The term Apocrypha refers to books which have been omitted
from the canon of Scriptures. These 14 or 15 books which the Roman Catholic church adds to
the Bible and pronounces as "equally inspired and authoritative" are not
included in the Protestant version of the Bible.
There are many reasons why they have not been placed in the
Bible. Let me give you one or two reasons. There is no record that Christ or any of the
apostles ever quoted from the Apocryphal books or that they ever made any reference to
them, although they undoubtedly knew of them. In the New Testament there are about 260
direct quotations from passages in the Old Testament; yet among these there is not a
single reference to the Apocryphal writings.
Also, biblical scholars feel that they are many errors
historically in the Apocrypha.
Catholicism teaches that Scripture involves more than the
canon accepted by the Jews, Jesus, and the Church of the first four centuries, i.e., the
39 books of the Protestant Old Testament. It adds new portions to the books of Esther and
Daniel plus seven book, which were written between the Testaments: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2
Maccabees, Ben Sirach (also called Eccelsiasticus), Baruch, and Wisdom. The Catholic
Church refers to these extra books as "deuterocanoncial works"--those that are
canonical or scriptural for Catholics but which were never part of the Jewish Bible.
The Apocrypha undermines a doctrine of inerrancy because
these books contain historical and other errors. Thus, if the Apocrypha is considered
Scripture, this identifies error with God's Word. This is why neither the Jews, Jesus, the
apostles, nor most of the early Church fathers ever accepted the Apocrypha as Scripture.
Biblical scholar Dr. Rene Pache comments, "Except for
certain interesting historical information (especially in 1 Maccabees) and a few beautiful
moral thoughts (e.g., Wisdom of Solomon), these books contain absurd legends and
platitudes, and historical, geographical and chronological errors, as well as manifestly
heretical doctrines; they even recommend immoral acts (Judith (9:10,13)." Errors in
the Apocrypha are frequently pointed out in standard works. For example,
Tobit...contains certain historical and geographical errors
such as the assumption that Sennacherib was the son of Shalmaneser (1:15) instead of
Sargon II, and that Nineveh was captured by Nebuchadnezzar and Ahasuerus (14:5) instead of
by Nabopolassar and Cyaxares....Judith cannot possibly be historical because of the
glaring errors it contains...[In 2 Maccabees] there are also numerous disarrangements and
discrepancies in chronological, historical, and numerical matters in the book, reflecting
ignorance or confusion.... (Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Vol. 1,
207-210; cf., the discussion in Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible,
pp. 167-177 and Encyclopedia Britannica, Macropaedia, Vol. 2, 932ff. )
For 1,500 years no Roman Catholic was required to believe
that the Apocrypha was Scripture, until the council of Trent made its fateful decree. (See
Bernard Ramm, Protestant Christian Evidences (Chicago, IL: Mood Press, 1971), p.
20.) Unfortunately, the Council adopted its position "for reasons of expediency
rather than evidence." (R. Laird Harris, Inspiration and Canonicity: An Historical
and Exegetical Study (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1973), p. 193) Thus, it was
"unmindful of evidence, of former popes and scholars, of the Fathers of the church
and the witness of Christ and the apostles" in making its decision to include the
Apocrypha as Scripture. (Ibid., p. 192.)
Dr. Pache points out that one of the reasons Trent accepted
the Apocrypha was merely in response to the arguments of the Reformers who were attempting
to defend the principle of "sola scriptura"--that the Bible alone is the
Why, then, did Rome take so new and daring a position?
Because, confronted by the Reformers, she lacked arguments to justify her unscriptural
deviations. She declared that the Apocryphal books supported such doctrines as prayers for
dead (II Maccabees 12:44); the expiatory sacrifice (eventually to become the Mass, II
Maccabees 12:39-46); alms giving with expiatory value, also leading to deliverance from
death (Tobit 12:9, 4:10); invocation and intercession of the saints (II Maccabees 15:14;
Bar. 3:4); the worship of angels (Tobit 12:12); purgatory; and the redemption of souls
after death (II Maccabees 12:42, 46). (Pache, Inspiration and Authority, p. 173)
In conclusion, by adding the errant Apocrypha to the canon,
the Catholic Church has effectively undermined the inerrancy and authority of the Bible.