First Baptist Church of Oak Creek

Gateway to all our WebPages

  "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
 . . .  Colossians 1:10  . . .
The Apocrypha and The Hebrew-Aramaic Old Testament Canon
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.

The Old Testament was written primarily in Hebrew, but portions of the books of Daniel and Ezra are written in the language of Babylon which was Aramaic. The Hebrew language did not distinguish between capital and small letters and it had no punctuation marks. Unlike English, Spanish, French, German, etc. where the writing runs from left to right, the Hebrew runs from right to left.

There are 24 books in the Jewish Bible. But these 24 books cover the same material that we have in our 39 book, non-Catholic, Old Testament. Below is the Hebrew Arrangement. Note the comparison chart below, which was taken from an article titled How Many Books Are In The Old Testament?How Can One Know For Sure? (Popes and Councils Proved To Be In Error) at


The Hebrew Canon (TaNaKh)
24 books

Protestant Old Testament
39 books

Latin Vulgate and
Catholic Old Testament
46 books

Torah (Law)

1. Genesis

2. Exodus

3. Leviticus

4. Numbers

5. Deuteronomy

Nevi'im (Prophets)

6. Joshua

7. Judges

8. Samuel (1st + 2nd)

9. Kings (1st + 2nd)

10. Isaiah

11. Jeremiah

12. Ezekiel

13. The 12 Minor Prophets













Ketuvim -Writings

14. Psalms

15. Proverbs

16. Job

17. Song of Songs

Five Scrolls


18. Ruth

19. Lamentations

20. Ecclesiastes

21. Esther

22. Daniel

23. Ezra + Nehemiah

24. Chronicles (1st  + 2nd)



1. Genesis

2. Exodus

3. Leviticus

4. Numbers

5. Deuteronomy

 Historical Books

6. Joshua

7. Judges

8. Ruth

9. 1 Samuel

10. 2 Samuel

11. 1 Kings

12. 2 Kings

13. 1 Chronicles

14. 2 Chronicles

15. Ezra

16. Nehemiah

17. Esther

Poetical Books

18. Job

19. Psalms

20. Proverbs

21. Ecclesiastes

22. Song of Solomon

Prophetical Books

23. Isaiah

24. Jeremiah

25. Lamentations

26. Ezekiel

27. Daniel

28. Hosea

29. Joel

30. Amos

31. Obadiah

32. Jonah

33. Micah

34. Nahum

35. Habakkuk

36. Zephaniah

37. Haggai

38. Zechariah

39. Malachi



1. Genesis

2. Exodus

3. Leviticus

4. Numbers

5. Deuteronomy

Historical Books

6. Joshua

7. Judges

8. Ruth

9. 1 Kings - (1 Samuel)

10. 2 Kings - (2 Samuel)

11. 3 Kings - (1 Kings)

12. 4 Kings - (2 Kings)

13. 1 Paraliponenon - (1 Chronicles)

14. 2 Paraliponenon - (2 Chronicles)

15. 1 Esdras* - (Ezra)

16. 2 Esdras* - (Nehemiah)

17. Tobias (Tobit)

18. Judith

19. Esther - Chapter 10 beginning at verse 4, thru Chapter 16.

Poetical Books

20. Job

21. Psalms

22. Proverbs

23. Ecclesiastes

24. Canticle of Canticles

 Wisdom Books

25. Wisdom (of Solomon)

26. Ecclesiasticus
(Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach)

Prophetical Books

27. Isaiah

28. Jeremiah

29. Lamentations

30. Baruch
(Letter of Jeremiah = Baruch ch. 6)

31. Ezechiel

32. Daniel - Chapter 3, verses 24-91, Chapters 13+14

33. Osee - (Hosea)

34. Joel

35. Amos

36. Abdias - (Obadiah)

37. Jonas

38. Micheas - (Micah)

39. Nahum

40. Habacue

41. Sophonias- (Zephaniah)

42. Aggeus - (Haggai)

43. Zecharias

44. Malachias

45. 1 Machabees

46. 2 Machabees

Orthodox Catholics also include
3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees,
and Psalm 151.



The Law or Torah (5 Books) - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

The Prophets or Nebhiim (8 Books)

The former prophets - Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings

The latter prophets - Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the Twelve

Note: They subdivide the latter prophets into two divisions - Major prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel) and the Minor Prophets which they count as one book (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah and Malachi.

