Why the Apocrypha is not Canonical Scripture

The Books of the Old and New Testaments Canonical and Inspired;
With Remarks on the Apocrypha
by Robert Haldane (1764–1842)

In course of time, and in the progress of that corruption in the churches which soon began to work, the sacred canon was defiled by the addition and even intermixture of other books, which, through the unfaithfulness of Christians, were admitted first as of secondary, and at length by many as of equal authority and consideration with those of which it was composed.

No External Attestation that the Apocrypha is Divine Revelation

These books were called Apocryphal, and are supposed to have been so denominated from the Greek word apokruptw, “to hide — to conceal,” which is expressive of the uncertainty and concealed nature of their origin. Who their authors were is not known.

They were written subsequently to the cessation of the prophetic spirit in the time of Malachi, who closed his testimony by reminding the people of Israel of the authority of the law of Moses, and intimating that, after himself, no prophet was to arise until the harbinger of the Messiah should appear.

They were not written in the Hebrew language, in which all the books of the Old Testament were originally composed, with the exception of a few passages in Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezra, and Esther, which were written in Chaldee.

Both Philo and Josephus, who flourished in the first century of the Christian era, are altogether silent concerning these spurious books, which were not contained in the Septuagint version, as set forth by the translators under Ptolemy; [8] and they form no part of those sacred writings committed by God to the Jews, universally acknowledged, and preserved by them entire.

Above all, they have not received, like these holy writings, the attestation of Jesus Christ, and his Apostles, placing upon them the broad seal of heaven, who have never once quoted them.

A real and essential difference was constantly maintained by the early Christians between them and the canonical books; and it was not till the fourth century, when the churches had become exceedingly corrupt both in faith and practice, that they came to be permitted to appear with the canon.

Blasphemy in the Apocrypha

The Apocryphal books, though not admitted by the first Christian writers, or churches, to have any authority in matters of faith, yet claim for themselves that authority; and even arrogate an equality with the sacred Scriptures, to which they were at length advanced by the church of Rome. They present themselves to the world as a part of the Word of God, sometimes communicated immediately by himself, sometimes conveyed through the medium of angels, who are represented as standing before him. The claim to inspiration is not more explicitly asserted by the writers of the Scriptures, than by some of the authors of the Apocryphal books. No higher demand for attention to their messages can be made by holy prophets and apostles, than when they affirm, “Thus saith the Lord.” Yet this is the language in which men are addressed by these authors. They “have daubed them with untempered mortar, seeing vanity, and divining lies unto them, SAYING, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD, when the Lord hath not spoken.” Ezek. 22:28.

In the second book of Esdras, the writer, having commenced by declaring his lineage, affirms, “The word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Go thy way, and show my people,” &c. — “Speak thou therefore unto them, saying, Thus saith the Lord.” —”Thus saith the Almighty Lord.” This expression occurs four times in the first chapter. The second chapter opens with “Thus saith the Lord,“which in the course of that chapter is repeated nine times; and an angel is represented as speaking to the writer- “Then the angel said unto me, Go thy way, and tell my people what manner of things, and how great wonders of the Lord thy God thou hast seen.” The rest of the book proceeds in the same strain, the author continuing to recite divine communications, made to himself as they had been to Moses.

In the book of Baruch, 2:21, it is written, “Thus saith the Lord.

In the book of Tobit, a long interview with an angel is related, who affirms that he is one of the holy angels who go in and out before the glory of the Holy One. “Now, therefore,” says this angel, “give God thanks, for I go up to him that sent me, but write all things which are done in a book.” Tobit, 12:15, 20.

God himself is often introduced by the Apocryphal writers, as communicating his will to them, and long speeches are ascribed to him. [9] Thus the writers of the Apocrypha come as the bearers of messages from God, and as such they deliver them to mankind. They profess to communicate a portion of spiritual light not borrowed from the Holy Scriptures, but immediately derived from the source of light. In every sense of the word, these books present themselves as a part of Divine Revelation, and if they were what they pretend to be, would be entitled to equal attention and reverence with the Holy Scriptures. Here, then, there is no medium, and the conclusion is inevitable:—The Apocrypha is either an addition made to the Old Testament Scriptures by God himself, or it is the work of lying prophets. This important question ought, therefore, to be considered by every Christian; and happily its solution is attended with no difficulty.

