Thursday, March 31, 2011

Against the Apocrypha as Scripture

As a sort of addendum to posts on the Apocrypha, I notice a few points made against the Apocrypha as inspired scripture:

  • The Apocrypha contains several false teachings. While I agree with this statement, it is lacking as a matter of proof since it is based on the prior assumption that the Apocrypha are not scripture.
  • There are no direct quotations from the Apocrypha in the New Testament, by either Jesus or his disciples. Though some claim there are similarities between the New Testament and some apocryphal writings, point of origin cannot be proven in mere references to common themes.
  • Among the strongest points is that of Jesus’s references to a complete Old Testament canon. For example, Luke 24:44 records, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” This reference covers the three-fold division of the Old Testament, and excludes the so-called Apocrypha. Again in Luke 11:51 Jesus said, “From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.” In his illustration and condemnation, Jesus draws from the entire range of the accepted Jewish Canon of Scripture from one end to the other – “From the blood of Abel” recorded in the first book in order of the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 4:8) “unto the blood of Zecharias” recorded in the last book in order of the Hebrew Bible (2 Chronicles 24:18-21). Unlike the order in our English Bibles, in the Hebrew Canon the first book was Genesis and the last book was Chronicles. Jesus effectually rejects the Apocrypha as Scripture by addressing a “list” or order of the books of the Bible that accepts the recognized canon and does not include the secondary additions.

Notes on the Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew contained 24 books – all of the same books as our 39 books, but arranged differently, both in order and by combination. In some cases what appear as two or more books in the English canon are combined in one book in the Hebrew canon. All of the 12 Minor Prophets (Hosea through Malachi) were considered one book. 1 & 2 Samuel are considered one book, as are 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles.

The Hebrew Bible was organized into three main sections – the law (Torah, or Teaching or Pentateuch), the prophets (Nebiʾim), and the psalms (Ketubim, or Writings or Hagiographa). The complete canon is referred to as the Tanakh (a word combining the first letter of the names of the three main sections). The sections or subdivisions are: Law/Torah (5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), Prophets/Neviʾim (8 books: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the Twelve Minor Prophets) and Psalms/Ketuvim (11 books: Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra-Nehemiah, and Chronicles).

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