The Revised Standard Version of the Bible which Roman Catholics use have the following books which are not there in the original Bible (which has 66 books). This is the list: 1. The Wisdom of Solomon, 2. Ecclesiasticus 3. Tobit 4. Judith 5. I Esdras 6. I Maccabees 7. II Maccabees 8. Baruch 9. Letter of Jeremiah 10. II Esdras 11. Additions to Esther 12. Prayer of Azariah 13. Susanna 14. Bel and the Dragon 15. Prayer of Manasseh. The Douay version of the Bible which Roman Catholics use does not have the last book named above (Prayer of Manasseh).
Why should we not equate Apocrypha to the Word of God! Here is why:
- VEHEMENT JEWISH OPPOSITION: Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks mention that Athanasius and Jerome, two respected Jewish scholars, never included the apocryphal books in the Bible of their time. They write, ‘Jerome, a Hebrew scholar, made the official Latin Vulgate without the added apocryphal books’ (When Skeptics Ask, page 156).
- VERY LATE INCLUSION: The occasion – The Council of Trent. The year – 1546. The deed – the adding of the apocryphal books to the Roman Catholic Bible! My comment – “That’s too late!”
- REACTION TO MARTIN LUTHER’S QUESTION: Martin Luther was emphatic that practices common in the church of his time such as ‘prayer for the dead’ did not have the support of the Bible. So, he asked why the church of his time followed these practices without biblical warrant? He also stated that the Bible does not support salvation by works. Some 29 years after he raised these very valid questions, the apocrypha was included in the Roman Catholic Bible Canon as a reaction. Here’s why: there is support for these practices in the Apocrypha (you may checkout 2 Maccabees 12:45-46; Tobit 12:9). The canon was expanded by the Roman Catholics so that they would be able to claim support for extra-biblical practices such as prayer for the dead. And that is not right. Also doing such a thing makes one recall the command not to add or subtract from God’s Word found throughout Scripture: Revelation 22:18,19/Proverbs 30:6/Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32. The Scripture warns those guilty or adding or removing from Scripture will face severe punishment – definitely on the other side of eternity and at times, even on this side of eternity (‘God will add to him all the plagues described in this book’ – Rev. 22:18; ‘God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city which are described in this book’).
- IN-TEXT ‘NOT INSPIRED’ DECLARATION: There are verses in the apocryphal text (like the one in I Maccabees 9:27) which clearly states that no prophets operated during the time these books were written – inter-testamental time. If there are no prophets, there is no question of divine inspiration of that book. So, even within the text of the apocrypha, there is a declaration that these books are not inspired!
- PAGAN LITERATURE QUOTATION: Those who argue that apocrypha should be included in Scripture say this: “Even passages like Hebrews 11:35 are alluded to in Apocryphal books.” We read in Hebrews 11:35 this : ‘Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refuse to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection!’. The Spirit of Reformation Study Bible says: “This is an apparent reference to the events during Maccabean revolt (c. 167-157 B.C.), which occurred after the close of the Old Testament but are recorded in the Apocrypha (2 Meccabees 6-7). Jude verse 14 includes a quote from I Enoch (another apocryphal book). This statement can be said in response to these allegations from the Catholic side: “If we claim that we must say that certain apocryphal books are God-inspired because a couple of New Testament quote from them, our line of argument becomes problematic. Here is how: Apostle Paul even quotes from Pagan prophets in His Gospel messages (Acts 17:28); does that mean that even pagan prophets write under the inspiration of the Bible? Ofcourse not!
For these and many reasons, we can safely say that apocrypha was never ever part of the original Bible! Let us fix our focus on the Sixty Six (the Bible with Sixty Six books) and keep it steady for the moment we step out of the Sixty Six, we are stepping out of God’s Word! And that’s dangerous! God’s Word is the final court of appeal for all matters of belief and behavior (Romans 4:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17) and so it really matters when books which are not part of the original canon, get into the canon!
(This article was written by Dr. Duke Jeyaraj. He is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Misison. This is a viewer/reader supported ministry. You may subscribe to Duke’s Youtube Channel which is at this link: youtube.com/c/visituke)