Internal Inconsistency, Absurdity, and Contrariety to the Word of God

The Hebrew Scriptures come to us, as we have seen, with the fullest and most unequivocal attestations, that they are the oracles of God. On the other hand, if we examine the claim of the Apocryphal books, what do we observe? External evidence of their constituting a portion of divine revelation, they have none. The question, then, is, on this ground alone, even were there no other to which we could appeal, for ever decided against them. But in order to produce the fullest conviction in the minds of all who know the truth as it is in Jesus, and to exclude every doubt, let us call another witness. We shall appeal, then, to the internal evidence of these writings. They contain within themselves their own condemnation. They are inconsistent, absurd, and contrary to the Word of God.

Viewing the Apocryphal writings as standing by the side of the Holy Scriptures, what character do they present? Do they offer any thing new, any thing that it might be of importance to know beyond what is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament? Do they teach us the way of God more perfectly? This will not be pretended by any one. Do their histories, which they present to us as true, comport with the dignity of holy writ? Do they possess internal marks of being authentic? Do they bear the character of a revelation from God, given for our instruction? So far is this from being the case, that many of their narrations are incredible and self-contradictory, and others irreconcilably at variance with the canonical Scriptures. They are defiled with a variety of errors, vanities, low conceits, and other faults incident to human nature and human infirmity. While their style, far different from the grave and chaste simplicity, or the divine and spiritual majesty, of the pure, genuine Word of God, is deformed with levity, and affectation of worldly wisdom and eloquence.

False Doctrine in the Apocrypha

The Apocryphal books are not only replete with absurdities, superstitions, and falsehoods, in, their narrations, but also with false doctrines, directly opposed to the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, such as those of purgatory and prayers for the dead. But, waiving for the present every other charge on this head against them, let us turn our attention to a single point of the last importance, which involves an answer to that most momentous of all questions — How shall man be just before God? The Scriptures assure us, that if any man denies the doctrine of justification by faith without works, he becomes a debtor to do the whole law. What judgment, then, are we bound to form of a book which, openly contradicting this fundamental doctrine, and exhibiting another way of acceptance with God, makes void the whole plan of redemption? On this one point, then, of the explicit contravention by the Apocryphal books of the grand Scripture doctrine of justification, let them be tried; — that doctrine which is peculiar to the Christian religion, and unknown to every false one, which so remarkably illustrates and honors the finished work of the Redeemer — that doctrine of which God in his Word has affirmed, that the man who perverts it, Christ shall profit him nothing.

It is written in the Apocrypha, “Whoso honoreth his father maketh an atonement for his sins;” and again, “Water will quench a flaming fire, and alms maketh an atonement for sins.” Ecclesiasticus 3:3, 30. Sentiments more directly opposed to the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, more dishonorable to God, more contrary to his holiness, more derogatory to his justice, or more fraught with mortal poison, and more destructive to the souls of men, cannot be imagined.

The apostle Paul solemnly declared to the churches of Galatia, that if an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel than that which he had preached unto them, he should be accursed (Galatians 1:8). That very occurrence which the apostle here supposes, has, according to the Apocrypha, been realized. An angel from heaven, it affirms, has descended and declared that he came from God. “I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels, which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One; — not of any favor of mine, but by the will of our God I came.” Tobit 12:15, 18. And that very doctrine does this angel explicitly contradict which the apostle so earnestly inculcated, accompanied with the solemn asseveration, that the curse of God should rest on any creature who dared to pervert it. “It is better,” says this angel, “to give alms than to lay up gold; for alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin.” Tobit 12:8-9. If the man or angel who shall preach another gospel than that which the Bible contains, is pronounced by the Holy Ghost to be accursed, then must this awful denunciation apply to a book, which, pretending to record the message of an angel from heaven, teaches another gospel. On the Apocrypha, therefore, does this anathema rest.

