Apologeet.nl73 Books of the Roman Catholic Bible
I never really bothered about the extra books in the Roman Catholic bible. I always thought that this was just about a dispute in the early church. But is it? Let’s find out.
Many of our more respectable Bibles, such as the King James Version, Revised Standard Version, and the New International Version, have just 66) books. 39 in the Old Testament (from Genesis to Malachi) and 27 n the New Testament (from Matthew to Revelation).
But when we look at the Good News Translation (GNT) of the Catholic Church, or the New Catholic Bible (NCB), we find 73 books. These seven other books are: Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, and Baruch. These books were written approximately between the third century BC and the first century AD. All of these books are preserved in Greek, though some may have been originally written in Hebrew/Aramaic.
So, what’s going on here? Well, I think I do not have to explain that the original Old Testament books were written to the Hebrews right? That means, that the language was Hebrew, which isn’t understood by many people outside that specific context. Now, I need to say that there seems to be some small portions in the Old Testament which was written in Aramaic. We’re talking about a few verses in Genesis, Ezra, and Jeremiah. The when and how I can’t tell you and isn’t really important now. So, let’s talk a bit about the ancient Hebrew language. I studied some Hebrew and let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. Well, apparently more people were thinking that.
So, somewhere in the fourth century they told a certain man, called Jerome, to translate the Old Testament books in Latin. There was already a Greek translation of the Old Testament, called the Septuagint. The translators of the Septuagint were the first who used these extra books in their Greek translation of the Old Testament. And in the fourth century, the church father Augustine insisted that Jerome would also include these extra books in his translation, the Vulgate. But, Jerome actually considered these books as less important than the original Old Testament books.
I guess Jerome just didn’t want to be the know-it-all when it came to these books. You see, These extra books have never been accepted by the Hebrew scholars, and, surprise! surprise! The Christians from the early church, being still closely linked to the Jews, didn’t either.
Around AD. 250 most believers agreed on the canon of Hebrew Scripture. Canon, in this context, refers to an officially accepted collection of books. In other words, ‘canon’ is used to describe the books that are divinely inspired and therefore belong in the Bible. The only issue that remained were these extra books, or also called the Apocrypha (which just means ‘hidden’). This discussion continues till today. Although most Hebrew scholars see these extra books as historical and religious documents, most of them reject the idea that they are of the same value as the Hebrew Scriptures. The agreement on the New Testament books took a little longer, which is logical because they were written later than the Old Testament, right?
Council of Trent
So, what happened? Well, even though most early church father didn’t accept these extra books as being canonical—which, again, means that they never belonged to the inspired books in the first place—the Roman Church included them anyway. They did this during the Council of Trent which was held in 1546!
So, why only in 1546? Well, during the Reformation these books were extra contested because these books were at the base of many unbiblical doctrines, like purgatory and salvation through the giving of alms. The Reformers just repeated the centuries old conviction about which books were inspired and which books were not. They concluded, again, that these extra books could not be used as the basis for real Christian doctrine.
Obviously the Roman Catholic Church wasn’t very amused about this and in a so-called counter-Reformation move, the Council of Trent made an official declaration in which they stated that the Apocrypha should be respected as part of the Scripture. And, by doing this, the Roman Catholic Church officially reinforced the division between them and the Protestants.
It is pretty strange that the Roman Catholic Church insists on the books. I would go as far to label it as pigheaded behaviour. Like I said, none of the early Jewish and Christian scholars accepted them as inspired. We see New Testament writers like Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and Paul, using many citations of the Old Testament, but never from these extra books.
The Lord Jesus also used the Old Testament writings in His discussions. He would say something like, “have you not read…” or “it is written…” Still, I just can’t catch him referring to these Apocrypha books. I do know, however, He sometimes used extra-biblical sources to counter the Jewish leaders.
For example, in Mark 3. Let’s read it together.
