

The book of Judith contains the most astonishing historical and unbiblical nonsense. Judith 1:1 states that Nebuchadnezzar ruled at Nineveh. But this city had been destroyed seven years before Nebuchadnezzar came to the throne and Nebuchadnezzar ruled from Babylon and not Nineveh. Bromiley’s “International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” records: “In August, 612 B.C., the mighty city of Nineveh fell to the combined forces of the Babylonians under Nabopolassar and the Medes under Cyaxares. This date has been firmly established from Babylonian sources (the Babylonian Chronicle), which give a detailed description of the campaign against Nineveh: ‘they marched along the bank of the river Tigris and…against Nineveh…they encamped[?] From the month of Sivan to the month of Ab three US [measures…they advanced?] A strong attack they made against the city, and in the month of Ab, [the…th day the city was captured…] a great defeat of the chief [people] was made. On that day Sinsar-iskun, the Assyrian king…The great spoil of the city and temple they carried off and [turned] the city into a ruin-mound and heaps of debris…’ (CCK, pp. 59, 61). The excavations at Kuyunjik have remarkably corroborated this description of Nineveh’s complete destruction.

For the next three hundred years the site was not occupied, according to archeological evidence. Remains from the Seleucid, Roman, and Sassanian periods found on the tell point to sporadic settlements during these times. Benjamin of Tudela, a rabbi who visited Jewish who visited Jewish communities in the East in the 12th cent. A.D., reported, ‘Nineveh now lies in utter ruins, but numerous villages and small towns occupy its former space’ (T. Wright, ed., Early Travels in Palestine [1848], p. 94). [119]

The Old Testament Book of Nahum prophesied this total destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians, Medes and Scythians in 612 B.C.

2 Kings 24:10-11, 25:1, Ezra 2:1, Daniel 1:1, 4:30 and many other Old Testament verses reveal Nebuchadnezzar’s seat of rule was at the city of Babylon.

Judith 4:3 and 5:18-19 state that the people of Judea had only recently returned from captivity and the Temple in Jerusalem had been profaned and destroyed by pagan non-Israelite conquerors. But in reality, prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, the Jews had not been taken from Judea into captivity in other lands and the Temple had not been profaned and destroyed by pagan non-Israelite conquerors throughout Nebuchadnezzar’s lifetime, the people of Judea suffered a series of deportations to Babylon (see 2 Kings 24:8-21, Jeremiah 24:1, 29:1-2 and 39:1-10), and experienced no returns from captivity. The Jews did not begin to return from captivity in Babylon until the reign of Cyrus the Persian many years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar (see Ezra 1:1-4 and Jeremiah 29:10).

Judith 4:8 and 15:8 infers that Judea was under the government of a high priest and a type of Sanhedrin or Senate. Actually when Nebuchadnezzar’s army attacked Judea at the time, the country was ruled by a king and not by a high priest and a Senate (see 2 Kings 25:1-2).

The early church writing “The Sacred History of Sulpitius Severus” excuses the historical nonsense in the book of Judith by claiming that the Spirit of God inspired the author of Judith to know mysteries about history that “mere worldly writers” on history did not know: “But this ought not to be felt at all remarkable by any one, that mere worldly writers have not touched on any of those points which are recorded in the sacred writings. The spirit of God thus took care that the history should be strictly confined within its own mysteries, unpolluted by any corrupt mouth, or that which mingled truth with fiction. That history being, in fact, separated from the affairs of the world and of a kind to be expressed only in sacred words, clearly ought not to have been mixed up with other histories, as being on a footing of equality with them.” [120]

These excuses for the historical errors in the book of Judith are unacceptable because of the fact that the book of Judith is shown to be historically inaccurate by comparing it to the God-inspired undisputed Books of the Old Testament. So “The Sacred History of Sulpitius Severus” is in grave error when it calls the book of Judith “the sacred history” and the “inspired history”.

