THE APOCRYPHA BOOKS
SHOULD THEY BE CONSIDERED INSPIRED SCRIPTURE?
THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BIBLE CONTAINS SOME OF THEM!
The word apocrypha can mean, simply, a work of fiction or a
far-fetched tale. When applied to books that are often mentioned
alongside those in the Bible, however, apocrypha has a different
connotation - that of "hidden" or "spurious."
The history of the term indicates that it sometimes referred
to a body of religious, mystical, or philosophical teachings or
practices with a private or secret meaning or purpose. It was
considered difficult to understand except by those receiving the
necessary knowledge or training.
OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA
In biblical literature, Apocrypha most often refers to
writings judged by Protestants to be outside the accepted canon
of Scripture. These 14 books (1 and 2 Esdras; Tobit, Judith,
the rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon; Ecclesiasticus;
Baruch, with the Epistle of Jeremiah; the Song of the Three Holy
Children; the History of Susannah; Bel and the Dragon; the Prayer
of Manasses; 1 and 2 Maccabees) cover a wide variety of Jewish
topics from the period between the Bible's Old and New
Testaments. Written between 300 B.C. and A.D.100, they were at
first prized, later tolerated, and finally excluded from the
accepted canon of Scripture. The Douay, or Roman Catholic,
Version of the Bible does induce them.
The OT apocryphal texts, originating mostly before the rise
of Christianity, were regarded as canonical in the early church
but contain no Christian passages. As the Gnostic and Hellenistic
movements left the early church to pursue their own theology,
those who adhered strictly to the truth of Christ and the
apostles rejected the apocryphal writings and preserved the
integrity of the sacred Scriptures for all who would follow in
the truth of God's Word.
The Apocrypha, per se, is outside the Canon and considered
neither divinely inspired nor as reliable as the canonical
writings. It is, however, regarded worthy of study by the
faithful and may fill in some historical gaps between Malachi and
Matthew. Martin Luther wrote that, the apocryphal writings, while
not sacred Scripture, are useful and good for reading.
When Greek was the common language in the Mediterranean
region, the Hebrew Bible was beyond understanding for most of the
population. For this reason, Jewish scholars produced a Greek
translation of the Hebrew and Aramaic Old Testament. It came to
be called the Septuagint.
That version incorporated a number of works, including the
Apocrypha, that later the non-Hellenistic Jewish scholarship at
the Council of Jamnia (A.D.90) identified as being outside the
In modern usage, Apocrypha is the term for Jewish books that
are canonical for Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches
but are not part of the authentic Hebrew Bible. When the
Protestant churches returned to the Jewish canon (Hebrew Old
Testament) during the Reformation (16th century), the Roman
Catholic works became for the Protestants apocryphal, or non-
canonical. On April 8, 1546, at the Council of Trent, the Roman
Catholic Church declared most of the Apocrypha to be canonical
and included it in its version of the Bible based on the Latin
NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA
Just as a number of older Hebrew and Jewish writings were
not included in the Old Testament canon, so it is with many books
and letters of interest to Christians shortly after the time of
Christ. Indeed, the church was invaded with numerous gospels,
histories, epistles, and apocalypses beyond the 27 that were
inspired and endorsed by the Spirit and gladly adopted by most
believers in the first four centuries of the common era.
Canonicity refers to the eligibility of a writing to be
included in the Bible. The primary criteria for determining the
New Testament canonicity for a writing in the first centuries of
Christianity included 1) apostolicity, the quality of being
produced by, or in the tradition of, one of the first apostles;
genuine and authoritative; 2) true doctrine in harmony with other
accepted books and letters; and 3) widespread geographical usage
and acceptance. These criteria must all be satisfied together,
then, for a book to be judged canonical and included in the
Two factors were probably responsible for most of the
writings not in the New Testament canon. First, there was
understandable curiosity - the desire for Christians to have more
data about the life of Jesus and the work of the apostles.
Second, there was the desire of those with heretical
tendencies to foist their errors on believers with the supposed
endorsement of Christ or His apostles. For this reason, movements
such as Gnosticism and Montanism gave birth to a great body of
spurious works allegedly written by a biblical figure. In the
early days of the Christian faith, no orthodoxy had been
established, and various parties, or factions, were vying for
authoritative recognition in the young church. All sought through
their writings, as through their preaching and missions, to win
believers. Most of these works arose from sects that had been or
would be declared heretical.
Most, but not all, of the New Testament apocryphal writings
are either fraudulent or of obviously inferior or frivolous
quality when compared to the 27 books regarded as New Testament
Pastor Jerry Morgan, Tulsa, OK
WHY NOT REGARD THE APOCRYPHA AS PART OF INSPIRED CANON?
1. While most of the 39 Old Testament books are quoted from
repeatedly by Jesus and the apostles, the Apocrypha is not
directly quoted in the New Testament.
2. The New Testament links itself directly with the end of
the Old Testament prophets and does not lead us to look for other
inspired writings to intervene between the two.
3. There is absence of inherent power and beauty in the
Apocrypha compared to canonical writings. Apocryphal writers do
not claim that the word of the Lord came to them, as do Moses and
4. Unscriptural fables and doctrinal errors are found in the
Apocrypha (prayers for the dead etc.).
THE CANON OF SCRIPTURE
The word "canon" means simply a "straight rod" or "ruler" by
which anything is measured. In the context of Scripture, the word
refers to the collection of writings that forms the original and
authoritative rule of faith and practice for the Christian
The Canon, then, is the set of books that becomes the rule
of the church and the rule of truth for those who believe....is a
study all its own. Here we can only summarize by saying that it
happened under the direction of God to reveal and preserve His
The above article was published by the Bible Advocate magazine
(December 2004). A publication of the Church of God (7th Day),
Denver, CO. USA, website www.cog7.org
The idea and teaching by the Roman Catholic Church that it was
THEY who canonized the New Testament, and only after many
centuries of debate on the matter, is TOTALLY A FALSE DOCTRINE!!
Dr.Ernest Martin (now dead) wrote and published a book in 1984
called "THE ORIGINAL BIBLE RESTORED" which clearly shows from the
New Testament itself that the canonizing of the books of the New
Testament was already finalized and completed by the time John
the apostle was writing and adding the book of Revelation to the
other already accepted canonized books that are the true
Scriptures of the New Testament.
Dr.Martin also shows in great detail how the canon of the Old
Testament came to be what is today the Old Testament of the
Jewish and Protestant world.
I highly recommend this book by Dr.Ernest Martin if it is still
being published. It was originally published by "FBR
PUBLICATIONS" - Foundation for Biblical Research.
Keith Hunt (January 2005)