Stephen and Janet Ray converted from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism over the canonization of the Apocrypha: “Protestants are dependent on the tradition of the Catholic Church for the current New Testament” (Crossing the Tiber p. 54). A church council in A.D. 397 recognized the books of the Bible as canonical.
“There is no list of canonical books anywhere” (George Sim Johnston Protestants and Sola Scriptura). The Roman Catholic reasoning is, since there is no list of canonical books, there has to be an outside authority to determine which books belong in Scripture. My refutation of this view is that God gave authority to Scriptures, not a church, and each book was canonical the moment it was written.
The Apocryhpa are the uninspired books added to the 39 Old Testament declared to be canonical by the Roman Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1546. The Roman Catholic Council of Trent occurred only 29 years after Martin Luther nailed his protest against the abuses of priesthood in 1517. The R.C.C. priests were selling indulgences in order to pay and pray loved ones out of purgatory. The Apocrypha teaches works for salvation and prayers for the dead and was quoted against Luther to support the R.C.C. position.
The 1500 years prior to Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation, the Apocrypha had not been accepted as Scripture. Here is the quote from the Council of Trent concerning the canonicity of the Apocrypha:
“The following: the first and second of Esdras, Tobias, Judith, Baruch, two books of Maccabees . . . . If anyone does not accept as sacred canonical the aforesaid books in their entirety. . . . let him be anathema.”(Council of Trent, 1546).
In addition to the ones listed in 1546, the R.C.C. also has the following Apocryphal books: Ecclesiaticus, Wisdom of Solomon, The Song of the Three Hebrew Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Rest of Esther, and the Prayer of Manasseh.
Why were these written? For different reasons. The Rest of Esther was written by sincere Jews who were concerned that Esther did not have one reference to God. The Rest of Esther contains over 30 references to God. 1st Maccabees is an excellent historical record of the Maccabean revolt.
God warns about adding to the Word of God in Deuteronomy 4:2: “You shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall you diminish ought from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
There are four different views on the Old Testament.
Much of this information is from A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler and William E. Nix. This is an excellent source for any Bible student who is serious about Bibliology.
1. Books that are accepted by all or the homologoumena. 34 of 39 of the O.T. were accepted by all the Church Fathers.
2. Books were disputed by some or the antilegomena.
1) These are the five that were not accepted at one time or another by some of the Fathers: Song of Solomon., Eccelesiastes., Esther, Ezekiel., Proverbs.
2) Song of Solomon was said to be sensual and Ecclesiastes too skeptical. Ecc.12:13 answers this false charge. Esther was considered too anti-Moses. But no examples are given by the Rabbinic School of Shammai. Proverbs was too illogical and contradictory. The example given is Proverbs 26:4-5 which is simply an example of someone saying, “On the one hand, and on the other hand.”
3) Books that were rejected by all or the pseudepigrapha.
Jude 14, 15 quotes Enoch 1:9 and Jude 9 quotes The Assumption of Moses (none of these is Apocryphal). Quoting uninspired sources is not unusual. Paul quotes the heathen poet Aratus in Acts 17:28. There is no such formula “it is written” with any of these books.
4) Books accepted by some or the Apocrypha.
The Apocrypha teaches heresy such as prayers for the dead and the existence of purgatory (II Maccabees 12:33-34; 44-45). These dead Jews being prayed for had committed idolatry which is a mortal sin which contradicts R.C.C. doctrine. Scriptures teach judgment after death, Heb. 9:27, therefore prayer for the dead is useless.
The Apocrypha teaches salvation by works (Tobit 12:9; Ecclesiasticus 3:30). The Apocrypha is fanciful in nature. In Bel and the Dragon and II Esdras “the pagan priests of Bel try to deceive Daniel by using a trapdoor to go in and consume the food offered to Be to prove that Bel is ; a ‘living God’ who ‘eats and drinks every day’. So, in order to assist the ‘living God,’ Bel, ‘in the night the priests came with their wives and chldren, as they were accustomed to do, and ate and drank everything’ (v. 15).” The Apocrypha is immoral: Ecclesiasticus 33:26-28 teaches cruelty to slaves. The Apocrypha is historically inaccurate. Judith speaks of Nebuchadnezzar as reigning in Nineveh (1:1). In the next post we will discuss why the Apocrypha was in the 1611 KJV.