And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
You might not have noticed this, but doing good and saving a life on Sabbath was allowed by their own explanation of the fourth commandment. Many years before, the Jews were in war, but they were not allowed to fight or defend themselves on the Sabbath. The enemies quickly found out and started to slaughter the Jews on that day. Desperately the Jews asked their leaders what to do, and these leaders decided that it was permitted to save a life and to do good on the Sabbath. Jesus knew fully well how to debate these hypocrites. But He never recognised these kinds of writing or the Apocrypha as inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Most of the time Jesus cited the Old Testament simply because He tried to teach the scribes and Pharisees a thing or two. Don’t forget that these people were very smart when it came to the Scriptures, and especially when it came to the Law of Moses. Jesus was mostly teaching them the correct view on the law, and they never rebuked Him for rectifying their explanations on the law. Why not? Well, Simply because Jesus directly quoted from the canon, the books that were recognised as authoritative and inspired.
Another remarkable thing is the fact that even though the Apocrypha can be used to defend the doctrines like purgatory, salvation by almsgiving, and paying for baptism, the Roman Catholic Church never uses these books to do so. If they really believed these books to be the inspired word of God, you would have expected them to use them, right?
And this is also a very important reason most Christian and Jewish scholars throughout the ages rejected these books. They simply contain to many contradictions, errors and false teachings when compared with the teachings in the other books of the Old Testament. Keep in mind that the established books of the Old Testament were written many years before the Apocrypha books. The latter were written in a period of which the Jews basically said that God wasn’t speaking. The first prophet, after more than 400 years was John the Baptist.
Okay, but what are some of these errors or wrong teachings?
In Tobit we can learn that it is okay to use magic:
And the angel, answering, said to him: If thou put a little piece of its heart [from a fish] upon coals, the smoke thereof driveth away all kind of devils, either from man or from woman, so that they come no more to them.
Our same friend, Tobit, teaches forgiveness of sins is by human effort:
For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will not suffer the soul to go into darkness.
And according to Judith was Nebuchadnezzar the king of the Assyrians instead of the king of the Babylonians:
Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor, king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Ninive the great city, fought against Arphaxad and overcame him.
And what to think offering money for the sins of the dead:
2 Maccabbees 12:43
And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection.
Plainly, accepting the Apocrypha as inspired brings along some serious problems. By accepting them, we deny the wisdom and knowledge of our faithful forbearers. We also have to embrace magic and salvation by works. And don’t let me start on the wrong historical facts or giving money as an offering for the sins of the dead.
Although these books might be useful to read about ancient times they are not inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. Why am i so firm about that? Well, simply because they are full of incorrect and unbiblical teachings.
Now, just a quick word to my brothers and sisters who attend a Roman Catholic Church. Actually, I do know many who truly love the Lord Jesus! They want to follow Him everywhere, and it shows in their lives. And even though I strongly disagree on several things within the Roman Catholic traditions and doctrines, I sincerely believe that we can find true brothers and sisters there, who together with me will enjoy everlasting life.
I, like you might know by now, like to find that, which binds us together. For example, we all use the New Testament, and there we find the exact same books found in every Bible version, whether Protestant, Orthodox or Roman Catholic. So, that binds should bring us closer together.
We should be careful about our attitude. I should be careful as well! It is much easier to scare people away with an attitude of being a know-it-all! In this instance for example some might counter my video by saying that the Apocrypha does not teach that we can pray people out of purgatory, salvation by works or using magic. I disagree! But I also understand that the aforementioned texts can be explained differently. We can do the same with the words in the New Testament. Let’s quickly take the words of the Lord Jesus as an example. You see, in John 5:28-29 we read:
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
I absolutely do not believe that these words teach that salvation comes by doing good deeds. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone else would come to a different conclusion.
You see how easy we can end up in a battle? Please, let’s be careful here. We want to see people get saved right? So rather than battling over these extra books we should discuss the Gospel as written down in the New Testament. Don’t make the Apocrypha the reason for someone to reject the gospel from your Bible.
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God bless you, thank you for watching, and Lord willing we’ll see each other in my next video!