Received: 23rd February, 2012
Re: The Basic Facts of History
The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament which was completed a few centuries before the birth of Christ. The NT quotes from the OT about 350 times and over 300 of those quotes are from the Septuagint version, indicating the Apostles accepted the Septuagint version. It contains the deuterocanonical books. It is my understanding that the inspired texts of scripture were not sharply defined till the Councils of Rome (382), reaffirmed at the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). In 400 A.D, they were reaffirmed and set cover to cover in book form, after St. Jerome transmitted the defined texts to Latin. It was called the Vulgate. It has 46 Books of the OT and 27 of the NT.
Before the precise makeup of Scripture was determined, there abounded numerous texts, accepted as inspired by various Bishops, while others accepted different texts, which were kept through tradition. Texts like the Gospel of Gamaliel, Gospel of the Infancy, the Protovangelium Jacobi, the Gospel of St. Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Bartholomew, the Gospel of Thaddeus, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of St. Andrew, the Acts of St. John, the Acts of St. Peter, the Acts of St. Andrew, the Acts of Thomas, the Acts of Bartholomew, the Acts of Barnabas, the Acts of Philip, the Acts of Matthew, the Acts of Simon, the Acts of Jude, the Epistle of the Blessed Virgin, the Apocalypse of Mary, the Apocalypse of St. Peter, the Apocalypse of St. Paul, and innumerable others. Even though some of these writings reiterated the Christian Faith, they were not included in what later came to be known as the Bible. There were also many doubts about 2 Peter, the epistle of Jude, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John and the Book of Revelation - all of which were eventually declared as inspired Scripture.
Many people like to advance the point that Jesus only commanded St. John to write (Revelation), but never the other Apostles, but only telling them to preach the word and Baptize. It is through Sacred tradition that we know about Jesus etc. Without Papal authority we don't know what books belong to the Bible. It was by Papal authority that disputes and doubts were settled about what constituted Scripture, since nobody knew with certainty what constituted Scripture, until 400 A.D. I think that to understand the Bible, tradition has to be followed, for those at the helms of it determined Scripture in the 4th century. It only seems right to confess the Faith they confessed. Do you accept all the 46 Books of the Old Testament (from the Septuagint)? If not, what is your principle of canonicity, for determining scripture? Second, Is this principle infallible in determining what is and what isn't inspired scripture?
TCE replies: 25th February, 2012
Subject: Basic Facts of History?
Dear Clark Henry
thank you for taking the time and effort to inform us of your concerns over the matters you raise.
To ensure an adequate response we will respond appropriately in the next 2-6 weeks and therefore ask for your patience in the meanwhile.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit,
Luther threw out seven entire books of the Bible?
TCE replies: 13th May 2012
Dear Clark Henry
in response to your mail we will also include replies we have already generated to previous Roman Catholic enquiries.
You write: The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament which was completed a few centuries before the birth of Christ. The NEW TESTAMENT quotes from the OT about 350 times and over 300 of those quotes are from the Septuagint version, indicating the Apostles accepted the Septuagint version. It contains the deuterocanonical books. It is my understanding that the inspired texts of scripture were not sharply defined till the Councils of Rome (382), reaffirmed at the Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397). In 400 A.D, they were reaffirmed and set cover to cover in book form, after St. Jerome transmitted the defined texts to Latin. It was called the Vulgate. It has 46 Books of the OT and 27 of the NEW TESTAMENT.
A common misconception obviously exists in the minds of many Roman Catholics and this is part of one response to such questions which appear on these pages under the heading:
How can Papal Rome explain the fact that not all of the Apocrypha was accepted at Trent?
TCE: ... we have already given good reasons why the Apocrypha were not accepted as Scripture by the 'Church Fathers'. It was the Council of Trent that accepted these books so they could have support for the false doctrines you mention and which were most definitely not 'Christian beliefs that Luther did not share'- no orthodox Christian would ever share these beliefs. To suggest he 'singled out those books, even though other passages in the Bible support the beliefs he opposed, because they were written by Greek-speaking Jews' is the height of stupid bias, for we only have to consider that the Scriptures were written by Jews (apart from Luke and Acts!) and proved no problem to Luther! If you want to try and prove otherwise you need to supply historical data, particularly concerning who spoke in Greek and who did not, not hopeful dogma!
We need only intensify our previous statements - the Papal Roman Catholic Church's many problems in the area of soteriology begin in the arena of authority. Protestantism has one authority - the inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. Rome has two authorities - Scripture and Tradition - and Protestantism disagrees with Papal Rome's understanding of, teaching on, and interpretation of both.
Papal Rome placed twelve additional Apocryphal ('hidden, obscure, spurious') books within the Old Testament, namely, Tobit, Judith, the (six) Additions to the Book of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach (known also as Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men (considered one work), Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. How did this error come about? At the end of the fourth century Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome, the most learned Biblical scholar of his day, to prepare a standard Latin version of the Scriptures (the Latin Vulgate). In the Old Testament Jerome followed the Hebrew canon and, by means of prefaces, called the reader's attention to the separate category of the apocryphal books. In the preface to his Latin Version of the Bible Jerome, after translating the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament, says: 'Anything outside of these must be placed within the Apocrypha,' that is, within the non-canonical books. Subsequent copyists of the Latin Bible, however, were not always careful to transmit Jerome's prefaces, and during the medieval period the Western Church generally regarded these books as part of the Holy Scriptures. At one of its prolonged sessions which occurred on April 8, 1546, with only fifty-three prelates present, not one of whom was a scholar distinguished for historical learning (consistent with the degree of non-Biblical knowledge exhibited by Papal Rome theologians in Luther's day) the Council of Trent decreed [in its 'Sacrosancta'] that the canon of the Old Testament includes these books. They excepted the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras (the latter is 4 Esdras in the Catholic method of numbering) but, of course, any reason they might have been able to give for this decision would have contradicted their reasoning for choosing the other books - but when has logic played any part in Papal Roman theology or doctrine? Once the cat was out of the bag and people like Luther were advertising the utter hypocrisy that Papal Rome had masqueraded behind for 1200 years, Trent was forced to anathematize any one who 'does not accept these entire books, with all their parts, as they have customarily been read in the Catholic Church and are found in the ancient editions of the Latin Vulgate, as sacred and canonical.' This decree was confirmed by Vatican I (1870) - and nothing has changed to this day. Subsequent editions of the Latin Vulgate text, officially approved by the Roman Catholic Church, contain these books incorporated within the sequence of the Old Testament books. Thus Tobit and Judith stand after Nehemiah; the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus stand after the Song of Solomon; Baruch (with the Letter of Jeremiah as chapter 6) stands after Lamentations; and 1 and 2 Maccabees conclude the books of the Old Testament. The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men is placed between Daniel 3:23 and 3:24; Susanna is placed either at the beginning of Daniel as an introduction to chapter 1 (this placement is that of the Greek text of Theodotian and the Old Latin, Coptic, and Arabic versions) or at the end of Daniel as chapter 13 (this placement is that of the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate); and Bel and the Dragon is placed either at the close of Daniel 12 in the Greek manuscripts of Daniel or at the end of Daniel as chapter 14 in the Latin Vulgate, Susanna being chapter 13. An appendix after the New Testament contains the Prayer of Manasseh and 1 and 2 Esdras, without implying canonical status - or reasons for non-canonical status!
Interestingly, these books themselves bear clear testimony to the assertion of the Jewish historian Josephus (Against Apion, 1.8) that 'an exact succession of the prophets' had been broken after the close of the Hebrew canon of the Old Testament. Not only is the phrase, 'Thus says the Lord,' which occurs so frequently in the Old Testament, nowhere to be found in them but also divine authority is never claimed by their authors for these books and by some of them it is virtually disowned, as is suggested by the following citations:
1 Maccabees 9:27: '...there was great distress in Israel [in the time of the author], such as had not been since the time that prophets had ceased to appear among them.'
1 Maccabees 14:41: '...the Jews and their priests decided that Simon [Maccabeus] should be their leader and high priest in perpetuity, until a trustworthy prophet should arise.' (See also here - 1 Maccabees 4:46: '...until there should come a prophet...')
2 Maccabees 2:23: 15:37-38: '...all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall attempt to condense into a single book [that is, 2 Maccabees itself].. .So I too will here end my story. If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired; if it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do.'
[This is reminiscent of the work of the false prophet of the Mormons, Joseph Smith who put similar excuses into the mouths of his supposed inspired writers of the Book of Mormon]
Moreover, Malachi, the last canonical Old Testament prophet, predicted that the next messenger God would send to Israel as the forerunner of the Messiah would be Elijah the prophet (Mal 3:1; 4:5), which prophecy the New Testament teaches was fulfilled by the birth and ministry of John the Baptist (Mark 1:2; Matt 11:10-14; 17:11-13).
