The Canon of the Bible and the Apocrypha

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Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Posted: Sun, Jun 23 2019 12:06 PM

This morning I was discussing the Canon and the Apocrypha of the Bible with someone.  This person insists that the Apocrypha is essential to the Bible and should be studied as well as the Bible. What is a good source for explaining why the Apocrypha is excluded from the King James Bible and many current Bibles?

Thanks.

Susan Murphy

Posts 36
Joseph Sollenberger | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 1:19 PM

The contents of the Apocrypha have been treated in a variety of ways by the various Christian traditions. Many are surprised to find that it was included in the Geneva Bible and also in the KJV at the beginning. Whether or not the Apocrypha is essential very much depends on ones fundamental assumptions related to the Canon as influenced by their faith tradition. There will be no agreement or closure on the value of the Apocrypha other than the idea that, at the minimum, it provides historical and cultural information for the time frame between the those portions of scripture accepted by all Christians. Personally, I find that the books of the Maccabees are fascinating for information that explains how political alliances between Judaea and Rome began. I had always wondered on what basis Rome laid claim to a valid interest in Judea.

It is always useful to understand how and why different traditions develop.

In Logos, the major dictionaries should give useful background information.

Happy Researching,

Joseph

Joseph F. Sollenberger, Jr.

Posts 18643
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 2:26 PM

Here are some resources on the Canon that explain the inclusion or non-inclusion of the Apocrypha. And no doubt MJ Smith will tell you that there are many more versions of the canon than just one that includes the Apocrypha (Catholic) and one that doesn't (Protestant). And she can probably recommend resources that discuss all those differences.

https://www.logos.com/product/39629/biblical-canon-its-origin-transmission-and-authority

https://www.logos.com/product/39627/exploring-the-origins-of-the-bible-canon-formation-in-historical-literary-and-theological-perspective

https://www.logos.com/product/2979/the-canon-of-scripture

https://www.logos.com/product/165168/from-god-to-us-revised-and-expanded-how-we-got-our-bible

https://www.logos.com/product/45776/how-the-bible-was-built

https://www.logos.com/product/47460/the-making-of-the-new-testament-origin-collection-text-and-canon

https://www.logos.com/product/29778/the-origin-of-the-bible

https://www.logos.com/product/5685/the-septuagint-as-christian-scripture-its-prehistory-and-the-problem-of-its-canon

Here's a quote from the Festal Letter XXXIX of Athanasius which is relevant to your inquiry:

"For, in truth, the Apocrypha are fables, and attention directed to them is vain, because they are vain and abominable voices. For this means beginnings of dissensions and a like goal is quarrelling among men, who do not care about the Church’s advantage, but long to receive honour from those whom they have deceived, that people may think of them that they are great, because they make known new things (words). So it is fitting that we reject such books; for, even if we find a useful word in them, yet it is good not to believe them." Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, Studies in Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 216.

Posts 563
Randall Cue | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 2:51 PM

Susan, a couple of interesting facts:

1) the translators of the KJV did produce a version of the Apocrypha

2) there are multiple versions of the Apocrypha. The Roman Catholic version differs from the Greek Orthodox version

Soli Deo Gloria

Randy

Posts 2239
Jan Krohn | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 2:55 PM

Rosie Perera:

I'm currently reading this book. Surprisingly, it is mildly pro Apocrypha, and will not help in the initial question.

Past IT Consultant. Past Mission Worker. Entrepreneur. Future Seminary Student.
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Keep Smiling 4 Jesus :) | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 3:44 PM

Susan W. Murphy:
What is a good source for explaining why the Apocrypha is excluded from the King James Bible and many current Bibles?

Search suggestion is Luther WITHIN 11 WORDS apocrypha

Search refinement is: (Jerome,Luther) WITHIN 11 WORDS apocrypha

Keep Smiling Smile

Posts 10032
Denise | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 4:53 PM

Rosie Perera:

Here's a quote from the Festal Letter XXXIX of Athanasius which is relevant to your inquiry:

"For, in truth, the Apocrypha are fables, and attention directed to them is vain, because they are vain and abominable voices. For this means beginnings of dissensions and a like goal is quarrelling among men, who do not care about the Church’s advantage, but long to receive honour from those whom they have deceived, that people may think of them that they are great, because they make known new things (words). So it is fitting that we reject such books; for, even if we find a useful word in them, yet it is good not to believe them." Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, Studies in Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 216.

Rosie, not wishing to argue, etc. I think you have the Festal Letter 39 (Schaff Nicene and Post Nicene v4). Athanasius notes the fathers recommend the apocrypha, though they're not canon (para 7) ... 'instruction in the word of godliness'. He seems to combine both the jewish Wisdom, Sirach, Judith, Tobit, and popular NT apocrypha like Didache and Hermes. His 'apocryphal' seems to be the unapproved (gnostic, etc). 

