By S. S.
What is the Jewish Apocrypha?
The Jewish Apocrypha (from now simply Apocrypha) refer to a collection of books written anywhere between 400 B.C. and the time of Christ. These books consist of Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, 1 and 2 Maccabees, 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, (also called Ecclesiasticus), the additions to Daniel, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and the Prayer of Manasseh.
Both Jews and Protestants reject the Apocrypha as part of the OT canon, whereas Roman Catholicism accepts some of them as inspired revelation, which they call the deuterocanonical writings,. The books which Rome recognizes as Scripture include: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach and Baruch, as well as longer versions of Daniel and Esther. These were officially recognized as part of Rome’s Bible at the Council of Trent on April 8 1546 AD, yet not without some opposition since a certain minority which included Cardinals Seripando and Cajetan objected to the inclusion of these books within the OT canon.
The questions that now lie before us are, was Rome correct in recognizing these books as part of sacred scripture? Or are Protestants right for rejecting their canonical status?
These are the questions which we will try to answer.
The Jews and the OT Canon
But before we do so, it is vitally important to keep mind the fact that we need to turn to the very nation that was entrusted with the OT revelation in order to know what that revelation consisted of. According to the New Testament, that nation was the Jewish people:
"What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with THE VERY WORDS OF GOD." Romans 3:1-2
"For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; THEIRS IS the divine glory, THE COVENANTS, THE RECEIVING OF THE LAW, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen." Romans 9:4-5
The OT itself confirms this point:
"He has revealed his word to Jacob, his laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise the LORD." Psalm 147:19-20
Since God revealed his laws and decrees to Israel, and not to any other nation, this means that we need to turn to the Jews to discover whether they ever accepted the Apocrypha as part of the OT canon.
When we do turn to the history of the Jews we find evidence showing that sometime prior to Christ the Jews divided the Old Testament into three sections: Torah or The Law, containing the five books of Moses. The second section was called Neviim or The Prophets. This included two subdivisions. The first is called "the Former Prophets" and included the books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel and Kings. The second is called "the Latter Prophets" which included the books beginning with Isaiah to Ezekiel with the exception of Lamentations; and from Hosea to Malachi. These books were also subsumed into smaller lists such as combining the books from Hosea to Malachi together into one scroll called "the minor Prophets."
The third section was called Ketuviim or the Writings, also referred to as Psalms. This section consisted first of Psalms, Proverbs and Job; then the "Scrolls" of Song of Songs, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther and finally Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles. This gives us a total of 39 OT books, the precise canon of books alluded to by Christ. Some debate existed regarding the canonicity of five OT books: Esther, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs/Solomon, and Ezekiel. Despite this, the Jews never included the Apocrypha within this three-fold division.
Secondly, certain OT books were combined together, bringing the total number of books down to 24 or 22. For instance, the twelve Minor Prophets were combined into one scroll (1). The following books were also combined together: 1&2 Samuel (1), 1&2 Kings (1), 1&2 Chronicles (1), and Ezra-Nehemiah (1). This brings the number of OT books to 24. At times Ruth was appended to Judges and Lamentations to Jeremiah, making the number 22. As we shall shortly see, these numbers figure prominently in demonstrating that the Jews did not accept the Apocrypha as part of the inspired OT canon.
We now turn to the testimony of the NT.
With the foregoing in perspective we can proceed to an examination of the evidence itself.
Why The Apocrypha Is Not Scripture
The Testimony of Jesus and the New Testament Writers
A careful reading of the NT data shows why the Apocrypha must be rejected. Neither the Lord Jesus nor his Apostles ever quote from the Apocrypha as an inspired source of revelation.
