Bible Query from
Q: Where did the term "apocrypha" originate?
A: When Jerome translated the Bible into Latin, these books existed in the Greek Septuagint Old Testament but not in the Hebrew. Early in his life Jerome accepted the entire Septuagint as divinely inspired, but later he only accepted the Hebrew originals as such for the Old Testament, and Augustine (letter 71 p.327 403 A.D.) urged Jerome to translated all of the Septuagint. Jerome coined the term "apocrypha" from the Greek word for hidden, to distinguish these from both "true scripture" and other religious writings.
Q: What exactly is the apocrypha?
A: There are different collections of apocryphal books. These are books and additions to books which both Jews and Protestant Christians, (along with a small number of Catholics) say are not part of the Old Testament. Catholics and Orthodox Christians generally say they are a part of the Old Testament, though for they are often thought to have a lesser status. There are actually at least four lists of apocryphal books: 11 books accepted by the Catholic Church today, and 14 books accepted by the Orthodox Church, original (1611) King James Bible, and the Catholic church throughout most of its history. Here is the list, errors, and the number of pages in English.
|Tobit (Tobias)||-5 historical errors||
|Judith||-14 historical errors||
|Additions to Esther (8 places)||-2 historical errors||
|Wisdom of Solomon||-2 contradictory doctrine||
|Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)||-8 contradictory doctrine||
|Baruch||-4 historical errors||
|Letter of Jeremiah in Baruch||
|Song of the 3 Holy Children (Prayer of Azariah)||(placed in Daniel)||
|Susanna||(placed in Daniel)||
|Bel and the Dragon||(placed in Daniel) 1 error||
|1 and 2 Maccabees||-2 historical errors||
The following are not in todayís Catholic Apocrypha
|1 Esdras (also called 3 Esdras)||
|2 Esdras (also called 4 Esdras)||
|Prayer of Manasses/Manasseh (also called Book of Odes)||1 contradictory doctrine (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob never sinned against God)||
|There are also the following:|
|3 Maccabees (Greek and Slavonic Orthodox only)||
|4 Maccabees (Greek Orthodox only in appendix)||
Psalm 151 (Greek Orthodox, and Slavonic Orthodox, and Nestorians)
The Greek Orthodox apocrypha is the same as the Catholic Apocrypha plus Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 1 Esdras, 3, 4 Maccabees
The Slavonic Orthodox apocrypha is the same as the Catholic plus Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, 2 Esdras, 3 Esdras, and 3 Maccabees. (See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.161)
|Psalm 152-155||Short Psalms in Syriac used by Nestorians||
Q: What how many different sets of apocryphal books are there among churches?
A: There are at least four different sets of apocrypha.
Catholic: 1 and 2 Maccabees, Baruch, Daniel additions, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Esther additions, Judith, Letter of Jeremiah in Baruch, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon.
Slavonic Orthodox: Same as the Catholic Apocrypha plus 2 Esdras, 3 Esdras, and 3 Maccabees, Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151.
Greek Orthodox: Same as Slavonic Orthodox Apocrypha plus 4 Maccabees in the appendix.
Historical Coptic: 1, 2, 3 Maccabees, Baruch, Daniel additions, Ecclesiasticus (Sirach), Esther additions, Judith, Letter of Jeremiah, Psalm 151, Tobit, Wisdom of Solomon. However, under Cyril V (1874-1927), The Coptic church later rejected these books as part of the Bible. See The Coptic Encyclopedia vol.1 p.161 for more info.
Protestants in contrast, the same Old Testament is the Jews, except for the order and splitting of books. All the churches above agree on the books of the Protestant/Jewish Old Testament.
Q: Where did the apocryphal books come from?
A: The Septuagint apocrypha books first appeared after the Old Testament was translated to Greek about 200-100 B.C. This translation, called the Septuagint, was well done for the Pentateuch, and not that well done for some of the prophetic books. Jews in Palestine never called it scripture. Greek-speaking Jews and Christians outside of Palestine assumed it was scripture, since it was in the Septuagint.
When the early Christian monk Jerome translated the Old Testament from the Hebrew into Latin, he had to answer a question: "Should he include these books or not?" Early in his life he thought so, but later in his life he only accepted the Hebrew originals for the Old Testament.