Someone may also try to excuse all this historical and unbiblical nonsense in the book of Judith by saying, “Even though the book of Judith refers to many recognisably historical events, God never intended the book of Judith to be taken totally or even partially historically. The book of Judith teaches God’s truth in a non-historical way.” But such claims are absurd because they suggest that a book of God’s Scriptures can be similar to the ancient Greek Homer’s “The Iliad” which mixes some truths about ancient Troy mixed with fiction masquerading as history and with much foolish mythological ancient pagan Greek religion. Also the book of Judith refers to many historical events in a historical narrative form and not in a parable or some other type of symbolic non-historical type of writing.

 

Baruch

 

Baruch 2:1-3 states: “So the Lord confirmed his word, which he spoke against us, and against our judges who judged Israel, and against our kings and against our princes and against the men of Israel and Judah. Under the whole heaven there has not been done the like of what he has done in Jerusalem, in accordance with what is written in the law of Moses, that we should eat, one the flesh of his son and another the flesh of his daughter.”

Here the Apocryphal book of Baruch says that one of God’s judgements that occurred during the author’s time that had supposedly never happened before to the people of Israel was for them to starve so much that they ended up eating their own children.

The author of Baruch is in error here. He seems to be ignorant of the words of God’s true prophets who wrote the Old Testament Book of 2 Kings. In 2 Kings 6:24-29, we see that long before in the time of the prophet Elisha, the people of Israel in the city of Samaria ate their children: “And it happened after this that Ben-Hadad king of Syria gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria. And there was a great famine in Samaria; and indeed they besieged it until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and one-fourth of a kab of dove droppings for five shekels of silver. Then as the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried out to him, saying, ‘Help, my lord, O king!’ And he said, ‘If the Lord does not help you, where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or from the winepress?’ Then the king said to her, ‘What is troubling you?’ And she answered, ‘This woman said to me, “Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.” ‘So we boiled my son, and ate him. And I said to her on the next day, “Give your son, that we may eat him”, but she has hidden her son.’”

2 Kings 25:1-3 reveals the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem. Verse 3 said that the siege was so severe that there ended up being no food in the city. This was the time that the author of Baruch wrote about in Baruch 2:1-3. Nebuchadnezzar’s siege of Jerusalem occurred approximately 589-587 B.C. The siege, that occurred in Elisha’s time in Samaria, the capital of Israel, happened about 850 to 840 B.C., roughly 251 to 263 years earlier.

 

1 Maccabees

 

1 Maccabees 8:16 makes the following claim about the Romans: “They trust one man each year to rule over them and to control all their land; they all heed the one man, and there is no envy or jealousy among them.”

But note in Romans 1:29 and Galatians 5:20, Paul declares that the actions of the unconverted often involve “envy” and “jealousies”. A study of the history of Roman politics confirms that Roman senators, consuls and other rulers were very frequently involved in bitter power struggles based on envy and jealousy. [121]

Also note in the years of their Republic from 509 to 44 B.C., Rome was not led by one person except for 6 months in times of emergency. Mostly, Rome was ruled by a collective group called the Senate and by two chief executive officers called firstly praetors and later consuls. [122] 1 Maccabees 8:16 relates to the time of the Roman Republic and therefore involves serious historical errors.

 

Poor excuses

 

To try to excuse the historical and geographical errors in the books of Tobit, Baruch and 1 Macabees, someone may argue that these writings were originally written without error and these errors entered the books as they were copied from generation to generation over the centuries.

But if we apply such a feeble excuse to the many New Testament Apocryphal writings, we might as well open the floodgates and include all of the New Testament Apocryphal writings as parts of the New Testament as well. We can excuse the errors found in the New Testament Apocrypha by imagining that in some supposedly earlier form, they were without any errors. For example, we can excuse the lies contained in the Pistis Sophia in which it was claimed that Jesus returned from the world of the Gnostic aeons to the earth 12 years after His ascension into heaven and taught His disciples, especially John and Mary Magdalene, about the fall and redemption of a female aeon, the Sophia who was called Pistis. [123] We can say that in its original form, the Pistis Sophia did not contain these errors. Then we can add it to the New Testament.

Also, we can excuse the Acts of John for saying that Christ’s death on the Cross was an illusion [124] and the Gospel of the Egyptians for forbidding marriage. [125] We can argue that in their original form, these two Apocryphal books did not say these two things. We can then include them in the New Testament also. We might as well do the same with all of the other New Testament Apocryphal writings.