Author G. Douglas Young asks:
“Does the New Testament quote the Apocrypha? The answer is a categorical no. There is not a single quotation from any of the 14 or 15 books. No doubt the New Testament writers knew of the existence of these books. Not in a single instance, however, is one of them quoted, either as inspired Scripture, or as authority, or in any way. Not in a single case is one of them quoted in any way for any purpose. Professor C. C. Torrey, who, in his The Apocryphal Literature, lists a very large number of alleged Apocryphal quotations or allusions, is forced to admit of the New Testament that ‘in general, the Apocryphal Scriptures were left unnotcied’ (p. 18). The alleged quotations are from books outside those under consideration here, the Apocrypha. An example is a quotation of Enoch in Jude. All that can be said is that the New Testament authors have some acquaintanceship with earlier written materials, to which at most they allude indirectly, or with facts which eventually appear in both Biblical and non-Biblical documents." (Young, ‘The Apocrypha’ in Carl F.H. Henry, ed., Revelation and the Bible: Contemporary Evangelical Thought [Baker, Grand Rapids MI, 1958], p. 175)
Roger Nicole concurs:
“It is to be noted that the whole New Testament contains not even one explicit citation of any of the Old Testament Apocrypha which are considered as canonical by the Roman Catholic Church. This omission can scarcely be viewed as accidental." (Nicole, ‘New Testament Use of the Old Testament’ in Carl F.H. Henry, ed., Revelation, p. 138)
In fact, the Lord Jesus himself confirms the three-fold division of the Old Testament, a division which, as we shall show, excluded the Apocrypha:
“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand THE SCRIPTURES.” Luke 24:44-45
Another place where Jesus affirms the Jewish OT canon is:
“Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all." Luke 11:50-51
The mentioning of the prophets from Abel to Zechariah affirms that Jesus viewed the Jewish canon as inspired by God. This is based on the fact that the canon of the Jewish scriptures began/begins with Genesis (i.e. "the blood of Abel" - Genesis 4:3-11) and ends(ed) with Chronicles (i.e. "the blood of Zechariah" - 2 Chronicles 24:20-21). This again is an explicit testimony from the Lord Jesus Christ that the apocryphal writings have no place in the OT canon as Roger Beckwith, considered by many to be one of the leading authorities regarding the issue of the OT canon, explains:
“It is difficult to conceive of the canon being organized according to a rational principle, or of its books being arranged in a definite order, unless the identity of those books was already settled and the canon closed, still more is it difficult to conceive of those books, being counted, and the number being generally accepted and well known, if the canon remained open and the identity of its books uncertain. Even if there were not (as in fact there is) evidence to show which books it was that were counted, sometimes alphabetically as 22, sometimes more simply as 24, the presumption would still hold good that the identity of the books must have been decided before they could be counted, and that agreement about their number implies agreement about their identity. And such agreement, as we have now seen, had probably been reached by the second century BC ... The fact that the Old Testament canon to which by the New Testament times is a further indication that Jesus and his earliest followers were acquainted with a closed canon, and commended a closed canon to the Christian Church." (Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church, [Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 1985], pp. 262-263; bold emphasis ours)
Furthermore, Jesus and the NT writers implicitly affirm that for a book to be part of the OT canon it had to have been written during Israel’s prophetic period, i.e. during the time when there were prophets in Israel:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or THE PROPHETS; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17
“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law AND THE PROPHETS." Matthew 7:12
“‘But this has all taken place that THE WRITINGS OF THE PROPHETS might be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.” Matthew 26:56
“The Law AND THE PROPHETS were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing his way into it.” Luke 16:16
“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and THE PROPHETS; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and THE PROPHETS, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” Luke 16:29-31
“Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written BY THE PROPHETS about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.’” Luke 18:31
“He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe ALL THAT THE PROPHETS HAVE SPOKEN! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses AND ALL THE PROPHETS, he explained to them what was said IN ALL THE SCRIPTURES concerning himself.” Luke 24:25-27
“Philip found Nathanael and told him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom THE PROPHETS ALSO WROTE – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’” John 1:45
"It is written IN THE PROPHETS: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” John 6:45
“For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’ Indeed, ALL THE PROPHETS from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days.” Acts 3:22-24
“But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written IN THE BOOK OF THE PROPHETS: ‘Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel?’” Acts 7:42
“ALL THE PROPHETS testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:43
