Thursday, October 11, 2007

In Defense of the Deuterocanon: Part 1

The following is my answer to a series of questions by "Lady Mo" about the apocryphal books (the same ones Catholics refer to as the deuterocanonical books). It's pretty long so I divided it into two parts.

Pax Christi,
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Whats good sir? How have you been? It has def. been a minute since we last
I just finished my paper, so I feel a whole lot better :D
But here is my question, and I apologize if it was already asked (I did not read through the other posts). So, it has been, just let me know and I will read through them. Thanks!
Well, it hasn't been addressed in this thread, but there is a thread from a few months back called "Should the apocrypha be used as a devotion?" that probably answers all of your questions (I jump in on page 6). So, I will be borrowing heavily from what I wrote in that thread, and adding some new stuff as your questions require it. Also, I hope you don't mind if I direct you from time to time to some articles that provide more information. I'm trying to keep this from becoming a novel (which is something I've never been very good at).

Now, as a review, the aporcyphal books are: Sirach, Tobit, Wisdom, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and Baruch, as well as additions to Daniel and Esther. For ease of speaking I will refer to these as "apocrypha," even though Catholics refer to them instead as the "deuterocanon" or the "deuterocanonical books."
Ok, this question is concerning the Apocrypha. If I am correct, the Roman Catholics, in the midst of the reformation affirmed the OT apoc. officially in the 16th century. So, up until then, no part of the Christian church use the apocrypha, (which brings up the issue of criteria for the cannon, specifically traditional use, catholicity, and orthodoxy. But I will get to that later).
It is incorrect that "no part of the Christian church used the apocypha" until the 16th century. You have to keep in mind that Councils do not make new doctrines. Instead, they confirm what has been the long-standing teaching and practice of the Church, and they usually only do this when something long-held is being questioned or contended with for the first time or with particular veracity. And so it was with the Canon. The reformers were doing something novel and revolutionary when they took it upon themselves to throw out some books of the OT (and if Luther had his way, some of the NT too). So, it was necessary to definitively declare what the Church had long sense considered the canonical books of Scripture.

It is true that for the first 400 or so years of the Church, the canon was a topic of debate and that there was some variance during this time as to what was considered canonical. But, once the dust settled, thanks in large part to the decrees of various local councils and the general approval of the Fathers, all of Christendom had settled upon the canon that Catholics use today.

This is seen in various works of the Fathers that utilize the apocryphal books and quote from them. In order to save space, I will not be posting the pertinent passages here. Instead, I direct you to two articles, which are basically just compilations of passages from the Fathers where they quote from the apocryphal books:This shows that the aporcyphal books were definitely used before Trent.
Continuing on, the OT apoc was written between the OT and NT, yet never once was it alluded to or quoted by Jesus and the apostles. They only quoted from the OT.
This too is incorrect. I have found at least 31 references to the apocrypha in the Gospels alone. They include the following:

Mt 4:4 and Wisdom 16:26Mt 6:7 and Sirach 7:14Mt 7:12 and Tobit 4:15Mt 7:16 and Sirach 27:6Mt 8:11 and Baruch 4:37Mt 11:28 and Sirach 24:19Mt 16:18 and Wisdom 16:13Mt 18:10 and Tobit 12:15Mt 22:13 and Wisdom 17:2Mt 26:38 and Sirach 37:2Mt 27:43 and Wisdom 2:13,18-20

Mr 4:5 and Sirach 40:15Mr 9:48 and Judith 16:17

Lk 1:19 and Tobit 12:15Lk 1:42 and Judith 13:18Lk 1:52 and Sirach 10:14Lk 2:29 and Tobit 11:9Lk 2:37 and Judith 8:6Lk 13:29 and Baruch 4:37Lk 14:13 and Tobit 2:2Lk 19:44 and Wisdom 3:7Lk 21:25 and Wisdom 5:22

Jn 1:3 and Wisdom 9:1Jn 3:8 and Sirach 16:21Jn 3:12 and Wisdom 9:16Jn 3:13 and Baruch 3:29Jn 5:18 and Wisdom 2:16Jn 8:44 and Wisdom 2:24Jn 8:53 and Sirach 44:19Jn 14:15 and Wisdom 6:18Jn 17:3 and Wisdom 15:3

Note that the passion of Jesus Christ is strikingly presented in almost the entire second chapter of Wisdom. This alone would suffice as evidence of a connection between a deuterocanonical book and the NT (by way of a prophecy being fulfilled). The connection between Heb 11:35 and 2 Macc 7 is another striking example. The only place where you find what the writer to the Hebrews is talking about is in 2 Macc 7. You can read more examples here.

Now, I do realize that there is debate about what constitutes an actual quotation or reference to an aporcyphal text and that you may wish to reject some of these examples. But, all you need is one solid example of an NT quotation of an apocryphal book and the claim that no one ever quoted from them is defeated.

It is also worthwhile to note that Jesus and the apostles used the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew text for Hellenistic Jews), and the Septuagint contained the apocryphal books. We know they used it b/c often times their quotations of the OT fit the Septuagint text instead of the Hebrew text. You can find numerous examples of that here.

All of this shows that Jesus and the apostles definitely quoted from, referenced, and utilized the apocyphal books.

I'll have to finish up in a subsequent post.

Pax Christi,


  1. Here's another point about quoting by Jesus and his disciples. Simply ask if she is prepared to reject the books that they don't quote from.

    Not all the OT books are quoted in the NT, even those that the protestants generally accept. In order to find a quote from each book you'd have to be very loose with what you consider a quote. If you that loose with the "accepted" OT books, then the apocrypha should be accepted as well.

  2. Yea, that's a good point. There are many reasons why the "quotation equals canonicity" rule does not work.


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