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  • Deuterocanonicals: Is It Scripture?

    ARTICLE INDEX     



    "3:16 All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: " - 2 Timothy 3:16

    [Concerning the Prophecy of Enoch and 2 Timothy 3:16]: "We read that every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired. So it may now seem to have been rejected by the Jews for that very reason - just like nearly all the other portions [of Scripture] that speak of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact surprising, that they did not receive some Scriptures that spoke of Him whom they did not receive. For they did not receive Him even when He was here in person, speaking in their presence." - Tertullian (c. 198, W), 4.16.

    Part 1

    Growing up as a protestant, I had only read argumentation from other protestants regarding the apocryphal or as the Catholics call it, "Deuterocanonical" books of the Bible. And, being trusting, I assumed that these great writers must have known what they were talking about regarding this topic, and that there was no need for me to study what the other side had to say.

    But, recently, almost 20 years into my Christian walk, I decided to look into it a little deeper, to see what the truth was regarding these Old Testament books of the Bible.

    One thing I noticed early on in my research, was that it was not as cut and dry as many Protestants made it out to be. For instance, one little tidbit I learned was that the Septuagint, which includes these Old Testament books, was in existence during Jesus Christ's earthly ministry. The Septuagint is a greek version of the Old Testament, including the Deuterocanonicals, compiled prior to Jesus' birth. This was something I had never heard before.. And I found it very intriguing.

    Upon more studies, I learned that there were 3 schools of Judaism in Jesus' time. And that there were three main opinions on what constituted the canon of Old Testament scripture. The Pharisee, for instance, believed loosely that these books were the canon of scripture (Generally, an acceptation of the books found in the Septuagint, including the Deuterocanonicals). More specifically, they separated written and oral and considered the Torah the main scripture and the rest a separate category of scripture. And the Sadducee, believed only the first five books of Moses, were the canon of scripture, throwing out the prophets and psalms, etc. And the Essenes (another group of that time, where we get the "Dead Sea Scrolls" from), accepted the books contained in the Septuagint (in Hebrew, rather than Greek), which also contained the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament.

    Now, at this point, I am wondering, have I been mislead by some of the protestant books I read? And I am wondering even more, why do many protestants not use and even condemn these Old Testament books of the Bible?

    Well, first, I discovered, not every protestant believes they are not inspired. Some considered them secondary inspiration, while others considered them historical references. However a very vocal few have used books and other resources to teach protestants that the deuterocanonicals or OT apocryphal books are not scripture and even potentially evil books. And one of their techniques is to muddy the water by lumping these deuterocanonical books of the Bible into the same category as the spurious writings, forgies that were created after the New Testament (Gnostic writings, for instance). This to me, seemed disingenuous. Further, I discover that the most popular Bible, revered by protestants, originally had the deuterocanonical books: the King James Bible. You can see for yourself here. Just scroll down and you will identify all these deuterocanonical books of the Bible and can read them.

    If that was not enough, I discovered what source was used as an authority for removing the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament. And you learn, it was removed by a Jewish Council, sixty years AFTER Jesus had already assended into the clouds. And this council, rejected the New Testament, as well. So, we are relying on a non-Christian council (Council of Jamnia) who decided to remove certain books of the Old Testament and some of these books, contain very clear prophecies of Jesus.

    Also, we find even early church Fathers quoting from them as scripture:

    "Holy Scripture instructs us, saying, 'Prayer is good with fasting and almsgiving' [Tobit 20:8]." - Cyprian (c. 250, W), 5.481.

    "Our instruction comes from the porch of Solomon, who had himself taught that, 'the Lord should be sought in simplicity of heart' [Wis. 1:1]." - Tertullian (c. 197, W), 3.246.

    "The Wisdom of Jesus [i.e., Sirach] says, 'For all wisdom is from the Lord, and is with Him forever'[Sir. 1:1]" - Clement of Alexandria (c. 195, E), 2.305.