This is why the Palestinian Jews never accepted these Apocryphal books as canonical, their canon being essentially the same as that of the Protestant Old Testament today (see Josephus, Against Apion, 1.41; Babylonian Talmud, Yomah 9b, Sota 48b, Sanhedrin 1 la). We do not find Jesus or the New Testament writers ever citing from these books. Paul's declaration that the Jews possessed 'the oracles of God' (Romans 3:2), implicitly excludes the Apocrypha from those 'oracles'.
As stated in the first letter, while it is true that the Septuagint served as the Greek 'Bible' of the early church and of the apostles in their mission to the Gentiles, there is no evidence that a New Testament writer cites from any of the Apocryphal books. It must also be noted that these books abound in historical, geographical, and chronological inaccuracies and anachronisms which would not occur in divinely inspired documents. Consider the following historical inaccuracies:
1. In 1 Maccabees 8:1-16 the author describes the power of Rome. His description contains many inaccuracies such as (1) his statement in verse 8 that Antiochus the Great surrendered Media and India to the Romans when in fact he kept Media - and India was not even part of Antiochus' domain; (2) his statement in verse 12 that the Romans 'kept friendship' with those who rely on them which simply was not true; (3) his statement in verse 15 that three hundred and twenty (actually three hundred, but this could be the author's 'rounding' of a number which should not be faulted) Roman senators deliberate daily in matters of government when in fact they met three times a month and on festival days; and (4) his statement in verse 16 that the Roman senate trusted one man each year to rule over them with no envy or jealousy existing among them when 'in fact, to prevent the concentration of power in one man's hands they elected two collegiate chief magistrates (consuls) year by year, each of whom had the right of veto over the others proceedings,' and envy and jealousy among them were constant.
2. Tobit 1:4-5 teaches that the division of the kingdom (under Jeroboam I in 931 B.C.) occurred when Tobit was a 'young man.' But Tobit is also said to be a young Israelite captive living in Nineveh under Shalmaneser in the late eighth century B.C. This would make him as a 'young man' almost two hundred years old at the time of the Assyrian Captivity and he lived into the reign of Esarhaddon (680-668 B.C.). But according to Tobit 14:1 1 he died when he was one hundred and fifty-eight years old (according to the Latin text, he died at one hundred and two).
3. Judith 1:1 declares that Nebuchadnezzar reigned over the Assyrians at Nineveh at the time that Arphaxad reigned over the Medes in Ecbatana. But Nebuchadnezzar did not reign over the Assyrians at Nineveh; he was the second king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire reigning at Babylon. Arphaxad is unknown.
These books also teach doctrines which are at variance with the inspired Scriptures. For example, 2 Maccabees 12:43-45 teaches the efficacy of prayers and offerings for the dead. Papal Rome bases its doctrine of purgatory and Masses for the dead primarily upon this apocryphal passage, but a close examination of this passage shows that it does not support Rome's teaching. Rome teaches that at death only those Christians go to purgatory who have only venial and no unforgiven mortal sin against their souls. But the dead soldiers in the Maccabees context fell in battle because 'under the tunic of every one of the dead [were] found sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia' (12:40) - so these men were idolaters (admittedly like Papal Roman Catholics!) and thus guilty of violating the first commandment - a mortal sin! They would therefore have already been consigned to hell, and would not have been in purgatory! Ecclesiasticus 3:30 teaches that almsgiving makes atonement for sin and justifies cruelty to slaves (33:26, 28). The Wisdom of Solomon teaches the doctrine of emanation (7:25) and the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of souls (8:18-20).
You (the Roman Catholic writer to TCE) accuse Luther of actions which prove to be totally justifiable, but history proves that he was not the first to have relegated the Apocrypha to non-canonical writings. The Dutch Bible published by Jacob van Liesveldt at Antwerp (1526) placed the Apocryphal books after Malachi and identified the section as 'the books which are not in the canon, that is to say, which one does not find among the Jews in the Hebrew.' The six-volume Swiss-German Bible (1527-29) placed the Apocryphal books in the fifth volume, the title page of which volume reads: 'These are the books which are not reckoned as biblical by the ancients, nor are found among the Hebrews.' Concerned to return to the sole authority of inspired, inerrant Scripture, Martin Luther in his German translation of the Bible (1534) also placed the Apocryphal books once again between the Old and New Testaments with the title: 'Apocrypha, that is, books which are not held equal to the sacred Scriptures, and nevertheless are useful and good to read.' Miles Coverdale's English translation of the Bible (1535) put them in the same position with the title: 'Apocrypha. The books and treatises which among the fathers of old are not reckoned to be of like authority with the other books of the Bible, neither are they found in the Canon of the Old Testament.' The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (1562) state concerning the Apocrypha: 'And the other books (as Jerome saith) the Church doth read for example of life, and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine.' And the Westminster Confession of Faith (1648) declares: 'The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings' (I.3).
Thus we see that every Protestant authority recognises the place of the Apocrypha as outside inspired Scripture - just as Jerome did! But, because of its views on Tradition, Papal Rome also rejects most of the great attributes of canonical Scripture which Protestantism holds in the highest esteem, namely, Scripture's self-canonization, its inerrancy, its necessity, its self-attestation, its sufficiency, its perspicuity, and its finality. So historic Protestantism and Roman Catholicism do not share the same Bible, either extensively as to the number of books or intensively as to the nature of Holy Scripture itself. For Protestantism the Bible alone (Sola Scriptura) is self-validating and absolutely authoritative in all matters of faith and practice; for Roman Catholicism its enlarged Bible (and this applies to any given statement in it) has only the meaning and thus the authority the Roman Church has determined to grant to it at any given moment. Hence her ability to contradict what has gone before and prove to the world - never mind the Spirit-led, born again, child of God - that she has no special relationship with God at all!
Vatican II's Dei Verbum, 9 (November 1965), declares that the church 'does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence' (emphasis added). The foolishness of this is made clear to anyone conversant with the facts - the supposedly infallible popes really think that Christians should accept and honour Apocryphal books and the writings of fallible popes which are clearly shown to be at odds with the facts we can observe all around us! As a result, we find those purporting to be Roman Catholic apologists straining to find in the statements of passages, such as John 20:30 and 21:25, grounds for the traditions they added later which clearly contradict New Testament teaching.
You write: Before the precise makeup of Scripture was determined, there abounded numerous texts, accepted as inspired by various Bishops, while others accepted different texts, which were kept through tradition. Texts like the Gospel of Gamaliel, Gospel of the Infancy, the Protovangelium Jacobi, the Gospel of St. Peter, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Bartholomew, the Gospel of Thaddeus, the Gospel of Barnabas, the Gospel of St. Andrew, the Acts of St. John, the Acts of St. Peter, the Acts of St. Andrew, the Acts of Thomas, the Acts of Bartholomew, the Acts of Barnabas, the Acts of Philip, the Acts of Matthew, the Acts of Simon, the Acts of Jude, the Epistle of the Blessed Virgin, the Apocalypse of Mary, the Apocalypse of St. Peter, the Apocalypse of St. Paul, and innumerable others. Even though some of these writings reiterated the Christian Faith, they were not included in what later came to be known as the Bible. There were also many doubts about 2 Peter, the epistle of Jude, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John and the Book of Revelation - all of which were eventually declared as inspired Scripture.
TCE: As our previous material reveals, many 'apocryphal/deuterocanonical' writings had already been assessed and rejected and those you add to the list are not an exception to the rules by which church elders/bishops 'weed out' the attempts by heretics to infiltrate the Word of God with extra-Biblical material.
The common Papal argument that the Apocrypha belongs in the canon 'because the Septuagint contains the Apocrypha' and the claim that figures of authority in the church as well as 'Church Fathers', such as Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Clement of Alexandria, used the apocryphal books in public meetings of the church and accepted them as Scripture (and even the renowned theologian St. Augustine viewed them as inspired) needs careful and logical consideration.
First, just because a figure in authority makes an error and carries out an action or emphasises a doctrine that is un-Biblical, does that necessitate that the fellowship or church they 'lead' should take on board their error? The Biblical answer is an unequivocal negative - as we have already shown in many places.