The Writings, Kethubhim or Hagiographa (11 books)

Poetical books (3 books) - Psalms, Job, Proverbs

Five rolls or Megilloth (5 books)- Ruth, Song of Songs (Solomon), Ecclesiastes,
Lamentations, Esther

Historical books (3 books) - Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, Chronicles

As you can see, the difference is accounted for by the fact that 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 & 2 Kings, Ezra and Nehemiah and 1 & 2 Chronicles and the 12 Minor Prophets were treated as one book by the Jews. I must point out that the oldest known recorded witness to the number of books in the Old Testament is quite recent, found in 4 Esdras, which was written between 85-96 AD. Josephus, a first century Hebrew historian says, in his testimony against Apion I-8: "For we have not an innumerable multitude of books among us, disagreeing from and contradicting one another (as the Greeks have) but only twenty-two books, which contain the records of all the past times; which are justly believed to be divine, and of them, five belong to Moses, which contain his laws, and the traditions of the origin of mankind till his death. This interval of time was a little short of three thousand years; but as to the time from the death of Moses till the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, who reigned after Xerxes, the prophets, who were after Moses, wrote down what was done in their times in thirteen books. The remaining four books contain hymns to God, and precepts for the conduct of human life. It is true, our history has been written since Artaxerxes, very particularly, but has not been esteemed of the like authority with the former by our forefathers, because there has not been an exact succession of prophets since that time; and how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them or take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them." He is two books short of what is written in 4 Esdras. That may be accounted for in one of two ways. First, some Jews did not recognize the book of Esther, and doubted the inspiration of Ecclesiastes. He might have been one from that school. Or, perhaps his count combined some of the books together. My point is simply this. The same material that we find in the Old Testament of our English Bible finds its source in the Hebrew Bible.

Before we move on to how the Old Testament came together, I want to point out an important fact about ancient English Bibles. The ancient names that identify some of the books differ from the names they are called today. Here is a listing --

1 Samuel is called 1 Kings, 2 Samuel is called 2 Kings, 1 Kings is called 3 Kings, 2 Kings is called 4Kings, 1 Chronicles is called 1 Parlipomen, 2 Chronicles is called 2 Parlipomen, Ezra is called 1 Esdras, Nehemiah is called 2 Esdras, Song of Solomon is called Song of Songs.

The Definition and Description of the Old Testament Canon

That brings us to the subject of the Old Testament Canon. When I use the word "canon" I am referring to the process by which individual books were brought together into a single unit or book. While I will bring to your attention bits and pieces of the story of the development of the Old Testament Canon, you should know that, "there exists no formal historical account of the formation of the Old Testament Canon." (Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition of 1911; Volume 4; p. 849).

The word "canon" is of Christian origin, from the Greek word êáíþí, (kan-ohn; Strongs #2583). But, it was probably borrowed from the Hebrew word, äð†÷®, (kaw-neh'; Strongs #7070), meaning a reed or measuring rod, hence, norm or rule. Later "canon" came to mean a rule of faith, and eventually a catalog or listing. In present usage it signifies a collection of religious writings inspired of God and hence, authoritative, normative, sacred and binding. The Greek term occurs in Galatians 6:16 – "And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God." It is also used in 2 Corinthians 10:13-16. I should point out that it is first employed of the books of Scripture, in the technical sense of a standard collection or body of sacred writings, by the church Fathers of the 4th century; One example is seen in the 59th canon of the Council of Laodicea (363 AD); in the Festal Epistle of Athanasius (365 AD); and by Amphilochius, archbishop of Iconium (395 AD). Yet, many years before it was given the official name "canon," the concept of "canon" was in place. (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia edited by James Orr, M.A., D.D.; the section on the canon)

  • My View of Canonicity

I hold to the conservative, non-higher critical view of canonicity. Those, like myself, who hold this view, believe God established His canon, not "The Church." The canon of Scripture does not derive its authority from the church, whether Jewish (Old Testament) or Christian (New Testament) but the office of the church merely recognized what God inspired. The church then became a witness and a custodian of what God ordained. In 1902 Dr. W. H. Green explained it this way: "No formal declaration of their canonicity was needed to give them (the books of the Bible) sanction. They were from the first not only eagerly read by the devout but believed to be Divinely obligatory….Each individual book of an acknowledged prophet of Yahweh, or of anyone accredited as inspired by Him to make known His will, was accepted as the Word of God immediately upon its appearance.… Those books and those only were accepted as the Divine standards of their faith and regulative of their conduct, which were written for this definite purpose by those whom they believed to be inspired of God. It was this, which made them canonical. The spiritual profit found in them corresponded with and confirmed the belief in their heavenly origin. And the public official action which further attested, though it did not initiate, their canonicity, followed in the wake of the popular recognition of their Divine authority.…The writings of the prophets, delivered to the people as a declaration of the Divine will, possessed canonical authority from the moment of their appearance.…The canon does not derive its authority from the church, whether Jewish or Christian; the office of the church is merely that of a custodian and a witness." (underlining not in the original but added - Pres. and Ref. Review, April, 1902, p.182).

