Facts about the catholic Apocrypha books

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Many people ask, “Why does the Protestant Bible have 66 books in its canon, but the Catholic bible has 73 books?”

The fact is, the Catholic church added seven more books to their canonical books at the Council of Trent in April 1546.

These additional books are called “Apocrypha” books or “Deuterocanonicals.” They are: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom [of Solomon], Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, 1st and 2nd Maccabees, supplements to Esther, and three additions to Daniel: The Song of the Three Holy Children, Susanna and the Elders and Destruction of Bel and the Dragon.

The word “apocrypha” came from the Greek word “abscondita” which refers to writings that are carefully concealed or heretical.

They were spurious books that attempted to imitate the books of the Bible. Some of them can be traced to second -third centuries after Christ. They were not part of the Bible because:

1. They were not inspired or God-breathed.

While the Bible tells us it’s the “expression of God” (Dt. 8:3) “words of God” (Jos. 24:27) “commandment of the Lord” (Ezra 7:11) or “reminder of the Lord” (Ps. 19:8), nowhere would you find the statement “thus says the Lord” in the apocrypha.

2. The Lord Jesus and His disciples quoted many times from the Old Testament but never from any apocryphal book. In fact, almost every statement of Jesus in the Gospels is a direct quote from the Old Testament.

3. The apocryphal books were never part of the Hebrew canon. God specifically used the Jews to preserve His Word (Rom. 2:1-2) whereas the apocrypha were written in Greek.

Though some parts of these writings have certain historical value, evidence points to a closing of the Hebrew canon following the writing of the books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi in the 5th century BC.

First century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, wrote:

We do not possess myriads of inconsistent books conflicting with each other. Our books, those which are justly accredited, are but two and twenty [the equivalent of the 39 books of the OT according to modern division] and contain the record of all time” (Against Apion I, 8, 38).

4. Many of the early church fathers didn’t consider the apocrypha writings as part of Scripture. According to a Catholic work:

Melito of Sardis (ca. 170) gives our earliest Christian list of OT books, a list much like the one that eventually became the standard Hebr list (Est is omitted). Origen mentions that the Hebrews have 22 books; Athanasius who had Jewish teachers, insists that the Christians should have 22 books just as the Hebrews have … Jerome did his best to propagate the Hebr canon in the Western church … Those who prefer the shorter canon and express some doubts about the full canonical status of the deuterocanonicals include Cyril of Jerusalem, Gregory Nazianzen, Ephiphanus, Rufinus, Gregory the Great, John Damascene, Hugh of St. Victor, Nicholas of Lyra and Cardinal Cajetan” (The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Raymond Brown and Joseph Fitzmyer, Englewood Cliff: NJ, 1996, 2:523).

5. Many teachings in the apocrypha contradict the inspired record.

For example, the book of Maccabees teaches prayers for the dead:

“It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they might be loosed from their sins” (2 Macc. 12:45).

This contradicts the Word of God which says “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement” (Heb. 9:27).

The Wisdom of Solomon reflects pagan Gnostic beliefs about the pre-existence of human souls and the physical body being an impediment to the soul (8:19, 20). This contradicts the Bible teaching on creation.

Though this writing presents Solomon as its author (9:7-8), it cites passages from Bible books from the Greek Septuagint which were written centuries after Solomon’s death (998 BC).

6. Many of the stories found within the apocryphal books are legends plagued with historical, moral and geographical errors.

The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible (Vol. I, 166) declares: “Many of them are trivial, some are highly theatrical, some are disgusting, even loathsome.”

For example, there is the story of Judith, a beautiful woman who seduces Nebuchadnezzar’s officer and beheads him in order to liberate her people. The book says that Nebuchadnezzar “reigned over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh” (Judith 1:1,7). This is an error.

History shows that Nebuchadnezzar ruled over Babylonia and never Nineveh because his father, Nebopolassar, had earlier destroyed Nineveh. Even the Catholic Jerusalem Bible says: “The book of Judith in particular shows a bland indifference to history and geography.”

The book of Tobit is a story of a pious Jew who was deported to Nineveh and becomes blind when bird’s dung dropped on both of his eyes.

An angel impersonating a human appeared to his son, Tobias, who obtains the heart, gall and liver of a fish for magic rituals. With this, he drove away a demon, Asmodeus, who had killed the husbands of a virgin widow seven times. Tobias marries the widowed virgin and then cures his father’s blindness with his fish gall.

Another fairy tale comes from The Destruction of Bel and the Dragon. This story is about Daniel being required by king Cyrus to worship an idol named Bel.

Daniel exposed the priests as the ones eating the food offered to the idol and they were killed. Daniel then smashes the image of Bel and destroys a dragon he was told to worship.