“After the reading from the Law AND THE PROPHETS, the synagogue rulers sent word to them, saying, ‘Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak’… The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of THE PROPHETS that are READ every Sabbath.” Acts 13:15, 27
“But I have had God's help to this very day, and so I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I am saying nothing beyond what THE PROPHETS and Moses said would happen…King Agrippa, do you believe THE PROPHETS? I know you do.” Acts 26:22, 27
“They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from THE PROPHETS.” Acts 28:23
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God - the gospel he promised beforehand through HIS PROPHETS in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 1:1-4
“But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law AND THE PROPHETS testify.” Romans 3:21
“Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the PROPHETIC WRITINGS by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him–” Romans 16:25-26
“In the past God spoke to our forefathers THROUGH THE PROPHETS at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe." Hebrews 1:1-2
“Concerning this salvation, THE PROPHETS, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” 1 Peter 1:10-12
“And we have THE WORD OF THE PROPHETS made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by THE PROPHET’S own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:19-21
“I want you to recall the words spoken in the past BY THE HOLY PROPHETS and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.” 2 Peter 3:2
"But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced TO HIS SERVANTS THE PROPHETS.” Revelation 10:7
Therefore, for the Apocrypha to be Scripture they must have been written at a time when God was still sending prophets to his people.
With that said, we now proceed to the Apocrypha’s own self-witness.
The Testimony of the Apocrypha
The Apocrypha clearly and unequivocally prove beyond any reasonable doubt that they should not be included within the inspired OT canon. The following verses demonstrate why:
“and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until there SHOULD COME a prophet to tell what to do with them.” 1 Maccabees 4:46
“So they trusted him; but he seized sixty of them and killed them in one day, in accordance with the word which was written, ‘The flesh of thy saints and their blood they poured out round about Jerusalem, and there was none to bury them.’ Then the fear and dread of them fell upon all the people, for they said, ‘There is no truth or justice in them, for they have violated the agreement and the oath which they swore.’” 1 Maccabees 7:16-18
“Thus there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets CEASED TO APPEAR among them.” 1 Maccabees 9:27
“And the Jews and their priests decided that Simon should be their leader and high priest for ever, until a trustworthy prophet SHOULD ARISE.” 1 Maccabees 14:41
“Therefore, though we have no need of these things, since we have as encouragement the HOLY BOOKS which are in our hands,” 1 Maccabees 12:9
“One finds in the records that Jeremiah the prophet ordered those who were being deported to take some of the fire, as has been told, and that the prophet after giving them the law instructed those who were being deported not to forget the commandments of the Lord, nor to be led astray in their thoughts upon seeing the gold and silver statues and their adornment. And with other similar words he exhorted them that the law should not depart from their hearts. It was also in the writing that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: ‘The place shall be unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place should be specially consecrated.’ It was also made clear that being possessed of wisdom Solomon offered sacrifice for the dedication and completion of the temple. Just as Moses prayed to the Lord, and fire came down from heaven and devoured the sacrifices, so also Solomon prayed, and the fire came down and consumed the whole burnt offerings. And Moses said, ‘They were consumed because the sin offering had not been eaten.’ Likewise Solomon also kept the eight days. The same things are reported IN THE RECORDS AND IN THE MEMOIRS OF NEHEMIAH, and also that he founded a library and collected THE BOOKS ABOUT THE KINGS AND PROPHETS, AND THE WRITINGS OF DAVID, and LETTERS OF KINGS about votive offerings. In the same way Judas also collected all the books that had been lost on account of the war which had come upon us, and they are in our possession.” 2 Maccabees 2:1-14
“Encouraging them from THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS, and reminding them also of the struggles they had won, he made them the more eager.” 2 Maccabees 15:9
“While he was still with you, he taught you the law and the prophets. He READ to you about Abel slain by Cain, and Isaac who was offered as a burnt offering, and of Joseph in prison. He told you of the zeal of Phineas, and he taught you about Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael in the fire. He praised Daniel in the den of the lions and blessed him. He reminded you OF THE SCRIPTURE OF ISAIAH, which says, ‘Even though you go through the fire, the flame shall not consume you.’ He sang to you SONGS OF THE PSALMIST DAVID, who said, ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous.’ He recounted to you SOLOMON’S PROVERB, ‘There is a tree of life for those who do his will.’ He confirmed THE SAYING OF EZEKIEL, ‘Shall these dry bones live?’ For he did not forget to teach you THE SONG THAT MOSES TAUGHT, which says, ‘I kill and I make alive: this is your life and the length of your days.’” 4 Maccabees 18:10-19
Not only do these citations refer and appeal to the writings of the OT, thereby clearly distinguishing the Apocrypha from these sacred books, they even admit to being composed at a time when God had stopped raising up prophets for his people.
