Certain Bibles can be found with a number of extra books, called the Apocrypha. There are a dozen or so books that certain churches, most notably Roman Catholic, Coptic, Greek Orthodox, and Russian Orthodox, will have included in their Bibles, like the books of Judith or Esdras. What is different about them? Why are they in some Bibles and not others? Should the Apocrypha be in the Bible? In short, the answer is no, but there are a few reasons why.
There is no set list of books in the Apocrypha, even among the churches that use them. One church includes 2 Macabees while the other has the Book of Tobit. The 39 books of the Old Testament are the same as the 24 books of the Jewish Bible only reorganized. There has been a consensus on them since before Jesus walked the Earth. When there is no clear consensus, it’s a good sign that it does not meet the bar of authoritative scripture.
Never Intended to be Scripture
The dozen or so books in the Apocrypha were all written during the 400 years between the old and new testaments. They are useful history and teaching but were never meant to be taught as scripture. They mainly come from the Septuigant, a collection of Hebrew texts translated into Greek, including but not limited to the Old Testament. When these books were added to Bible lists, it was due in part to lack of Hebrew scholars present to know the difference.
Historical and Theological Problems
The books contain several historical errors and teach doctrines counter to the rest of established scripture. Salvation by works and Purgatory are some of the most notable. The larger body of scripture is pretty clear on these topics, which would further the argument that these books are not inspired scripture. Those two issues were especially important to the Catholic church prior to the Reformation. While Protestant reformers were removing them, the Catholic church doubled down. Bad theology was allowed to stay due to politics, not reliability.
Strangely Absent from New Testament Books
Jesus and Paul quote the Old Testament a lot. Almost every book of the OT is mentioned or quoted at some point, but not a single apocryphal book is. Further, in Luke 11, Jesus refers to the spilled blood of the prophets, ranging from Abel to Zechariah. Abel of course being the first murder, and Zechariah being the last prophet killed in the book of 2 Chronicles, which is the last book in the original Jewish order of the books. If Jesus considered these intertestamental prophets as legitimate, would he not have included them when referring to ALL the prophets?
Should the Apocrypha be in the Bible?
Any one of these issues would be reason to suspect and probably reject the Apocrypha. Putting them all together as a cumulative case, and no the Apocrypha should not be in the Bible.
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