For this, he was thrown in a lion’s den and during his seven-day confinement, an angel picks up Habakkuk by his hair and a bowl of stew from Judea to Babylon to feed Daniel.

Bible scholars point out that apocrypha books “have been the fruitful source of sacred legends and ecclesiastical traditions. It is to these books we must look for the origin of some dogmas of the Roman Catholic Church” (Funk and Wagnalis New Standard Bible Dictionary, 1936, 56).

Many Catholics are told that “Martin Luther removed the apocrypha from the Protestant Bible.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Martin Luther DID include the apocrypha in his German Bible translation (1534), but he wrote:

These books are not held equal to the Scriptures, but are useful and good to read.”

According to Alexander McClure: “the Apocryphal books in those times were more read and accounted of than now, though by no means placed on a level with the canonical books of Scripture” (Translators Revived, p 185).

There wasn’t any need for someone to expunge these false writings from the Bible, they had already done that by themselves.

The God of the Bible and the Allah of Islam

For many years it has been assumed by many that Christians and Muslims served the same God, that it is only in the mode of worship or language involved that they differed. That belief is being challenged today by the surge of Islamic attacks and persecution of the Christian faith in many parts of the world.

Logically, when there are two opposing religious views, both cannot be true and cannot be from the same source.

Perhaps in an attempt to evade this chasm, Muhammad tried to psyche the Christians and Jews of his time saying: “…Our God is the same as your God, and we are surrendered unto him” (Sura 29:46).

But elsewhere, this gnomic claim is seemingly thrown aside when Allah tells Christians to adhere by “the Law and the gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from YOUR LORD” (Sura 5:68).

A way to approach the issue is to compare the Allah revealed in the Quran with the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible.

The God of the Bible is called Yahweh nearly 9,000 times but Allah is not called by that name even once in the Quran. While God is referred to as Elohim more than 2,500 times in the Bible, the word never appears for Allah in the Quran.

God revealed Himself to Moses as “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and He told Moses “this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (Exodus 3:15). But Allah was never addressed as this even once in the Quran.

The God of the Bible is called “the God of Israel”. He calls the Jews His chosen people. He says they are “the apple of [My] eye” (Zech. 2:8) and gave the land of Israel to them as an inheritance forever as the Bible shows.

But the Allah of Islam has a special hatred against the Jews. In Sura 5:51, Muslims are warned: “Take not the Jews and Christians as friends…” Jews and Christians are called “the worst of creatures” (98:6) and “the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight” (8:55).

Sura 5:78 also says the children of Israel are cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus. Would Jesus curse His own brothers in the flesh blessed by God? No. Allah can’t be the same as the God of the Bible.

In several places in Scripture, God chose Jerusalem as His holy city. Forty times He calls Jerusalem “the city of David” and repeatedly promised that the Messiah will be descended from David and rule on David’s throne in Jerusalem over the world (2Chr. 6:6, 33:7, Psa. 89:3-29).

The Bible never refers to Mecca or Medina whereas it mentions the city of Jerusalem about 800 times.

The God of the Bible has a  unique son, Jesus Christ. Proverbs 30:4 says of God “What is His name and what is HIS SON’S name.?” Angel Gabriel told Mary that Jesus is “the Son of the Highest” and “the Son of God” who will sit on “the throne of His father David” – a throne that is definitely not in Mecca (Luke 1:31-35).

But Allah says: “They say Allah has a son? NEVER!…” (2:116) “…Far be it that he should have a son” (4:171). Concerning Christians who insist that Jesus is the Son of God, the Quran says: “Allah’s curse be upon them! How they are deluded away from the truth!” (9:30).

God revealed Himself as a Father. But nowhere in the Quran is Allah called a “father”. Allah has “neither sons nor daughters” in any form (Sura 6:100). He is not a father, he has no Son and he is not a Spirit. While man was made in God’s likeness (Gen. 1:25-27), the Quran says there is nothing in Allah’s likeness (Sura 112:4).

In the Bible, God revealed Himself to Abraham (Genesis 18), Jacob (Gen. 28:13), Moses and the 70 elders of Israel (Exo. 24:10) and in the Person of Jesus Christ. He desires all men to know and love Him. But Allah has never manifested himself or spoken to anyone. He is a remote and unknowable deity.

While the God of the Bible is the essence of love (“God is love…”1John 4:8), nowhere is Allah called love.

The name “Allah” is not the Arabic name for God. The name cannot even be translated into French as Dieu or Spanish as Dios.

Some modern Muslims use “God” in place of “Allah” in their speech, but that still does not make Allah the same as the God revealed in Scripture. We could both be calling someone “Mike” yet not referring to the same person.