    And why the Deuterocanonicals were done away with by certain Jews (mainly a reaction to Jesus):

    "But I am far from putting reliance in your [Jewish] teachers, who refuse to admit that the interpretation made by the seventy elders who were with Ptolemy of the Egyptians is a correct one [i.e. ~ the LXX (or Septuagint)].... I wish you to observe, that they have altogether taken away many Scriptures from the translations effected by those seventy elders who were with Ptolemy, and by which this very man who was crucified is proved to have been set forth expressly as God and man." - Justin Martyr (c. 160, E), 1.234.

    "We read that every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired. So it may now seem to have been rejected by the Jews for that very reason - just like nearly all the other portions [of Scripture] that speak of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact surprising, that they did not receive some Scriptures that spoke of Him whom they did not receive. For they did not receive Him even when He was here in person, speaking in their presence." - Tertullian (c. 198, W), 4.16.

    "There was a learned Hebrew, who was said to be the son of a wise man and to have been specially trained to succeed his father. I had conversations with him on many subjects. I remember hearing from him the names of those elders [mentioned in the account of Susanna]. This indicated that he did not reject the history of Susanna." - Origen (c. 240, E), 4.338.

    Now, maybe I am missing something here, but looking at these set of facts, it seems rather wrong for me to assume the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible are not scripture or atleast a God inspired reference. Seeing they were in use during Jesus' ministry and were thrown out by non-Christians, 60 years after Christianity started.

    Further, I just learned, that Matthew, James, and Peter seem to all be quoting from the Septuagint directly within the New Testament.. This is inferred based on the fact that these verses from the Septuagint Greek Old Testament and the Greek New Testament are verbatim exactly the same lines of text(word spellings, characters, phrases, etc), which seems to be a very large proof that early Christians used the Septuagint(which includes the Apocrypha) for a reference while writing the New Testament scriptures. See: Matthew 21:42 and Psalms 117:22(LXX); Revelation 2:27 and Psalms 2:9(LXX); Matthew 21:16 and Psalms 8:2(LXX); etc.

    Also, as can be seen evidenced above, certain Jewish leaders did not like how Christians were utilizing the Greek Septuagint to prove Jesus was in fact the Christ. So, they went ahead and did two things to the Hebrew text:

    1. In 60 AD, at the Council of Jamnia, they decided to remove certain parts of the Old Testament, so as to make it different from the Septuagint. Keep in mind the Septuagint was considered "scripture" by all people for 300 years, and even quoted by Josephus and Philo (both Jews).
    2. Between the 7th and 10th, the Masorites added vowel points to the Hebrew Text (essentially adding theology to the text). As I have mentioned before in articles I have written, a person can put their theology into a word's definition or into a translation off an original manuscript. The proof of the alterations (in meaning of Hebrew words) can be seen between the KJV translations of the Hebrew Tanach (Masoritic version) and the Greek Septuagint, which was translated from an a more ancient version of the Hebrew Tanach (even the Dead Sea Scrolls were late compared to the Septuagint).
    3. The pronounciation of the Hebrew has been lost atleast partially, as no one can claim authoritive ability in this regard. Also, I believe the definitions have been altered somewhat over time (though the text is essentially the same in Hebrew, other than the vowel points, as the Dead Sea Scrolls appear to prove). With Greek, we have a better foothold on its meaning, and I believe this can be seen with the Septuagint Bible. So, we can more easily examine what the true meaning of the ancient Hebrew text is. So, taking both the Hebrew Text and comparing it with the Septuagint is very wise to ensure a clear understanding of the ancient meaning of the text in question.

    Here are some obvious examples, showing the Septuagint is more accurate (atleast with understanding what was meant) than current Masoric Hebrew Texts:

    Proverbs 9:10 (KJV): "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding."

    Proverbs 9:10 (LXX): "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the council of saints is understanding: for to know the law is the character of a sound mind."

    2 Timothy 1:7, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

    The below shows that the Septuagint in Jesus' day is the same as the Septuagint we have now:

    James 4:6 "…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."

    Proverbs 3:34 (LXX): "The Lord resists the proud; but he gives grace to the humble."

    Proverbs 3:34 (KJV): "Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly."

    Again, this verse in Isaiah, which Jesus quoted from in Matthew, is not recognizable in the King James Bible!