How The Old Testament Came Together

Here is a brief account of how the Old Testament came together. "In Exodus 24:4 we read: ‘And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.’ These were placed "in side of the Ark of the Covenant," according to Deuteronomy 31:26." (The Indestructible Book by W. Ken Connolly; Baker Books 1996; p.14)

Before the rise of the so-called Higher Criticism it was held almost universally that Moses wrote the Pentatecuh substantially as it exists today. That is what I believe. I base this upon the very words of our Lord Jesus Christ who tells us that Moses wrote the Law (Luke 24:44, Mark 12:26; Luke 16:29 & 31 and John 7:19). Dr. Alvin Sylvester Zerbe, Ph.D., D.D. explains, "It was allowed that he (Moses) may have used documents and employed amanuenses (a person whose employment is to write what another dictates); but his approval of what the latter wrote, would render the work practically his own." (The Antiquity of Hebrew Writing and Literature by Dr. Alvin Sylvester Zerbe, Ph.D., D.D.; published in 1911 by Central Publishing House of Cleveland Ohio; p.9).

A plethora of Bible scholars, before the German Higher Critical movement, believed that "Moses had access to genealogical tables, ancient records and even tablets in the cuneiform script brought by Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees and containing the essential data of the first eleven chapters of Genesis." (The Antiquity of Hebrew Writing and Literature by Zerbe; p.9).

With the spread of German Higher Criticism the liberal critics alleged that the Hebrews were not in a position to cultivate literature in the Exodus period and that Moses did not write or compose the Pentateuch. Several books in my library state that nobody was supposed to have known anything about writing until a much later period. But, their foolishness was exposed in 1887. In that year "an Egyptian peasant woman was walking among the ruins of Tel el-Amarna looking for something to sell when her foot hit a hard object in the sand: it was a piece of hardened clay, covered with unusual markings. She invited a friend to help her dig, and they did not give up until they had a bag full of these baked clay tablets." (The Indestructable Book by Connolly; p.14). What she stumbled upon was the Egyptian Foreign Office archives from about 1380 B.C. Oriental scholars found that these tablets were official correspondence of Egyptian governors or vassal-princes, stationed in Palestine with their master, King Amenophis IV of Egypt, and his ministers in Egypt.

Here is why that find is so important. These tablets are from the same time that Joshua and the Hebrews were overrunning southern Palestine. These cuneiform tablets are contemporary with the events described in the Book of Joshua, and, in part relating to those very events! Remember, Joshua was a contemporary of Moses (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts by Dr. Frederic G. Kenyon; published in 1895 by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Edinburgh; p.17). Indeed, Moses was literate and the first five books of the Bible were written by Moses just as we read in Exodus 24:4 and just as Christ says in several places in the Gospels.

Speaking of Joshua, we know that he later added to what Moses had written (the book of Joshua). Still later Samuel "told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote it in a book, and laid it up before the Lord" (1 Samuel 10:25). Much later "Hilkiah the high priest said unto Shaphan the scribe, I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord…" (2 Kings 22:8). These passages from the Old Testament show that the records gradually grew and were safely protected. There is also historical material outside the Bible that indicates the process of the development of the Old Testament Canon. Jewish tradition teaches that Ezra, a priest and scribe, collected and arranged the order of the books in the Hebrew Bible in about 450 BC. Kenyon writes. "Taking the latest dates assigned by good authorities, the Law was fully recognized as inspired Scripture by about B.C. 450, the Prophets (including the earlier historical books) about B.C. 300, and the Hagiographa about B.C. 100." (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts by Kenyon; p.28).

The Preservation and Conveyance of the Hebrew Scriptures

That brings me to my last point in dealing with the canonicity of Hebrew-Aramaic Old Testament I will pose and answer several important questions.

Who preserved and copied it and how was that done?

Special care for the preservation of the text of these books must have begun at least at this point although the details are at best, sketchy. But, there is more solid information available to us from about the beginning of the Christian era. The famous schools of Hillel and Shammai trained Rabbis and scribes who carefully copied and preserved the Hebrew text. "The fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70) and the destruction of Judaea as a nation only intensified the zeal of the Jews for their Bible; and the first centuries of the Christian era witnessed a great outburst of activity in the multiplication, the transmission, and the recording of the traditional learning with respect to the Scriptures. Two great centers of Jewish scholarship were Palestine and Babylonia, the former having its headquarters at Jamnia and Tiberias, and the latter in Babylon, where the Jewish colony had remained since the days of Exile. It is from the records of these schools…that we derive our earliest direct knowledge of the Hebrew text as it existed among the Jews themselves." (Our Bible and the Ancient Manuscripts by Kenyon; p.29).

What makes the Old Testament uniquely more reliable than any other ancient literature passed down through time?

Let’s take a closer look at the multiplication, transmission and recording to the Scriptures and tell you what makes the Old Testament uniquely more reliable than any other ancient literature passed down through time.

