Question: Why do the 14 Apocryphal books only appear in the Roman Catholic Bible, and not in other Bibles. I am seriously interested.
Part One, The Background:
- “Apocrypha” - A neuter plural noun, means “something hidden, secret, or concealed.” It refers to the works which were written for an inner circle of people, sometimes a heretical sect. Therefore, it had the force of secret, mysterious occult. In this sense, the word is practically the same as “esoteric”; or, for the initiated alone—a term of dignity and respect, in their eyes.
- It was used by early Christian writers to denote a class of writings now called “Apocalyptic"; rather than the class now known as Apocrypha.
- From the thought of concealment, connected with dark-ness, came the second meaning, i.e., spurious, forged, of unknown or fraudulent authorship of contents, heretical.
- In the Fourth Century A.D., and possibly by Jerome himself, the word came to be used in the sense of “un-canonical, unrecognized,” and to be applied to those religious books which were inferior in authority and unworthy to be in inspired Scripture.
The great Reformation had shaken Europe. Luther had translated the Scriptures into German and had confirmed that only the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament should be acknowledged as authoritative, which excluded the Apocrypha.
The Roman Catholic Church knew that something had to be done to offset the Lutherans. It was settled at the Council of Trent held in 1546. After a prolonged and highly controversial session, the decree was passed that:
- The 14 Apocryphal books were included in the canon,
- That unwritten traditions are of God and to be received as the Word of God. Should anyone reject these decrees, “Let him be Anathema!” (i.e., accursed.)
It should be noted that at this council, there were only 53 prelates present. Not one was a German. Not one was a scholar distinguished for historical learning. Not one had made any special study of the subject from the standpoint of antiquity. This council was responsible for the Apocrypha being in the Roman Catholic Bible.
Part Two: The Reasons for the Apocrypha Being Rejected.
There are myriads of reasons for the rejection of the apocryphal books. Due to space, we will list only ten.
- They were never quoted in the New Testament by Christ, the Apostles, or any New Testament writer, even though they were in existence at that time.
- Josephus, the great Jewish historian, expressly excludes them.
- Philo, the great Jewish philosopher of Alexandria (20 B.C. to 50 A.D.) wrote prolifically and quoted largely from the Old Testament; yet never quoted from the Apocrypha, nor even mentioned them.
- They are not found in any catalogue of canonical books made during the first four centuries.
- Divine inspiration and authority is not claimed by any of the writers of the Apocrypha, and is definitely disclaimed by some of them.
- The books contain many historical, geographical, and chronological errors, and distortions of Old Testament narratives; contradicting themselves, the Bible, and secular history.
- The books were written much later than those of the Old Testament, long after its canon was closed.
- Gregory the Great, Bishop of Rome (590 to 604 A.D.), and other distinguished men from the Fourth Century held to the Hebrew Scriptures and opposed the Apocrypha.
- All the 14 apocryphal books exist in the Greek language, not the Hebrew, as do the Old Testament books.
- The Jews in all parts of the world accept the same Canon or Hebrew Bible without variation. No apocryphal book ever found its way into the Jewish Canon.
Conclusion: The Hebrew Old Testament, Bible, had been recognized as complete before 400 B.C. Neither Christ, Himself; or the Apostles, or any New Testament writers ever acknowledged any of the 14 apocryphal books as part of the Old Testament.