As such, these books cannot be inspired according to the verses we presented from the NT since according to the Lord and his followers, a writing must have been composed during the time when there were prophets receiving revelation from God in order for it to be considered canonical.
Moreover, one of the writers of the Apocrypha makes mention of the threefold division of the OT which the Lord Jesus confirmed was already known during his time:
“Whereas many great teachings have been given to us through THE LAW and THE PROPHETS and THE OTHERS that followed them, on account of which we should praise Israel for instruction and wisdom; and since it is necessary not only that the readers themselves should acquire understanding but also that those who love learning should be able to help the outsiders by both speaking and writing, my grandfather Jesus, after devoting himself especially to the reading of THE LAW and THE PROPHETS and THE OTHER BOOKS of our fathers, and after acquiring considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, in order that, by becoming conversant with this also, those who love learning should make even greater progress in living according to the law. You are urged therefore to read with good will and attention, and to be indulgent in cases where, despite our diligent labor in translating, we may seem to have rendered some phrases imperfectly. For what was originally expressed in Hebrew does not have exactly the same sense when translated into another language. Not only this work, but even THE LAW itself, THE PROPHECIES, and THE REST OF THE BOOKS differ not a little as originally expressed.” Introduction to the Book of Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
This is quite significant since it shows that the author did not view his work as part of this threefold division, but as something distinct from these sacred writings. As Beckwith notes:
“It appears, then, that for this writer there are three groups of books which have a unique authority, and that his grandfather wrote only after gaining great familiarity with them, as their interpreter not as their rival. The translator explicitly distinguishes ‘these things’ (i.e. Ecclesiasticus, or uncanonical Hebrew compositions such as Ecclesiasticus) from ‘the Law itself and the Prophets and the rest of the Books.’ Moreover, he regards even the Hagiographa as ‘ancestral’ (patrivwn) books, long enough esteemed to have been translated into Greek, and their number as complete (‘the others that have followed in their steps’, ‘the other Books of the fathers’, ‘the rest of the Books’). And not only does he state that in his own day there was this threefold canon, distinguished from all other writings, in which even the Hagiographa formed a closed collection of old books, but he implies that such was the case in his grandfather's time also." (Beckwith, p. 111; bold emphasis ours)
And here is what an official Catholic Bible says concerning Sirach’s allusion to the threefold division of the Hebrew canon:
1 The law, the prophets, and the rest of the books: the Sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament written before the time of Sirach, according to the threefold division of the present Hebrew Bible. (New American Bible (NAB): http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PM2.HTM#$1XD)
In fact, some of the Pseudepigraphal and Apocryphal writings list the inspired books as 24 or 22 which, as we mentioned earlier, corresponds to the 39 OT books found in the Protestant canon:
“As for me, I spoke in the daytime and was not silent at night. So during the forty days ninety-four books were written. And when the forty days were ended, the Most High spoke to me, saying, ‘Make public THE TWENTY-FOUR BOOKS that you wrote first and let the worthy and the unworthy read them; but keep the seventy that were written last, in order to give them to the wise among your people.’" 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) 14:43-46
“There (were) twenty-two heads of mankind from Adam to Jacob, and twenty-two kinds of work were made until the seventh day; this is blessed and holy; and the former also is blessed and holy; and this one serves with that one for sanctification and blessing. And to this (Jacob and his seed) it was granted that they should always be the blessed and holy ones of the first testimony and law, even as He had sanctified and blessed the Sabbath day on the seventh day." Jubilees 2:23-24
Here is what Beckwith says concerning the testimony of Ezra in regards to the number of revealed books:
"In ch. 14 of 2 Esdras, it is stated that some of the things revealed to Moses he was told to publish openly and some to hide (vv. 4-6), but that when the Babylonians conquered Judah God's Law was burned (v. 21). Ezra is therefore represented as being inspired by the Holy Spirit to dictate God's Law all over again to scribes, and as receiving the command ‘when thou hast done, some things shalt thou publish openly, and some things shalt thou deliver in secret to the wise’ (vv. 22-26). All this is carried out in the space of forty days (vv. 36-43).
