Month 11:9, Week 2:1 (Rishon/Pesach), Year 5935:296 AM|
Gregorian Calendar: Wednesday 1 February 2012
The Apocryphal Books
Are They Inspired or Man-Made?
From time to time I am asked what our take on the Apocrypha (= 'hidden') is, and whether we believe it is inspired. As I have received a new enquiry about this, and as there is always new light and truth being shed on them by research, I though it was time for an update. These books, which haved appeared officially in Catholic Bibles since 1546, and were gradually introduced into the Greek version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) known as the Septuaguint (LXX), not to mention the 1611 edition of the Protestant King James Version, are even being canonised by some over-zealous Messianic groups who find in them confirmation of some of their own peculiar and otherwise unscriptural doctrines. These Apocryphal books, with the approximate dates they were written, consist of:
Of these, five were originally accepted by this ministry in its earliest days in a secondary canonical sense, of which three (Tobit, 1 & 2 Esdras) have subsequently been dropped, leaving only the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus (though we make no claim that these are error-free). All the others either contain obvious historical and geographical errors or doctrines contradicted by the Bible and cannot therefore possibly claim to be infallibly inspired. Their false doctrines encourage practices at variance with the Bible proper, they resort to literary types and display an artificiality of subject matter and styling out of keeping with inspired Scripture, and lack the distinctive elements which give genuine Scripture their divine character, such as prophetic power and poetic or religious feeling.
- 1. 1 Esdras (150-100 BC)
- 2. 2 Esdras (100 AD)
- 3. Esther - addenda (140-130 BC)
- 4. Song of the Three Holy Children (200-0 BC))
- 5. History of Suzana or Daniel and Susana (200-0 BC)
- 6. Bel and the Dragon (100 BC)
- 7. Prayer of Manasseh (100-0 BC)
- 8. Tobit (200 BC)
- 9. Judith (150 BC)
- 10. Wisdom of Solomon (30 BC)
- 11. Ecclesiasticus/Sirach (132 BC)
- 12. Baruch (150-50 BC)
- 13. 1 Maccabees (110 BC)
- 14. 2 Maccabees (110-70 BC)
- 15. Letter of Jeremiah
- 16. Prayer of Azariah
- 17. 3 Maccabees
- 18. 4 Maccabees
- 19. Psalm 151
This does not, of course, mean that they are not of historical or scholastic interest but it does mean that we cannot possible view them as the literal Davar (Word) of Elohim (God).
Many views have been expressed about these apocryphal books which could form the subject matter of a whole series of books for which we don't have time. None of them claim to be inspired and no prophetic utterances are made in Yahweh's Name in them anywhere. That of itself does not, of course, mean that ipso facto that they are not inspired since the Book of Proverbs is the same in this respect. One of the many reasons we accept most of the Wisdom of Solomon and Ecclesiasticus is because, like Proverbs, they are Wisdom Literature and are all remarkably similar in content and style, suggesting a common origin or source. The rest are obvious forgeries made in the names of long dead men, and are therefore later inventions.
It's not possible to make an exhaustive study so I have picked out some of the juciest historial and theological errors so the reader can get a general idea of what we are dealing with:
||Historical Error and/or Internal Contradiction
||Theological error, false doctrine and poor ethics|
||Contains 5 historical errors.
According to Jeremiah, Nebuchadnazzar burned Jerusalem on the 10th day of 5th month of the 19th year of his reign. Subsequent to this, both Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch were taken into Egypt (Jer.43:6-7). But according to Baruch, Baruch was in Babylon (Bar.1:1-2)
Bar.6:2 sats that the Judahites would serve in Babylon for seven generations whereas Jer.25:11 says it was for 70 years.
|2 Maccabees (probably the worst in terms of historial errors)
||Contains 2 historial errors.
In 2 Macc.1:13-16, it is written that Antiochus and his company were "cut to pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the treachery of Nanaea's priests" but later in 2 Macc.9:19-29 it says that "Antiochus was taken with a noisome sickness" and so "ended his life among the mountains by a most piteous fate in a strange land".
