Defense of the Protestant position of the Apocrypha

Some said to me that none of the Church Fathers Deny the Apocrypha as Scripture. I would like to Respond to that statement here.

Here is a quote from Jerome:
“What the Savior declares was written down was certainly written down. Where is it written down? The Septuagint does not have it, and the Church does not recognize the Apocrypha. Therefore we must go back to the book of the Hebrews, which is the source of the statements quoted by the Lord, as well as the examples cited by the disciples…But he who brings charges against me for relating the objections that the Hebrews are wont to raise against the story of Susanna, the Song of the Three Children, and the story of Bel and the Dragon, which are not found in the Hebrew volume, proves that he is just a foolish sycophant…The apostolic men use the Hebrew Scripture. It is clear that the apostles themselves and the evangelists did likewise. The Lord and Savior, whenever He refers to ancient Scripture, quotes examples from the Hebrew volumes…We do not say this because we wish to rebuke the Septuagint translators, but because the authority of the apostles and of Christ is greater…”

This is an interesting comment in light of this argument that I wrote on my earlier blog: Jesus references the first and last prophets to die when, and only when, read according to the Hebrew Canon! That is not silence nor speculation. Jesus’ reference of Abel to Zechariah suggests that the canon Jesus was familiar with was the Jewish OT canon that includes the books we have today. The Apocryphal works were known in Jesus’ day, and Jesus did not recognize any of the ones who died outside of the Hebrew Canon as prophets, nor did he ever quote them as scripture. Not only this, but chronologically, Zechariah wasn’t the last prophet to die as I stated earlier. Jesus’ reference to Zechariah is a clear indicator of his idea of what was included in the Scriptures he used. Again this is not silence, nor speculation.

Notice Jerome’s words: “Therefore we must go back to the book of the Hebrews, which is the source of the statements quoted by the Lord, as well as the examples cited by the disciples”

In fact all of these reject the apocryphal books as equal to authoritative scripture: Origen, Melito of Sardis, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory of Nazianzus, Hilary of Poitiers, Epiphanius, Basil the Great, Jerome, Rufinus and a host of others.

Here is one of the greatest Catholic theologians, Cajetan!

“Here we close our commentaries on the historical books of the Old Testament. For the rest (that is, Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees) are counted by St Jerome out of the canonical books, and are placed amongst the Apocrypha, along with Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus, as is plain from the Prologus Galeatus. Nor be thou disturbed, like a raw scholar, if thou shouldest find anywhere, either in the sacred councils or the sacred doctors, these books reckoned as canonical. For the words as well of councils as of doctors are to be reduced to the correction of Jerome. Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose. By the help of this distinction thou mayest see thy way clearly through that which Augustine says, and what is written in the provincial council of Carthage.” 129 Cardinal Caietan (Jacob Thomas de Vio), Commentary on all the Authentic Historical Books of the Old Tesdtament, In ult. Cap., Esther. Taken from A Disputation on Holy Scripture by William Whitaker (Cambridge: University, 1849), p. 48. See also B.F. Westcott’s A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge: MacMillan, 1889), p. 475.

Just to clarify, this is what the Catholics say about this man:

“Dominican cardinal, philosopher, theologian, and exegete; born 20 February, 1469 at Gaeta, Italy; died 9 August, 1534 at Rome… In 1501 he was made procurator general of his order and appointed to the chairs of philosophy and exegesis at the Sapienza. On the death of the master general, John Clérée, 1507, Cajetan was named vicar-general of the order, and the next year he was elected to the generalship. With foresight and ability, he devoted his energies to the promotion of religious discipline, emphasizing the study of sacred science as the chief means of attaining the end of the order…. About the fourth year of his generalship, Cajetan rendered important service to the Holy See by appearing before the Pseudo-Council of Pisa (1511), where he denounced the disobedience of the participating cardinals and bishops and overwhelmed them with his arguments. This was the occasion of his defence of the power and monarchical supremacy of the pope…On 1 July, 1517, Cajetan was created cardinal by Pope Leo X…He was later made Bishop of Gaeta…In theology Cajetan is justly ranked as one of the foremost defenders and exponents of the Thomistic school…To Clement VII he was the “lamp of the Church”, and everywhere in his career, as the theological light of Italy, he was heard with respect and pleasure by cardinals, universities, the clergy, nobility, and people.128″

“These statements by Catejan are a fair summary of the overall view of the Church in both the East and West from the time of Athanasius and Jerome up through the 16th Century. Jerome’s opinion completely dominated that of the ensuing centuries in the Western Church as is seen in the testimony of Cajetan.”

