Myths of the Apocrypha – Part III
Welcome back to the third and final “Myths of the Apocrypha!” In the first article, we asked whether Roman Catholics inserted seven “apocrypha” books into their canon to disprove Martin Luther. In the second, we asked whether early Christians rejected those same books for containing false teachings. Today, we ask the big question: “Did Jesus and His apostles quote any of these seven books?”
- Myth #1: Roman Catholics inserted “apocrypha” books into their canon to disprove Martin Luther.
- Myth #2: Early Christians rejected the “apocrypha” books because those books contained false teachings.
- Myth #3: Jesus and His apostles never quoted these books in the New Testament.
I have offered seven books for consideration: Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, Judith, Tobit, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees. For those who are new to the series, I will repeat just two key ideas. First, these seven books were confirmed as Scripture prior to the Reformation not just by Rome, but by all four deeply divided sections of Christianity which even then spanned the globe from Denmark to India to Russia to Ethiopia. The myth that Rome inserted these books after the Reformation makes no sense in light of the global Christian affirmation of all seven books by Christians who had been divided from Rome by church schisms for 500 to 1,000 years before the Reformation.
Second, the word “apocrypha” itself did not refer in the early church to these seven books. In the first centuries, the word “apocrypha” referred to Gnostic, heretical writings which the apostolic line of bishops always rejected everywhere in the world. I do not insult these seven books by calling them “apocrypha,” but as the “wider canon.”
THE HEART OF THE QUESTION
We ask today whether Jesus and His apostles quoted the wider canon. The popular myth is that these seven books are not Scripture and can be rejected as Scripture because Jesus and His apostles did not quote any of the seven. Yet if this idea were used consistently, we would have to reject not just seven books of the Old Testament, but several more books including Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Obadiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah.
I will offer just four quotes of the wider canon in the New Testament, acknowledging that none of these four are preceded with “as it is written.” If the reader does not wish to acknowledge the wider canon, these four quotes will not likely change minds. Yet if we reject the wider canon as Scripture, then we also reject 1,500 years of global Christianity. When Jesus prophesied that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, I submit that his words make it impossible for all four branches of Christianity all over the world to have fallen into the grievous error of calling apocryphal writings holy Scripture for 1,500 years. Those who reject the wider canon unintentionally accuse Christianity of worldwide heresy from the earliest centuries, unchecked by God until the Protestant revelation.
Without further ado, I offer just four phrases from the wider canon which appear to have been quoted word for word in the New Testament. Defenders of the wider canon often list many passages which appear to be referenced in the New Testament. Protestant Bible scholars Kurt and Barbara Aland list over 300 New Testament references to the wider canon in the 27th Edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. Not only are the Alands Protestants, but they are considered by many to be the among the greatest New Testament scholars of the 20th century. Rather than offering New Testament references here, I present just four quotations for consideration:
From Tobit 7:18, “Lord of heaven and earth” is duplicated word for word in Matthew 11:25, Luke 10:21, and Acts 17:24. Surprisingly, this phrase is not used anywhere else in the Old Testament.
From 1 Maccabees 2:50, “zealous for the law” is duplicated word for word in Acts 21:20 and employed in Philippians 3:5-6. The phrase occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament.
From Sirach 5:11, “swift to listen” is duplicated in James 1:19. It occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament.
From 2 Maccabees 13:4, “King of Kings” is duplicated word for word in reference to God in 1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14, and Revelation 19:16. This phrase is only used for pagan kings elsewhere in the Old Testament. Only in 2 Maccabees is it applied to God as the New Testament uses it.