    Matthew 15:9 (KJV): "But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men."

    Isaiah 29:13 (LXX): "…but in vain do they worship me, teaching the commandments and doctrines of men."

    Isaiah 29:13 (KJV): "…and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them..."

    Revelation 2:26 says, "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:" Will those who overcome rule the heathen, or will they hurt and do evil to them? The next verse quotes Psalms 2:9:

    Revelation 2:27 "And he shall rule them with a rod of iron…"

    Psalms 2:9 (LXX): "Thou shalt rule them with a rod of iron…"

    Psalms 2:9 (KJV): "Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron…"

    Which of the two quotes below brings more clarity and makes more sense?

    Proverbs 26:22 (KJV): "The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly."

    Proverbs 26:22 (LXX): "The words of cunning knaves (deceitful, tricky person) are soft; but they smite even to the inmost parts of the bowels."

    Now, let's look at Proverbs 18:19-21. The King James and Septuagint are so diametrically opposed:

    Proverbs 18:19 (KJV): "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

    Proverbs 18:19 (LXX): "A brother helped by a brother is as a strong and high city; and is as strong as a well-founded palace."

    I used to quote this from the KJV as one of my favorite verses. Yet, does not the Septuagint one make more sense? Did not the Apostle Paul warn that the tongue is the hardest member to rule?:

    Proverbs 18:21 (KJV): "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."

    Proverbs 18:21 (LXX): "Life and death are in the power of the tongue; and they that rule it shall eat the fruits thereof."

    Let's see what's going on in the financial realm today. Can anyone say "Prosperity Preacher"?:

    Proverbs 3:9 (KJV): "Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:"

    Proverbs 3:9 (LXX): "Honour the Lord with thy just labours, and give him the first of thy fruits of righteousness.

    Or how about this quote here? Doesn't it seem like is God portrayed as a sexist in the Hebrew Masorite text? I think this proves partially that the meaning of the Hebrew is not translated perfectly.

    Isaiah 3:12-13 (KJV): "As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths."

    Isaiah 3:12-13 (LXX): "O my people, your extractors strip you, and extortioners rule over you: O my people, they that pronounce you blessed lead you astray, and pervert the path of your feet."

    How about Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac? Who owns your mortgage right now? Is it not the Government?

    Ecclesiasticus 21:8 (LXX - Apocrypha): "He that buildeth his house with other men's money is like one that gathereth himself stones for the tomb of his burial."

    This is where the term mortgage comes from. Mort means "death" (as in mortuary or mortality), and gage means "pledge". Mort-gage means a "dead pledge." In Bouvier's Law Dictionary of 1856, Dead-Pledge is defined as "a mortgage of lands or goods." A mortgage means you're going to give the banks your money and they're not going to give you anything back!

    A question for you: Who know owns the banks? Are we in socialism already? It would have been very nice to see this passage in my Protestant Bible. Maybe a lot of people could have avoided the problems we see today in the United States.

    It is true, though, that a majority of these deuterocanonical books were considered as a secondary canon, which in some churches is separate from the official liturgy. Meaning, some Catholic and Orthodox churches do not use certain Deuterocanonical books of the Bible in their church scripture reading. Actually, the Greek Orthodox church at one time did not even have Revelation as part of the Official Liturgy. Yet, both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches, consider these books scripture of potentially lesser inspiration. And, at one time, many Protestants also considered them scripture or atleast a good historical, potentially inspired collection.

    So, what are some of the arguments protestants make against them?

    1. OBJECTION - Certain Early Church Fathers either did not think they were scripture or thought they were just historical in relevance (Amphilochus, Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, etc.).
      REBUTTAL - Just as many believed they were scripture and inspired. (Ambrose, Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, Clement of Rome).
      MY THOUGHTS - Actually, this argument even goes deeper. Potentially the whole argument is based on a misunderstanding of the word "Canon", as Protestants consider "Canon" to mean "the entirety of scripture" and anything outside this Canon is not good. While the Orthodox and Catholics believe Canon means "The Official Scripture to be used in Church". What this means is, maybe these early Fathers were not disagreeing per se on what was inspired, but more along the lines of what books were meeting all the criterion to be included in the "Primary Canon". So, some works should not be included in the Primary Canon, yet could still be included in a lesser, Secondary Canon (the word Deuterocanonicals means "Secondary Canon"). So, when an Early Father says that "Revelation" should not be included in the Canon, he is not saying, throw out Revelation as it is bad, but rather, it is not meeting enough criterion to be included in the Official Primary Canon of Scripture (yet maybe the Secondary Canon).