First, we will examine the extreme care with which the copyists transcribed the Old Testament manuscripts. We need to begin with the Talmudists.


During the period of 100 to 500 AD a great deal of time was spent in cataloging Hebrew civil and canonical law. The Talmudists had quite an intricate system for transcribing synagogue scrolls. (Samuel Davidson in the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament, 2nd ed., p. 89, cited in James Hastings (ed.) A Dictionary of the Bible, IV, 949.)

Samuel Davidson describes some of the disciplines of the Talmudists in regard to the Scriptures. These minute regulations are as follows:

1. A synagogue roll must be written on the skins of clean animals.

2. Prepared for the particular use of the synagogue by a Jew.

3. These must be fastened together with strings taken from clean animals.

4. Every skin must contain a certain number of columns, equal throughout the entire codex.

5. The length of each column must not extend over less than 48 or more than 60 lines; and the breadth must consist of thirty letters.

6. The whole copy must be first-lined; and if three words be written without a line, it is worthless.

7. The ink should be black, neither red, green, nor any other color, and be prepared according to a definite recipe.

8. An authentic copy must be the exemplar (the original), from which the transcriber ought not in the least deviate.

9. No word or letter, not even a yod, must be written from memory, the scribe not having looked at the codex before him …

10. Between every consonant the space of a hair or thread must intervene;

11. Between every new parashah, or section, the breadth of nine consonants;

12. Between every book, three lines.

13. The fifth book of Moses must terminate exactly with a line; but the rest need not do so.

14. Besides this, the copyist must sit in full Jewish dress,

15. Wash his whole body (before writing the word "Jehovah" & repeat this every time they write it),

16. (Wipe the pen and) begin to write the name of God with a pen newly dipped in ink,

17. And should a king address him while writing that name he must take no notice of him."

There was to be a review of the new scroll within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required correction, the entire document had to be redone. The letters, words and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document. (The Indestructable Book by W. Ken Connolly; Baker Books 1996; p.16). Davidson adds that "The rolls in which these regulations are not observed are condemned to be buried in the ground or burned; or they are banished to the schools, to be used as reading books."

Why don’t we have more Old Testament manuscripts?

Why don't we have more old MSS? The very absence of ancient MSS, when the rules and accuracies of the copyists are considered confirms the reliability of the copies we have today. The Talmudists were so convinced that when they finished transcribing a manuscript they had an exact duplicate, that they would give the new copy equal authority.

Now, let us move on to the Massoretes.


Until the recent discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest extant Old Testament Hebrew manuscript was around 900 AD. It was a product of the Massoretes. These Jews took up where the Talmudists left off. They were likewise meticulous in their copying. The Massoretes comes from the Hebrew word "massora" which simply means "tradition." They accepted the laborious job of editing the text and standardizing it. Remember, the Old Testament Hebrew text was all in capital letters with no vowels, and there was no punctuation or paragraphs. The Massoretes added vowel points in order to insure proper punctuation. The Massoretic text is the standard Hebrew text of our day.

The Massoretes were well disciplined and treated the text "with the greatest imaginable reverence," and devised a complicated system of safeguards against scribal slips. For example, they counted the number of times each letter of the alphabet occurs in each book; they pointed out the middle letter of Pentateuch and the middle letter of the whole Hebrew Bible, and made even more detailed calculations than these. ‘Everything countable seems to be counted,’ says Wheeler Robinson (Ancient and English Versions of the Bible (1940), pg. 29) and they made up mnemonics (formulas) by which the various totals might be readily remembered."

Sir Frederic Kenyon concurs writing, "the Massoretes undertook a number of calculations which do not enter into the ordinary sphere of textual criticism. They numbered the verses, words, and letters of every book. They calculated the middle word and middle letter of each. They enumerated verses, which contained all the letters of the alphabet, or a certain number of them; and so on. These trivialities, as we may rightly consider them, had yet the effect of securing minute attention to the precise transmission of the text; and they are but an excessive manifestation of a respect for the sacred Scriptures which in itself deserves nothing but praise. The Massoretes were indeed anxious that not one jot nor tittle, not one smallest letter nor one tiny part of a letter, of the Law should pass away or be lost." (Our Bible and The Ancient Manuscripts; Kenyon; p.33). "The importance of the Massoretic edition to us lies in the fact that it is still the standard text of the Hebrew Bible. All the extant manuscripts of the Hebrew Old Testament contain substantially the Massoretic text." (Ibid. p.33)