The writers, then, of the Apocryphal books, who tread down the pastures, and foul the residue of the waters with their feet (Ezek. 34:18), are, by confronting their doctrine with that of the holy Apostles, proved to be false prophets, against whom the wrath of God and many woes are denounced in Scripture. In opposition to their folly and wickedness, the Lord says, “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire I saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” Jer. 22:28. “The prophet which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.” Deut. 23:20. These and many other passages are pointedly applicable to the Apocrypha. The writers of it may be justly termed prophets of deceit, and of their own heart, that prophesy lies in the name of the Lord, “saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed.” Jer. 23:25. They have indeed imitated the style of the Scriptures, like the impostors concerning whom it is written, “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” Jer. 23:30. “Thus saith the Lord God, Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! — Have ye not seen a vain vision, and have ye not spoken a lying divination, whereas ye say, The Lord saith it; albeit I have not spoken? Therefore, thus saith the Lord God, Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord God. And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies.” Ezek. 13:3, 7, 9.

The Bible then, and the Apocrypha, stand in direct opposition in their doctrine, and the latter is denounced by the former, and lies under its heaviest anathemas. The Apocryphal books, when delivered to the people as part of the divine oracles, are calculated by their absurdities to make men Deists or Atheists rather than Christians, and by their false doctrines to cause their readers to wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. As their introduction into the sacred canon has been the grand and crowning device of Satan for deceiving and corrupting the Christian world, and supporting the claims of the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth, it will be proper to trace it from its origin.

Origins of the Apocryphal Books

Although all the Apocryphal books had been called, by the first Christian writers, spurious and supposititious, as not being inspired, but, on the contrary, containing doctrines which subvert the very foundations of the Gospel, and of a sinner’s acceptance before God, yet some of them were at length selected, as being supposed to be purer than the rest, and better entitled to be used in public readings and services, and, on this account, they received the name of Ecclesiastical or Church books. Of these, there was even formed a register, or inferior canon, to exclude such as were reckoned more erroneous or faulty; and this, in process of time, occasioned the name of canonical to be given in common to the writings which were truly divine, and to those which were reckoned the best of the Apocryphal books. The books of the first canon were esteemed to be divinely inspired, and to be the certain rule of faith. The Apocryphal books were reckoned to be instructive and useful, but were excluded from all authority in matters of faith, and in determination of controversies; and when they came to be permitted to be read in the churches, the reader stood up in an inferior place. [10]

It happened, however, in the course of years, that all these Canonical and Apocryphal books were conjoined, and bound up together in one volume, for the greater facility of ecclesiastical use; and for the purpose of uniting the historical parts with the historical, the proverbial with the proverbial, the doctrinal with the doctrinal, they were intermingled with one another, as at present in the Roman Catholic Bibles. But this practice obtained no sanction from the primitive churches, or the best and earliest of the Christian fathers, who, on the contrary, strongly objected against it, and denied that these books were possessed of any authority. At the beginning, they were not acknowledged at all, nor admitted into any of the earlier catalogues of the Scriptures; and their introduction to that place, which, they afterwards unlawfully usurped, was slow and partial.

Early Church Fathers’ Views of the Apocrypha

Justin, [11] who suffered martyrdom for the Christian faith, in the year 163, never, in any of his writings, cites a single passage of the Apocryphal books, nor makes the least mention of them in his conference with Trypho; while he speaks of it as a special work of Divine Providence, that the Jews had been faithful preservers of the Scriptures. None of these books appear in the catalogue of the Old Testament Scriptures of Melito, Bishop of Sardis, in the second century, nor in that of Origen, in the third century.

In the fourth century, Eusebius, who was Bishop of Caesarea in the year 320, affirms that from the time of Jesus Christ, there were no sacred books of Holy Scripture, besides those which had been received into the canon of the Jewish and Christian churches. He had read the Apocryphal books, and makes frequent quotations from them as the writings of particular authors, but never acknowledges any of them as a part of the canonical Scriptures. He declares that the authors of those books which bear the names of the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach, are writers contradicted, or not allowed in the canon. When Porphyry adduced some objections against him from the new pieces annexed to the book of Daniel, he said that he was not bound to defend them, because they had no authority of Holy Scripture.