So in forty days were written fourscore and fourteen books. And it came to pass, when the forty days were fulfilled, that the Most High spake unto me, saying, ‘The first that thou hast written publish openly, and let the worthy and unworthy read it: but keep the seventy last, that thou mayest deliver them to such as be wise among thy people: for in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the streams of knowledge.’ And I did so (vv. 44-8).
“Of these 94 books, the seventy which Ezra is bidden to keep for the specially privileged few are doubtless the numerous pseudonymous apocalypses of which 2 Esdras is itself an example, books cherished in limited circles, whereas the 24 which he is bidden to publish openly for worthy and unworthy alike to read must be the books of the canon.” (Beckwith, pp. 240-241; bold emphasis ours)
This obviously means that these writers did not consider their works to be on the same level with the inspired OT Scriptures. Authors such as Sirach and the writers of 2 Ezra did not include their writings within the collection of the 22/24 inspired books, but clearly viewed their works as being separate from the canon, indicating their awareness that their books shouldn’t be part of canonical Scripture.
Finally, some of the writers of the Apocrypha candidly admitted that their writings might contain mistakes since they were compiled in a haphazard manner and may have been imperfectly translated and/or transcribed:
“all this, which has been set forth by Jason of Cyrene in five volumes, we shall attempt to condense into a single book. For considering the flood of numbers involved and the difficulty there is for those who wish to enter upon the narratives of history because of the mass of material, we have aimed to please those who wish to read, to make it easy for those who are inclined to memorize, and to profit all readers. For us who have undertaken the toil of abbreviating, it is no light matter but calls for sweat and loss of sleep, just as it is not easy for one who prepares a banquet and seeks the benefit of others. However, to secure the gratitude of many we will gladly endure the uncomfortable toil, leaving the responsibility for exact details to the compiler, while devoting our effort to arriving at the outlines of the condensation. For as the master builder of a new house must be concerned with the whole construction, while the one who undertakes its painting and decoration has to consider only what is suitable for its adornment, such in my judgment is the case with us. It is the duty of the original historian to occupy the ground and to discuss matters from every side and to take trouble with details, but the one who recasts the narrative should be allowed to strive for brevity of expression and to forego exhaustive treatment. At this point therefore let us begin our narrative, adding only so much to what has already been said; for it is foolish to lengthen the preface while cutting short the history itself." 2 Maccabees 2:23-32
“This, then, is how matters turned out with Nicanor. And from that time the city has been in the possession of the Hebrews. 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. For just as it is harmful to drink wine alone, or, again, to drink water alone, while wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious and enhances one's enjoyment, so also the style of the story delights the ears of those who read the work. And here will be the end.” 2 Maccabees 15:37-39
And notice again what Sirach had to say concerning his own writing:
You therefore are now invited to read it in a spirit of attentive good will, with indulgence for any apparent failure on our part, despite earnest efforts, in the interpretation of particular passages. For words spoken originally in Hebrew are not as effective when they are translated into another language. That is true not only of this book but of the law itself, the prophets and the rest of the books, which differ no little when they are read in the original. (NAB: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0839/__PM2.HTM; bold emphasis ours)
Contrast with the following NT citations:
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know THE CERTAINTY of the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many CONVINCING PROOFS that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.’” Acts 1:1-4
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’ We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain." 2 Peter 1:16-18
“That which was from the beginning, which we have HEARD, which we have SEEN WITH OUR EYES, which we have LOOKED AT and OUR HANDS HAVE TOUCHED - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:1-3
Hence, not only were the Apocryphal writings composed during a time when there were no prophets receiving revelation, they do not even sound like or even write with the assurance and boldness which we find the inspired authors of sacred Scripture writing with.
