Apologetics and the Truth About Catholics: The Apocrypha or Deuterocanon
This hub starts my series The Truth about Catholics . My intent in publishing this series is not aimed at conversion--I don't expect that a simple hub would cause such a life changing event. No, that is better left to prayer and the moving of the Holy Spirit. Rather, it has been my experience that much of what is known about Catholics is actually misunderstanding and myth--we do not "worship Mary", the Pope is not equal to God, and we don't think women are the root of all evil. I am here to give you the true account of Catholicism, to challenge myths, to promote ecumenism, and to at least attempt to quell some Anti-Catholic hate. In the process I desire to have great discussion, expect to make a few enemies, and hope to make a few friends as well. It is my firm belief that understanding breeds love, so let the love begin.
What are we talking about?
If you haven't heard already, the "Catholic Bible" has an additional 7 books in its the Old Testament. The books, called the apocrypha (Gk. "Hidden") or Deuterocanon ("Second Canon"), are 1 & 2 Maccabees, Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, Judith, Tobit, and Wisdom. It is important to note that the Catholic and Protestant New Testaments are exactly the same (except for Martin Luther supposedly wanted to throw out the Epistle of James). It also important to remember that all of the major religions have apocrypha and spiritual writings that supplement their scripture. Really, the issue we are talking about is that of "Canon".
Canon refers to a set list of books or rules which a given institution or religion recognizes as authoritative. The issue of who has the power to set Canon, and what the criteria are to be included in Canon, are millenniums old.
Some links both for and against the Apocrypha
- Why the Apocrypha Isn\'t in the Bible.
- Reasons why the Apocrypha does NOT belong in the Bible!
- CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Apocrypha
A long article with a comments on each Apocryphal book. Classified according to origin
- Development of the Biblical Canon
Let's Examine some Objections!
Following are the 3 most common myths about the Apocrypha. There are more, but I'm not writing a book here:
The Books were Never Included in the Jewish Scripture, and so shouldn't be in ours!
This is simply false. Starting circa 200 BC a group of 72 Jewish Rabbis translated the OT scripture into Greek, which consisted of 46 books. This "Septuagint" (Lt. Seventy) was written during a period of time when the "Writings" portion of the Old Testament Canon still being decided. The writing of this great work took time, but by the time it was finished, it contained not only the traditional Torah and Prophet texts, but also the now authoritative copies of the Jewish writings, including works written in Greek and written after the Hellenist conquest of Jerusalem. It was only after the Christians started using the Septuagint that the Jews deleted 7 books (the ones not in Hebrew) in an attempt to secure their own identity and distinguish themselves from Christians.
Catholics Added the Books to the Bible.
We could counter and say that "protestants" REMOVED books from the Bible. The fact is that all the books in the Catholic Old Testament appeared in the Septuagint. The OT canon was set, albeit somewhat unofficially, by the end of the 4th century by Bishops such as Irenaeus and Athanasius, including during councils. The Pope, the highest authority of the Catholic Church, ordered the books kept in Bible in the 5th Century, and the issue was permanently settled at Trent in the mid 16th century. The Church has supported these books from the beginning of its very existence.
The Apocrypha shouldn't be included, because they're not quoted in the NT.
Just because they're not quoted, doesn't mean they're not authoritative. Many of the common Old Testament books are not quoted directly in the NT Scripture as well. These include Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Furthermore, there ARE allusions to the Apocrypha in the NT. Consider comparing the following verses as examples: 1) Rom 1:20-29and Wisdom 13:5,8 ; 14:24,27 2) 2 Cor 5: 1,4 and Wisdom 9:15 3) Jas 1:19 and Sirach 5:11.
Of course there are more objections, but I hope you get the basic Idea. Ultimately evidence can be shown for any belief, and it is up to the individual to believe what they want. However, there is only One complete Truth, no matter how hard it is to actually discern. Regardless of your belief, I hope you have come to understand a little better what it is Catholics actually believe and why. The comments are open for civilized and intelligent discussion. With a little understanding, dialogue, and acceptance, our world can go a long way!
© 2010 rdlang05