Monday, October 9, 2017

A Definitive Case Against The Roman Catholic Apocrypha

  • Introduction:
          -A major source of division between Roman Catholics and Protestants is the numbering of books that should officially be included in the Bible. While the Protestant canon of Scripture is comprised of sixty-six books, the Roman Catholic Old Testament contains seven additional books. The seven disputed books that the Church of Rome embraces are Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, and Baruch. Also, translators of the Catholic Bibles have incorporated a few extra verses into the protocanonical texts of Daniel and Esther. While Roman Catholics confidently parade this volume of ancient writings (which they refer to as the "Deuterocanonicals") as being canonical Scripture, the truth of the matter is that there are many solid reasons for rejecting the apocrypha as being God-breathed.
  • Rejection Of The Apocrypha By The Jews:
          -The apocryphal books were never included in the original Hebrew canon of Scripture. In other words, the Jewish people never endorsed the inspiration of these writings. As a matter of fact, none of the seven deuterocanonical books make any claims to being divinely inspired. They were written during a time when no Jewish prophets were alive (1 Maccabees 9:27; 14:41). All of this is important because the Jews were the appointed "oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2). They were the ones who were the most acquainted with the Old Testament texts, as they were the ones who wrote them. This refutes the Roman Catholic Church's claim of infallibly defining the canon of Scripture because its own version does not match the God ordained Hebrew original.
  • Addressing the "Council of Jamnia":
          -In response to the aforementioned objection (i.e. Jews rejecting the apocrypha) to accepting the Roman Catholic apocrypha as Scripture, apologists of Rome have traditionally resorted to the Council of Jamnia (90 A.D.). Their reasoning is that because the Christians were excelling in making converts from the Jewish community, an assembly of Jewish rabbis arbitrarily removed specific books (i.e. the "beloved" Deuterocanonicals). On the contrary, this argument fails because the council was not convened to establish the Old Testament canon. Though some of the books were questioned concerning their origin (such as Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs), the gathering still operated on the assumption that all the included writings in the Old Testament canon were inspired by God. And only the twenty-two standard writings of Judaism (equivalent to the thirty-nine books of the Protestant Old Testament canon) were being discussed. In short, no books were "removed" from the canon. Therefore, the actual purpose of the Council of Jamnia was to uphold, protect, and confirm the inspiration of the Old Testament. The apocrypha was never accepted by the Jews as being of divine origin, nor even mentioned at the Council of Jamnia. As church historian F.F. Bruce affirmed, "The Council of Jamnia was the confirming of public opinion, not the forming of it." (F. F. Bruce, The Books and Parchments, p. 98). Consider also, "The Jewish canon, or the Hebrew Bible, was universally received, while the Apocrypha added to the Greek version of the Septuagint were only in a general way accounted as books suitable for church reading, and thus as a middle class between canonical and strictly apocryphal (pseudonymous) writings. And justly; for those books, while they have great historical value, and fill the gap between the Old Testament and the New, all originated after the cessation of prophecy, and they cannot therefore be regarded as inspired" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 9).
  • The Divine Inspiration Of The Roman Catholic Apocrypha Was Denied By Many In The Early Church:
          -Contrary to the popular proclamations made by Roman Catholic apologists, the most primitive Christians were far from unanimous regarding whether the apocrypha should be included in the canon of Scripture. Members of the church throughout history such as Julius Africanus, Melito of Sardis, Origen, Jerome, Athanasius, Ruffinus, John of Damascus, Epiphanius, and Cardinal Cajetan rejected the deuterocanonical books as being inspired. A number of these men rejected the inspiration of at least portions of the apocrypha. Consider this quote from Pope Gregory the Great, "...we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not canonical, yet brought out for the edification of the Church, we bring forth testimony" (Moral Teachings Drawn from Job; 19, 34). Ancient documents such as the Manuel of Discipline and the Dead Sea Scrolls do not support the inclusion of the Catholic apocrypha. "Theologians of the Eastern Church, such as Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Amphilochius drew up formal lists of the Old Testament in which the Apocrypha do not appear." (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 179) The majority opinion of Christians during the first four centuries of Christianity was either silent or in opposition to the inclusion of the apocryphal books into the canon. While the patristic writers did indeed cite from extra-biblical writings, quotation of a source in itself does not imply acceptance into the canon or belief in divine inspiration. Early Church Fathers who did quote from the apocrypha usually did so for instructional, informational, or corroboratory purposes. It was not until the Council of Trent in 1546 that the apocrypha was officially deemed to be a part of the Roman Catholic canon. The online New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia admits, In the Latin Church, all through the Middle Ages we find evidence of hesitation about the character of the deuterocanonicals. There is a current friendly to them, another one distinctly unfavourable to their authority and sacredness, while wavering between the two are a number of writers whose veneration for these books is tempered by some perplexity as to their exact standing, and among those we note St. Thomas Aquinas. Few are found to unequivocally acknowledge their canonicity” (Under “Canon of the Old Testament”). "the Hebrew Bible, which became the Old Testament of Protestantism." (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, Canon of the Old Testament) Further, "Even on the eve of the council [of Trent] the Catholic view was not absolutely unified...Catholic editions of the Bible published in Germany and in France in 1527 and 1530 contained only the protocanonical books" (Brown R. E. and Collins R. F. Canonicity, The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Roland E. Murphy (Bangalore: Theological Publications in India, 2000), p 1042, originally cited by Dr. Joe Mizzi). 