Perhaps you are wondering if there is any evidence to support the accuracy of the Massoretic text of the Old Testament, since the oldest manuscripts we had were from 900 AD on. Thanks to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls we now have proof of the accuracy of the Massoretic text. Just a quick note about what was discovered. 40,000 inscribed fragments were found in the caves around the Dead Sea. From these fragments more than 500 books have been reconstructed thus far. Many extra-biblical books and fragments were discovered that shed light on the religious community of Qumran. One of the scrolls found was a complete manuscript of the Hebrew text of Isaiah. It is dated by paleographers around 125 BC. This scroll is more than 1000 years older than any other Old Testament manuscript we previously possessed. The liberal skeptics expected that when this scroll of Isaiah was compared with the Massoretic text of Isaiah, it would show that there had been major changes and making it obvious that God had not preserved his Word. But, just the opposite happened. The scroll of Isaiah from the Dead Sea find was virtually the same as the Massoretic text of Isaiah from which all English Bibles are translated. "Of the 166 words in Isaiah 53, there are only seventeen letters in question. Ten of these letters are simply a matter of spelling, which does not affect the sense. Four more letters are minor stylistic changes, such as conjunctions. The remaining three letters comprise the word ‘light,’ which is added in verse 11, and does not affect the meaning greatly. Furthermore, this word is supported by the LXX… Thus, in one chapter of 166 words, there is only one word (three letters) in question after a thousand years of transmission-and this word does not significantly change the meaning of the passage." (A General Introduction to the Bible, Chicago, Moody Press, 1968 by Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix). Therefore, "the impact of this discovery is in the exactness of the Isaiah scroll (125 B.C.) with the Massoretic text of Isaiah (916 A.D.) 1000 years later. This demonstrates the unusual accuracy of the copyists of the Scripture over a thousand year period." (Evidence that demands a Verdict, by Josh McDowell, Campus Crusade for Christ International, California, USA, 1972).

I have laid this foundation in order to make this point: It is the Hebrew Massoretic text that forms the basis of the Old Testament of our English Bible.

The Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books

It is impossible to deal accurately with the history of the English Bible without addressing the issue of the Apocrypha. All English Bibles contained the Apocrypha, with one exception, a pseudo-edition of the 1599 Geneva Bible printed in the late 1600's. "The Apocrypha had been introduced into the English version of the Coverdale Bible in 1535, and was included in the King James version in 1611 between the Old and New Testaments. It began to be omitted from about 1629 and is today excluded from all Bibles issued by the British and Foreign Bible Society." (The Apocrypha also called Deutero-Canonical Writings by Lloyd Thomas; lloyd/Apocrypha.htm).

The word apocrypha is derived from the Greek "abscondita," which historically identified writings which had an obscure origin or which were heretical. In the Talmud the Jewish rabbis used this word to describe works that were not canonical Scripture. The term has come to be applied particularly to the books added to the Roman Catholic Bible and Orthodox Bible but ordinarily rejected by non-Catholics. The Apocryphal books are also called the deuterocanonical books. The word deuterocanonical means second list. "This name was first used in the sixteenth century by Sixtus Senensis and has since passed into common use in the Latin Church as a convenient label to cover Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, the two Maccabees, Baruch, and the Greek parts of Esther and Daniel. It was not intended to denote an inferior degree of authority, but only as a recognition of the fact that the canonicity of these writings had not always met with universal consent in the Church." (The Cambridge History of The Bible - Vol. 2 edited by G.W.H. Lampe; Cambridge University Press; p.92)

The Roman Catholic Church, at the Council of Trent in 1546, decreed certain apocryphal writings to be canonical (authoritative). The books of the Apocrypha include --

1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith,
Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or Sirach,
Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Manasseh,
1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. Greek additions to Esther and
several additional sections of Daniel, including the Prayer of Azariah,
the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, and Bel and the Dragon.

I should note that Orthodox Christians (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Orthodox, etc) also include 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and Psalm 151. Because of its brevity, I have chosen to include an English translation of the Apocryphal Psalm 151 describing David's triumph over Goliath.

