General Principles

1. There is abundant evidence that none of these books was ever received into the canon (that which conforms to “rule”) of the Hebrew Old Testament. Though they appear in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament - known as LXX), that is not necessarily a reliable criterion. Professor G.T. Manley notes: “[These books] do not appear to have been included at first in the LXX [3rd/2nd centuries B.C.], but they found their way gradually into later copies, being inserted in places that seemed appropriate...” (The New Bible Handbook, Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1962, p. 39).

2. The apocryphal books are not in those most ancient works which allude to the Old Testament Scriptures. For example:

(a) Philo, the Jewish philosopher of Alexandria (20 B.C. - A.D. 50), wrote prolifically and frequently quoted the Old Testament, yet he never cited the Apocrypha, nor did he even mention these documents.

(b) Josephus (A.D. 37-95) rejected them. He wrote: “We have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another, but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine...” (Against Apion 1.8). By combining several Old Testament narratives into a “book,” the thirty-nine of our current editions become the twenty-two alluded to by Josephus.

(c) The most ancient list of Old Testament books is that which was made by Melito of Sardis (cf. A.D. 170); none of the apocryphal books is included (cf. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 4.26.14).

(d) In the early 3rd century A.D., neither Origin nor his contemporary, Tertullian, recognized the books of the Apocrypha as being canonical.

(e) Though some of the apocryphal books were being used in the church services by the 5th century A.D., they were read only by those who held inferior offices in the church (see: T.H. Horne, Critical Introduction to the Holy Scriptures, Philadelphia: Whetham & Son, 1841, Vol. I, p. 436).

3. The apocryphal books were produced in an era when no inspired documents were been given by God. Malachi concludes his narrative in the Old Testament by urging Israel: “Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and ordinances.” He then projects four centuries into the future and prophesied: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great
and terrible day of Jehovah come...” (Mal. 4:4-5). This text pictured the coming of John the Baptist (cf. Mt. 11:14; Lk. 1:17). The implication of Malachi’s prophecy is that no prophet would arise from God until the coming of John. This excludes the apocryphal writings.

Josephus confirms this when he declares: “It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes very particularly, but has not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there has not been an Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings 188 exact succession of prophets since that time.”

He further says that no one “has been so bold as either to add any thing to them, to take any thing from them, or to make any change in them . . .” (Against Apion 1.8).

F.F. Bruce contended that there “is no evidence that these books were ever regarded as canonical by any Jews, whether inside or outside Palestine, whether they read the Bible in Hebrew or in Greek” (The Books and the Parchments, London: Pickering & Inglis, 1950, p. 157).

4. Jesus Christ and His inspired New Testament penmen quoted from, or alluded to, the writings and events of the Old Testament profusely. In fact, some 1,000 quotations or allusions from thirty-five of the thirty-nine Old Testament books are found in the New Testament record. And yet, significantly, not once is any of these apocryphal books quoted or even explicitly referred to by the Lord, or by any New Testament writer. Noted scholar Emile Schurer argued that this is really remarkable since most of the New Testament habitually quoted from the LXX (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1894, Vol. I, 99).

“Despite the fact that New Testament writers quote largely from the Septuagint rather than from the Hebrew Old Testament, there is not a single clear-cut case of a citation from any of the fourteen apocryphal books . . . . The most that can be said is that the New Testament writers show acquaintance with these fourteen books and perhaps allude to them indirectly, but in no case do they quote them as inspired Scripture or cite them as authority” (Merrill F. Unger, Introductory Guide to the Old Testament, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1951, p. 101).

5. Finally, it must be observed that the apocryphal books, unlike the canonical books of the Old Testament, make no direct claims of being inspired of God. Not once is there a, “thus says the Lord,” or language like, “the word of the Lord came unto me, saying.” In fact, some of the documents actually confess non-inspiration! In the Prologue of Ecclesiasticus, the writer states: “Ye are intreated therefore to read with favour and attention, and to pardon us, if in any parts of what we have laboured to interpret, we may seem to fail in some of the phrases” (The Apocrypha, New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1894).

6. Too, there is the matter of literary style. Dr. Raymond Surburg has written: “When a comparison is instituted of the style of the Apocrypha with the style of the Biblical Hebrew Old Testament writings, there is a considerable inferiority, shown by the stiffness, lack of originality and
artificiality of expression characterizing the apocryphal books” (The Christian News, November 24, 1980, p. 7).

FROM Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings


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