          -"It is often argued that the great scholar, St. Augustine, accepted the books of the Apocrypha as authoritative. However, Augustine seemed to have changed his mind about the authority of the Apocrypha. At one point he implied that the Apocrypha did not have the same status as Holy Scripture (City of God 18.36). At best his testimony is ambiguous. Moreover Augustine's testimony, while important, is certainly not the last word on the matter."
  • Presenting Even More Background Historical Information:
          -"From the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament an Old Latin Version was made, which of course also contained the Apocryphal books among the canonical books. It is not strange, therefore, that Greek and Latin Church Fathers of the second and third centuries, such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria (none of whom knew any Hebrew), quote the Apocrypha with the same formulas of citation as they use when referring to the books of the Old Testament. The small amount of Fathers, however, who either had some personal knowledge of Hebrew (e.g. Origen and Jerome) or had made an effort to learn what the limits of the Jewish canon were (e.g. Melito of Sardis) were usually careful not to attribute canonicity to the Apocryphal books, though recognizing they contain edifying material suitable for Christians to read." (Bruce M. Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha, p. 178)
  • Examples Of Internal Inconsistencies And Doctrinal Errors Within The Apocrypha:
          -Prayers for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:39-46).
          -Works-based salvation (Ecclesiasticus 3:30; Tobit 12:9).
          -Sinless perfection/pre-existence of soul (Wisdom 8:19-20).
          -Suicide commended (2 Maccabees 14:41-43).
          -Consumption of magic potions (Tobit 6:5-9).
          -God created world using matter (Wisdom 11:17).
          -Two contradictory accounts of the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in the same book (2 Maccabees 1:13-16; 9:19-29).
  • 2 Maccabees Refutes Its Own Inspiration:
          -"...I will bring my own story to an end here to. If it is well written and to the point, that is what I wanted; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that is the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or water alone, whereas mixing wine with water makes a more pleasant drink that increases delight, so a skillfully composed story delights the ears of those who read the work. Let this, then, be the end." (2 Maccabees 15:37-39)
  • Notes On The Book Of Judith From The Roman Catholic New Jerusalem Bible:
          -"The Book of Judith in particular shows a bland indifference to history and geography. The scene is set in the time of 'Nebuchadnezzar who reigned over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh.' Jdt 1:1 but Nebuchadnezzar was king of Babylonia and Nineveh had been destroyed by Nabopolassar, his father. Despite this, the return from exile under Cyrus is regarded as having taken place already, Jdt 4:3; 5:19 ... We may add that the itinerary of the army of Holofernes, 2:21-28 is a geographical impossibility."
  • Historical Errors Found In The Book Of Tobit:
          -"Tobit was supposedly alive when Jeroboam staged his revolt in 931 B.C. and was still living at the tie of the Assyrian captivity (722 B.C), yet the Book of Tobit says he lived only 158 years (Tobit 1:3-5; 14:11)." (Josh McDowell, Answers to Tough Questions, p. 48. Cited by Dr. Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 37)
  • The Inclusion Of The Deuterocanonical Books In Later Versions Of The Septuagint Does Not Translate Into Evidence Of Them Being Canonical:
          -The only noteworthy support for the deuterocanonical books is that they were included in copies of the Septuagint. However, some Septuagint manuscripts also included writings such as the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Psalm 151, and the Psalms of Solomon. Yet, these are not found in any Roman Catholic translations of the Bible. So the mere fact that the Apocrypha was included in Septuagint translations does not prove this collection of books to be inspired by God. Dr. Ron Rhodes notes, "...many Protestant scholars have noted that while the Septuagint was first translated several centuries before the time of Christ, it apparently was not until after Christ that the Apocrypha was appended into this translation. We know of no Septuagint manuscripts earlier than the fourth century that contain the Apocrypha, suggesting that the Apocrypha was not in the original Septuagint. But even if a first-century manuscript were found with the Apocrypha in the Septuagint, that still does not mean the Apocrypha belongs in the canon." (Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 39)
  • The Roman Catholic Church Did Not Declare The Apocrypha As Being Canonical Until The Council Of Trent In 1546. It Did So With The Intention Of Establishing Scriptural Support For Its Pernicious Doctrines:
          -"St. Jerome distinguished between canonical books and ecclesiastical books. The latter he judged were circulated by the Church as good spiritual reading but were not recognized as authoritative Scripture. The situation remained unclear in the ensuing centuries...For example, John of Damascus, Gregory the Great, Walafrid, Nicolas of Lyra and Tostado continued to doubt the canonicity of the deuterocanonical books. According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church at the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent definitively settled the matter of the Old Testament Canon. That this had not been done previously is apparent from the uncertainty that persisted up to the time of Trent." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Canon)
  • The Roman Catholic Church Did Not Define The Canon Of Scripture Until The Council Of Trent In 1546:
          -“According to Catholic doctrine, the proximate criterion of the Biblical canon is the infallible decision of the Church. This decision was not given until rather late in the history of the Church (at the Council of Trent). Before that time there was some doubt about the canonicity of certain Biblical books, i.e., about their belonging to the canon.” (The New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3, page 29, Copyright 1967; Under “Canon, Biblical”)
          -“The Tridentine decrees from which the above list is extracted was the first infallible and effectually promulgated pronouncement on the Canon, addressed to the Church Universal.” (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under the category titled "Canon of The Old Testament)