Deuterocanonical (literally, 'second canon') books have clearly far from secondary status among Roman Catholics since the popes decided these books belonged in the Bible shortly after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. In fact, as we have pointed out before, the Catholic Council of Trent (AD 1545-1563) canonized these books some 1500 years after they were written, largely as a reaction against the Protestant Reformation. In spite of the testimony of antiquity against them, in AD 1546, just twenty-nine years after Luther had posted his ninety-five theses, the Roman Catholic Church infallibly and irrevocably proclaimed that the apocryphal books were on the same level as Scripture, declaring:
'The Synod ... receives and venerates ... all the books [including the Apocrypha] both of the Old and the New Testaments - seeing that one God is the Author of both ... as having been dictated, either by Christ's own word of mouth or by the Holy Ghost. ... If anyone receives not as sacred and canonical the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church ... let him be anathema.'
Martin Luther had criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not having Scriptural support for such doctrines as praying for the dead and, by canonizing the Apocrypha which offers support for such false doctrines as praying for the dead (in 2 Maccabees 12:45-46), Rome had then conveniently generated 'Scriptural' support for many of their non-Biblical doctrines.
Luther threw out seven entire books of the Bible?
But how can we explain the fact that not all of the Apocrypha was accepted at Trent? How did it come about that Trent arbitrarily accepted a book favouring Papal belief in prayers for the dead (2 Maccabees) yet rejected one opposing such prayers (2 [4 in the Catholic method of numbering] Esdras). Why did Trent accept only eleven out of fourteen books? And on what grounds did they reject the other three?
Some Catholic scholars claim that the earlier Council of Florence (1442) made the same pronouncement as Trent, but the Florence council made no claim to infallibility and, of course, neither council's decision has any real basis in Jewish history, the New Testament, or early Christian history. Unfortunately, the decision at Trent came a millennium and a half after the books were written and was an utterly obvious polemic against Protestantism. The Council of Florence had also proclaimed the Apocrypha inspired to bolster the doctrine of Purgatory that had blossomed (another clear warning against the methods of 'doctrine selection' utilized by Rome!). However, the manifestations of this un-Biblical belief in the sale of indulgences came to full bloom in Martin Luther's day, and Trent's infallible proclamation of the Apocrypha was a clear polemic against Luther's teaching. The official infallible addition of books that support prayers for the dead is equally highly suspect, coming only a few years after Luther protested this doctrine. It has all the appearance of an attempt to provide infallible support for doctrines that lack any Biblical basis. It should also be noted that Papal Rome stood to lose considerable income if proven wrong, for the false doctrines of indulgences, purgatory, and prayers for the dead stand or fall together.
In fact, the very history of this section of 2 (4 in the Catholic method of numbering) Esdras reveals the arbitrariness of Trent's decision. It was written in Aramaic by an unknown Jewish author (ca. AD 100) and circulated in Old Latin versions (ca. AD 200). The Latin Vulgate (re. Jerome's early recognition of the non-canonicity of the Apocrypha) therefore printed it as an appendix to the New Testament (ca. AD 400) and it actually disappeared from Bibles until Protestants, beginning with Johann Haug (AD 1726-42), began to print it in the Apocrypha based on Aramaic texts, since it was not in Latin manuscripts of the time! However, a long section (seventy verses of chapter 7) was surprisingly discovered by Robert Bently in a library in Amiens, France, in 1874. Since this book contains an emphatic denial of the value of prayers for the dead should we be surprised that it was somehow almost made to disappear? Who on earth stood to gain by its disappearance? No doubt some Papists would like to believe that this is a 'Protestant' plot - just as one of our correspondents tried to reject the writings of Charles Chiniquy based on nothing but 'feelings'. But this truth, as with the exposure of so many other Papal machinations, is based on very strong historical evidence.
Papal Roman Catholic apologists sometimes argue that this exclusion is not arbitrary because this writing was not part of earlier deuterocanonical lists and was written after the time of Christ but relegated to an inferior position in the Vulgate, and was only included among the Apocrypha by Protestants in the eighteenth century. As we have clearly shown - this is not the case! On the other hand, 2  Esdras was part of earlier lists of books not considered fully canonical and, according to Papal criterion, the date of writing has nothing to do with whether it should be in the Jewish Apocrypha but whether it was used by early Christians - the claim being, as you have stated, that it was used alongside the other apocryphal books by 'some' and should not have been rejected because it held an inferior position in the Vulgate. However, as shown again, Jerome relegated all these writings to an inferior position through strong, logical, Scriptural reasons. There are even some who try to argue that it did not reappear in Latin until the eighteenth century because some unidentified person/persons cut out the section against praying for the dead. But there is no point in endlessly imagining 'what might have been the case' for, on the evidence we do have, we can easily make the case against the doctrinal use of the Apocrypha.
We have also already stated the facts (see other answers to Papists) concerning the preservation and canonisation of the Bible and the orthodox position can be summarised:
Many 'Church Fathers' denied the Apocrypha.earliest versions of the Septuagint.
Early Christian evidence argues against the Apocrypha.
The Palestinian Jews of the early Christian era rejected the Apocrypha.
The Apocrypha contains historical errors.
The Apocrypha contains un-Biblical doctrines.
The Apocrypha was probably not in the
Scenes from the Apocrypha on Roman catacomb walls do not prove the Apocrypha's canonicity.
Church councils are human institutions whose opinions sometimes reflect human fallibility.
The presence of apocryphal books at Qumran (among the 'Dead Sea Scrolls') does not prove their canonicity.
Because some 'Church Fathers' accepted the Apocrypha to some extent should we forget that history also reveals that many of them also denied the Apocrypha? Clearly not! Although some 'Church Fathers' spoke approvingly of the Apocrypha others, notably Origen, Jerome, Athanasius, and Cyril of Jerusalem, denied its inspiration and canonicity. Therefore, merely quoting some 'Church Fathers' in favour of the Apocrypha does not make a convincing argument. There is historical evidence revealing that some 'Church Fathers' used apocryphal books for devotional or preaching purposes while refusing to consider them canonical. Obviously demonstrating respect for a book does not mean you agree to canonize it!
New Testament books clearly claim to be inspired (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21; 1 Timothy 5:18; 2 Peter 3:16) - but none of the apocryphal books claim to be inspired and not one of them was written by a true prophet or apostle of God. Further, not a single apocryphal book was confirmed by divine miracles although this was a common occurrence with the prophets of the Old Testament and the apostles of the New Testament (cf. 1 Kings 18 and Hebrews 2:4). Another clear test is that not a single apocryphal book contains predictive prophecy, which would certainly serve to confirm divine inspiration.
Why concentrate on the few early church leaders who quoted from a few apocryphal books as Scripture when it is also true that many early church leaders rejected these books? Would you accept the mistakes of a contemporary church leader as an example to follow if it contradicted past leaders? Be careful how you think about the question because we have easily corroborated that many heretical popes have existed and it has also been their clear teaching that Papal Roman Catholics should follow their instruction even when they teach severe heresy!
One of the earliest Christian lists of Old Testament books was drawn up by Melito, the bishop of Sardis who (AD 170) corroborated all the Old Testament books (except Esther), but failed to approve a single apocryphal book. Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria (AD 367), wrote his 'paschal letter,' naming all the books of the New Testament and all the Old Testament books (except Esther) which are accepted by the world-wide non-Papal church, and only mentioned some of the apocryphal books (e.g. the Wisdom of Solomon, the Wisdom of Sirach, Judith, and Tobit) with the statement that they are 'not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness.'
The Jewish Council of Jamnia (AD 90) rejected the Apocrypha as Scripture in an entirely logical decision that held that, since there were no Jewish prophets who lived during the 400-year period between the Old and New Testaments when much of the Apocrypha was written, they could know with certainty that these books were fraudulent! Jewish historian Flavius Josephus also excluded the Apocrypha from Scripture as did Philo, a Jewish teacher who lived in the first century, who quoted from almost every canonical Old Testament book - but never once quoted from the Apocrypha!
Why is it that inspired New Testament writers did not quote from any of the apocryphal books as Scripture, or gave them any authority as inspired books - even while they found room to use quotes from other uninspired sources, e.g. Greek and Cretan poets and philosophers (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12)? The Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples virtually ignored the apocryphal books (even when 'examples' of quotes are examined the evidence is found to be highly disputable) which would not have been the case if they had considered them to be inspired. Compare these facts with the many quotations by Jesus and the apostles from the genuinely canonical, e.g. the Gospel of Matthew contains about 130 Old Testament citations and allusions. Unlike the historically accurate canonical Scriptures the Apocrypha contain obvious historical and geographical errors, as we have explained on this page under:
There are no known Septuagint manuscripts existing earlier than the fourth century that contain the Apocrypha!