1 I was small among my brothers, and youngest in my father's house; I tended my father's sheep.

2 My hands made a harp, my fingers fashioned a lyre.

3 And who will declare it to my Lord? The Lord himself; it is he who hears.

4 It was he who sent his messenger and took me from my father's sheep, and anointed me with his anointing oil.

5 My brothers were handsome and tall, but the Lord was not pleased with them.

6 I went out to meet the Philistine, and he cursed me by his idols.

7 But I drew his own sword; I beheaded him, and removed reproach from the people of Israel.

The decree of Council of Trent in 1546 declares everyone anathema, (cursed or condemned to destruction) who "does not accept as sacred and canonical the aforesaid books (the Apocrypha) in their entirety and with all their parts." So the question naturally comes up, why were they included in virtually all the early English Bibles and yet they are not in our most non-Catholic Bibles today? The influence toward crediting these writings with Bible authority did not begin until the 4th Century in the North African church. In fact, as we have seen, the Jewish Canon centered on the so-called Masoretic Text, which is written in Hebrew. The apocryphal books were not included in the original Hebrew Old Testament preserved by the Jews. These books were written during the 200 years proceeding and the 100 years following the birth of Christ. Romans 3:2 tells us that God entrusted His Word to the care of the Jews. Hence, since the apocryphal books were only a part of the Greek Septuagint canon and not the Hebrew canon, it is easy to see why the Jewish scribes believe that God guided them in the rejection of the Apocryphal books from the canon of Scripture. "According to Torrey, the Jews not only rejected the Apocrypha, but after the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they went so far as to ‘destroy, systematically and thoroughly, the Semitic originals of all extra-canonical literature,’ including the Apocryphal. ‘The feeling of the leaders at that time,’ Torrey tells us, ‘is echoed in a later Palestinian writing (Midrash Qoheleth, 12,12): "Whosoever brings together in his house more than twenty-four books (the canonical scriptures) brings confusion.’" (The King James Version Defended by Dr. Edward F. Hills; Chapter 4). But there are those who maintain that these extra books were part of a so-called Alexandrian canon for it was in that city that the Septuagint translation was produced. But, the famous Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria (1st century), although quoting extensively from the Old Testament canon "never once quotes from any apocryphal books" (Archer 1974:73). In addition, the Jewish Aquila version of the Old Testament (early 2nd century), which supplanted the Septuagint, did not contain the Apocrypha." (The Apocrypha also called Deutero-Canonical Writings by Lloyd Thomas; http://ftp.iafrica. com/ l/ll/lloyd/ Apocrypha.htm). Even, Josephus (AD 30-100), Jewish historian, explicitly excludes the Apocrypha, both by his count of the canonical books and his statement that from the time of Malachi no further canonical writings were composed, although records were kept - "because the exact succession of the prophets ceased" and "no one has dared to add anything to them, or take anything from them, or alter anything in them." I also want to point out that the Jewish scholars of Jamnia (AD 70) did not recognize the apocrypha. No canon or council of the Church for the first four centuries recognized the Apocrypha as inspired. In fact, many, but not all, of the great church Fathers of the early church spoke out against the Apocrypha or confirm the exclusion of the Apocrypha by their count of the Old Testament books. Included are Athanasius, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, Bishop Melito of Sardis (170 AD), Tertullian, and Hilary of Poitiers.

So, why was the Apocrypha included in the early English Bibles. Simply stated, it was because of pressure by the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, we need to go way back to Jerome, translator of the Latin Vulgate in 405 AD for the answer. He counseled that those books not available in Hebrew canon were to be reckoned among the apocryphal writings. Jerome at first refused even to translate the Apocryphal books into Latin, but later he made a hurried translation of a few of them. While he did include some them in his translation, he noted that they should not be used to establish doctrine. In an article titled, The Old Testament Canon the author says, "Jerome produced the standard Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, and he felt that it was important for this purpose that he learn Hebrew. He discovered the opinion of the Jews in the matter of the canon, the falsity of the legend of the translation of the LXX (Septuagint), and as a result made many disparaging remarks about the disputed books, calling them apocrypha." (The Old Testament Canon; sbrandt/canon.htm; section 3.2). In fact, "after his death, and literally 'over his dead body,' the Apocryphal books were brought into his Latin Vulgate translation directly from the Old Latin Version." (Outlines on Church History:The Collection of the Old Testament Scriptures - The Canon; ot_history.html; p.2)

Alexander McClure, who was a biographer of the KJV translators, writes: "...the Apocryphal books in those times were more read and accounted of than now, though by no means placed on a level with the canonical books of Scripture" (Translators Revived, Alexander McClure, p. 185). He then lists several reasons assigned by the KJV translators for rejecting the Apocrypha as inspired.

1. The Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England clearly states that the Apocrypha have no scriptural authority.

2. "...[the Church of England] doth not apply to them to establish any doctrine."

3. The Westminster Confession says, "The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings."

4. Luther included a note on the Apocrypha which stated, "These are books not to be held in equal esteem with those of Holy Scripture..."

So, returning to the question posed earlier: Why was the Apocrypha included in the early translations of the English Bible. First, the Roman Catholic influence played a major part. Secondly, the Apocrypha was considered to be of some literary and historical value. Some of the books do fill in some of the 400-year gap between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New.

Why Reject The Apocrypha?

Despite the Roman Catholic decree at Council of Trent in 1546 which declares everyone anathema, (cursed or condemned to destruction) who "does not accept as sacred and canonical the aforesaid books (the Apocrypha) in their entirety and with all their parts" there are solid biblical reasons for rejecting them. Here are just a few.

1. As I have already mentioned, they are not included in the original Hebrew Old Testament preserved by the Jews because they did not believe they were divinely inspired. I believed that God guided them in the rejection of the Apocryphal books from the canon of Scripture because, as we have seen, God had appointed the Jews as custodians of the Old Testament (Romans 3:2).