As such, these Apocryphal books must be rejected from the OT canon since they were written at a time when God had stopped raising up prophets from amongst the people and, in some cases, even deny inspiration for their writings.
To summarize the evidence from the Apocrypha why these books should be rejected:
- They were written at a time when prophets had ceased from Israel.
- Some of the authors clearly make a distinction between their writings and the inspired writings of their ancestors.
- Some even allude to the threefold division of the OT, a division which excluded the Apocrypha.
- Some of the authors were aware that their writings might contain errors.
The Testimony of Rabbinic Judaism
We conclude this part of our discussion with the witness of the Talmud to the OT canon:
Our Rabbis taught: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit [of prophetic inspiration] departed from Israel. (Sanhedrin 11a)
According to the rabbis, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel after the time of Malachi. To the Jews this would have meant that the Apocryphal books were not part of the Old Testament since they were written long after the time of Malachi when there were no more Holy Spirit-inspired prophets.
We also read in Baba Bathra 14 that:
Our Rabbis taught: the order of the Prophets is, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, the twelve Minor Prophets ... [Our Rabbis taught:] The order of the Hagiographa is Ruth, the book of Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentation , Daniel and the scroll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles ... Who wrote the Scriptures? - Moses wrote his own book and the portion of Balaam and Job. Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and [the last] eight verses of the Pentateuch. Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the book of Judges and Ruth. David wrote the book of Psalms, including in it the work of the ten elders, namely Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Yeduthun, Asaph, and the three sons of Korah. Jeremiah wrote the book which bears his name, the book of Kings, and Lamentations. Hezekiah and his colleagues wrote (mnemonic YMSHQ) Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes. The Men of the Great Assembly wrote (mnemonic QNDG) Ezekiel, the Twelve Minor Prophets, Daniel and the scroll of Esther. Ezra wrote the book that bears his name and the genealogies of the book of Chronicles up to his own time. This confirms the opinion of Rab (220-250), since Rab Judah (250-290) has said in the name of Rab: Ezra did not leave Babylon to go up to Eretz Yisrael until he had written his own genealogy. Who then finished it [the book of Chronicles]? - Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah. (Source: http://christiantruth.com/articles/Apocryphapart1.html)
The late NT scholar F. F. Bruce notes that this Jewish tradition possibly stems from the first century:
One of the clearest and earliest statements of these three divisions and their respective contents comes in a baraitha (a tradition from the period AD 70-200) quoted in the Babylonian Talmud, in the tractate Baba Bathra. (Bruce, The Canon of Scripture [InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, IL, 1988], pp. 29-30)
The above list excludes the Apocrypha from the sacred canon of the Hebrew Bible, which gives us an idea of what the Jews thought of these books. It is clear that Jewry didn’t accept the Apocrypha as inspired Scripture and neither should Christians. After all, the NT verses which we cited earlier (cf. Romans 3:1-2; 9:4-5) clearly attest that God had entrusted his words to the Jews, and we must therefore look to them to define and delineate the extent of the OT canon for us, a canon which excludes the books which Rome accepts as Scripture.
We will have more to say concerning the testimony of the Jews in the next part of our discussion.
With that said, this now brings us to the conclusion of the first part of our analysis of the OT canon. It is time to for us to proceed to part 2.