4 comments:

  1. Well done! I posted a much shorter article about the Apocrypha back in February:
    https://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2017/02/what-about-apocrypha.html

    A Romanist troll attacked the article with all sorts of "proof" as to the veracity of the Apocrypha -- but it was nothing more than papist propaganda of assertions. I'd like to see him try the same thing on this post!

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  2. Glenn

    Bit confused with above info.
    I wonder if you, or someone else, could help explain;
    If John Bois was so against the apocrypha being in the bible as you sated in above reference, why did he take part in translating it and including it in the original 1611 KJV.

    Also, why did he cross-reference 11 New Testament and 102 Old Testament verses back to the Apocrypha.

    e.g.
    Matthew 27:43 cross-referenced to Wisdom 2:15-16

    Surely, cross-references should only be to and of inspired scripture and nothing else, should it not?

    Furthermore, if you apply the 7 reasons you listed in
    https://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2017/02/what-about-apocrypha.html

    assigned for not admitting the Apocryphal books into the canon to the “accepted” Old Testament books which you accept as “inspired scripture”, you would also have to exclude a lot of them as they also teach immoral practices for example: the deceit of Jacob in Genesis 27, lying in Joshua 2:4-6, magical incantation in 1 Samuel ch 28, incest in Genesis 19:32, inhumanity in Psalm 137:9; God commands Hosea to marry a woman who would commit adultery in Hosea 1:2, God condoning massive slaughter (Deuteronomy 9), just to pint out a few.

    Surely the above would exclude their inclusion in the Old testament.

    Also some of the OT books which you hold as “inspired”, appear to contradict Christian teaching. For example, in Ecclesiastes, the nihilistic vision of life conflicts mightily with Christian hope. Why then do you regard, as canonical, a book (cited nowhere in the New Testament) that describes life as “vanity” and teaches that “the dead know nothing, they have no further reward” (Eccl 9:5)? Surely, this flatly contradicts the very essence of Christian hope in the fulfillment and resurrection promised by Jesus.