I say all of the above in jest, but my point is obvious. If we excuse the books of Judith, Baruch and 1 Maccabees for historical and other errors, we must do the same for all the New Testament Apocryphal books. But this would result in spiritual disaster and the spread of many false unbiblical teachings in God’s Church.

 


 

Chapter 6

 

The 8 Old Testament Books Not Quoted In The New

 

By itself the fact that the Old Testament Apocryphal books are never directly quoted in the New Testament, is not indisputable proof that God does not regard these books as being a part of His Old Testament. This is because 8 of the 39 undisputed Books of the true Old Testament are not quoted in the New Testament either. These eight Books are Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah.

But when we see that at least seven out of the nine Old Testament Apocryphal writings have parts that are contrary to the teachings of the undisputed Old Testament Books and to the New Testament, combined with the fact that all nine Apocryphal writings failed the first test of whether Jesus, the Apostles or other God-inspired New Testament authors quoted them as authoritative Scripture, this is evidence that God does not regard them as a part of His Holy Scriptures.

Also because the Old Testament Apocryphal writings were not accepted by Jews in Palestine around Jesus’ time – the God-ordained custodians of His written Word and covenants, and these writings contain historical errors, this is further proof that they are not God-inspired authoritative Scriptures.

The Old Testament Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah do not contain any teachings contrary to the teachings of the undisputed Old Testament Books and to the New Testament. Nor are there any historical errors in these eight Old Testament Books. When we combine these two things with the fact that the Jews in Palestine in Jesus’ time regarded the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum and Zephaniah as a part of God’s Sacred Scriptures, this is strong proof that these eight Books are regarded by God as Sacred Scriptures also.



 

Chapter 7

 

Like 20th Century Christian Books

 

The Old Testament Apocrypha should be treated like Christian books written in the 20th century. We should regard them as being interesting but not infallible Words of God. The Old Testament Apocryphal books are not evil but instead contain a mixture of truth and error.

It is not sinful to read the Apocrypha, as long as we check to see if their words are in agreement with the Books of the Sacred Scriptures.


 

Chapter 8

 

God Watches Over His Written Word

 

Some people have a weird notion of God. They imagine that throughout history, He has just been some sort of passive bystander watching various churchgoers supposedly fiddle with the meaning of and number of writings which comprise His written Word. They imagine that church leaders have the final say as to what writings should be a part of God’s Holy written Word. They fail to realise that God has overseen the preservation of His written Word for many centuries, often overruling the contrary decisions of various church councils, Popes and others. They forget what God has said in verses such as Jeremiah 1:12: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching over My Word to perform it.’” (N.A.S.B.)

The Old Testament Apocryphal writings are not excluded from the Old Testament just because I say they are. They are not left out just because some theologian or bishop or preacher says they are. They are excluded because of a combined set of reasons – none of which can be taken separately.

The first reason they are excluded is that the religious opinions of early Church Fathers, Church Councils and Saints have exhibited so much disagreement among themselves and so many errors that it is wrong for us to regard them as God-given infallible authorities on this matter.

The second reason is that God the Son and His Holy Apostles never quoted directly from even one of these Apocryphal writings, even though they quoted directly as Sacred Scripture from 31 of the 39 Books of the Old Testament. We cannot have a higher divine authority than the recorded words of God the Son and His chosen Holy Apostles.

The third reason is that when we compare the teachings of the Old Testament Books that God the Son and His Holy Apostles did accept as Sacred Scripture, to the teachings of these Apocryphal writings, we find that at least 7 of these latter writings contain parts which are contrary to the teachings of the accepted Old and New Testament Books.

The fourth reason is that around Jesus’ time, the God-ordained custodians of God’s Law and Words – the religious Jews in Palestine – did not accept the Old Testament Apocrypha as a part of their Sacred Scriptures.

The fifth reason is that when we study the Old Testament Apocryphal writings, we find that some of these writings contain severe historical errors.

These five reasons taken together reveal why the Old Testament Apocrypha are not a part of God’s Holy Scriptures.