In the year 325, the first general council was held at Nice, at which were present 318 bishops, besides multitudes of other Christians, from all the provinces and churches of the Roman Empire. That in the Scriptures they made use of, “there were none of the controverted books, appears,” says Bishop Cosin, p. 42, “by the evidence and attestation which both the Emperor, Eusebius, and Athanasius, (the chiefest actors in this council,) have hereunto given us.

Athanasius, who flourished in the year 340, enumerates the books of the Old and New Testament precisely as we now have them, and asserts that these alone are to be accounted the canonical and authentic sacred writings, admitted by the Lord and his Apostles, and recognized by all the fathers and teachers of the church since the Apostolic age. At the same time he reproves those who had intermixed a number of the Apocryphal books with the catalogue of the acknowledged books of the Old Testament.

These things,” says Cyril, who was Bishop of Jerusalem in the year 350, “we are taught by the divinely-inspired Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. For there is one God of both Testaments, who in the Old Testament foretold the Christ who was manifested in the New.—Read the Divine Scriptures, the two-and-twenty books of the Old Testament, which were translated by the seventy-two interpreters—read these two-and-twenty books, and have nothing to do with Apocryphal writings. These, and these only, do you carefully meditate upon, which we securely or openly read in the church. The Apostles and ancient bishops, governors of the church, who have delivered them to us, were wiser and holier men than thou. As a son of the church, therefore, transgress not these bounds: meditate upon the books of the Old Testament, which, as has been already said, are two-and-twenty; and if you are desirous to learn, fix them in your memory, as I enumerate them, one by one.” The list of these books Cyril subjoins; it is precisely the same as the Jewish canon which we receive. [12]

The Council of Laodicea, which met in the year 363, prohibited the public reading of any books as sacred or inspired, except the canonical. In their 59th canon, it is declared, “that private psalms ought not to be read (or said) in the church, nor any books not canonical, but only the canonical books of the Old and New Testament.

The Hebrews,” says Jerome, who was ordained presbyter of Antioch about the year 378, “have two-and-twenty letters, and they have as many books of divine doctrine, for the instruction of mankind.” He next gives a list of these books, and then adds, “This prologue I write as a preface to all the books to be translated by me from the Hebrew into Latin, that we may know that all the books that are not of this number, are to be reckoned Apocryphal. Therefore Wisdom, which is commonly called Solomon’s, and the book of Jesus the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobit, and the Shepherd, are not in the canon.” In his Latin translation, called the Vulgate, Jerome, intermingled the Apocryphal and inspired writings; but to prevent mistake, he prefixed to each book a short notice, in which the reader was distinctly informed of its character, and apprized that the Apocryphal writings were not in the canon of Scripture. He says, that to meet the prejudices of the ignorant, he retained these “fables,” which, though not in the Hebrew, were widely dispersed; but he adds, that according to his custom, he had marked these Apocryphal intruders with a spit or dagger placed horizontally for the purpose of stabbing them. [13] In his letter to Laeta, written about the year 398, giving her instructions concerning her daughter Paula, he advises that she should read the Scriptures, and in this order: first the Psalms, next the Proverbs, the Acts, and the Epistles of the Apostles. Afterwards she may read the Prophets, the Pentateuch, the Kings and Chronicles, but no Apocryphal books; or, if she does, she should first, by way of caution, be informed of their true character. Jerome speaks of the fables of Bel and the Dragon, and says that the Apocryphal books do not belong to those whose names they bear, and that they contain several forgeries. In all his works, he explicitly maintains the distinction between canonical and Apocryphal books. “The latter,” he says, “the church does not receive among canonical Scriptures; they may be read for edification of the people, but are not to be esteemed of authority for proving any doctrine of religion.” His canon of the Old Testament was precisely that of the Jews; and though he and other ancient Christian writers sometimes quote the Apocryphal books by way of illustration, as they also do Heathen writings, yet they had a supreme regard for the Jewish canon, consisting of those books which were received by the Jewish people as sacred and divine.

Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia, in the island of Cyprus, who wrote in the year 392, has thrice enumerated the books of the Old Testament as held by the Jews. Of the Apocryphal books he makes no mention, except of the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach, of which, after referring to the canonical books, he says, “They likewise are useful, but not brought into the same number with the foregoing, and, therefore, are not placed in the ark of the covenant.

Rufinus, presbyter of Aquileia, who wrote about the year 397, after giving distinct catalogues of the sacred Scriptures, both of the Old Testament and the New, adds as follows:— “However, it ought to be observed, that there are also other books that are not canonical, but have been called by our forefathers ecclesiastical, as the Wisdom of Solomon, and another which is called the Wisdom of the Son of Sirach; and among the Latins, is called by the general name of Ecclesiasticus; by which title is denoted not the author of the books, but the quality of the writing. In the same rank is the book of Tobit, and Judith, and the books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament is the book of the Shepherd, or of Hermas, which is called the Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all which they would have to be read in the churches, but not to be alleged by way of authority for proving articles of faith. Other Scriptures they called Apocryphal, which they would not have to be read in the churches.” Thus it appears, that all the early Christian writers, while they were unanimous in acknowledging the Jewish Scriptures, rejected, with one accord, the Apocryphal books as uncanonical, or destitute of all claim to inspiration.

The first catalogue of the books of the Old Testament, in which Apocryphal books were added to the Jewish canon, although some refer it to a later date, is that of the third, sometimes called the sixth council of Carthage, which assembled in the year 397, when the books of the Maccabees were reckoned in the number of canonical books. But the word canonical appears to have been used by them loosely, as comprehending not only the Jewish Scriptures, which were admitted as the rule of faith, but those Apocryphal books also, which they esteemed to be useful. It is said, too, that Innocent, Bishop of Rome, in the year 402, confirmed this catalogue; but this is doubtful. Other Fathers and councils, in the succeeding centuries, speak occasionally of these books as canonical, meaning, however, as appears; in the secondary sense, and generally with express declarations of their inferiority to the Jewish canon, when that question was agitated.

The Council of Trent

But at length the Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century, in order to check the progress of the Reformation, pronounced the Apocryphal books (except the prayer of Manasseh, and the third and fourth books of Esdras) to be strictly canonical. From that period they have usurped the name of inspired Scriptures, and have been intermingled with the canonical books in the Bibles of Roman Catholics. Thus, in direct opposition to the command of. God, an addition was made to the sacred canon, in the very worst form, of many entire books, and these not corresponding with the inspired writings, but in numerous instances, and most important particulars, directly contradicting them. [14]

We have thus observed the manner in which the Apocryphal books came to be connected with the canonical Scriptures. They were not admitted into the canon without much opposition. The most distinguished Christian writers often protested against them, and although those who patronized them maintained that they never meant to dignify these writings with any authority as rules of faith, yet a presentiment or foresight of the abuse that might be made of them, induced many in the churches, and even whole churches, to resist their introduction. The Christian assemblies of the East were their principal opponents, and more strictly observed the directions of the Apostle John, who had passed a great part of his life among them. This appears evidently from the conduct and decisions of the Council of Laodicea above quoted, which was held in the fourth century, and which prohibited the reading of any but the canonical books in the churches.

The introduction of the Apocryphal books probably originated in their being written, as is supposed, by Jews, who constantly refer to the authenticated history of their nation, and to the law delivered to their fathers. Although totally devoid of both external and internal evidence of their being from God, yet they came, as we have seen, to be considered as related to the Scriptures, not, indeed, as possessing divine authority, but as profitable for instruction; and in this light they continued to be viewed till the Reformation, which was produced by an open appeal to the Word of God. In vain did the Man of Sin, at that era, protest against tampering with the long-established authority of the church — in vain did he endeavor to prevent the translation and circulation of the Scriptures; the palpable abuses in the Popish system convinced multitudes that it could not be of God, and the desire of examining the Scriptures became irresistible. Amidst all this inquiry, however, the ignorance of Europe was so great, that the Council of Trent, above referred to, ventured to decree that the Apocryphal books were equal in point of authority, and were henceforth to be viewed as an integral part of the Word of God, and to pronounce its anathema on all who should reject them.