2 Macc.2:1-16 says that Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant into a cave in the mountain Moses saw Canaan.
|2 Macc.12:45 teaches that prayer may be offered for the dead: "Wherefore he made the propitiation for them that had died, that they might be released from their sins". This passage is cited by Roman Catholics in support of their doctrine that praying for the dead can release them from purgatory.|
2 Macc.12:42 says that money may be used as an offering for the sins of the dead: "And making a gathering, he sent 12,000 drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection".
2 Macc.14:41-43 appauds suicide as noble and manful and tells of one of the Razis who, being surrounded by the enemy, fell upon his sword, choosing "rather to die nobly" than to fall into the hands of the enemy. He was not, however, mortally wounded and so threw himself down from a wall and "manfully" died among the crowds.
2 Macc.5:12-16 says that the dead Jeremiah prays for Jews.
|Tobit (contains several pernicious doctrinal errors)
||Contains 5 historical errors.
In Tob.14:11 Tobit is said to have lived 158 years and yet in Tob.1:3-5 he was alive when Jeroboam revolted against Jerusalem (931 BC), and then still around when the Assyrians invaded Israel (722/21 BC), a span of 210 years!
|Tob.12:9 suggests that a man may atone for his sins by the giving of alms: "It is better to give alms than to lay up gold: alms doth deliver from death, and it shall purge away all sin", i.e. salvation by works (cp. Eph.2:8-9; Heb.9:27). Also, Tob.4:11 says "For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer a soul to go into darkness".|
Tob.6:1-17 describes magical potions that supposedly drive demons away and so heal blindness and stop the demons from murdering bridegrooms.
|Judith (probably the most blasphemous and dangerous doctrinally)
||Contains 14 historical errors, more than any of the other apocryphal books.
Mistakenly states that Nebuchadnezzar reigned in Nineveh (Assyria) instead of Babylon.
|The murder of the men of Shechem (Gen.34), an act of violence which is condemned in the Tanakh (Old Testament), is commended and is described as an act of Elohim (God). In Jud.9:10.13, 'God' assists her in telling lies|
|Bel & the Dragon
||Placed in Daniel - it's chief historical error.
Contains numerous fairy tales including one in which the prophet Habakkuk was caught up by an angel and who was taken to Daniel in the lion's den where he fed him.
||Contains 2 historical errors.
Claims Haman was a Macedonian and not an Agagite as the Tanakh (OT) teaches.
|Prayer of Manasseh
||Contains 1 contradictory doctrine (claims Abraham, Isaac and Jacob never sinned).|
One should tread with great care when it comes not only to the Apocrypha but also the Pseudepigrapha since they contain a great number of lies that historically have caused shipwreck of souls in Talmudic Judaism and Roman Catholicism in particular. Whilst we do not deny that there is light and truth to be found here and there in the Apocrypha, since they have no doubt borrowed from authentic sources to some degree (and are indeed occasionally quoted in the New Testament ), this does not mean that they are 100% pure and safe as is the Protestant Canon of Scripture. And whilst this ministry acknowledges a secondary canon of scripture, it is very secondary indeed.
So stick to what we know is reliable, and which has been tested for over two millennia, and on sold theological and historical ground.
 For example, James 1:5 (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 18:18; 20:15; 41:22) and 1:6,8 (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 1:28; 2:12; 5:9; 7:10), one of the reasons we use Ecclesiasticus, since this apostle obviously viewed it as sacred. Jude 9,16,18 cites the Pseudepigraphical Assumption of Moses, likewise lending credance to the belief of some like ourselves that at least these two extra-canonical books were used in the early Messianic Community (Church). But that, really, is about as far as the B'rit Chadashah Scriptures (New Testament) go.
 Wayne Jackson, The Apocrypha: Inspired of God?
 Cooper Abrams, The Apocryphal Books: Are They Lost Books of the Bible?
 Matt Slick, Errors in the Apocrypha
 'Christian Debater', What About the Apocrypha? - contains a useful table showing the relationship of the Apocrypha to early Christian writers
 'Christian Debater', Bible Query from the Apocrypha