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Why do the Protestants Reject The Apocrypha?Jan 13, 2010
Some of my Catholic friends say that these books were included as part of the Bible until Martin Luther, who rejected them and some NT books because they didn't fit his theology. Is this right?
Comments sent on May 1, 2011
The information on this page is simply not accurate and presents unhistorical information. The Apocrypha IS in Codex Sinaticus which is the oldest known Christian Bible dated around 350AD WAY before Jerome was born and contains the books called Apocrypha today yet in this codex there is no distinction between old testament and apocrypha. The Catholic church is not responsible for the inclusion of the Apocrypha the Protestant reformation is responsible for it's EXCLUSION from the Bible.
Notice my initial comment: "...NOT in the original listings of the New Testament..."
My Comments: 05-03-2011
The thrust of my original post was to point out that the Apocrypha works were not in the NT.
I realize that my post was not as clear as it should have been and the comments sent by a reader were helpful. I think I allowed my Protestant roots to get in the way. My goal as an historian is to stay objective. I am sometimes accused of being "Catholic," and other times of being "Protestant." This was a case of the latter. My apologies and my thanks for the comment.
It is true that Christians prior to Jerome quoted many of the books of the Apocrypha as inspired, but the same can be said of many other writings. Jerome included these writings in his Latin Vulgate edition of the Bible in between the OT and NT and he called it "apocrypha," or "hidden" writings. Apocrypha was used in the ancient world to indicate something either orginating from oral tradition, or containing "secret" material, not suitable for a general audience.
Interestingly, none of the NT writers quote any of these writings, although there are a few quotes from non-OT "apocryphal" works. [I have had a few readers challenge this comment, saying that many NT texts do have writings in the Apocrypha in mind. These are allusions, but not quotations. Allusions to a text can be uncertain, using only 1-3 words/phrases and maybe not in the same word order. A quotation is usually more than three words used in the exact order of the work being quoted. The point is that the writer intends to quote and there is not as much guessing.]
Sitting in church this morning something clicked in my mind and I looked up the text in 2 Maccabees 12 regarding prayers for the dead. This text is describing a battle between the Jewish forces of Judas Maccabeus and that of Gorgias of Idumea. Some of the Jews were killed and the text gives an account of retrieving their bodies after the battle. Those who recovered the bodies found pagan amulets in the tunics of the dead. [An amulet is something like a charm carried for protection.] The text says that this idolatry is why the men had perished (12:40):
So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous Judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out. (v.41-42)
The text then states that Judas took up an offering to send back to Jerusalem so that a sin offering could be made for the men,
For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin. (v.44-45)I wonder if Paul's comment to the Corinthians regarding "baptism for the dead" has something to do with this text from 2 Maccabees 12. (1 Cor 15:29ff) Paul's Greek here has some similarities to the apocryphal text and it does seem clear that some believers in Corinth were either familiar with the practice or engaging in it or both. This certainly could be an allusion to the Maccabean text.
This led me to think about the text in Jude 14,15 that quotes from the apocryphal 1 Enoch text. Jude is apocryphal in nature and is quoting Enoch which is also apocryphal. This is one key reason why this small document had such difficulty gaining full acceptance in the early church, yet this suggests that Enoch had more than a little influence.
Many of the second century church fathers make citations from "The Apocrypha" as inspired text. These apocryphal writings were accorded "scriptural" status by some fathers prior to Jerome as being in the OT, not the NT.
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