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Can We Trust the Bible: Rejection of the Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament

Among the many reasons for rejecting the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament are: (1) the great Jewish scholars rejected them (Philo, Josephus, and the Jamnia scholars); (2) early biblical scholars (Melito, Origen, Epiphanius, and Jerome) rejected them; (3) early church fathers rejected them; (4) they do not claim inspiration and even, in some cases, disclaims it; (5) they have no predictive prophecy or additional Messianic truth; (6) they contain some unbiblical teachings; (7) large portions of the books are obviously legendary and fictitious; and, (8) historical, chronological, and geographical errors may be found throughout the writings.

With regard to the twelve books which appear as an addition in the Roman Catholic Bible, commonly referred to as The Apocrypha, it was not until 1546 that the Catholic Church decreed these books for inclusion in their canon.  In their book, From God to Us by Norman Geisler and William Nix, they note:  “The action of the Council of Trent was both polemical and prejudicial.  In debates with Luther, the Roman Catholics had quoted the Maccabees in support of prayer for the dead (2 Mac. 12:45-46).  Luther and Protestants following him challenged the canonicity of that book, citing the New Testament, the early church Fathers, and Jewish teachers for support.  The Council of Trent responded to Luther by canonizing the Apocrypha. . . .The decision at Trent did not reflect either a universal or indisputable consent within the Catholic church of the Reformation.  During that very time Cardinal Cajetan, who opposed Luther at Augsburgin 1518, published a Commentary on All the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Testament (1532) which omitted the Apocrypha.  Even before this, Cardinal Ximenes distinguished between the Apocrypha and the Old Testament canon in his Coplutensian Polyglot (1514-1517).  With this data in view, Protestants generally reject the decision of Trent as unfounded.”  (Pages 97-98)

Additionally, in his book How We Got the Bible, Neil Lightfoot makes the following comment on The Apocrypha:  “Objections to these books cannot be overruled by dictatorial authority [i.e., the Catholic Church].  On 8 April 1546 in the fourth session of the Council of Trent, the Roman Catholic Church pronounced the Old Testament Apocrypha [with the exception of certain books] as authoritative and canonical Scripture.  This was done even though in different periods of its own history officials of the Roman Church had been outspoken against the Apocrypha as Scripture.  At that time the Council also decreed that the Latin Vulgate only was to be regarded as authentic Scripture and that ‘holy Mother Church’ alone maintained the right to give the true interpretation of Scripture. . . . Indeed, according to the Council of Trent, the Scriptures are and mean what the church says.  Yet Rome, which in such matters claims infallibility, cannot make the fallible Apocrypha infallible.”  (Pages 169-170)  It is somewhat ironic that the great Roman Catholic biblical scholar Jerome, who translated the Scriptures into the Latin Vulgate, did not recognize The Apocryphaas being of equal authority with the books of the Hebrew canon.

  • Our next article will discuss the History of Progress toward Canonization for the OT
        
  • Return to our Introduction Post to see a list of all articles in this series.