In 90 A.D. the Jewish Council that met in the town of Jamnia excluded from the Old Testament all but the writings Jews and Protestants accept today. At Jamnia there was some discussion of Ruth, Esther, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes, but all of them were accepted. Among Christians there was no consensus about the apocrypha until Augustine championed the Apocrypha at the Council of Carthage in 397 A.D. (after Jeromeís death). These writings were in Bibles used by Christians for over 1,100 years. Even the King James Bible of 1611 originally included it. After Puritan protests, it was excluded from 1644 onward.
For more on the canon of the Old Testament and the Apocrypha, see Todayís Handbook p.36-42.
Q: What are the earliest copies we have of the apocryphal books?
A: Among the Dead Sea Scrolls are fragments of 5 scrolls of Sirach (4 in Aramaic and 1 in Aramaic) and some of Tobit. A scroll at Masada contains Sirach 39:27-44:17c in Hebrew according to Responses to 101 Questions on the Dead Sea Scrolls p.25. It also says the Dead Sea Scrolls in cave 4 had fragments.
Vaticanus (325-350 A.D.) and Alexandrinus (c.450 A.D.) contain the entire Apocrypha including 3 and 4 Maccabees (early version, not just modern Catholic version). Sinaiticus (340-350 A.D.) contains Tobit, Judith, 1 and 4 Maccabees, Wisdom, and Sirach.
Asimovís Guide to the Bible p.573 says that Baruch, also called "The Letter of Jeremiah", was written around 100 B.C. primarily as an argument against idol worship. It is in some Greek and Syriac versions of the Bible.
Q: How much of Tobit is in the Dead Sea scrolls in cave 4?
A: Combining the verses in five different scrolls listed in The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.424-425, the preserved verses are Tobit 1:17,19-22; 2:1-3,10-11; 3:3,4?,5-15,17; 4:2-9,21; 5:1,2,9,12-14,19-22; 6:1-19; 7:1-11,13; 8:17-19,21; 9:1-4; 10:7-9; 11:10-14; 12:1,18-22; 13:1-4,13-14,18; 13:3-18; 14:1-7,10
See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.424-425 for the individual manuscripts, and a photogram of Tobit 6:12-7:10 in 4Q197 on p.184.
Q: How much of Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls and at Masada?
A: At Qumran in cave 2 is a scroll with Sirach 1:19-20? Or 6:14-15? And 6:20-31
At Masada was found Ecclesiasticus 39:27-28c,29-32; 40:10-19,28-30; 41:1-22; 42:1-25; 43:1-25 (omit 26029), 29-30; 44:1-17; 51:1-11,23 (13-20,30 in the Septuagint).
See The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls p.425 for more info.
Q: When did the Catholic Church officially recognize the 11-book Apocrypha?
A: When both some Catholic theologians and all Protestant reformers excluded apocryphal books from the Bible, the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546 A.D. took action. Besides using their authority to condemn Luther to Hell, the Council officially recognized all the books of the Council of Carthage as being in the Bible -- except for the Prayer of Manasses and 1 and 2 Esdras. (Some Catholic Bibles call Esther and Nehemiah 1,2 Esdras, which changes 1,2 Esdras into 3,4 Esdras.) Thus, the Catholic Apocrypha today is three books shorter than the Apocrypha throughout most of history and eastern Orthodox churches today.
Q: What is the official stance of the Anglican and Episcopalian churches on the Apocrypha?
A: They are midway between the Protestant and Catholic/Orthodox position. According to Article VI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, it is useful for "example of life and instruction in manners but are not a source of doctrine".
Q: What is the official stance of the Lutheran churches on the Apocrypha?
A: According to a Lutheran website www.lcms.org, "Martin Luther regarded the Apocrypha as Ďuseful historicalí writings which Christians should be familiar with and which should even be read in public worship from time to time. But neither Luther nor the Lutheran church has ever regarded these writings as canonical -- i.e., as part of the inspired and inerrant Word of God--since they do not meet the criteria discernible from the Scriptures themselves regarding what constitutes those books belonging to the canon of Scripture."
Q: Why do some people say apocryphal books do belong in the Bible?
