Why the Apocrypha Isn't in the Bible?

Catholics will tell you, "You Protestants are missing part of the Bible. We have the rest of it." This can throw people off, but it no longer has to. These false Catholic additions to the Bible are commonly called the Apocrypha or sometimes the Deuterocanonical books. This is a short treatise on WHY these books are not in the Bible.

What is the Apocrypha anyway?

The Apocrypha is a collection of uninspired, spurious books written by various individuals. The Catholic religion considers these books as scripture just like a Bible-believer believes that our 66 books are the word of God, i.e., Genesis to Revelation. We are going to examine some verses from the Apocrypha later in our discussion.

At the Council of Trent (1546) the Roman Catholic religion pronounced the following apocryphal books sacred. They asserted that the apocryphal books together with unwritten tradition are of God and are to be received and venerated as the Word of God. So now you have the Bible, the Apocrypha and Catholic Tradition as co-equal sources of truth for the Catholic. In reality, the Bible is the last source of truth for Catholics. Catholic doctrine comes primarily from tradition stuck together with a few Bible names. In my reading of Catholic materials, I find notes like this: "You have to keep the Bible in perspective." Catholics do not believe that the Bible is God's complete revelation for man.

The Roman Catholic Apocrypha

First and Second Maccabees
Additions to Esther and Daniel

Apocryphal Books rejected by the Catholic Religion:

First and Second Esdras
Prayer of Manasses

*A reader says: "Susanna is in the Roman Catholic canon. It is Daniel 13."

Why the Apocrypha Isn't in the Bible?

  1. Not one of the apocryphal books is written in the Hebrew language, which was alone used by the inspired historians and poets of the Old Testament. All Apocryphal books are in Greek, except one which is extant only in Latin.
  2. None of the apocryphal writers laid claim to inspiration.
  3. The apocryphal books were never acknowledged as sacred scriptures by the Jews, custodians of the Hebrew scriptures (the apocrypha was written prior to the New Testament). In fact, the Jewish people rejected and destroyed the apocrypha after the overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
  4. The apocryphal books were not permitted among the sacred books during the first four centuries of the real Christian church (I'm certainly not talking about the Catholic religion which is not Christian).
  5. The Apocrypha contains fabulous statements which not only contradict the "canonical" scriptures but themselves. For example, in the two Books of Maccabees, Antiochus Epiphanies is made to die three different deaths in three different places.
  6. The Apocrypha includes doctrines in variance with the Bible, such as prayers for the dead and sinless perfection. The following verses are taken from the Apocrypha translation by Ronald Knox dated 1954:

    Basis for the doctrine of purgatory:

    2 Maccabees 12:43-45, 2.000 pieces of silver were sent to Jerusalem for a sin-offering...Whereupon he made reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.

    Salvation by works:

    Ecclesiasticus 3:30, Water will quench a flaming fire, and alms maketh atonement for sin.

    Tobit 12:8-9, 17, It is better to give alms than to lay up gold; for alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin.


    Tobit 6:5-8, If the Devil, or an evil spirit troubles anyone, they can be driven away by making a smoke of the heart, liver, and gall of a fish...and the Devil will smell it, and flee away, and never come again anymore.

    Mary was born sinless (immaculate conception):

    Wisdom 8:19-20, And I was a witty child and had received a good soul. And whereas I was more good, I came to a body undefiled.

  7. It teaches immoral practices, such as lying, suicide, assassination and magical incantation.
  8. No apocryphal book is referred to in the New Testament whereas the Old Testament is referred to hundreds of times.
  9. Because of these and other reasons, the apocryphal books are only valuable as ancient documents illustrative of the manners, language, opinions and history of the East.

Wasn't the Apocrypha in the King James?

The King James translators never considered the Apocrypha the word of God. As books of some historical value, the Apocrypha was sandwiched between the Old and New Testaments as an appendix of reference material. This followed the format that Luther had used. Luther prefaced the Apocrypha with a statement:

"Apocrypha--that is, books which are not regarded as equal to the holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read."

King James Version Defended page 98.

In 1599, TWELVE YEARS BEFORE the King James Bible was published, King James said this about the Apocrypha:

"As to the Apocriphe bookes, I OMIT THEM because I am no Papist (as I said before)..."

King James Charles Stewart
Basilicon Doron, page 13

Not only this, but the sixth article of the Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England (1571 edition) states:

In the name of the Holy, we do vnderstande those canonical bookes of the olde and newe Testament, of whose authoritie was never any doubt in the Churche...

Now concerning the apocrypha it states,

And the other bookes, (as Hierome sayeth), the Churche doth reade for example of life and instruction of manners: but yet doth it not applie them to establish any doctrene [sic].

Philip Schaff, Creeds of Christendom. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977, Vol. III, pp. 489-491.

The Apocrypha began to be omitted from the Authorized Version in 1629. Puritans and Presbyterians lobbied for the complete removal of the Apocrypha from the Bible and in 1825 the British and Foreign Bible Society agreed. From that time on, the Apocrypha has been eliminated from practically all English Bibles--Catholic Bibles and some pulpit Bibles excepted.

Not even all Catholic "Church Fathers" believed the Apocrypha was scripture.

Not that this really means anything. The truth is not validated by the false. Nevertheless, this may be of interest to some... Jerome (340-420) rejected the Apocrypha:

"As the Church reads the books of Judith and Tobit and Maccabees but does not receive them among the canonical Scriptures, so also it reads Wisdom and Ecclesiasticus for the edification of the people, not for the authoritative confirmation of doctrine."

Jerome's preface to the books of Solomon

According to Edward Hills in The King James Version Defended p. 98 other famous Catholics with this viewpoint include Augustine (354-430 who at first defended the Apocrypha as canonical), Pope Gregory the Great (540-604), Cardinal Ximenes, and Cardinal Cajetan.

There are other spurious books.

These include the Pseudepigrapha which contains Enoch, Michael the Archangel, and Jannes and Jambres. Many of these books falsely claim to have been written by various Old Testament patriarchs. They were composed between 200 B.C. and 100 A.D. There are lots of these spurious books like The Assumption of Moses, Apocalypse of Elijah, and Ascension of Isaiah.

Concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls, there may be some information in them that parallels the Masoretic Text, but there are fables in them too. I went to see the scrolls a few years ago with great expectation but found a bunch of fables. The best defense against error in any form (fake Bibles and religions) is a solid knowledge of your King James Bible. If you read it, forgeries become readily apparent.


Translators Revived, Alexander McClure, p. 142
Bible Believing Study, Edward F. Hills, p. 15
The King James Version Defended, Edward F. Hills, p. 96, 97, 98
God Wrote Only One Bible, Jasper James Ray, p. 90
An Understandable History of the Bible, Dr. Samuel Gipp, p. 245

The King James Bible Defended!