2. Our Lord Did NOT included them as a part of the Old Testament Scriptures

Our Lord identifies the parameters of the Hebrew Canon in Luke 24:44-45 "And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures…"

In these verse in Luke, Jesus divides the written word of God into three categories. The Hebrew Bible is known by the acronym TaNaKh, has these three divisions, first the Torah, (the first five books of Moses), second the Nevi'im or Prophets, and third the Ketuvim or Writings. Christ was appearing to the disciples shortly after His resurrection and He was expounding to His disciples on the testimony of the Scriptures about Himself, from one end of the Bible to the other. From the beginning at Moses; next to the prophets; and then on to the last division that began with Psalms; Christ explained from the Hebrew Bible, the TaNaKh, how it revealed Him to be the Messiah.

But, there might be some skeptics saying, Christ only references the Psalms in the last division. How do we know that He included the entire last division? Turn to Luke 11:51-52 "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. 52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered." Note that Jesus accuses the scribes and Pharisees of taking away the key of knowledge. What key is that? And what is God requiring of that generation? The answer is in the phrase "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias." (parallel passage Matthew 23:29-36).

Abel was slain in the first book of the Bible (Gen 4:8). Now those who anticipate the answer (that Zacharias is the last one recorded to be slain in the Old Testament) might begin looking for the slaying of Zacharias in the book of Malachi, the last book of the Protestant Bible. Why? Because Jesus is referring to the full breadth of the Scriptures (the key of knowledge, the oracles of God), from the first book of the Old Testament, to the last book of the Old Testament. A Protestant therefore, might well open their Bible to search in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, for the martyrdom of Zacharias. However, Malachi is not the last book of the Hebrew TaNaKh! If you will look at the chart earlier in the notes you will see that although the Hebrew Bible, though identical in content to the Protestant Old Testament, is NOT in the same order as Protestant or Catholic Bibles. In the Hebrew Bible the last book is the book of Chronicles. That is where we find the murder of Zechariah between the altar and the temple. 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 "And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. 21 And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. 22 Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it."

The following table shows the collective logical result of the quotes of Jesus in Luke 24:44-45. Note particularly that the third division of Scripture is defined as beginning at Psalms and ending with 2 Chronicles. (Chart & information from

(Hebrew Bible As Delineated By Christ)

The Law

The Prophets

The Writings

Genesis - Deuteronomy

Joshua - Malachi

Psalms - 2 Chronicles

Already in apostolic times, long before any Roman Catholic councils, this same Hebrew Bible, the TaNaKh, was being referred to by the Christians as the Old Testament.

Here is my point. Jesus Christ did NOT include the Apocrypha as a part of the Old Testament Scriptures. He neither alluded to it nor quoted from it.

3. The Apocrypha is never quoted in the New Testament Scriptures.

There is not one time in the New Testament where the Apocrypha is quoted. Never is the phrase "it is written" or "thus sayeth the Lord" used with a quote from the Apocrypha. Further, no book of the Apocrypha is mentioned in the New Testament.

4. They are not included on the early Canon Lists

The church, in the early years, it drew up various lists of the books it considered to be Old Testament Scripture. The books of the Apocrypha do not appear on any list until late in the fourth century. The earliest existing list of Old Testament Canon comes from about A.D. 170 when Melito, Bishop of Sardis wrote: "When I came to the east and reached the place where these things were preached and done, and learned accurately the books of the Old Testament, I set down the facts and sent them to you. These are their names: the five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua the son of Nun, Judges, Ruth, four books of the Kingdom, two books of Chronicles, the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon and his wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, The Twelve in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra."

Melito’s Canon list is very helpful. He includes all the books of the present canon except Esther. The reference to the four books of the kingdom would be 1,2 Samuel and 1,2 Kings. Ezra was the common way to refer to Ezra-Nehemiah. Wisdom was merely a fuller description of the Book of Proverbs – not the Apocryphal book by that name. Among ancient writers Proverbs was often called Wisdom. As you can see, he includes all the books of the Old Testament except Esther. But nowhere does he mention any of the books of the Apocrypha.

The Bible says in John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth... The Holy Spirit did not guide the Apostolic and Early New Testament Church to regard the Apocrypha as the inspired Word of God because it was not!

5. The Apocrypha contains teachings that are contrary to the teachings of The Bible

The Apocrypha contain teachings wholly contrary to the other books of the Bible. II Maccabees teaches praying for the dead and making offering to atone for the sins of the dead. Consider this quote from 2 Maccabees 12:41-45:

"So they all blessed the ways of the Lord, the righteous judge, who reveals the things that are hidden; and they turned to supplication, praying that the sin that had been committed might be wholly blotted out. The noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves free from sin, for they had seen with their own eyes what had happened as the result of the sin of those who had fallen. He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.   But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. The be delivered from their sin." (Second sp; 

The Roman Catholic Church uses the above passage as support for Purgatory. They teach that the faithful on earth can be of great help to persons who have died and are undergoing purgatory by offering for them the sacrifice of the Mass, prayers, almsgiving, and other religious deeds. STOP! That is not what the Bible teaches! Consider the following questions and answer them.

