Bible Question:

I am a Christian Coptic Orthodox and I seek the truth. Is this following statement true, “The Deuterocanon books are a part of the Holy Bible.” The Protestants removed them from the Bible saying they were not the Word of God, although there are many evidences and historical proofs to verify them.

Bible Answer:

Should the Deuterocanon be included in the Holy Bible? The answer is no. What follows explains why! The reasons are based in statements made in the Bible.

Deuterocanon in the Holy Bible?

What Is The Deuterocanon?

The Deuterocanon is a collection of eleven books that are sometimes mistakenly referred to as the Apocrypha. “Deutero” means “second” and so the deuterocanonical books refer to a second canon, the first canon being the Old and New Testaments. The deuterocanonical books include: Tobit, Judith, Esther 10:4-16:24, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch (Letter to Jeremiah), Song of the Three Children, History of Suzanna, Bel and the Dragon, and 1-2 Maccabees. The Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches consider these books to be inspired.

The Old Testament Apocrypha is a collection of fifteen books which includes 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses. The Apocrypha was included in the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Tanakh. The Tanakh is the Hebrew Old Testament accepted by Jews. It does not include the Apocrypha,  which has been included in a variety of other Bibles for educational purposes. Modern versions of the King James Bible no longer include the Old Testament Apocrypha. Both the Jews and Protestants consider the apocryphal books to be secular books and not inspired by God. Consequently, they reject all of these books as scripture. There is another group of books called the Pseudepigrapha which the vast majority of Christian scholars also reject.

Should the Deuterocanon Be Included In the Holy Bible?

The article “How Accurate Is The Bible?” shows that Jesus referred to every major section of the Hebrew Bible, which is the Protestant Old Testament. In that article it is explained that Luke 24:44 reveals Jesus and the apostles endorsed the Hebrew Bible which is the Protestant Old Testament. The gospels also reveal that Jesus never quoted any book in the Deuterocanon or any of the Old Testament Apocrypha, and Pseudepigrapha books. Here is Luke 24;44,

Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44 (NASB)

Together Jesus and the apostles quoted from almost every book in the Hebrew books (Old Testament or Tanakh) and every major division. It is clear that Jesus and the apostles considered the Hebrew scriptures of their day to be inspired. They referred to them as the “Scriptures” and treated them as being authoritative. The apostle Paul states that all of scripture is inspired.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness . . . (NASB) 2 Tim. 3:16

To what Scriptures was the Apostle Paul referring? We discover that Jesus called the book of Psalms Scripture (Matthew 21:42). Jesus, our God, said that the Scriptures contained prophecies about Himself (Matthew 26:54). In Luke 4:18-21, Jesus quoted from Isaiah and called it Scripture. In Luke 24:27, 32, it is clear the books of Moses and the prophets were called Scripture. In Luke 24:44-45, the Holy Spirit tells us that Jesus considered the three major divisions of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, to be Scripture. That means that every book in the Hebrew Bible of Jesus’ day was considered to be inspired by Him. When our God, Jesus Christ, and his Apostles call something Scripture, then we can know it is authoritative.

Flavius Josephus’ Twenty-Two Books

So to what Hebrew scriptures were Jesus and the Apostles referring? Flavius Josephus (A.D. 30-11) comes to our rescue in his book “Against Apion” (p. 1038-1041) when he says that the Hebrew scriptures contained twenty-two books. Upon careful examination of the books, we discover that he combined the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Judges and Ruth,  and Jeremiah and Lamentations. He also combined all of the twelve minor prophets into one book. That is, he included all thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. The Babylonian Talmud lists twenty-four books in Baba Bathra 14b-15a. The list includes the same books referred to by Josephus. The Babylonian Talmud separates Judges from Ruth and Jeremiah from Lamentations.