 


 

[1] In Session 11 on 4th February, 1442 at the Council of Florence which continued from 1439 to 1443, the Roman Catholic bishops claimed that the apocryphal books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus and Baruch are parts of the Old Testament. In its Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures” on April 8, 1546, the Roman Catholic Council of Trent with the full sanction of the Pope at the time declared that the books of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach), Baruch and the first and second books of Maccabees are a part of the Old Testament Scriptures. This Council did not mention Additions to Esther and Additions to Daniel but instead assumed these additions were normal parts of the Old Testament Books of Esther and Daniel. This Council also pronounced a curse or anathema on anyone who said these books were not a part of the Old Testament: “But if anyone receive not, as sacred or canonical, the said books entire with all their parts…let him be anathema.”

[2] The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus, Part 1 – Exegetical, On Daniel, 1 “Preface by the Most Holy Hippolytus, (Bishop) of Rome” and 3 “Scholia on Daniel” Chapter 3:47 and 5 “On the Song of the Three Children” and 6 “On Susannah”.

[3] Eusebius of Caesarea, “Church History”, Book 3, Chapter 25.

[4] Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Editors), “A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church”, Volume 14 “The Seven Ecumenical Councils”, Appendix, “From the Iambics of St. Amphilochius, the Bishop of Seleucus, on the Same Subject”.

[5] Henry Bettensen (Editor), “Documents of the Christian Church”, Oxford University Press, London, 1963, pages 28-29.

[6] Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 62, 12.

[7] Hippolytus, Part 1 – “Exegetical Fragments from Commentaries on Various Books of Scripture, On Daniel”, 2, 20.

[8] Ibid, 2, 4.

[9] Hippolytus, “The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus”, Part 2, 36-42.

[10] Papias, “Fragments of Papias”, in “The Ante-Nicene Fathers”, Volume 1, “The Apostolic Fathers with Justin Martyr and Irenaeus”,

[11] Eusebius of Caesarea, “Church History”, Book 3, Chapter 3 “The Epistles of the Apostles”.

[12] Jerome, “Lives of Illustrious Men”, Chapter 4.

[13] Ibid. In his “Stromata”, Book 1, Chapter 17, Clement quotes from the Shepherd of Hermas as a God-inspired writing.

[14] Tertullian, Part First, “Ad Nationes”, Book 2, Chapter 12.

[15] Irenaeus, “Against Heresies”, Book 4, 20, 2.

[16] Origen, “De Principiis”, Book 2, Chapter 1, 5 and Book 3, Chapter 2, 4 and Origen, “Commentary on Romans 10.31”. In Book 3, Chapter 2, 4,  Origen used the Shepherd of Hermas and Epistle of Barnabas together with the Books of Psalms, Esther, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Matthew, John, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians and Hebrews in a section which was introduced by the statement: “Now such a statement will perhaps appear incredible, unless it be confirmed by the testimony of holy Scripture…” In this section, he did not distinguish between the accepted Books of the New Testament and the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. Origen also included the Old Testament Apocryphal book of Tobit in this section.

But note in Chapter 10 of his “On Modesty”, Tertullian states that the Shepherd of Hermas had “been habitually judged by every council of Churches (even of your own) among apocryphal and false (writings)”. Tertullian said this in the context of discussing whether the Shepherd of Hermas “deserved to find a place in the Divine canon…”

[17] Tertullian, On Modesty”, Chapter 20.

[18] Origen, “Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew”, Book 10, 17 “The Brethren of Jesus.”

[19] Jerome, “Treatises of St Jerome”, Preface to Jerome’s Early Works: Prefaces to the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs.

[20] Jerome, “Prefaces to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings”.

[21] Jerome, “Apology for Himself Against the Books of Rufinus, Book 2, 33.

[22] Jerome, “Treatises of St Jerome”, Preface to Jerome’s Early Works: Daniel.

[23] Jerome, “Preface to the Books of the Vulgate Version of the Old Testament: The Books of Samuel and Kings”,

[24] Ibid.

[25] Jerome, “Prefaces to Jerome’s Early Works”, Translations from the Septuagint and Chaldee, Tobit and Judith.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Jerome, “Life and Works of Rufinus with Jerome’s Apology Against Rufinus”, Works of Rufinus, A Commentary on the Apostle’s Creed, 38.

[28] Ibid, 36-37.

