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. Jesus spoke of the Law and Prophets (Matthew 7:12; 22:40; Luke 16:16). He also affirmed the threefold division of the Old Testament canon (Luke 24:44). The deuterocanonicals were written during a time when no prophets were alive (1 Maccabees 4:41-46; 9:27). All of this is important because the Jews were the appointed "oracles of God" (Romans 3:1-2). They were the ones most acquainted with the Old Testament texts, as they were the ones who wrote them. Jewish thinkers such as Josephus and Philo rejected the Apocrypha as inspired.
  • 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, Jerome, Athanasius, Ruffinus, John of Damascus, Epiphanius, and Cardinal Cajetan rejected the deuterocanonical books as being inspired. Pope Gregory the Great, speaking of the Maccabees, said, "...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" (Commentary on Job, 19, 34). Athanasius wrote, "There are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however, are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom of Sirach; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias..." (Thirty-ninth festal letter, 367). Eusebius of Caesarea wrote, "There are not, therefore, thousands of books among us at odds and in mutual contradiction, but there are only twenty-two books that contain the relationship at all times and that are justly considered divine . Of these, five are from Moses, and comprise the laws and tradition of man's creation until Moses' death. This period spans almost three thousand years. From the death of Moses to that of Artaxerxes, king of the Persians after Xerxes, the prophets after Moses wrote the facts of their times in thirteen books. The other four contain hymns in honor of God and rules of life for men. From Artaxerxes (successor of Xerxes) to the present day, everything has been recorded, but it has not been considered as worthy of as much credit as what preceded this time, since the succession of the prophets ceased. But the faith we place in our own writings is perceived through our conduct; for despite the fact that so much time has passed, no one has ever dared to add anything to them, or take anything from them, or alter anything in them. These words of the author presented here will not cease to be useful ” (Ecclesiastical History, Book III, 10:1-6). "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) 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. 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”). "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 And Theological Errors Within The Apocrypha:
          -Prayers for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:39-46)
          -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).
  • The Author Of 2 Maccabees Acknowledges That His Own Writing Might Contain Flaws And So Is Excluded From The Canon:
          -"...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)
          -"For in view of the flood of data, and the difficulties encountered, given such abundant material, by those who wish to plunge into accounts of the history, we have aimed to please those who prefer simply to read, to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all. For us who have undertaken the labor of making this digest, the task, far from being easy, is one of sweat and of sleepless nights. Just so, the preparation of a festive banquet is no light matter for one who seeks to give enjoyment to others. Similarly, to win the gratitude of many we will gladly endure this labor, leaving the responsibility for exact details to the historian, and confining our efforts to presenting only a summary outline. As the architect of a new house must pay attention to the whole structure, while the one who undertakes the decoration and the frescoes has to be concerned only with what is needed for ornamentation, so I think it is with us. To enter into questions and examine them from all sides and to be busy about details is the task of the historian; but one who is making an adaptation should be allowed to aim at brevity of expression and to forgo complete treatment of the matter. Here, then, let us begin our account without adding to what has already been said; it would be silly to lengthen the preface to the history and then cut short the history itself." (2 Maccabees 2:24-32)
  • 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.
          -"...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." (Ron Rhodes, 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 Unbiblical Traditions:
          -"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)

1 comment:

  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!

    ReplyDelete