What is the only offering that God will receive for sin?

Hebrews 10:10-14 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

It is only through Christ Jesus that atonement is made! Romans 5:11 says, "And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."

Where do the saved dead go when they die?

They do not go to purgatory, they go immediately to be with the Lord. 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 points this out! Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7 (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8 We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (See also Philippians 1:20-23)

Where do the unsaved go when they die?

They do not go to purgatory; they go to Hades (Hell). Luke 16:19-31 makes that very clear. There are no second chances after death. Those who do not believe on Christ are "condemned already" (John 3:18). John 3:36 adds, He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Neither praying for the dead, nor saying masses for the dead will change the state of the ones who have died, You can pray for departed loved ones till you are blue in the face and spend every last penny you possess to get a priest to say masses for the dead but that will not change the eternal state of those who are unsaved. It will not even get them a cup of cold water in Hell.

There is are problems with The Wisdom of Solomon --

It teaches the pre-existence of the soul of man. Wisdom 8:19-20 says "As a child I was by nature well endowed, and a good soul fell to my lot; 20 or rather, being good, I entered an undefiled body."

The fact is, there is NOT a pool of pre-existing souls that God assigns to a body. God created man, including the soul and spirit of man, as we read in 1 Corinthians 15:45 "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."

Next, The Wisdom of Solomon also teaches God created the earth out of pre-existing matter. Wisdom 11:17-19 "For thy all-powerful hand, which created the world out of formless matter, did not lack the means to send upon them a multitude of bears, or bold lions, 18 or newly created unknown beasts full of rage, or such as breathe out fiery breath, or belch forth a thick pall of smoke, or flash terrible sparks from their eyes; 19 not only could their damage exterminate men, but the mere sight of them could kill by fright."

While this passage is certainly interesting, the Bible makes it clear that God spoke everything into existence from nothing.

Psalms 33:6 "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth."

Job 26:7 "He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing."

Hebrews 11:3 "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear."

The angel Raphael teaches sorcery & magic which God forbids

Tobit 6:4,6-8 "Then the angel said to him, Cut open the fish and take the heart and liver and gall and put them away ......... Then the young man said to the angel, Brother Azatias, of what use is the liver and heart and gall of the fish? He replied, As for the heart and the liver, if a demon or evil spirit gives trouble to any one, you make a smoke from these before the man or woman, and that person will never be troubled again. And as for the gall, anoint with it a man who has white films in his eyes, and he will be cured." What the angel suggests is nothing other than occult magic, which the Lord forbids! Deuteronomy 13:10-12 & Jeremiah 27:9 makes that clear.

Tobit teaches the false doctrine of salvation by works

Tobit 12:9 "For almsgiving delivers from death, and it will purge away every sin.

Tobit 14:11 "So now, my children, consider what almsgiving accomplishes and how righteousness delivers."

Teaching that alleges that giving or any other works purges sin is inconsistent with the Bible. The Word of God says, 1 Peter 1:13-19 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

Titus 3:5 "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"

I could go on, but I will just point out one last example. The book of Judith contains the account of how a so-called godly widow destroyed one of Nebuchadnezzar's generals through deceit and sexual offers. It is also important to note that Judith's counsel regarding resisting Nebuchadnezzar was contrary to that given by God's prophet Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 38:14). God warned the Israelites to submit to Nebuchadnezzar rather than to resist, because the Babylonian captivity and destruction of Israel was a judgment from God upon the Jew's rebellion and idolatry.

In conclusion, there is clear evidence that the Apocryphal books are not inspired of the Lord. Neither Christ nor the Apostles ever quoted from them though they did quote from every other part of the Old Testament Scriptures. While there may be some historical value in some of the Aprocryphal writings, they should not be considered inspired despite the decree of the Council of Trent and the inclusion of these books in almost all the early English versions of the Bible.


Please click here for the Most Important Message of the Bible Concerning You. "
Is any of the following a blessing to you today?
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."
Matthew 24:3

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
Acts 4:12

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

1 Corinthians 2:9

Free Literature Packet
Click here for a free literature packet about God's way to eternal life by providing your name and complete mailing address.
First Baptist Church of Oak Creek

10550 S. Howell Ave. - Oak Creek, WI 53154

Phone: 414-762-7575

Pastor: David L. Brown, Ph.D.

WebSite PageViews
Track visitors of website


Copyright © 2012 - 2015 First Baptist Church of Oak Creek - All Rights Reserved Worldwide.