Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Apocrypha again

There seems to be many misconceptions about the Bible and the Apocrypha. Some KJV-Detractors either think or pretend to think that the King James translation was the first English Bible to include it, and that supporters of the King James translation do not know that the Apocrypha was in the 1611 King James Version.
Yes, the 1611 edition of the King James Bible (as well as some later printings) included the Apocrypha, 14 books between the Old and New Testaments – I Esdras, II Esdras, Tobit, Judith, The Rest of the Chapters of the book of Esther (usually called Additions to Esther), The Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch (the Epistle of Jeremiah appears as Chapter Six of Baruch), The Song of the Three Holy Children, The History of Susanna, The History of the Destruction of Bel and the Dragon, The Prayer of Manasseh King of Judah, I Maccabees, and II Maccabees.

So did the 1382 Wycliffe Bible
So did the 1535 Coverdale Bible
So did the 1537 Matthew Bible
So did the 1539 Taverner Bible
So did the 1541 Great Bible
So did the 1560 Geneva Bible
So did the 1568 Bishops Bible
So did the English Revised Version (the 1901 ASV did not)
Based on my limited research, William Tyndale did not finish the translation of the Old Testament before his death. Thus, we do not know whether or not he would have included the Apocrypha. This Apocrypha was also found in other language Bibles, such as Luther’s translation, the Z├╝rich Bible, and the Spanish Reina-Valera. The Codex Vaticanus contained most of the Apocrypha and the surviving Codex Sinaiticus contains some of the Apocrypha. 
According to F. F. Bruce, Coverdale’s Bible of 1535 separated the apocryphal books from the Old Testament and placed them after Malachi (with the exception of Baruch which came after Jeremiah until it was moved after Tobit in the 1537 edition of Coverdale). (The Books and the Parchments: How We God Our English Bible, Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell, 1950, p. 163)
As best I can tell, both the Puritans and High-Church Anglicans subscribed to “Article VI on the Holy Scriptures” from the Book of Articles which was “agreed upon by the archbishops and bishops of both provinces and the whole clergy in the convocation holden at London in the year 1562...” Referencing the Apocrypha, Article VI stated, “And the other books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine...”
The Second Cambridge Company of King James translators, under the leadership of John Duport, were tasked with translating the Apocrypha.  Alexander McClure lists the following reasons for not admitting the apocryphal books into the canon. Some people take this to mean the reasons of the Second Cambridge Company, but it might be an explanation by McClure (it is not clear to me which he meant).
“The reasons assigned for not admitting the apocryphal books into the canon, or list, of inspired Scriptures are briefly the following. 1. Not one of them is in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament. 2. Not one of the writers lays any claim to inspiration. 3. These books were never acknowledged as sacred Scriptures by the Jewish Church, and therefore were never sanctioned by our Lord. 4. They were not allowed a place among the sacred books, during the first four centuries of the Christian Church. 5. They contain fabulous statements, and statements which contradict not only the canonical Scriptures but themselves; as when in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanes is made to die three different deaths in as many different places. 6. It inculcates doctrines at variance with the bible, such a prayers for the dead, and sinless perfection. 7. It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation. For these and other reasons, the Apocryphal books, which are all in Greek, except one which is extant only in Latin, are valuable as ancient documents, illustrative of manners, language, opinions and history of the East.” (The Translators Revived: a Biographical Memoir of the Authors of the English Version of the Holy Bible, by Alexander Wilson McClure, pp. 185-186)

Newer Bible translations such as the Revised Standard Version also included the Apocrypha. The New Testament translation was first published in 1946, the Old Testament in 1952, and then the Apocrypha in 1957.

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