PROPHECIES OF JESUS
I close now with prophecies of Jesus which were written in the wider canon. The Orthodox Study Bible affirms these as prophetic in the study notes of each passage, and I am optimistic that their inspired nature will be obvious to any Christian:
- JESUS AS CREATOR:
- Wisdom 9:1 “O God of our fathers and the Lord of mercy, Who made all things by Your word” (See John 1:3)
- HIS INCARNATION:
- Baruch 4:21-24 “O my children, take courage, cry out to God, and He will deliver you from the power and the hand of the enemies. 22 For I hope upon the Eternal One to save you, and the joy from the Holy One comes to me, because mercy will soon come to you from the Eternal One, your Savior. 23 For I sent you out with sorrow and weeping, but with joy and gladness God will restore you to me forever. 24 For just as the neighbors of Zion have now seen your exile, so too they will soon see your salvation from your God, which will come upon you with great glory and the radiance of the Eternal One.” (See Luke 1:68-79 and Luke 2:10-11)
- Baruch 3:36-38 “This is our God; no other shall be compared to Him. 37 He found the whole way of knowledge and gave it to Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. 38 Afterwards, He was seen upon the earth and lived among men.” (See John 1:1, Luke 2:40, and John 1:14)
- Wisdom 18:14-15 “For while gentle silence embraced everything And night at its own speed was half over, 15 Your all- powerful Word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, Into the midst of a doomed land, A relentless warrior carrying the sharp sword Of Your irrevocable command” (See Luke 2:8-11)
- HIS TEACHINGS:
- Sirach 7:14 “do not repeat yourself in prayer” (Matthew 6:7)
- Sirach 24:21 “Those who eat me will hunger for more, And those who drink me will thirst for more.” (See Matthew 5:6 and John 7:37)
- Sirach 27:6 “As fruit reveals how a tree is cultivated, So a man’s reasoning process reveals his heart.” (See Matthew 7:20)
- Sirach 28:2 “Forgive a wrong done you by your neighbor; Then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.” (See Mark 11:25-26 and Luke 6:37)
- Sirach 6:24-28 (speaking of Wisdom) “Put your feet into her fetters and your neck into her collar. 25 Put your shoulder under her and carry her, And do not be angry with her bonds. 26 Come to her with all your soul, And keep her ways with all your strength. 27 Search for her and seek her out, And she will become known to you; And when you become self-controlled, do not let her go. 28 For in the end you will find her rest, And she will turn to you in gladness.” (See Matthew 11:28)
- Wisdom 9:17 “Who has known Your counsel, Unless You have given him wisdom And sent him Your Holy Spirit from on high?” (See John 14:26 and John 16:13)
- PHARISEES’ REACTION:
- Wisdom 2:13-16 “He claims to have knowledge of God, And he calls himself a child of the Lord. 14 He has become for us as a refutation of our purposes; Even seeing him is a burden to us, 15 Because his life is unlike that of others; For his paths go in a different direction. 16 We are considered by him as a hybrid, And he avoids our ways as something immoral. He considers the last things of the righteous as blessed And pretends that God is his Father.” (See John 5:18)
- HIS SUFFERING:
- Wisdom 2:17-20 “Let us see if his words are true, And let us put these last things to the test at the end of his life. 18 For if the righteous man is a son of God, He will help him, And deliver him from the hand of those who oppose him. 19 Let us test him with insult and torture That we may know his gentleness And test his patient endurance. 20 Let us condemn him to a shameful death, For there shall be a visitation because of his words” (See Matthew 27:43)
- HIS RESURRECTION
- Wisdom 5:1-4 “Then the righteous man will stand with confidence In the presence of those who afflict him; And those who reject his labors, 2 When they see him, will be shaken with dreadful fear; And they shall be amazed at his unexpected salvation. 3 They will speak among themselves with regret, And in anguish of spirit they will groan and say, 4 ‘This is the man whom we fools once held in derision And made a byword of disgrace. We considered his life to be madness And his death as without honor.’ ” (See Matthew 27:54, Acts 9:3-5, and Zechariah 12:10)
- HIS SECOND COMING
- Wisdom 5:17-20 “He will take His zeal as His full armor And will turn His creation into weapons against His enemies. 18 He will wear righteousness as a breastplate And put on impartial judgment as a helmet. 19 He will take holiness as an unconquerable shield 20 And sharpen His relentless wrath for a sword; And creation will fight with Him against the senseless.” (See Revelation 19:11-15)
- Wisdom 9:2-3 “And in Your wisdom built a man, that by You He might be the master of what is created, And manage the world in holiness and righteousness, And pass judgment with uprightness of soul” (See Isaiah 11:3-4. Also, these verses come immediately after Wisdom 9:1, which is quoted above under the “Creation” heading)
Thank you for tuning in to “Myths of the Apocrypha!” I pray this series has benefitted many. It saddens me that most Protestants do not have the joy of seven scriptures which all four divided branches of Christianity affirmed as divinely inspired long before the Reformation. The gates of hell did not prevail against the church of the Son of God; she cannot have unanimously blasphemed God by calling seven books Scripture all around the world which were instead apocryphal. Despite the best intentions of the Reformers, they made some serious mistakes, mistakes which can be corrected today.View Sources
Scripture taken from the St. Athanasius Academy Septuagint. Copyright 2008 by St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology. Used by permission. All rights reserved.