Robert J. Sargent
The word "apocrypha" means "hidden" or "concealed," but after c. 450 A.D. came to refer to the non-canonical books, especially those of the Old Testament period.
Consideration of the Apocrypha usually centers around the highly contentious issue of additional books contained in Roman Catholic bibles, and, more increasingly, in several modern Protestant versions.
1. THE NATURE OF THE APOCRYPHA
The Apocrypha consists of 15 books of Jewish literature written during the intertestamental period. Some of them have historic value, but all are spurious, of unknown authorship, and without claim of inspiration or authority. Some are legendary and fantasy. Many of them are written to reinforce post-exilic Jewish opposition to idolatry.
All extant copies of the Apocrypha are written in Greek.
2. THE LIST OF THE APOCRYPHA
The following list gives the books referred
to as the Apocrypha:
3. THE ACCEPTANCE OF THE APOCRYPHA
As a general summary:
However, in the East, Clement of Alexandria (150-217 A.D.) recognized II Esdras. Origen (185-254 A.D.) inserted II Esdras, the Maccabees, and the Letter of Jeremiah to his canonical list.
Jerome (340-420 A.D.) reluctantly inserted Judith, Tobit, the Additions to Esther, and the Additions to Daniel into his Latin Vulgate after some "friendly" pressure. The rest of the apocryphal books were added to the Vulgate after his demise.
The most influential benefactor of the Apocrypha was Augustine (354-420 A.D.), the "Father of corrupt theology." He influenced the Councils of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.) to declare the Apocrypha canonical.
In his usual form, Augustine also saw to it that any opposition to the Apocrypha was suppressed.
5. THE COUNCIL OF TRENT
The Apocrypha were formally canonized by the Roman Catholic 'Church' on April 8, 1546 A.D. at the Council of Trent.
The Council of Trent was actually a series of 3 Church councils held between 1545 and 1563 A.D. and dominated by the newly-formed Jesuits. It was called as an integral part of the counter-Reformation which had begun 28 years earlier, sparked by Martin Luther. The Papal bull convening this council required 3 things:
The resolution of the Council was: "...if anyone receives not as sacred and canonical the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church...let him be anathema (accursed!)."
Some of the unscriptural Catholic doctrines supported by the Apocrypha are:
The Rheims-Douay Version (1582 A.D.) lists 7 additional books, adds to Esther and Daniel, and combines the "Letter of Jeremiah" with "Baruch" -- thus including 12 of the 15 apocryphal books to the Old Testament.
The Council was selective in this exercise, because it did not include II Esdras, which in its chapter 7:105 speaks against prayers for the dead!
6. THE INCLUSION OF THE APOCRYPHA IN ENGLISH VERSIONS
Many of the early English versions contained the Apocrypha, for two basic reasons - because of the general acceptance of the Apocrypha during the Dark Ages, and/or (in case of the Authorized, King James Version) for Scriptural analysis.
In each case, the Apocrypha were delineated either in an appendix and/or with an explanation showing them to be non-canonical.
b. Coverdale's Bible (1535 A.D.) does likewise, and with the following title:
"Apocrifa. The bokes & treatises which amonge the Fathers of old are not rekened to be of authorite with the other bokes of the Byble, neither are the foude in the Canon of the Hebrews." (1)
c. Matthew's Bible (1537 A.D.) and Taverner's Bible (1539 A.D.) place the Apocrypha between the Testaments.
d. The Authorized, King James Version (1611), like the Great Bible, (1539 A.D.), the Geneva Bible (1560 A.D.) and the Bishop's Bible (1568 A.D.) before it, places them in an appendix.
7. ARGUMENTS FOR THE INCLUSION OF THE APOCRYPHA
The following arguments are most generally advanced for granting the Apocrypha canonical authority:
Jude 14 cites the pseudepigraphical book of Enoch. Does it? It cites Enoch, whose words the Holy Ghost knew.
II Timothy 3:8 is also supposed to refer to some Apocryphal literature. Again, the Holy Spirit can reveal the names of the Egyptian magicians when He chooses.
b. Early Manuscripts include the Apocrypha.
Robert J. Sargent
Lecture 5 CANONIZATION
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