The historical, chronological, and numerical errors of the Apocrypha contrast badly with the brilliant accuracy of the canon of the Old and New Testaments. The apocryphal books can be used for historical and cultural insights, but they are uninspired and definitely not canonical and were clearly utilized by Rome to support the Papal, un-Biblical, doctrines, e.g.:
the doctrine of the Mass (2 Maccabees 12:42-45; cf. Hebrews 7:27);
the notion that the world was created out of pre-existent matter (Wisdom of Solomon; cf. Genesis 1 and Psalm 33:9);
the idea that giving alms and other works can make an atonement for sin (Ecclesiasticus 3:30; 3:3; 5:5; 20:28; 35:3; 45:16; 45:23; cf. Romans 3:20);
the invocation and intercession of the saints (2 Maccabees 15:14; Baruch 3:4; cf. Matthew 6:9);
the worship of angels (Tobit 12:12; cf. Colossians 2:18);
the invention of purgatory and the redemption of souls after death (2 Maccabees 12:42,46; cf. Hebrews 9:27).
A 'possible' source of a Scriptural quotation - The Bodily Assumption of Moses (cf. Jude 9) - is rejected by Rome as non-canonical!
The Apocryphal books are simply not any part of the Word of God because God does not contradict Himself and deal with contradiction and error!
Scholars would like to know of Septuagint manuscripts existing earlier than the fourth century that contain the Apocrypha - because they are unknown! Clearly this would suggest that the Apocrypha was not in the original Septuagint and any other conclusion is pure hypothesis. By contrast, even if a very early (even first-century!) manuscript of the Septuagint were found with the Apocrypha in it, that still would not prove that the Apocrypha must be part of the canon.
Further evidence is the fact that the apostles quoted from the first-century Septuagint in their inspired New Testament writings while not using a single quote from the Apocrypha in their writings. This could mean one of two things: 1) the Apocrypha was not in the first-century Septuagint - which is consistent with the historical evidence; or 2) if the Apocrypha was in the first-century Septuagint it was effectively ignored by the apostles who gave it no credence in canonical terms.
Appealing to scenes identified on Roman catacomb walls which portray incidents from the Apocrypha is another common claim to canonicity of these books. But these scenes do no more than indicate that some events recorded in apocryphal books may have been meaningful enough to some people to cause them to record them in this way. Conversely, there are numerous events recorded in the Old and New Testament canonical books that are never found on catacomb walls, but this does not mean they are not canonical. Many contemporary apologists have libraries in their houses that hold books held sacred by the many religions they research but, should those books be discovered centuries from now, would it be logical or factual for archaeologists of the future to believe the books were collected by someone who actually held all those books to be of equal or similar spiritual value to the Bible that is on those same shelves? Obviously not! Reasoning should remain logical and presumption is a common error amongst historians.
The fact that some church councils accepted the Apocrypha has also been put forward as an argument for the authenticity of the Apocrypha. However the truth is simply that different church councils at different time periods have come to differing conclusions on numerous matters - which proves only that the opinions of such human institutions simply reflect human fallibility. God and His Word are infallible but human individuals and their councils make mistakes - and Rome is infamous for such errors.
It is also a fact that councils such as those at Hippo and Carthage in North Africa were heavily influenced by Augustine (AD 354-430) who accepted the Apocrypha. Augustine's position was ill-founded:
(1) Augustine himself recognized that the Jews did not accept these books as part of their canon (Augustine, 19.36-38). (2) Of Maccabees, Augustine said, 'These are held to be canonical, not by the Jews but by the Church, on account of the extreme and wonderful sufferings of certain martyrs' (Augustine, 18.36). On that basis should Foxe's Book of Martyrs also be in the canon? (3) Augustine was inconsistent, since he rejected books not written by prophets, yet he accepted a book that appears to deny being prophetic (1 Macc. 9:27). (4) Augustine's mistaken acceptance of the Apocrypha seems to be connected with his belief in the inspiration of the Septuagint, whose later Greek manuscripts contained them (but no one can prove that they were contained in the first century manuscripts). Just as Augustine's conclusions about the Apocrypha were drawn from un-Scriptural reasoning so, also, were the conclusions of the councils that leaned heavily on the opinions of this fallible man. Another example of the fallibility of Augustine was revealed in a debate when one of his opponents quoted from Second Maccabees in defence of suicide. Augustine did not attempt to show that his opponent had misused the passage but denied that Second Maccabees was authoritative because Christ had not quoted from it! (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p562). Augustine later acknowledged the superiority of Jerome's Hebrew text over the Septuagint's Greek text and one would have thought that this would have led him to accept the superiority of Jerome's Hebrew canon as well. But, of course, Jerome utterly rejected the Apocrypha. As we will show elsewhere, Jerome and Augustine revealed many contradictions in their dealings with Scripture and apologetics and care should be taken in accusing those outside of Papal Rome when your own heroes reveal such fallibilities.
Likewise, the presence of apocryphal books at Qumran (among the 'Dead Sea Scrolls') does not prove their canonicity. Logically, if the presence of a book at Qumran proved canonicity Rome would have to admit that all the books discovered at Qumran - and literally hundreds of books, or fragments of books, were discovered in those caves - must also belong in the canon. In a manner similar to our earlier analogy of the discovery of our 'contemporary library', an obvious explanation is that members of the Qumran community used many of the discovered books for research, interest, or even devotional purposes, without necessarily considering any extra-Biblical books to be canonical, for there is no evidence that apocryphal books were venerated as Scripture among the Qumran inhabitants.
There were five primary tests the early church used as it sought to formally recognize which books belonged in the canon:
1) the book had to be written by, or have the backing of, a prophet or apostle of God - because the Word of God, inspired by the Spirit of God for the people of God, must be communicated through a man of God;
2) the book had to be authoritative and have the clear sense of 'thus saith the Lord';
3) the book had to reveal the same doctrinal truths about God that were already known by previous revelation;
4) the book had to contain clear evidence that it contained the power of God;
5) the book had to be accepted by the people of God who had already applied these tests and therefore knew what they were looking for;
These tests prove that the Apocrypha does not belong in the canon:
1. They were not written by prophets or apostles of God;
2. They do not ring with the sense of 'thus saith the Lord';
3. They contradict doctrines already revealed in the pages of the Old and New Testaments;
4. They do not display the power of God and, even though some 'Church Fathers' used the books for devotional purposes, they fall far short of the transforming effect of the Old and New Testaments (as many of them admitted);
Using the tests given above, the Apocryphal books were, for the most part, not accepted as Scripture by the people of God and, as also stated previously, it was not until 1500 years after their writing that the Council of Trent pronounced them canonical in a desperate attempt to head off the exposure of their un-Biblical doctrines to the world.
Despite attempts to find support for the Apocrypha, it is clear that there is not a single clear quotation in the New Testament of any apocryphal book. This is clearly not the case with the Old Testament books, for they are quoted consistently throughout the New Testament. If the Apocrypha had equal status to the Scripture of the Old Testament this would obviously not be the case!
We also have the evidence of Jesus' words that clearly implied that the close of Old Testament historical scripture was the death of Zechariah (400 B.C.):
Matthew 23:35: '... so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.'
This sweeping statement embracing the breadth of human history recorded in the Old Testament excludes any books written after Malachi and before the New Testament - i.e. the Apocrypha!
What about other disputed books that some people claimed to be scripture (some written in the inter-testamental period and called Old Testament pseudo-epigrapha, i.e. 'false writings') and some written after the apostolic age (2nd century AD and following and called New Testament pseudo-epigrapha)? Writers often ascribed these latter books to the 1st century apostles (Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Peter, etc.), perhaps reasoning that they would be read more widely with an apostle's name attached. But they clearly fail the 'canonical tests' above and include some fanciful stories of Jesus' childhood and heretical doctrines. Thus no orthodox Christian seriously considers them to be inspired.
Papal Rome quotes Jerome as if he approved the Apocrypha - but he explicitly declared them un-canonical!