A: There are at least three reasons.
1. The apocrypha was in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament. The Septuagint apocrypha was affirmed at the Council of Carthage 397 A.D. and the Catholic Council of Trent in 1546. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches have viewed it as scripture.
Rebuttal: If the Council of Trent was correct in declaring previous tradition wrong on the three extra books, tradition can be wrong on the others too. Since the Council of Trent actually reconvened in three of four different cities, since bubonic plague seemed to follow it, many would see Trent as a reason NOT to accept it.
2. Many early Christian leaders taught it as scripture. Some are: Ambrose, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome (Holofernes from the Book of Judith in 1 Clement ch.55), Hippolytus, Irenaeus, Lactantius, Origen, Patrick, Sulpitius Severus, Tertullian, Cyprian, and Theodotus. Are all these men in error?
Rebuttal: Many early Christian leaders did not believed it was scripture. Some are: Ambrose, Amphilochus, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nanzianzus, Jerome, and Julius Africanus (at least for Susanna). The Jews Josephus and Philo also rejected it. Many others, such as Justin Martyr, wrote volumes yet never once cited it. Ambrose was contradictory. Even many for it, like Augustine, believed it was inspired in a lesser way.
3. Since Godís true word endures, and the Apocrypha has been in some Bibles continuously for 2100 years, then none of the Apocryphaís unique doctrines (prayers for the dead, etc.) corrupted Godís word. Since Godís revelation would be substantially different if these doctrines were excluded vs. included, and since Godís word cannot be corrupted (substantially altered), then these doctrines and the Apocrypha must be true.
Rebuttal: The Apocrypha were additions to the Bible, not corruptions of the Bible. The distinction of the Apocrypha was always known. Godís word enduring means that His truth will always be present; cultists make corrupt copies of the Bible all the time.
Bottom Line: When the church speaks, the thinking is done. Since both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches say various apocryphal books are scripture, who are we to question the True Church with our private views?
Q: Which early church writers quoted which apocryphal books?
A: Here is a list of what I have found. Cr 1 Clement (of Rome) (16 pgs) 96/98 A.D.
Ba Epistle of Barnabas (13 pgs) c.100 A.D.
Ig Ignatius (21 pgs) c.110-117 A.D.
Pa Papias disciple of John (3 pgs) 110-113 A.D.
Di Didache (Teach. of 12 Disc.)(6 pgs) <125 A.D.
Dg (anonymous) to Diognetus (6 pgs) c.130 A.D.
Po Polycarp, disciple of John (4 pgs) c.150 A.D.
JM Justin Martyr (119 pgs) c.138-165 A.D.
He Shepherd of Hermas (47 pgs) 160 A.D.
Th Theophilus [Antioch](33 pgs)168-181/188 A.D.
Me Melito of Sardis (11 pgs) 170-177 A.D.
Ae Athenagoras (34 pgs) c.177 A.D.
Ir Irenaeus (264 pgs) 182-188 A.D.
Te Tertullian [Rome] (854 pgs) 198-220 A.D.
MF Octavius of Minucius Felix 210 A.D.
CA Clement of Alexan.(424 pgs)193-217/220 A.D.
Hi Hippolytus, (233 pgs) 225-235/6 A.D.
Or Origen (622 pgs) 230-254 A.D.
Nv Novatian (39 pgs) 250-257 A.D.
an Anonymous against Novatian(7 pgs)c.255 A.D.
and Treatise on Rebaptism (11 pgs)
Cp Cyprian and friends (270 pgs) c.246-258 A.D.
Not shown are Bardesan (154-230) [ref. to Gen] or Julius Africanus (232-245 A.D.). [Neh,Dan by name, allude Ex]
W = Books or quotes mentioned by name or by writer
G = Mentioned as words of God + quoted
B = Mentioned as scripture or quoted + "it is written"
m = Mixed
Q = quote of 1 or more verses. Ĺ = quote Ĺ a verse
A = Allusion. Ė = no reference X = excluded
Q: Specifically, which apocryphal books did Cyprian quote?