It was then that the design of Satan, in bringing about the unhallowed connection between the Holy Scriptures and the Apocryphal writings, was brought to light. He had patiently waited his opportunity, and, satisfied with having the books of lying prophets placed in juxtaposition with the Word of God, had not prosecuted the advantage which he had obtained; but be well knew that, in the course of events, this undefined association of truth and error—of sacred and profane—would increase to more ungodliness; and when the throne of Antichrist seemed tottering to its foundation, he successfully propped it up by the adulteration of the Word of God, for which the unfaithfulness of Christians for a thousand years had paved the way.

“If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18).

While the reformers strenuously denied the authority of the Apocrypha, and loudly protested against the blasphemous decree by which it was sanctioned as divine, they yielded to the suggestions of a sinful expediency, and allowed it to retain that affinity to the Scriptures which it had long possessed, by being translated, bound up, and circulated along with them. And who can tell how far this has tended to produce that denial of the full inspiration of the Scriptures, which is, so lamentably common among Protestants? Be this as it may, to the present hour the book of God is very generally profaned by this unhallowed connection, more or less defined or acknowledged. But God now appears to have arisen to plead the cause of his own Word. The question in regard to the Apocrypha has, in the course of his adorable providence, begun to be agitated, and it will issue in the purification of the fountain from which those waters flow, that are destined to diffuse life and Felicity over the world. Ezek. 47:8-9. The means by which the attention of Christians has been directed to this all-important subject are very remarkable, and we are forcibly reminded, that in the good providence of God, the most important effects frequently proceed from causes which at first appear to have a directly opposite tendency, and that the friends of truth have often reason to rejoice in the issue of events which at first occasioned the greatest alarm. We are thus taught to adore Him who makes the wrath of man to praise him, and, causes human folly and wickedness to redound to the praise of his own glory.

On the subject of adding the Apocryphal writings to the Holy Scriptures, Bishop Hall expresses himself in the following, terms: “The Scripture complains justly of three main wrongs offered to it. The first, of addition to the canon. Who can endure a piece of new cloth to be patched unto an old garment? or what can follow hence, but that the rent should be worse? Who can Abide, that, against the faithful information of the Hebrews; against the clear testimonies of Melito, Cyril, Athanasius, Origen, Hilary, Jerome, Rufinus, Nazianzen; against their own doctors, both of the middle and latest age; six whole books should, by their fatherhoods of Trent, be, under pain of a curse, imperiously obtruded upon God and his church. Whereof yet, some purpose to their readers no better than magical jugglings; others, bloody self-murders; others, lying fables; and others, Heathenish rites; not without a public applause in the relation …. We know full well how great impiety it is, to fasten upon the God of Heaven the weak conceptions of a human wit: neither can we be any whit moved with the idle crack of the Tridentine curse, while we hear God thundering in our ears, ‘If any man add unto these words, God shall add unto him the plagues written in this book.’ (Revelaton 22:18.) Neither know I, whether it be more wickedly audacious to fasten on God those things which he never wrote; or to weaken the authority, and deny the sufficiency, of what he hath written.” — Joseph Hall, No Peace with Rome.

Defense of the Canonicity of Esther and Song of Solomon

While there are those who have dared to add certain Apocryphal books to the Jewish canon, which form no part of it, but are the production of lying prophets, and therefore under the curse pronounced upon such by God, there are others who have contended that certain books included in that canon do not constitute a part of divine revelation. This has been particularly the case respecting the Book of Esther and the Song of Solomon, which, it has been alleged, are not quoted in the New Testament. But though this may be true as to particular passages, yet the books themselves are quoted each time that either the Lord Jesus Christ or his Apostles refer to what “is written,” or to “the Scriptures,” of which they form a part.

