REASONS FOR REJECTING THE OLD TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA
The word "Apocrypha" (a neuter plural adjective) means: (1) hidden, concealed, and refers to the works which were written to an inner circle of people, sometimes a heretical sect, and which could not be, and were not supposed to be, understood by those outside; hence it had the force of secret, mysterious, occult. (2) From the thought of concealment, connected with darkness, came the second meaning, spurious, forged, of unknown or fraudulent authorship or contents, heretical. (3) In the fourth century A.D. the word came to be used in the sense of uncanonical, unrecognized, and to be applied to those religious books which did not have the same authority and value as the inspired Scriptures.
1. It is universally acknowledged that they never had a place in the Hebrew Canon.
2. They are never quoted in the New Testament, either by Christ or by His apostles or by any writer, much less do these ascribe to them inspiration or canonicity.
3. Josephus expressly excludes them, limiting the number of divinely inspired books to twenty-two, which are the books found in our Old Testament.
4. Philo, the great Jewish philosopher of Alexandria (20 B.C. to 50 A.D.), wrote prolifically and quoted largely from the Old Testament Scriptures, yet he never quoted from the Apocrypha, nor even mentioned them.
5. They are not found in any catalogue of canonical books made during the first four centuries A.D., or nearly so.
6. Jerome declared for the strict Hebrew Canon, and rejected the authority of the entire Apocrypha in the most emphatic manner.
7. Divine inspiration is claimed by none of the writers, and is definitely disclaimed by some of them.
8. They are entirely without the true prophet element. After Malachi the succession of prophets had ceased. The period from Malachi to Christ is known as the four hundred silent years. No one speaks (writes) with a message from Jehovah.
9. The books contain many historical, geographical, and chronological errors, and distortions of Old Testament narratives, contradicting themselves, the Bible, and secular history.
10. They teach doctrines and uphold practices which are directly contrary to the canonical Scriptures. Lying is sanctioned, suicide and assassination are justified, salvation by works and by almsgiving, magical incantations, prayers of the dead for the dead, etc., are taught and approved.
11. Weakness of style, stiffness, lack of originality, an artificiality of expression as compared
with the canonical books, are noticeable.
12. Much of the literature is legendary, and the stories contain many absurdities.
13. The spiritual and moral level is, as a whole, far below that of the Old Testament. When one reads in the Old Testament and then turns to a reading in the Apocrypha, he feels that he is almost in another world.
14. The books were written much later than those of the Old Testament, long after its canon was closed. Some were written not long before, and so some, it is thought, after the Birth of Christ; yet they are made to imitate, a thin imitation, and some even profess to supplement, the Old Testament books.
15. Some of them were permitted to be read for instruction, but they were not considered canonical and authoritative for doctrine by any prominent man, set of men, nor church council until the Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1546), by a small majority, declared them so, and anathematized any who might think differently.
16. The Christian Church, the successor of the Jewish Theocracy, received from the Jewish people the same Old Testament Scriptures.
17. Christ and His apostles, in their use of the word "Scripture," indicate that the Old Testament Canon had long been fixed. Christ appealed to the Hebrew Scripture as to a well-defined collection of writings held in absolute reverence (Luke 24:25-27,44). His works in Matthew 23:35 cover the entire ground, from Genesis to II Chronicles, from the beginning to the end of the Hebrew Bible, since II Chronicles is the last book of the Old Testament according to the Hebrew arrangement.
18. It may be added that, while the canical books were each provided with a Targum (a paraphrase of the original Hebrew written in Aramaic as the common tongue), such a paraphrase is altogether wanting in the case of the books of the Apocrypha, with the possible exception of Tobit.
19. To place these books on the same footing with the Law and the Prophets is quite impossible to the historical student. There is a distinct line of demarcation between the Apocrypha and the books of the Old Testament. By their contents they are really self-condemned.
20. They could not have been "taken out" of the Canon, as some allege, because they were never put into it.
REASONS FOR REJECTING THE NEW TESTAMENT APOCRYPHA.
1. The supreme test of Canonicity with regard to the New Testament is that of apostolic authorship and apostolic authority.
2. The witness of the Holy Spirit. Above and beyond the common consent of the Church we have the perfect assurance of the inward testimony of the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit who inspired the writers in producing the New Testament guided the Church step by step in the growth of the Canon, and bears witness with the spirits of believers that the Canon is correct.
3. Their being "read in the churches" gave decisive and practical proof of their canonicity. None of the books were acknowledged as canonical unless they were read in the churches as a whole. No Apocryphal book ever received universal recognition among the churches.
4. Recognition and use by the early Church Fathers is an indication of their acceptance as canonical.
5. The content of each of the books of the New Testament is further indication of their canonicity. They had to conform to the doctrine of the apostles as transmitted orally.
6. The Apocryphal books were excluded from the New Testament Canon because their titles or claims to recognition as authoritative and normative writings were not admitted by the Church.
7. The Apocryphal books are characterized by a romantic flavor revealing an extravagant and unhealthy taste for the miraculous. Wonderful tales, the product of an exuberant fancy, often devoid of delicacy of feeling and always out of touch with reality, are freely heaped one upon another. They are the non-moral prodigies, bizarre in nature, of a highly inflamed imagination.
8. The Apocryphal books popularize sexual asceticism, a type of Christianity in strong reaction against the world, in which emphasis is laid on the rigid abstinence from sexual relations as the chief moral requirement.
9. Besides inculcating an ascetic morality the Apocryphal books reveal traces more or less pronounced of dogmatic heresy. All of them, with the exception of the Acts of Paul represent a docetic view of Christ. That is, the earthly life of Jesus is regarded merely as an appearance, phantasmal and unreal.
10. The Apocryphal books are full of legendary details.
11. Eusebius (Fourth Century) says of the Apocryphal Acts that they were of such character that no ecclesiastical writer thought it proper to invoke their testimony. Their style and their teaching showed them to be so plainly of heretical origin that he would not give them recognition among the spurious writings, but completely rejected them.
12. Augustine refers repeatedly to the Apocryphal Acts in use among the Manichaeans and characterizes them as the work of "cobblers of fables."
13. Photius, referring to the wanderings of the Apostles, wrote: "In short this book contains ten thousand things which are childish, incredible, ill-conceived, false, foolish, inconsistent, impious and godless. If any one were to call it the fountain and mother of all heresy, he would not be far from the truth." This book taught that Christ never became man, and that not Christ, but another had been crucified.
14. The consensus of ecclesiastical testimony as to the general character of the Apocryphal Acts is simply this. They were writings used by a number of heretical sects but regarded by the Church as unreliable and harmful.
15. The Apocryphal Acts are worthless as history, but do provide a great deal of information about popular Christianity of that time.