A: Cyprian was a bishop of Carthage from c.246 to his martyrdom in 258 A.D.. Cyprian in his quotes almost always gives the book of the source of the quote. In Treatise 12 the third book, in the given chapters he quotes from "The Maccabees" (for 1 and 2 Maccabees) (4,15,53), Ecclesiasticus (6,12,20,35,51,61,96,109,110), Tobias (62), additions to Daniel (20), Wisdom of Solomon (15,56,59). In Treatise 12 alone, Cyprian also directly quoted every single New Testament book except Mark, 2 Thessalonians, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 2, 3 John, and Jude.
Q: Why do some say the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible?
A: There are at least six reasons.
1. There are about 260 Old Testament quotes and about 370 allusions in the New Testament, but there is not even one quote from the Apocrypha. (Though the New Testament quotes Greek poets and pseudepigrapha). Thus based only on quotes, Greek poets would have more evidence of being scripture than the apocrypha. Everyone would accept the Apocrypha as scripture if Jesus said so. He never did.
Rebuttal: The New Testament does not quote from the books of Esther, Ecclesiastes, or Song of Solomon either.
2. The Jewish Council of Jamnia in 90 A.D. excluded the Apocrypha. Jesus never criticized the Pharisees for not believing in the Apocrypha.
Rebuttal: Jews, not Christians, convened at Jamnia.
3. Many Middle Age Christians also did not believe it was scripture. Some are: Pope Gregory the Great (1 Maccabees), Cardinal Cajetan (1469-1534) a foremost Catholic Theologian, John Wycliffe, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli. If the Apocrypha is scripture, then all of these were in error on this point.
Rebuttal: Zwingli did not accept Revelation as scripture. Comparing the doctrinal value (not canonicity) of James, Luther said, "--these are the books which show to thee Christ, and teach everything that is necessary and blessed for thee to know, even if you were never to see or hear any other book of doctrine. Therefore, St. Jamesí Epistle is a perfect straw-epistle compared with them, for it has in it nothing of an evangelic kind."
4. The story of Susanna, added to Daniel hinges on two puns. The word "holm-tree" and the "saw asunder sound alike. Also "rend" and "mastich-tree" also sound alike. However, the words only sound alike in Greek, NOT in Hebrew. Thus, this was composed by Greek-speakers, and the Jews did not speak Greek until centuries after Daniel had died. Julius Africanus (c.400 A.D.) at first believed the Apocrypha was Godís Word. Then he noticed this, and changed his view, writing Augustine a letter about this.
Rebuttal: We do not know what a "holm-tree" or a "mastich-tree" are, and perhaps Greek speakers would not recognize this either. Perhaps the translators kept the names as puns rather than use the name of trees the Greeks might not recognize anyway.
5. The Apocrypha teaches as Godís Word things found no where else. For example:
An angel named Uriel in 2 Esdras
Almsgiving delivers from death and purges away every sin. Tobit 12:9 and Tobit 14:12.
A good soul fell to Solomonís lot. Wisdom 8:19, 20
The body weighs down the soul. Wisdom 9:15
Whoever honors his father atones for sins. Sirach 3:3
God is unaware the origin of some is evil. Wisdom 12:10
" That is why God gave them a chance to repent which they did not take.
To none has he [God] given power to proclaim his works;..." Sirach
Never use deceit (Sirach 25:26) vs. Deceive people for God. (Judith)
Divorce if your wife does not obey you-Sirach 25:26
"for from garments comes the moth, and from a woman comes woman's wickedness. Better is the wickedness of a man than a woman who does good; and it is a woman who brings shame and disgrace." Sirach 42:14
"Wine is like life to men, if you drink it in moderation. What is life to a man who is without wine? It has been created to make men glad." Sirach 31:27
"Pamper a child, and he will frighten you; play with him, and he will give you grief." Sirach 30:9
"Speak, you who are older, for it is fitting that you should, but with accurate knowledge and do not interrupt the music." Sirach 32:3
"My son, do not lead the life of a beggar; it is better to die than to beg." (and it goes on) Sirach 40:28-30.