“A second major point that proves the Roman Catholic claims to be spurious is the fact that the universal practice of the Church as a whole up to the time of the Reformation was to follow the judgment of Jerome who rejected the Old Testament Apocrypha on the grounds that these books were never part of the Jewish canon. Those books were permissable to be read in the Church for the purposes of edification but were never considered authoritative for the establishing of doctrine. This is why I believe that the term canonical in the early Church had 2 meanings, one broad in the sense that it encompassed all the books which were permissable to be read in the Church and another narrow which included only those books which were authoritative for the establishment of doctrine.”

Plenty of other people down through the ages rejected the Apocrypha as divinely authorized for doctrine, which is exactly how the Roman Church takes it today. Many who rejected them were still considered faithful Catholics, and that is because the position of Jerome was espoused in which people recognized some books as permissible and the others as authoritatively doctrinal. Now Rome accepts them all as infallibly and authoritatively doctrinal.

I also think this sheds light on Jerome and his supposed “change of mind.” I personally think it has been terribly misinterpreted by the modern Catholic apologists.


A Few Reasons To Reject The Catholic Apocrypha

There is no evidence that the Septuagint of the first century contained the Apocrypha. The earliest Greek manuscripts, which contain them, date from the 4th Century. (Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus).
The earliest Greek manuscripts date to the time of Augustine, whose influence is reflected in the codex manuscripts. In addition, none of the Greek Manuscripts contain all the Apocryphal books. No Greek manuscript has the exact list of Apocryphal books accepted by the Council of Trent (1545-63) 14 reasons to reject them.
1. There is not sufficient evidence that they were reckoned as canonical by the Jews anywhere.
2. The LXX design was literary, to build the library of Ptolemy and the Alexandrians.
3. All LXX manuscripts are Christian and not Jewish origin. With a 500 years difference between translation and existing manuscripts. Enough time for Apocryphal books to slip in.
4. LXX manuscripts do not all have the same apocryphal books and names.
5. During the 2nd Century AD the Alexandrian Jews adopted Aquila’s Greek version of the OT without apocryphal books.
6. The manuscripts at the Dead Sea make it clear no canonical book of the OT was written later than the Persian period.
7. Philo, Alexandrian Jewish philosopher (20 BC-40 AD), quoted the Old Testament prolifically, and even recognized the threefold classification, but he never quoted from the Apocrypha as inspired.
8. Josephus (30-100 AD.), Jewish historian, explicitly excludes the Apocrypha; numbering the books of the Old Testament as 22 neither does he quote the apocryphal books as Scripture.
9. Jesus and the New Testament writes never once quote the Apocrypha, although there are hundreds of quotes and references to almost the entire book of the Old Testament.
10. The Jewish scholars of Jamnia (90 AD) did not recognize the Apocrypha. And yes it did exist. Some want to push this date back later than 90 A.D.
11. No canon or council of the Christian church recognized the Apocrypha as inspired for nearly four centuries. And even then their position was not clearly affirming these books as equal in authority. (Which is why I wonder why people are so vehement to say that Jerome changed his mind.)
12. Many of the great fathers of the early church spoke out against the Apocrypha—for example, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Athanasius.
13. Jerome (AD 340-420) The great scholar and translator of the Latin Vulgate rejected the Apocrypha as part of the canon. Did he change his mind, or did he accept them as advantageous but not scripture? I’m asking.
14. Not until 1546 AD in a polemical action at the counter-Reformation Council of Trent (1545-63), did the apocryphal books receive full canonical status by the Roman Catholic Church.