Interestingly, most people who discuss books that the Bible may allude to in any way do not mention that, of the pseudo-epigraphal books, one that is accepted to be a possible source of a Scriptural quotation - The Bodily Assumption of Moses (cf. Jude 9) - is rejected by the Papal Roman Catholic Church from the canon! Why would this be (see likely reasons later)? Does the account of Michael and the Devil and the dispute over Moses body in Jude 9 prove the need for extra-Biblical oral traditions (cf. a speech of Enoch (v14 and, verse 6, a reference to the legend of the judgment of the fallen angels)? Or is it just possible that the inspired Jude got the story from another source - or even directly from the Holy Spirit? Do we all believe that 'no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:20-21)? If so, why would we need to seek an alternative source for this verse in Jude? While Clement of Alexandria and others assumed that these references to non-canonical works in an otherwise canonical book confirmed the authority of the non-canonical, this extreme view has been repudiated because of more recent studies. Arguments centre around assumptions that the events of Jude 9 are derived from the apocryphal 'Assumption of Moses' which has survived in a badly damaged Greek version only - despite the passage containing the dispute not appearing in the text! Others argue that the ultimate origin of the story was a (now!) long lost Aramaic commentary on Genesis. Yet again, in the Slavonic tradition (and in some Greek fragments), the passage is apparently preserved in which Moses, as slayer of the Egyptian (Ex. 2:11-15), is accused by the devil but the archangel Michael makes no accusation in reply (because it is God's prerogative). Therefore the allusions in verses 6, 14, 15 have no 'greater' support than the pseudepigraphic 1 Enoch, fragments of which were discovered at Qumran in the original Hebrew. An argument that seems to have escaped those in favour of accepting the Apocrypha on the grounds of their possible appearance in Jude is that the quotations are used in the similar manner to the quotation of Greek and Cretan poets and philosophers, i.e. as necessary to the author's argument against false teachers. Since the sectarian Jewish texts were disseminated among the Diaspora the author is demonstrating that even these texts were misused by the heretics and he is demonstrating that, when correctly interpreted, even the legends support the orthodox view of the Old Testament. This does not make 'legends' any more canonical or inspired than the works of 'Greek and Cretan poets and philosophers'! The greater number of the non-Biblical Qumran texts have proven to be apocalyptic in nature or to contain apocalyptic features where the character of evil and the events of the last judgment play a large part. In Jude the same features are dominant and some apologists argue that the two types of literature even contain similar expressions and quotations from the Old Testament. Unlike the Apocryphal books the theological teaching of the epistle closely follows that of the Pauline and Petrine epistles and the fate of the wicked is described as vividly as in Revelation and, in that sense, it is fitting that it appears between these two sections of the New Testament. Jude calls down upon the unbeliever and the seducer no other judgment than that meted out by God and contains several liturgical phrases from the earliest period of Christian worship which are smoothly woven into the fabric of the inspired argument. The resignation to the mercy and faithfulness of God is as clearly encouraged as anywhere in Scripture and many clearly orthodox doctrinal assumptions appear, e.g. perseverance (v3); predestination (v4); redemption (v5 et al.); judgment (v11); sacraments (v12) and glorification (v24). It is in its essence a book of warning and an assurance of hope.
Other - perhaps more sincerely written - books that had some devotional value and reveal some of the insights of early Christian leaders after the 1st century (Shepherd of Hermas, Didache, etc.) have been valued historically, and even spiritually, but they also do not measure up to the standards of canonicity and are therefore not recognized as Scripture by Bible-believing Christians (see later comment).
Rome's Cardinals Ximenes and Cajetan published a Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament (1532) - it excluded the Apocrypha!
While Papal Roman Catholics quote Jerome (AD 340-420), the greatest biblical scholar of the early medieval period and translator of the Latin Vulgate, as if he approved the Apocrypha, the clear fact is that he explicitly rejected the Apocrypha as part of the canon and declared that the church read these books 'for example and instruction of manners ... [but did not] ... apply them to establish any doctrine.' ('Preface' to Vulgate Book of Solomon, cited in R. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism, p343). In fact, Jerome disputed Augustine's unjustified acceptance of these books and even refused at first to translate the Apocrypha into Latin, only making a late hurried translation of a few books.
After listing the exact books of the Jewish Bible and Protestant Old Testament (which exclude the Apocrypha), Jerome concluded:
'Thus altogether there come to be 22 books of the old Law [according to the letters of the Jewish alphabet], that is, five of Moses, eight of the Prophets, and nine of the Hagiographa. Although some set down ... Ruth and Kinoth among the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be counted (separately) in their computation, and that there are thus 24 books of the old Law; which the Apocalypse of John represents as adoring the Lamb in the number of the 24 elders.' He added: 'This prologue can fitly serve as a Helmed (i.e., equipped with a helmet, against assailants) introduction to all the biblical books which have been translated from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may know that whatever is not included in these is to be placed among the apocrypha.'
In his preface to Daniel, Jerome clearly rejected the apocryphal additions to Daniel (Bel and the Dragon, Susanna) and argued only for the canonicity of those books found in the Hebrew Bible that excluded all the Apocrypha, for he wrote:
The stories of Susanna and of Bel and the Dragon are not contained in the Hebrew. ... For this same reason when I was translating Daniel many years ago, I noted these visions with a critical symbol, showing that they were not included in the Hebrew. ... After all, both Origen, Eusebius and Appolinarius, and other outstanding churchmen and teachers of Greece acknowledge that, as I have said, these visions are not found amongst the Hebrews, and therefore they are not obliged to answer to Porphyry for these portions which exhibit no authority as Holy Scripture.
When it is argued that Jerome translated the Jewish and Christian Scriptures into a Latin edition of the Bible (~ AD 405) and initially included some of the Apocrypha we should note that he clearly considered them less than sacred, criticizing them as 'the crazy wanderings of a man whose senses have taken leave of him.' As usual, we do not find a consistent pattern by the Papal Roman Catholic Church for, while Jerome clearly rejected the Apocrypha, the later Council of Rome (382) accepted Apocryphal books but did not list the same books accepted by Hippo and Carthage (it did not list Baruch, thus listing only six, not seven, of the Apocrypha books later pronounced canonical - and Trent even listed it as a separate book (ref. Denzinger, Henry, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, translated by Roy J. Deferrari; St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1957).
Papal Rome does not admit the extremely important point that the first councils to accept the Apocrypha were only local ones without ecumenical force and the contention that the Council of Rome (382), though not an ecumenical council, had ecumenical force because Pope Damasus (304-384) ratified it is without grounds. It begs the question, assuming that Damasus was a Pope with un-Scriptural 'infallible authority'. Some Catholics will acknowledge that this council was not an ecumenical body and accept that such affirmations by Popes are not infallible since there are obviously no infallible lists of infallible statements by Popes or even any universally agreed upon criteria for developing such lists. Of course, appealing to a Pope to make a statement by a local council 'infallible' is a double-edged sword for even some Papal scholars are honest enough to admit that some Popes taught error and were plainly heretical.
What does the history of the Bible reveal?
Roman Catholic scholars through the Reformation period also distinguished between deutero-canon and canon. Cardinal Ximenes made this distinction in his Complutensian Polyglot (1514-17) on the very eve of the Reformation and Cardinal Cajetan, who later opposed Luther at Augsburg in 1518, published a Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament (1532) after the Reformation began which excluded the Apocrypha and clearly, if he believed they were authentic, they certainly would have been included in a book on 'all the authentic' books of the Old Testament!
So, instead of the authority attributed to popes, the facts reveal that Rome has gone against a continuous line of teaching, including noted Jewish and Christian fathers and is, therefore, certainly not based on the 'unanimous consent of the Fathers' that Papal Roman Catholics regularly claim for this dogma. Even notes in the currently used Roman Catholic New American Bible (NAB) make the revealing admission that the Apocrypha are:
'Religious books used by both Jews and Christians which were not included in the collection of inspired writings.' Instead, they '... were introduced rather late into the collection of the Bible. Catholics call them 'deuterocanonical' (second canon) books' (NAB, p413).
An authority on the Apocrypha, Roger Beckwith, observes:
When one examines the passages in the early Fathers which are supposed to establish the canonicity of the Apocrypha, one finds that some of them are taken from the alternative Greek text of Ezra (1 Esdras) or from additions or appendices to Daniel, Jeremiah or some other canonical book, which ... are not really relevant; that others of them are not quotations from the Apocrypha at all; and that, of those which are, many do not give any indication that the book is regarded as Scripture. (Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church and Its Background in Early Judaism, p387)
Epistle of Barnabas 6.7 and Tertullian, Against Marcion 3.22.5, are not quoting Wisd. 2.12 but Isa. 3:10 LXX, and Tertullian, On the Soul 15, is not quoting Wisd. 1.6 but Ps. 139.23, as a comparison of the passages shows. Similarly, Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 129, is quite clearly not quoting Wisdom but Prov. 8.21-5 LXX. The fact that he calls Proverbs 'Wisdom' is in accordance with the common nomenclature of the earlier Fathers. [ibid. p427]
So the fathers were not claiming divine authority for any of the eleven books 'infallibly' canonized by the Council of Trent but, rather, citing a well-known piece of Hebrew literature or an informative devotional writing to which they gave no presumption of inspiration by the Holy Spirit. While some individuals in the early church held the Apocrypha in high esteem others were clearly and vehemently opposed to them.