    Further, please show where the authors of the books of the Old Testament all claimed inspiration in all the books, as I could not find them. Chapters and verses will be appreciated.

    So to be logical, if I may ask, why do you not also apply the reasons of John Bois to all your books of the Old Testament to verify their inclusion in Bible as “canonical”, surely they should pass with “flying colors”.

    Confused George

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  3. Troll George,

    All your questions about John Bois must be asked of him, not me. I cited what he wrote, regardless of what you think he believed.

    Recording immoral practices that took place in history is not approval of them. God’s commands to Hosea were to be a lesson—and analogy—for the adulterous nation of Israel. The “massive slaughter” was to drive those idolators from the land promised to Israel. What right to you have to judge the morality of God?

    Your complete, intentional misunderstanding/misrepresentation of Ecclesiastes demonstrates that you most likely habituate atheist sites, because your objections have been responded to by scholars over the centuries ad infinitum. You aren’t confused, you are deceitful. 

I will waste no more of my time with your trolling.

    P.S. I disagree with Jesse in regards to Rahab’s lying being a sin. Lying is what one does to harm people, deception in protecting people is not a sin. It is nothing more than camouflage.

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  4. Hello George,

    You said, "Matthew 27:43 cross-referenced to Wisdom 2:15-16."

    Nope. Check out Psalm 22:8.

    You said, "Surely, cross-references should only be to and of inspired scripture and nothing else, should it not?"

    Well, the Apostle Paul did quote Pagan poets on a number of occasions throughout his inspired speeches and writings. He quoted one in Acts 17:28. Another example would be 1 Corinthians 15:33.

    Early Christians quoted all sorts of uninspired writings besides the apocrypha. Why not also include those in the Roman Catholic Bible?

    You said, "...you would also have to exclude a lot of them as they also teach immoral practices for example: the deceit of Jacob in Genesis 27."...lying in Joshua 2:4-6, magical incantation in 1 Samuel ch 28, incest in Genesis 19:32, inhumanity in Psalm 137:9."

    There are evidences in the life of Jacob showing us that the Lord did not always approve of his methods. Him stealing his brother Esau's birth right caught up with him in the long run. The Lord used these incidents of mischief to accomplish a greater good in His divine plan of redemption.

    King Saul going out to consult a medium to seek to the deceased Prophet Samuel was obviously not commended by God, as the man ended up dying for this particular act against His commandment (1 Chronicles 10:13). The Old Testament contains many warnings against consulting the spirits of people who have departed into the supernatural realm.

    To answer your citation of Genesis 19:32, I would have to say simply that the recording of history is not the prescribing of doctrine.

    It needs to be recognized that Psalms are songs which can express very intense emotions of a wide variety. Psalm 137 contains pleas for justice as a result of Israel being conquered by the Babylonians. It is a graphic cry of anguish and a desire for complete revenge. Psalm 137:9 is a graphic expression for the Jews desiring the destruction of their enemies. So this should not be viewed as repulsive or shocking in our sight.

    You said, "Also some of the OT books which you hold as “inspired”, appear to contradict Christian teaching. For example, in Ecclesiastes, the nihilistic vision of life conflicts mightily with Christian hope."

    The entire point that the Book of Ecclesiastes establishes is the futility of life from a materialistic perspective. Apart from God, life would ultimately be meaningless.

    Your horrendous abuse of Scripture in your efforts to justify the inclusion of the apocrypha into the canon only makes you sound like an ATHEIST.

    You said, "Why then do you regard, as canonical, a book (cited nowhere in the New Testament) that describes life as “vanity” and teaches that “the dead know nothing, they have no further reward” (Eccl 9:5)?"

    Just because none of the New Testament authors may have cited Ecclesiastes, does not prove it to be uninspired. It does not contain any materials that contradict truths taught elsewhere in the Bible, and was embraced as inspired by the Jews. I believe that God has placed all the books into the canon that He wants.

    The apocrypha does indeed contain historical and theological errors. It was originally rejected as inspired by the Jews. Many throughout church history held similar views. The apocryphal books were not officially regarded as canonical by the Roman Catholic Church until the Council of Trent. All of this was clearly explained in the article. So much for having infallible certainty!

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