    2. OBJECTION - The New Testament never quotes any of the Deuterocanonical Books. Therefore, they must not be scripture.
      REBUTTAL - The New Testament also does not quote from Esther, Ecclesiastes, or Song of Solomon.
      MY THOUGHTS - Actually, there are quotes from the deuterocanonicals in the scripture, yet some just question them, because they are not 100% perfectly clear.. Such as Matthew 13:43 - "Then the just will shine forth..." and Wisdom 3:7 - "And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.". Or Jesus could be quoting Daniel 12:3 - "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament". So, to say it is never quoted would be disingenuous, seeing there could be multiple quotes. Others Potential Quotes: Hebrew 11:35 + 2 Maccabees 7:1-29; Jude + Enoch/Assumption of Moses; etc.

    3. OBJECTION - It was added by the Catholic Church in 1546 AD at the Catholic Council of Trent. So, it was added officially after 1500 years had elapsed.
      REBUTTAL - It was accepted by Jews during Jesus day and had already been compiled into single works, such as the Septuagint, including these Deuterocanonical books. Further, it was accepted by the church throughout the centuries.
      MY THOUGHTS - The fact is, it was accepted by various church leaders, there was just controversy on their position.. Some said they were fully inspired.. Others said they are secondary in value to the rest of scripture.. And others potentially wanted to consider them only historical in relevance.. Further, it should be noted that the Orthodox Church also has these books of the Bible and they separated from the Catholic Church back in 1054 AD (The Great Schism) and the Orthodox Church does not recognize any "Councils" of the Catholics after 1054, so obviously a little weird they also have the very same books, if the Catholics "just added it" in 1546 AD.

    Now, to be fair, some protestants claim that these books contain some errors and doctrinal problems. However, when I looked at some of their claims, they seem to fall apart often on close inspection..

    For instance, one objection is that Sirach 3:33 and Tobit 12:9 are in direct contradiction to the Christian doctrine of atonement or salvation. The verses read:

    "Sirach 3:33 Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sin"

    "Tobit 12:9 alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin."

    Now, I will agree, at first, this seems to really contradict atonement according to the New Testament.. However, I did a little investigating, instead of just taking it at face value. And what did I discover? It is very interesting what I discovered. Here is the passage in the New Testament that seems to really relate to these two passages:

    "Matthew 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, 19:19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? 19:21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. 19:22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. 19:23 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. 19:25 When his disciples heard [it], they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved? 19:26 But Jesus beheld [them], and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible. "

    And also:

    "1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. "

    Yet, also:

    "Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. "

    Now, just think a little bit about this.. Is not Jesus saying here to the rich man, you must give up your false god of money, by giving it away, to serve the true God? And, perhaps, that is what is meant in Sirach 3:33. That a good way to "show" your repentence and faith towards God, is to give money to the poor? And that, for a rich man, the only way to truly give up his god is to literally give it up through giving it away. As it can be used in conjunction with repentance and saving faith, considering money is often a false god and a temptation to people. Could you imagine an alcoholic getting saved, but keeping his whole stock of alcohol at home and somehow, not sinning?

    It seems to me that Jesus made a unique distinction about the evil of loving money.. And that alms-giving does go hand in hand with repentance, particularly for someone who loved money. Kind of like Baptism, it is a sign of your repentence and rebirth. Maybe not on the same scale as baptism, but it is clear, Jesus even told a man, to give up his money and follow him. As he can not serve "God and money" at the same time.

    Now, you can make of Sirach 3:33 & Tobit 12:9 what you will, but isn't it wiser to actually look into a matter, rather than judging it quickly? As it says in Proverbs, "1:5 A wise [man] will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: 1:6 To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings."