If you want to appeal to manuscript evidence, it is also a fact that none of the most renowned Greek manuscripts (Aleph, A, and B) contain all of the apocryphal books. Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, and Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) are found in all of them, but the oldest manuscripts (B or Vaticanus) totally exclude the Books of Maccabees - yet Catholics appeal to this manuscript in support of their view. What is also true is that no Greek manuscript has the same list of apocryphal books accepted by the Council of Trent in 1545-63 (ibid. p194, 382-83).
There is simply no standard list of Apocrypha books and, while the Roman Catholic Church accepts seven (Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, and Baruch - and also additions to Esther and Daniel (in sections called the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon), the Eastern Orthodox Church accepts all those in the Catholic Bible, but adds several more. The Greek Orthodox, for example, adds 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Maccabees, and Psalm 151 (a short song that David is said to have sung after defeating Goliath, the Philistine champion - a copy in Hebrew from about 100 B.C. was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls) while the Slavonic church adds 2 Esdras. Other Eastern churches add 4 Maccabees.
It should also be noted that the positions of heretical Christian cults vary - just as Papal Rome has a horrendous record of heresy and shifting doctrine (even in modern times, e.g.: is 'St Christopher' really a genuine Papal Roman Catholic saint - or not?; do infants go to Limbus Infantum - or not?; was Galileo a heretic - or not?) - and the position of the Greek Orthodox Church, regarding the Apocrypha, has failed to be unequivocal for, at the synods of Constantinople (1638), Jaffa (1642), and Jerusalem (1672) they declared these books to be canonical but, even as late as 1839, their Larger Catechism expressly omitted the Apocrypha on the logical and historical grounds that they did not exist in the Hebrew Bible. By contrast, genuine orthodox Christians remain consistent on the 66 books in total that make up the Old and New Testament!
The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran included not only the community's Bible (the Old Testament) but their library, with fragments of hundreds of books including some Old Testament Apocryphal books. But, tellingly, no commentaries were found for an Apocryphal book, and the fact that only canonical books were found in the special parchment and script indicates that the Apocryphal books were not viewed as canonical by the Qumran community. Menahem Mansoor lists the following fragments of the Apocrypha and Pseudo-epigrapha: Tobit, in Hebrew and Aramaic; Enoch in Aramaic; Jubilees in Hebrew; Testament of Levi and Naphtali, in Aramaic; Apocryphal Daniel literature, in Hebrew and Aramaic, and Psalms of Joshua (Mansoor, Menahem, The Dead Sea Scrolls ref. New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2:390; Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press of America, 1967, 1974, 1979). In addition, another expert scholar on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Millar Burroughs, concluded: 'There is no reason to think that any of these works were venerated as Sacred Scripture' (M. Burroughs, More Light on the Dead Sea Scrolls, New York: Viking, 1958, p178).
Even the best arguments urged in favour of the canonicity of the apocryphal books show that they were given varied degrees of esteem by various individuals within the Christian church, but these all fell short of provable claims for the books' canonicity. Even after Augustine - and the local councils he dominated - pronounced them part of Scripture and they slowly gained wider usage and eventual 'infallible' acceptance by the Roman Catholic church at Trent, this still falls far short of the kind of initial, continual, and full recognition among Christian churches of the canonical books of the Protestant Old Testament and Jewish Torah (which clearly exclude the Apocrypha). These early councils were only local councils and were not binding on the whole church and were often known to err in their decisions and to be overruled later by the universal church. Some Catholic apologists try to argue that, even though a council was not ecumenical, its results can be binding if they were confirmed by a Pope. However, this argument also fails since they have to acknowledge that there is no infallible way to know which statements by Popes are infallible. Despite the claims of the easily deluded Papal apologists, such as Patrick Madrid, they have to admit that other statements by Popes were even heretical, such as the monothelite heresy of Pope Honorius I (d. 638).
Genuine canonical books were received immediately by the people of God into the growing canon of Scripture by the promised guidance 'into all truth' (John 16:7ff.) by the Holy Spirit, and any subsequent debate was by those who were not in any position to know whether they were from an accredited apostle or prophet and who did not apply the canonical tests to the Apocrypha. Hence, this subsequent debate over the antilegomena (books later questioned by some) was over their authenticity, not canonicity. They were slowly squeezed into the canon in the Dark Ages of Papal domination before - the popes hoped - serious questions were asked and genuine tests applied. Eventually, many of the antilegomena were retained in the canon by Rome, but not in any logical, Scriptural, or all inclusive manner. While genuine Biblically-based Christians rejected all of the Apocrypha, we find that Roman Catholics accepted what they were told to accept by their popes - but even they rejected 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras and The Prayer of Manasseh without giving good, logical, Scriptural reasons why! But, of course, Trent accepted 2 Maccabees, which supported prayers for the dead and rejected 2 Esdras (4 Esdras in the Catholic method of numbering), because it included a statement that would not support the practice they desired to promote (a practice that has been a considerable money-spinner for Rome!).
The Old Testament 'Protestant' canon consists of the thirty-nine books of the Hebrew Bible and excludes the Apocrypha. The only difference between the 'Protestant' and ancient Palestinian Canon lies in organization. The ancient Bible lists twenty-four books. Combined into one each are 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, 1-2 Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah (reducing the number by four). The twelve Minor Prophets are counted as one book (reducing the number by eleven). The Palestinian Jews represented Jewish orthodoxy and their canon was therefore recognized as the orthodox one which was accepted by the Lord Jesus Christ, Josephus, and Jerome and the canon of many early 'Church Fathers', among them Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius.
In view of the powerful evidence against the Apocrypha, the decision by the Roman Catholic Church to pronounce them canonical is unfounded and unanimously rejected by all orthodox Biblical Christians. Since the Roman Catholic view was pronounced ex cathedra it is an official, infallible, and irrevocable part of that faith and, by admitting uninspired, non-revelational material into the written Word of God, seriously and heretically corrupts the revelation of God and thereby undermines the divine authority of Scripture.
You write: Before the precise makeup of Scripture was determined, there abounded numerous texts, accepted as inspired by various Bishops, while others accepted different texts, which were kept through tradition. ... There were also many doubts about 2 Peter, the epistle of Jude, Hebrews, 2 and 3 John and the Book of Revelation - all of which were eventually declared as inspired Scripture ...
TCE: We have carefully examined the known facts about the canon and shown that there were no serious doubts about the books contained in it by those with the necessary spiritual acumen to make judgements. We will comment elsewhere about the problems that confused men, such as Martin Luther, had about some books and doctrines and the great struggle he had to throw off the blinkers of Papal Rome. Luther never fully escaped those shackles, but no orthodox Christian would never place great credence on the opinions and doctrines of a man, but rely only on careful exegesis and hermeneutics and the leading of the Holy Spirit. As we can easily show, men who had only just escaped from the clutches of Papal Rome remained confused about a considerable number of things, e.g., Ulrich Zwingli accepted the Catholic Canon, with the exception of the Apocalypse, which he did not regard as an apostolic work, and hence never used for doctrinal purposes. John Calvin doubted the genuineness of the Second Epistle of Peter and the Pauline origin of the Epistle to the Hebrews. But both accepted the canon on the internal testimony of the Holy Spirit, rather than the external authority of the Church while Luther, on the one hand, insisted in the eucharistic controversy on the most literal interpretation of the words of institution against all arguments of grammar and reason and yet, on the other hand, exercised the boldest subjective criticism on several books of the Old and New Testaments, especially the Epistle of James and the Epistle to the Hebrews, because he could not harmonize them with his understanding of Paul's doctrine of justification. He thus became the forerunner of the so-called higher or literary criticism which claims the Protestant right of the fullest investigation of all that pertains to the origin, history, and value of the Scriptures. Many of Luther's statements and conclusions speak of his coarse nature and the confusion of ideas that he struggled to equate with the true doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone.
You write: 'Many people like to advance the point that Jesus only commanded St. John to write (Revelation), but never the other Apostles, but only telling them to preach the word and Baptize.'
TCE: Which 'people' are you talking about? We certainly would not hold truck with such a nonsensical view for they are not real in any sense of the word!
You write: It is through Sacred tradition that we know about Jesus etc. Without Papal authority we don't know what books belong to the Bible. It was by Papal authority that disputes and doubts were settled about what constituted Scripture, since nobody knew with certainty what constituted Scripture, until 400 A.D. I think that to understand the Bible, tradition has to be followed, for those at the helms of it determined Scripture in the 4th century. It only seems right to confess the Faith they confessed.