Jamnia Council

The council that occurred at Jamnia in A.D. 90, affirmed that the books of  Ecclesiastes and Proverbs were inspired and Scripture. The council was not a formal meeting to determine which books were scripture. The Hebrew scriptures had already been determined. Flavius Josephus made this very clear. The apocryphal books were not included in Flavius Josephus’ list, nor were they included in the Babylonian Talmud list. Jamnia did not determine the list of books called Scripture. The Hebrew canon had already been decided, and Jesus and the apostles affirmed it.

The Septuagint

The Septuagint (LXX) was accepted by Jesus and the apostles as inspired scripture since they quoted from it. Most of the quotes found in the gospels and the New Testament are not exact quotes of either the Hebrew scriptures (Masoretic text) or the LXX. This has been an issue among theologians. It is important to note that the LXX was intended for general, informal reading.

The LXX was not designed to have the purpose of the Hebrew text, as it would be primarily used publicly in the synagogues, while the latter would be used for more scholarly purposes.[1]

To say that Jesus and the apostles considered the apocryphal books to be inspired is inaccurate and ignores the fact that neither Flavius Josephus nor the Babylonian Talmud include them.

Dead Sea Scrolls

The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered between 1947 and 1956 in eleven caves near the ancient site of Khirbet Qumran on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea in Israel. Nearly 900 manuscripts were discovered. The oldest manuscripts were created in about 250 B.C. and the latest dates to A.D. 70. The Dead Sea Scrolls include every book of the Hebrew Scriptures, except for Esther. The book of Isaiah dates between B.C. 335 and B.C. 122.

Only thirteen manuscripts of the deuterocanonical books were found among the Dead Sea scrolls. The manuscripts included only three books: Tobit, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch (Letter to Jeremiah). It is important to note that the Dead Sea Scrolls included almost 650 extra-biblical manuscripts which included songs, prayers, commentaries, and many secular works. It is clear that the content of the Hebrew scriptures was well known at the time of Jesus. The deuterocanonical books were not as highly regarded – most of them are missing.

How shall we respond to Jude 9 which appears to refer to an event that can also be found in the Assumption of Moses (A.D. 7-30), a non-inspired book? Some have concluded that Jude quoted the Assumption of Moses and treated it as inspired. But it is also possible that both the Assumption of Moses and the book of Jude, which was written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, referred to a true or historical event. Just because a book is not inspired does not mean that everything in it is false. Books on mathematics are not inspired, but they teach that one-plus-one equals two! So both the book of Jude and the Assumption of Moses could have referred to a true event, but only the book of Jude is inspired.

Council of Trent

The Council of Trent added the Deuterocanon to the Bible in the belief that it was inspired scripture. He states that the books had been informally accepted by the Councils of Rome, Hippo, and Carthage. Finally the Council of Trent in A.D. 1546 adopted them as inspired. Then he states that Martin Luther spoke out against them because they contained “lots of scriptural truth” for Roman Catholic doctrine.

But the Council of Trent occurred after Martin Luther posted his 95 theses. Once the Deuterocanon was adopted as scripture, it was used against Martin Luther. Why was it formally adopted after Martin Luther left the church? Why did the Roman Catholic church reject the other apocryphal books? Why should a group of books that neither Jesus nor His apostles ever referred to as scripture be accepted 1,500 years later?

Conclusion:

In conclusion, it is clear that the Deuterocanon does not belong in the Bible. A large amount of evidence exists that the Hebrew scriptures Jesus and the apostles accepted and called Scripture did not include the Deuterocanon.

 

References:

1. Geisler, Norman L. Introduction to the Bible. Moody Press., Chicago. 1973., p. 308.

Suggested Links:

What is the Bible?
How accurate is the Bible?
What are the additional books of the Bible in the Catholic religion?
What Is The Apocrypha? Should It Be In The Bible?
What is the Pseudepigrapha? Should it be in the Bible?
What books belong in the Bible? – Canon of Scripture
Is the book of Enoch inspired?
What is the Tanakh and Talmud?
Can you please explain the dispute over the body of Moses?