    Another, deuterocanonical scripture that protestants object to is Wisdom 8:19,20 -

    "Wisdom 8:19,20 For I was a witty child, and had a good spirit. Yea rather, being good, I came into a body undefiled."

    Ironically, the protestant argument against this scripture is that it contradicts the doctrine of "orginal sin". Yet, "original sin" is a Catholic doctrine that Protestants espouse, and Catholics do not have a problem with this scripture.

    At any rate, lets tackle this objection. When I look at it, I think to myself, when does original sin occur? Does it occur before or at the moment the egg is fertilized? Does not this scripture elude to him being good prior to birth? When God creates your spirit, prior to it entering your body for the first time, would it be sinful or clean at this point? And would not the sinful nature from the body, be what defiles the spirit? Or would the spirit prior to entering the body be already defiled? Do you see what I am saying here? So, I believe this argument defeats itself. As Paul makes it clear in Romans that your body is where sin and temptation originally come from. "Who shall save me from this body of death?", as Paul said. But, once the spirit enters the body for the first time, it would be then defiled and original sin takes effect. This is just one plausible way to explain this scripture.

    Yet another deuterocanonical text, that protestants point to as contradicting scripture is Sirach 12:4-7

    "Sirach 12:4-7 Give to the godly man, and help not a sinner. Do well unto him that is lowly, but give not to the ungodly; hold back thy bread, and give it not unto him... give unto the good, and help not the sinner."

    Now, look at this teaching of Jesus:

    "Luke 6:27,30 But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you... Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back"

    or this scripture:

    "Romans 12:20 If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink"

    Now, for sure, this really appears to be contradicting scripture, right?

    Well, what about this scripture here?

    "Psalm 109:3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. 109:4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I [give myself unto] prayer. 109:5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 109:6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. 109:7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. 109:8 Let his days be few; [and] let another take his office. 109:9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. 109:10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek [their bread] also out of their desolate places. 109:11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour. 109:12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children. 109:13 Let his posterity be cut off; [and] in the generation following let their name be blotted out. 109:14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. 109:15 Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. "

    Now, it appears here that David is definitely not doing good unto those who are doing evil to him. As he is cursing his enemies and praying they will be destroyed.. Is it possible, there is a double edged sword to how we deal with our enemies? Maybe it is we only do good unto them when they are in a weak or humbled position, to heap hot coals on their head, but when they are in plenty, we avoid helping them? Could it be, when they have been humbled and are like the prodigal son, we should take them in, clothe them and show them Christ's love? And then, when they are in riches, laughing, mocking, we do not help them? Notice Jesus' and Paul's statements above. Do not both of them refer to situations where your enemy is in need or humbled or in some want? And that, we are to love them and do good unto them in this position. We are always to do good, but maybe, when they are rich, drunk, mocking God, we do not give to them and pray bad things occur, so maybe they will one day be humbled and repent?

    And those who are fighting against us, could there be two types of prayer? One of God's vengence against them and judgement. Another of love towards them and compassion? Does not Jesus have these two sides of his character? 2000 years ago, we saw his compassion and love towards human kind. And at the judgement seat and when he makes war against the Devil, we see his wrath and judgement? Another plausible way to look at these deuterocanonical texts.

    I have seen similar patterns with other citations of "errors" within the Deuterocanonical texts. The above is a few of the common ones usually cited. Of course, I am still studying this topic, but to me, it seems pretty clear that the deuterocanonicals are inspired by God. I am guessing they did not meet all of the requirements set forth to be included in the primary canon, hence they were put in the secondary canon (the term deuterocanonicals means secondary canon). Do you see the error that many protestants made by throwing out these books of the Bible?

    FURTHER READING:

  • The Septuagint
  • Old Testament Manuscripts
  • New Testament Manuscripts

  • A Brief History of the King James Bible
  • Manuscript Evidence for Disputed Verses

  • Pro Argument - Deuterocanonicals (Apocrypha)
  • Anti Argument - Deuterocanonicals (Apocrypha)



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