TCE: We have already dealt fully with the Papal myths of 'Sacred tradition' and will also deal with the illogical claim for 'Papal authority' later (see our Contents and Subjects Pages) will deal with the illogical claim for 'Papal authority' later but, first, we will refer you to a previous answer to Papal Roman Catholics from this page and starting under the title:
Does the Bible speak against the Catholic Church?
What do the historical facts prove? Clearly, that the Bible was given by God to all mankind, not to an elite group to explain it to others. The psalmist tells us clearly that it is to be a lamp on the path (Psalm 119v105) of all who heed it. Moses was also inspired to proclaim that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8v3) and there is no teaching in the Bible that would cause anyone to pick up this precious, unique, Word to make us believe it can only be interpreted by an elite hierarchy. Psalm 1 speaks of the blessed man who meditates upon God's Word (variously called the law, statutes, judgments, commandments, etc.) day and night. Both men and women and, as far as they are able, children, can read and understand and be blessed by the Word, but we will never find the Papal interpretation which attempts to limit the understanding to only a small, special, class of highly educated experts.
Paul's epistles make it clear that those to whom they were written were expected to understand them. The epistles are not addressed to a bishop or select group of leaders but to all of the Christians at Corinth, Ephesus, etc. Each Christian is given an understanding by the indwelling Holy Spirit of the words which the same Spirit inspired 'holy men of God' to write (2 Peter 1v21).
We read that a 'young man' is expected to 'heed' God's Word (Psalm 119v9) without any hint that it must be explained to him by a rabbi or priest. But what do we find? Both 'Orthodox Judaism' and Roman Catholicism attempt to hide the truth of the incomparable Gospel of Christ from laymen by insisting that their elite leaders are the only ones who can open its mysteries to the rest of the populace. But the truth brought by Christ, quoting Moses, affirmed that man is to feed upon the Bible for his very life (Deuteronomy 8v3; Matthew 4v4). Even Job, one of the earliest believers in Almighty God, considered God's Word 'more than my necessary food' (Job 23v12). We never find true followers of God seeking a hierarchy to explain the meaning of God's Word and, of course, even Job's 'Comforters' who had made their best attempts to explain his predicament were instructed by God to take heed of Job!
Job 42v7-10: And it was so, that, after YHWH had spoken these words unto Job, YHWH said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. Now therefore, take unto you seven bullocks and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt-offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you; for him will I accept, that I deal not with you after your folly; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath. So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went, and did according as YHWH commanded them: and YHWH accepted Job. And YHWH turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: and YHWH gave Job twice as much as he had before.
Christ declared, 'If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth' (John 8v31,32). He did not make that statement to the twelve apostles, but to common people who had just 'believed on him' (v30). God's Word was made available to all believers to be understood, believed, and obeyed by even the newest converts. This was true when Christ lived on earth and it is also what He expects of us today. While Rome blocks the individual's access to the truth and insists on interpreting Christ's words, He said: 'Come unto Me... I will give you rest' (Matthew 11v28). No one can come directly to Christ, but the Papal cult of Rome has set itself up as the intermediary channel of God's grace necessary for knowing God''s truth and for salvation so that she can control what her people believe.
The Bible informs us that the Holy Spirit can convince the world 'of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment' (John 16v8) and can surely teach all those in whom He dwells. John makes it clear that Christians don't have to look to some special class of men for teaching but have an 'anointing [of the Holy Spirit which] teacheth you of all things' (1 John 2v27).
Scripture makes it clear that all Christians are 'led by the Spirit of God'' (Romans 8v14) and therefore must be able to understand the Words which the Spirit of God has inspired. Christians 'have received.., the Spirit which is of God, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God' (1 Corinthians 2v12) and there is not the slightest suggestion that we need a group of clergy to interpret the Scriptures for anyone for all Christians 'have the mind of Christ' (v16). While Christ taught that believers 'shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free'' (John 8v32), Rome has misinterpreted and twisted the Word of God to try and maintain her hold over her people. See these next two titles:
Did the Catholic Church Give Us the Bible?
We know that the Bereans were commended for checking Paul's teachings against the Bible (Acts 17v11), while Rome did not even exist and it is still each individual's responsibility to know God's Word and to test every spiritual leader and their message by it, no matter who he may be. Every cult, whether Catholics from Rome, Mormons from Utah, or Jehovah's Witnesses from Brooklyn, must accept, not check, their Church's teachings.
Papal Rome went out of her way to burn both Bibles and those daring to circulate them?
Gutenberg's lead-cast printing published the first full-length, complete, book - the text of the Vulgate - from a press in Europe in 1455 at Mainz. But, far from making the Bible easily available to Christians, history shows that one of the crimes for which true believers were burnt at the stake in the Spanish Inquisition was the distribution and reading of the Bible. Would genuine followers of Christ really put anyone to death for such a heinous crime? Yet in an Auto de Fe in Seville on December 22, 1560, Julian Hernandez, one of those burned at the stake on that occasion, was declared to be an arch-heretic because:
through his great efforts and incomprehensible stealth he introduced into Spain prohibited books [Bibles and New Testaments] that he brought from far away places [Germany] where they give protection to the ungodly [Protestants].... He firmly believes that God, by means of the Scriptures, communicates to the laity just the same as He communicates to the priest.'
While Rome forbade the common people the Word of God the Reformers risked their lives to ensure that all men and women could have access to a Bible and the first complete English Bible was a translation from the Vulgate, made by Wycliffe.
The early printing-presses, from Lyons to Paris and from Venice and Nuernberg to Cologne and Luebeck, eagerly turned out editions of the entire Bible or parts of it, the vast majority of which, however, gave the Latin text (and were therefore unreadable to most of the laity!). The first printed Latin Bible, which appeared at Mainz without date and in two volumes, belongs before 1455 and bears the name of the Gutenberg Bible from the printer or the Mazarin Bible from the copy which was found in the library of Cardinal Mazarin. Before 1520, no less than 199 printed editions of the entire volume appeared. Of these,156 were Latin,17 German (3 of the German editions being in Low German; the first High German printed Bible appeared in 1466),11 Italian (the first Italian in 1477), 2 Bohemian and one Russian. The first Dutch Bible was also printed in 1477 and Spain produced two editions, a Limousin version at Valencia,1478, and the Complutensian Bible of Cardinal Ximenes,1514-1517, while the first French printing was also in 1478. Reflecting an even greater degree of persecution wrought through Papal influence on any like-minded printers, we find that England was far behind and her first printed English New Testament did not appear until 1526, although Caxton had setup his printing-press at Westminster in 1477.
A revised text of the Gutenberg Bible was issued in 1592 by Clement VIII with some 3,000 corrections. A question springs to mind: does this make Gutenberg's Bible or the 'revised' version close to the inaccuracy of the Book of Mormon which has ~4,000 errors in the first edition despite it being supposedly produced with divine/angelic protection supplied from its translation via their false prophet, Joseph Smith, to its final printing! Known as the Clementine Edition, the 'revised' version was approved as the authorized edition and its text was declared unalterable. In 1908 a new commission, headed by Aidan Gasquet, was appointed by Pope Pius X to produce a new edition under the auspices of the Benedictine abbey of St. Jerome in Rome. The fact that Rome should ever produce a Bible that compares with the errors of another obvious cult (The Mormons aka 'The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints') should awaken the most deceived mind to the obvious: we are not talking about divinely inspired/led men when we speak of any cult, whether they hail from Rome or Utah! The whole truth is that the Book of Mormon is a work of extreme fiction that fails every normal test applied to works that claim such high origins, while the Bible that Rome should have printed had every opportunity to be assembled from the most accurate ancient manuscripts in history - thus Papal compilers are without excuse! Thank God that holy Christians have emerged from the Dark Ages of Papal Tyranny and that they have ensured that the full glory of the Word of God is now available to all free men through such works as the King James Version and the New Standard American Bible.
The number of copies of the Bible sent off in a single edition is a matter of conjecture - as is the question concerning the number of copies held by laymen. When Erasmus produced his edition of the Greek New Testament (1516) it was looked upon in some quarters as a dangerous path. Dorpius, one of the Louvain professors, in 1515, anticipated the appearance of the book by remonstrating with Erasmus for his bold project and pronounced the received Vulgate text free 'from all mixture of falsehood and mistake.' This, he alleged, was evident from its acceptance by the Church in all ages and the use the Fathers had made of it. Another member of the Louvain faculty, Latromus, employed his learning in a pamphlet which maintained that a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew was not necessary for the scholarly study of the Scriptures. In England, Erasmus' New Testament was attacked on a number of grounds by Lee, archbishop of York; and Standish, bishop of St. Asaph, preached a furious sermon in St. Paul's churchyard on Erasmus' temerity in undertaking the issue of such a work. The University of Cologne was especially outraged by Erasmus' attempt and Conrad of Hersbach wrote: 'They have found a language called Greek, at which we must be careful to be on our guard. It is the mother of all heresies. In the hands of many persons I see a book, which they call the New Testament. It is a book full of thorns and poison. As for Hebrew my brethren, it is certain that those who learn it will sooner or later turn Jews.'