[29] St Athanasius: Select Works and Letters, Select Writings and Letters of Athanasius, 1 Festal Letters, Letter 39, (for 367), 4.

[30] Ibid.

[31] Ibid, 7.

[32] Athanasius, “Four Discourses Against the Arans”, Discourse 1, Chapter 4, 12.

[33] Athanasius, Festal Letters, Letter 39, 7.

[34] Cyril of Jerusalem, “The Catechetical Lectures of Saint Cyril”, Lecture 4 on the Ten Points of Doctrine, Of the Divine Scriptures, 35.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid, 33.

[37] Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Editors), “A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church”, Volume 14, “The Seven Ecumenical Councils”, Appendix, “From the Iambics of St Amphilochius, the Bishop to Seleucus, on the Same Subject”.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] The Canons of the Synod Held in the City of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana, Canon 60.

[43] John of Damascus, “An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith”, Book 4, Chapter 17 “Concerning Scripture”.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Ephrem the Syrian, “Selections Translated into English from the Hymns and Homilies of Ephraim the Syrian”, Second Part, Aphrahat the Persian Sage, 15.

[46] Eusebius of Caesarea, “History of the Church”, Book 4, Chapter 21.

[47] Ibid, Chapter 26.

[48] Bromiley, Volume 1, page 163,

[49] Ibid.

[52] Bromiley, Volume 1, page 163.

[53] S. Nicephorus, Patriarchae CP, “Chronographia Brevis”, Quae Scripturae Canonicae I, II, PG 1057-1058.

[54] Ibid.

[55] Origen, “Against Celsus”, Book 6, Chapter 7.

[56] Origen, “De Principiis”, Book 2, Chapter 1, 5.

[57] Origen, “A Letter from Origen to Africanus”, 2.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Eusebius of Caesarea, “The Church History”, Book 6, Chapter 25.

[60] Cyprian of Carthage, “Treatise 12”, Third Book, Testimonies, 20.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid, 53.

[63] Cyprian, “Treatise 8”, 5.

[64] “The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles”, Book 8, XLVII, 85.

[65] “St Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters”, Prolegomena to St Ambrose, 4. On the Doctrine of St Ambrose, in “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church”, Volume 10, Wm B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, page xv.

[66] Ambrose of Milan, “Exposition of the Christian Faith”, Book 1, Chapter 3, 28.

[67] J. Neuner and J. Dupuis (Editors), “The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church”, Collins, London, 1983, page 70.

[69] Augustine of Hippo, “On Christian Doctrine”, Book 2, Chapter 8, Section 13.

[70] Augustine of Hippo, “On Care to be had for the Dead”, 3.

[71] Augustine of Hippo, “The City of God”, Book 18, Chapter 36.

[72] Ibid, Book 18, Chapter 26.

[73] Ibid, Book 17, Chapter 20.

[74] Augustine of Hippo, “The Confessions and Letters of Augustine, with a Sketch of his Life and Work”, Fourth Division, Letter 263, 3.

[75] Augustine of Hippo, “Retractions”, Book 2, Chapter 4.

[76] “The Canons of the 217 Blessed Fathers who Assembled at Carthage”, Canon 24 in Phillip Schaff and Henry Wace (Editors) “A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers”, Volume 14 –  “The Seven Ecumenical Councils”, W.B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pages 453-454.

[77] Ibid, page 454.

[78] The Council of Carthage did not specifically mention Additions to Esther, Additions to Daniel and Baruch as being a part of the Holy Scriptures. But they may have believed that the Old Testament Books of Esther, Daniel and Jeremiah respectively included these additions anyway.

[79] “The Apostolical; Canons, The Canons of the Holy and Altogether August Apostles”, Canon 85 in Volume 14 “The Seven Ecumenical Councils”, Appendix.

[80] Ibid.

[81] Bromiley, Volume 1, page 163.

[82] Alphonsi Tostati, Episcopi Abulensis, “Commentariorum in Sanctum Iesu Christi Evangelium secundum Matthaeum”, Praefatio, Quaest. 3.

[83] Jean Driedo, “De Ecclesiasticis Scripturis et Dogmatibus”, Libri quator, fol XXI, XXII.

[84] John Ferus, “The Examination of Those Who Were To Be Ordained for the Sacred Ministry of the Church”.