Exceptions have been made to these books from their contents, and on this ground their claim to be canonical has been doubted. Such a sentiment is the effect of inconsiderate rashness and presumption. The arrogant wisdom of man may now pretend to quarrel with the Book of Esther for not containing the name of God, and to find impurity in the Song of Solomon, or imperfection in other books of Holy Writ. But the authority of Jesus Christ has given a sanction to every book in the Jewish canon, and blasphemy is written on the forehead of that theory that alleges imperfection, error, or sin, in any book in that sacred collection. It is not necessary to urge, that the genuineness and authenticity of the two books referred to were not only not doubted, but that they were received by the Jews with peculiar veneration, which is a well-known fact. The incontrovertible proof respecting their authenticity and inspiration is, that they form apart of those Scriptures which were committed to the Jewish church, and sanctioned by the Lord and his Apostles. On these incontrovertible grounds, all the books of the Old Testament Scriptures are most surely believed by the great body of Christians to be the oracles of God; and could it be shown that any one of them is not worthy of being received as a part of the sacred canon, this would invalidate the claim of all the rest. That man, therefore, who rejects a single one of these books as not being canonical, in other words, equally the dictates of inspiration as the rest, proves that he does not rely on the true and secure foundation which God has laid for entire confidence in that portion of the faithful record of his Word. He does it in defiance of all the foregoing evidence; and to deny the whole volume of inspiration would not require the adoption of any other principle than that on which he is proceeding.

[8] “Of the Greek Septuagint Bible, (as it was first set forth in the time of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus,) St. Augustin acknowledged no more Books than what were then translated out of the Hebrew copies sent from Jerusalem, where neither Tobit nor Judith nor any of that class, were to be found; for (whatever Genebrard saith of his own head to the contrary) those additional writings were brought in afterwards, and used only by the Hellenist Jews abroad at Babylon and Alexandria, from whom they were, in time following, commended to be read by the Christians, but never made equal with the other sacred Scriptures, as they are now set forth in the Roman Septuagint by the authority of Sixtus Quintus, which is an edition of that Bible many ways depraved” — John Cosin, A Scholastical History of the Canon of the Holy Scripture, p. 98.

[9] The absurd, unintelligible speeches, replete with trifling nonsense, ascribed to God in different places, prove the Apocrypha to be not only a human but a most impious composition.

[10] Augustine, who lived in the fifth century, relates, that when the Book of Wisdom, and other writings of the same class were publicly read in the church, they were given to the readers or inferior ecclesiastical officers, who read them in a place lower than that in which those universally acknowledged to be the canonical, were read by the bishops and presbyters in a more eminent and conspicuous manner.

[11] For a particular account of the writings of the early Christians, quoted in the following pages, see Lardner’s works, where they will be found, in their order.

[12] “although although both he (Cyril) at Jerusalem, and Athanasius at Alexandria, together with other churches, had not the use of the Hebrew Bible among them, but kept themselves only to the Greek translation of the LXX., whereunto were afterwards commonly added those ecclesiastical books which the Hellenist Jews first introduced, and received into their churches, that so all the most eminent books of religion written in the Greek tongue before Christ’s time might be put together and contained in one volume; yet, nevertheless, they were always careful to preserve the honor of the Hebrew canon, which consisted of XXII. books only, divinely inspired; and accurately to distinguish them from the rest, which had but ecclesiastical authority.” — Cosin, p. 54.

[13] After the third verse of the tenth chapter of Esther, where the Apocryphal commences, addition to that book commences, Jerome has inserted the following notice; it is the ancient Vulgate to which he refers, which was the most common version of his time:— “Quae habentur in Hebraeo, plena fide expressi. Haec autem, quae sequuntur, scripta reperi in editione vulgata, quae Graecorum lingua et literis continentur: et interim post finem libri hoc capitulum ferebatur: quod juxta consuetudinem nostram obelo, id est veru, praenotavimus.

[14] The following list of books, which is annexed to the decree of the Council of Trent, will show how completely the Apocryphal books are intermingled in Roman Catholic Bibles. The books of the New Testament are the same as in the Protestant canon. 5 of Moses, i.e., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Kings 4, Chronicles 2, Ezra 1 and 2, Nehemiah, Tobias, Judith, Esther, Rest of Esther, Job, David’s Psalms 150, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, Song of the three Children, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, 12 Prophets the less, i.e., Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Maccabees 2, I. & II.

Four books, it will be observed, are incorporated in the body of the inspired texts of Esther and Daniel.


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