But among the men who read Erasmus' text was Martin Luther, and he studied it to settle questions which troubled him. About one of these he asked his friend Spalatin to consult Erasmus, namely the final meaning of the righteousness of the law, which he felt the great scholar had misinterpreted in his annotations on the Romans in the Novum instrumentum. He believed, if Erasmus would read Augustine's works, he would change his mind. Luther preferred Augustine, as he said, with the knowledge of one tongue to Jerome with his knowledge of five.
Down to the very end of its history, the mediaeval Church gave no official encouragement to the circulation of the Bible among the laity. On the contrary, it uniformly set itself against it. In 1199 Innocent III, writing to the diocese of Metz where the Scriptures were being used by heretics, declared that as by the old law, the beast touching the holy mount was to be stoned to death, so simple and uneducated men were not to touch the Bible or venture to preach its doctrines! The article of the Synod of Toulouse,1229, strictly forbidding the Old and New Testaments to the laity either in the original text or in the translation, was not recalled or modified by papal or synodal action. Neither before or after the invention of printing was the Bible a free book. Gerson was quite in line with the utterances of the Church, when he stated, that it was easy to give many reasons why the Scriptures were not to be put into the vulgar tongues except the historical sections and the parts teaching morals. In Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella represented the strict churchly view when, on the eve of the Reformation, they prohibited under severe penalties the translation of the Scriptures and the possession of copies. The positive enactment of the English archbishop, Arundel, at the beginning of the 15th century, forbidding the reading of Wycliffe's English version, was followed by the notorious pronouncement of Archbishop Bertholdt of Mainz against the circulation of the German Bible, at the close of the same century,1485. The position taken by Wycliffe that the Scriptures, as the sole source of authority for creed and life, should be freely circulated found full response in the closing years of the Middle Ages only in the utterances of the single scholar, Erasmus, but he was under suspicion and always ready to submit himself to the judgment of the Church hierarchy. If Wycliffe said, 'God's law should be taught in that tongue that is more known, for this wit [wisdom] is God's Word,' Erasmus in his Paraclesis uttered the equally bold words:
I utterly dissent from those who are unwilling that the sacred Scriptures should be read by the unlearned translated into their own vulgar tongue, as though the strength of the Christian religion consisted in men's ignorance of it. The counsels of kings are much better kept hidden but Christ wished his mysteries to be published as openly as possible. I wish that even the weakest woman should read the Gospel and the epistles of Paul. And I wish they were translated into all languages, so that they might be read and understood, not only by Scots and Irishmen but also by Turks and Saracens, I long that the husbandman should sing portions of them to himself as he follows the plow, that the weaver should hum them to the tune of his shuttle, that the traveller should beguile with their stories the tedium of his journey.
The utterances of Erasmus aside, the appeals made between 1450-1520 for the circulation of the Scriptures among all classes are very sparse and, in spite of all attempts by Papal Catholic apologists, only a few can be mustered. And yet, the few that we have show that, at least in Germany and the Netherlands, there was a popular hunger for the Bible in the vernacular. Thus, the Preface to the German Bible, issued at Cologne,1480, called upon every Christian to read the Bible with devotion and honest purpose. Though the most learned may not exhaust its wisdom, nevertheless its teachings are clear and uncovered. The learned may read Jerome's Vulgate but the unlearned and simple folk could and should use the Cologne edition which was in good German. The devotional manual, Die Himmelsthuer ('Door of Heaven'; 1513), declared that listening to sermons ought to stir up people to read diligently in the German Bible. In 1505, Jacob Wimpheling spoke of the common people reading both Testaments in their mother-tongue and made this the ground of an appeal to priests not to neglect to read the Word of God themselves.
Such testimonies are more than offset by warnings against the danger attending the popular use of Scriptures. Brant spoke strongly in this vein and so did Geiler of Strassburg, who asserted that putting the Scriptures into the hands of laymen was like putting a knife into the hands of children to cut bread. He added that it 'was almost a wicked thing to print the sacred text in German.' Archbishop Bertholdt's fulmination against German versions of the Bible and their circulation among the people no doubt expressed the general mind of the hierarchy in Germany and all Europe. In this celebrated edict, the German primate pronounced the German language too barbarous a tongue to reproduce the high thoughts expressed by Greek and Latin writers, writing of the Christian religion. The Scriptures are not to be given to simple and unlearned men and, above all, are not to be put into the hands of women. He spoke of the fools who were using the divine gift of printing to send forth things proscribed to the public and declared, that the printers of the sacred text were moved by the vain love of fame or by greed. In his zeal, the archbishop went so far as to forbid the translation of all works whatsoever, of Greek and Latin authorship, or their sale without the sanction of the doctors of the Universities of Mainz or Erfurt. The punishment for the violation of the edict was excommunication, confiscation of books and a fine of 100 gulden.
The decree was so effective that, after 1488, only four editions of the German Bible appeared until 1522, when Luther issued his New Testament, when the old German translations seemed to be suddenly laid aside. In England, Arundel's inhibition so fully expressed the mind of the nation that for a full century no attempt was made to translate the Bible into English and it was not till after 1530 that the first copy of the English Scriptures was published on English soil. Sir Thomas More, it is true, writing on the threshold of the English Reformation, interpreted Arundel's decree as directed against corrupt translations and sought to make it appear that it was on account of errors that Wycliffe's version had been condemned. He was striving to parry the charge that the Church had withheld the Bible from popular use, but, whatever the interpretation put upon his words may be the fact remains that the English were slow in getting any printed version of their own and that the (English) Catholic party issued none till the close of the 16th century.
The widespread printing of Bibles was clearly a massive contributory cause of the Reformation, for men and women could now read the truth and recognise the horrific falsehoods that Papal Rome had foisted on the innocent and ignorant fro so many centuries! Distinct witness is borne by Tyndale to the unwillingness of the old party to have the Bible in English, in these words: 'Some of the papists say it is impossible to translate the Scriptures into English, some that it is not lawful for the layfolk to have it in the mother-tongue, some that it would make them all heretics.' After the new views were quite prevalent in England, the English Bible had a hard time in winning the right to be read. Tyndale's version, for the printing of which he found no room in England, was at Wolsey's instance proscribed by Henry VIII and the famous burning (in 1527) in St. Paul's churchyard of all the copies Bishop Tonstall could lay his hands on will always rise up to rebuke those who try to make it appear that the circulation of the Word of God was intended by the Church authorities to be free. Tyndale declared that: 'in burning the New Testament, the papists did none other thing than I looked for; no more shall they do if they burn me also.' Any fears he may have had were realized in his execution at Vilvorde in 1536. No doubt, the priest represented a large class when he rebuked Tyndale for proposing to translate the Bible in the words: 'We were better without God's laws than the pope's.' The martyr Hume's body was hung when an English Bible was found on his person. In 1543, the reading of the Scriptures was forbidden in England except to persons of 'quality'.
Scotland joined the English authorities when the Synod of St. Andrews,1529, forbade the importation of Bibles into Scotland. In France, according to the testimony of the famous printer Robert Stephens, who was born in 1503, the doctors of the Sorbonne, in the period when he was a young man, knew about the New Testament only from quotations from Jerome and the Decretals. He declared that he was more than 50 years old before he knew anything about the New Testament. Luther was also a mature man before he saw a copy of the Latin Bible. In 1533, Geneva forbade its citizens to read the Bible in German or French and ordered all translations burnt. The strict 'inquisition of books' would have passed to all countries, if the Papal hierarchy had retained its way. In 1535, Francis I closed the printing-presses and made it a capital offence in France to publish a religious book without authorization from the Sorbonne. The attitude of the Roman Catholic hierarchy, since the Reformation as well as during the Reformation, has been against the free circulation of the Bible. In the 19th century, one pope after another anathematized Bible societies. In Spain, Italy and South America, the punishments visited upon Bible colporteurs and the frequent burning of the Bible itself have been quite in the line of the decrees of Arundel and Bertholdt and the treatment of Bishop Tonstall. It is a fact that Papists can only kick against and which will never be forgotten that, at the time Rome was made the capital of Italy in 1870, a papal law required that copies of the Bible found in the possession of visitors to the papal city be confiscated.
(Continued on page 326)