Some people have asked: “What about the name ‘Allah’ in the Arabic Bible?” The Arabic Bible was a translation made around 900 A. D. which was 3 centuries after Islam emerged.

The translators used that name for God due to political pressure because this was the name the people had been familiar with for long. But no writer of the Bible ever called God by that name for it was neither a Hebrew nor Greek name for God.

Many Arab Christians today prefer to use the Persian name “Khoda” for God. Even Hausa Christians use the name Uban-giji for God. Muslims in Malaysia have even convinced the government to ban the non-Muslim use of the name “Allah”. Allah is not the God of the Bible, but a false god.

Paedophilia in the Bible?

If you are familiar with Islamic polemics, you must have observed a predictable pattern Muslims usually follow. They project all the evils of Islam onto the beliefs of their opponents.

For example, when a Christian points out Muhammad’s paedophilia with a child of 9, a common response you will get from a Muslim is a quote from the book of Numbers 31:17-18.

This method of response is called tu quoque or “you too” fallacy. Islam can only build itself by attacking others, it can neither prove its virtues nor disprove its vices. A Muslim is necessitated by his blind loyalty to Muhammad to justify his sexual sins.

Some of them get their kicks from one vile Islamist named, Osama Abdullah and his Answering Christianity website (I call it the Antichrist centre website). Here is his quote from Numbers 31:7, 17-18:

They fought against Midian, as the Lord commanded Moses and killed every man … Now kill all the boys [innocent boys]. And kill every woman who has slept with a man

This chapter records the destruction of the Midianites by the nation of Israel. It was a backlash of their leading of the Israelites into sexual immorality and demon worship previously (see Num. 25:1-9).

When Israel followed the Midianites into this sin, God Himself punished them for it and 24,000 of them died. Thus, the men killed in that battle were enemies of God. He does not destroy the just with the wicked.

“Far be it from you to do such a thing – to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and wicked alike…” (Gen. 18:25)

But Osama wants his Muslim readers to think the Midianites were innocent, so he inserts the words “innocent boys” in parenthesis to appeal to the emotions of his readers.

He claims Moses and his men spared the virgins in order to have sex with them, so they quickly enacted a law to justify their actions. As “evidence”, he quotes from the Jewish Talmuds:

Come and take note. A girl of three years old and are one day old is betrothed by intercourse…” (Mishnah 5:4 Sanhedrin 7/55B)

Therefore a gentile girl who is three years and one day old, she is then suitable to have sexual relations, also imparts uncleanness of flux variety” (Abodah Sarah 36B-37A)

He also quotes the comments of a Jewish rabbi on Numbers 31:17 from the Tannaitic Midrash that a proselyte girl who became a proselyte in the age of less than 3 years and one day is fit to marry into the priesthood.

Osama then concludes that in the Bible, Moses ordered the Israelites to kill all women older than 3 years and a day and take the rest to their beds! What a tortured path.

First of all, I want us to understand that Osama is just like many other Muslims who have been affected by Islam in such that they see issues either in a grossly distorted or a sexually perverse manner.

Therefore, when they approach the Bible, they read into it things that are nowhere stated in the text. The Bible is right when it says “unto the pure, all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure…” (Titus 1:15).

Osama quoted from the Talmuds to cement his claim that the Bible endorses paedophilia, but this is a fallacy of wrong parallel. The Bible and the Talmuds do not stand or fall together.

Osama obviously thinks the Talmuds are to the Bible what the Hadiths are to his Quran, but this only showcases his profound ignorance.

It’s in fact, deception to claim the Bible says a thing and then “prove” it, not from the Bible, but another book written centuries after it.

Interesting note: an online article written by Gil Student has shown that the Muslim citations from the Talmuds (discussing dowry for virgins and non-virgins) have been twisted and misused. Read it here

According to a reference work, “The Talmuds are systematic commentaries on the Mishnah, the law code of Judaism formulated in the late second century [A.D.]” (Metzger and Coogan, The Oxford Companion to the Bible, Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 730).

Now, there is no way that Talmudic laws formulated 200 years after Christ would be used to affirm an action that (allegedly) took place 15 centuries before, in the time of Moses.

The Talmuds are not part of the Bible and have never been. They are writings of rabbis, not the inspired Word of God; therefore they carry no authority. In fact, they must be rejected wherever they contradict the Bible.

Reading from verses 25-54 of this Numbers 31, one sees that these virgin girls were given to the priests/ministers as wives. This is why they were said to be “set apart for the Lord” (v. 47).

These laws were actually for the benefit and protection of women’s honour and dignity. This event utterly fails to justify Muhammad’s sexual depravity.