[85] Neil Lightfoot, “How We Got The Bible”, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1963, page 73.

[86] F.F. Bruce, “The Book And The Parchments”, Pickering and Inglis, London, 1950, page 164.

[87] D.A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge (Editors), “Hermeneutics, authority and canon”, Inter-Varsity Press, Leicester, 1986, page 305.

[88] Ibid, page 308.

[89] Ibid.

[90] Bruce, loc. cit.

[91] James Barr, “Holy Scripture: Canon, Authority And Criticism”, Clarendon Press, 1983, page 57.

[92] Geoffrey Bromiley (Editor), “The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia”, Volume 4, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982, page 815.

[93] Geoffrey Bromiley, Volume 1, page 595.

[94] Bromiley, Volume 4, page 815.

[95] Ibid.

[96] Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, page 511, Bromiley, Volume 1, page 595 and Bromiley, Volume 4, pages 815-816.

[97] Bromiley, Volume 1, page 595.

[98] Bromiley, Volume 4, page 816.

[99] Bruce, page 166.

[100] Lightfoot, page 93 and “Decree Concerning the Canonical Scriptures” of “The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent” dated April 8, 1546.

[101] Bromiley, Volume 1, page 598.

[102] Ibid, page 595.

[103] Ibid.

[104] Ibid.

[105] Note that even though Judas Iscariot was an Apostle, none of his teachings are recorded in Sacred Scripture because he ended up controlled by Satan (see Luke 22:3 and John 13:27).

[106] These sayings may have come from the Corinthian Church, Greek philosophers, Gnostics or a Corinthian misinterpretation of Paul’s original preaching to the Corinthians.

[107] In “The I.V.P. Bible Background Commentary – New Testament”, Craig Keener says the Cretan prophet which Paul referred to here may have been the sixth century B.C. teacher Epimenides of Knossos or the words of Hesiod in the third century B.C. “Hymn to Zeus” by Callimachus (page 636).

[108] Bauer, page 493.

[109] Louw and Nida, page 418.

[110] Isaiah 22:12-14 refers to this same saying being used earlier in Isaiah’s time. But note in this context, God was very displeased with this philosophy.

[111] In the New Testament, we also find some Old Testament quotes which are not preceded by clear introductory phrases. These quotes are found in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 (cross reference to Hosea 6:6), Matthew 10:35 (cross reference to Micah 7:6), Mark 4:12 (cross reference to Isaiah 6:9-10), Mark 9:48 (cross reference to Isaiah 66:24), Luke 23:30 (cross reference to Hosea 10:8) 1 Peter 3:10-12 (cross reference to Psalm 34:12-16), 4:18 (cross reference to Proverbs 11:31) and 5:5 (cross reference to Proverbs 3:34).

[113] Chamber’s Encyclopedia (New Revised Edition), Volume 8, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1966, page 197.

[114] New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 2, op cit, page 848.

[115] The son of John son of Simeon a priest of the sons of Joarib.

[116] Just because all these characters are not mentioned in the New Testament does not mean that all of them did not exist. Note, however, the historical existence of Tobit, Judith and the great dragon of Babylon may be doubtful.

[117] Ezekiel 4:1-5:17 records that God commanded the prophet Ezekiel to declare God’s Word to the wicked city of Jerusalem through mime. Part of this mime involved baking food using human excrement as fuel (see Ezekiel 4:12). This was to symbolise what would happen to the people of Jerusalem when they would be taken into exile among the pagan Gentile nations. But note in Ezekiel 4:14, Ezekiel emphasises that eating food which was cooked using human dung was contrary to the purity laws of the Mosaic Covenant.

[118] Flavius Josephus, “Against Apion”, Book 1, Section 8.

[119] Bromiley, Volume 3, page 540.

[120] “The Sacred History of Sulpitius Severus”, Book 2, Chapter 14.

[121] William Sinnigen and Arthur Boak, “A History of Rome to A.D. 565”, Sixth Edition, Collier Macmillan, London, 1977, page 67.

[122] Ibid.

[123] “New Catholic Encyclopedia”, Volume 2, page 407.

[124] Ibid, page 411.

[125] Ibid, page 408.


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