Again, just discussing.


Posts 18643
Rosie Perera | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Jun 23 2019 5:40 PM

Jan Krohn:

Rosie Perera:

I'm currently reading this book. Surprisingly, it is mildly pro Apocrypha, and will not help in the initial question.

It's probably good for someone to understand the other side's arguments when trying to make a persuasive case. You're better prepared that way to rebut their rebuttals. Then again I also think we all can stand to examine our own preconceived notions and see if they stand up to alternative viewpoints. It might be that we'd want to moderate the strength of our dogmatism on our position once we find out more.

Posts 2311
Posts 3646
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 1:18 AM

Regardless of whether one believes the apocrypha to be Scriptures, one should read them and think through what they show about Second Temple Judaism. Without these we are missing often essential links between the OT and the NT. These includes important topics such as why it is assumed in Jesus' teaching that there is an archenemy of God and His people, why exorcisms are important in the NT but hardly in the OT, why the resurrection of the just is now foremost instead of blessing in this life, why it is okay even expected that the just may die as a martyr, what are apocalypses and how does that help us read and understand Revelation. Many of those topics cannot be limited to the apocrypha but also to other Jewish literature in the 2nd Temple period. 

So these need to be studied just as much as one may read on Corinth or Ephesus when studying Pauline epistles. You can of course get some of this distilled in good dictionaries but one always get a better sense when the primary sources have been read.

Posts 2311
Ronald Quick | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 5:13 AM

Francis:
Regardless of whether one believes the apocrypha to be Scriptures, one should read them

I agree.  Regardless of one's views about them, I think they should be read.  In addition to helping us understand the time between the OT and NT, I have found some very encouraging and uplifting passages in them.

Posts 3646
Francis | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:01 AM

Ronald Quick:
I have found some very encouraging and uplifting passages in them.

When I was a young believer, the way these books were described to me sounded as if they were sect-like materials, you know, don't read lest you be led astray. But whatever we think of the theological viewpoints expressed in these writings, these books were written about God, His Kingdom, Israel, the nations, faith, righteousness, and wisdom. In other words, they promote the faith of Israel and much of the biblical values.

Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:35 PM

Mr. Sollenberger,

Thanks for the info.  I've never read the Apocrypha but plan to do that now.  Especially, Maccabees for the historical info.  I still believe that it isn't inspired but think it will help me understand the culture of the times better.

Sincerely,
Susan Murphy

Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:39 PM

Jan,

I'll have to check out these books.

Thanks.

Susan Murphy

Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:45 PM

Rosie Perera:

Here are some resources on the Canon that explain the inclusion or non-inclusion of the Apocrypha. And no doubt MJ Smith will tell you that there are many more versions of the canon than just one that includes the Apocrypha (Catholic) and one that doesn't (Protestant). And she can probably recommend resources that discuss all those differences.

https://www.logos.com/product/39629/biblical-canon-its-origin-transmission-and-authority

https://www.logos.com/product/39627/exploring-the-origins-of-the-bible-canon-formation-in-historical-literary-and-theological-perspective

https://www.logos.com/product/2979/the-canon-of-scripture

https://www.logos.com/product/165168/from-god-to-us-revised-and-expanded-how-we-got-our-bible

https://www.logos.com/product/45776/how-the-bible-was-built

https://www.logos.com/product/47460/the-making-of-the-new-testament-origin-collection-text-and-canon

https://www.logos.com/product/29778/the-origin-of-the-bible

https://www.logos.com/product/5685/the-septuagint-as-christian-scripture-its-prehistory-and-the-problem-of-its-canon

Here's a quote from the Festal Letter XXXIX of Athanasius which is relevant to your inquiry:

"For, in truth, the Apocrypha are fables, and attention directed to them is vain, because they are vain and abominable voices. For this means beginnings of dissensions and a like goal is quarrelling among men, who do not care about the Church’s advantage, but long to receive honour from those whom they have deceived, that people may think of them that they are great, because they make known new things (words). So it is fitting that we reject such books; for, even if we find a useful word in them, yet it is good not to believe them." Alexander Souter, The Text and Canon of the New Testament, Studies in Theology (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), 216.

Rosie,

Thank you so much for your input on this topic of Apocrypha.  I will check out the books you've mentioned. I think this will be very helpful to me.

Blessings,

Susan Murphy

Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:46 PM

Randall,

Thanks for the info.

Sincerely,

Susan Murphy

Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:48 PM

Jan,

I'll have to check this out.

Thanks.

Susan Murphy

Posts 166
Susan W. Murphy | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Jun 24 2019 6:49 PM

Keep Smiling 4 Jesus,

Thanks for this Search result and the great info.

Sincerely,

Susan Murphy

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