Jeremiah, though dead, prays for Jews 2 Maccabees 5:12-16
We should pray for the dead 2 Maccabees 12:44
Jeremiah took the tabernacle of the ark to a cave in the mountain Moses from which saw Canaan. 2 Maccabees 2:1-16
Taking up a collection of money and sending it to Jerusalem as a sin offering for the sins of those whom had died. 2 Maccabees 12:39-46
Dead people who are saved but need to be delivered from their sin (purgatory?) 2 Maccabees 12:42,46
Other verses. Sirach 42:14
Rebuttal: A Catholic might say that all Christians should believe these.
6. Since Godís Word is true, and the Apocrypha has the following provable falsehoods, the Apocrypha is not Godís inerrant word.
Tobias (=Tobit) used magic, the heart, liver, and gall of a fish, to drive away a demon. The Bible says we are not to use magic. An angel of God lies and claims to be Azarius son of Ananias.
Tobit 1:4-5 + 1:11-13 + 14:1-3 say Tobit saw the revolt of the northern tribes (997 B.C.); he was deported to Nineveh with Naphtali (740 B.C.) yet he only lived 102 years.
(b) In Tobit 1:14, the city of Rages was a part of Media, and never a part of the Assyrian Empire.
(c) In Tobit 6:1, they went from Nineveh to the Tigris River, and then east to Rage (Ragae). Nineveh is on the Tigris River, so they did not need to go to the river to go east.
(d) Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus did not destroy Nineveh, but Nabopolassar the Babylonian and Cyaxares the Mede destroyed centuries before (Tobit 14:5).
(e) Sennacherib was not the son of Shalmaneser, but Sargon II (Tobit 1:15).
Bel and the Dragon (added to Daniel) mentions the contemporaneous prophet Habakkuk in Judea. However, Habakkuk lived centuries before.
Judith: It is unclear where the Book of Judith was written. There are at least fourteen errors in the book covering falsehoods of the people and geography of Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and even gross errors on the geography of Israel.
(a) Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon, not Nineveh.
(b) He was not the king of the Assyrians, and the Assyrians (or Babylonians).
(c) He never sacked the cities of Ecbatana or Ragae.
(d) Assyrians and Babylonians did not rely predominately on their cavalry.
(e) The Babylonian and Assyrian rulers wanted people to worship their gods, but not themselves (unlike later Romans and Persians)
(f) The Jews had not returned from exile in the time of the Assyrians or Babylonians.
(g) The Moabites and Ammonites were descendents of Lot; they were not Canaanites.
(h) General Holofernes and his massive campaign in Palestine are unknown to history and archaeology.
(i) Nobody has ever found a city with towers called Bethulia, on the plain of Esdraelon near Dothan, able to resist 132,000 soldiers.
(j) Balbaim has never been found.
(k) Cyamon has never been found either.
The Catholic New Jerusalem Bible even says in its introduction, "The Book of Judith in particular shows a bland indifference to history and geography."
(l) Mordecai taken by Nebuchadnezzar (617 B.C.)
2nd year of Artaxerxes court (~130 years later). Contradicts the regular part of Esther: (additions to Esther)
(m) Haman was an Agagite, not a Macedonian. -additions to Esther.
(n) Do not remember the dead (Sirach 38:21-23) vs. pray for the dead (2 Maccabees 12:44)
(o) Baruch was not really in Babylon. Baruch 1:1,2 vs. Jeremiah 43:5-7
(p) Baruch 6:2 says the Jews would serve Babylon for 7 generations. Jeremiah 25:11 and 29:11 says 70 years.
(q) The Babylonians probably did not worship and feed a living dinosaur-like creature. (additions to Daniel 14:23-27)
(r) In 2 Maccabees 8:10, Nicanor wanted to pay 2,000 talents to the Romans; the Seleucids were not under the Romans.
(s) In 2 Maccabees 8:20 8,000 Seleucids plus 4,000 Macedonians did not destroy 120,000 Galatians in Babylonia.
(t) Minor historical discrepancies between 1 and 2 Maccabees.
Rebuttal: Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits it has errors on details.
Inference: Writers of Sirach (prologue) and 2 Mac (2:24-43; 15:38-40) indicate they were not inspired.
Rebuttal: A writer might not know he was inspired.
Bottom Line: When we have to choose between a human viewpoint and the truth of God, we follow God. We, who together are the True Church, must not cease to recognize and follow Godís truth.
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