The Apocrypha


I.         When addressing what books are accepted into the Old Testament canon, you will run into a set of writings known as the Apocrypha

            A.        “Apocrypha” means “doubtful writings”

            B.        There are 15 books or writings which fall under this heading

            C.        The Roman Catholic church accepts 12 of these books and calls them “deutero-canonical” books

            D.        See chart for list of books

            E.        The books rejected by the Catholic church are I and II Esdras and the Prayer of Manassah.

                        1.         In the Roman Catholic Bibles, The Additions to Esther are added to the front of the book of Esther.

                        2.         The Prayer of Azariah is added to the end of Daniel 3 (adding verses 24-90)

                        3.         Susanna is added to the end of Daniel, becoming Daniel 13

                        4.         Bel and the Dragon is added to the end of Daniel, becoming Daniel 14

                        5.         The Letter of Jeremiah was added as chapter six in the book of Baruch.

                        6.         This gives the Catholic Bible a total of seven extra books plus five additions to books.

II.        How did we get these books?

            A.        Some later translations of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) contained some of these books in an appendix. They were considered useful reading, but not inspired.

            B.        Augustine influenced the councils of Hippo (393 A.D.) and Carthage (397 A.D.) to accept these extra books. He made sure that any opposition to these books was suppressed. However, these writings still held a secondary position to the rest of the Bible.

            C.        The Council of Trent (1546 A.D.), in reaction to the growing Protestant movement, resolved “if anyone receives not as sacred and canonical the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church . . . Let him be anathema (accursed)!”

            D.        The reason for the Catholic’s interest in these books is that some of their unusual beliefs are justified by these writings.

                        1.         II Maccabees 12:39-45 talks of praying for the dead which leads to the Catholic teaching of purgatory.

                        2.         Ecclesiasticus 3:30 speaks of gaining salvation by almsgiving.

            E.        The reason all 15 writings were not included was because some contradicted Catholic teachings

                        1.         II Esdras 7:105 speaks against praying for the dead.

            F.        It should be noted that all of these books only exist in Greek copies. We do not have Hebrew copies.

III.       None of these writings have been accepted by the Jews as being inspired writings. They have failed the tests

            A.        They were not seen to be written by a recognized prophet who

                        1.         Does not lead the people away from God - Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (i.e. his words does not conflict with God’s known teachings)

                        2.         Statements about future events always comes true - Deuteronomy 18:20-22

            B.        Ecclesiasticus or sometimes called Sirach

                        1.         The author is named as Jesus, the son of Sirach.

                        2.         Nowhere in the book is there a claim of prophecy, such as “The Lord said”

                        3.         The writer’s grandson translated the book into Greek, but notice what he says about the book in his prologue: “Many great teachings have been given to us through the Law and the Prophets and the others that followed them, and for these we should praise Israel for instruction and wisdom. Now, those who read the scriptures must not only themselves understand them, but must also as lovers of learning be able through the spoken and written word to help the outsiders. So my grandfather Jesus, who had devoted himself especially to the reading of the Law and the Prophets and the other books of our ancestors, and had acquired considerable proficiency in them, was himself also led to write something pertaining to instruction and wisdom, so that by becoming familiar also with his book those who love learning might make even greater progress in living according to the law.”

                        4.         This is not a statement of inspiration, but of good reading and instruction.

                                    a.         Note claim that the teachings came from Israel and not God

                                    b.         Note claim that these is based on personal wisdom learned.

                        5.         Therefore this book fails the requirement of being written by a recognized prophet.

            C.        Baruch

                        1.         This book is supposed to have been written by Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch, yet it contains several errors.

                        2.         Baruch is in the wrong place

                                    a.         Baruch 1:1 says “These are the words of the book that Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah son of Zedekiah son of Hasadiah son of Hilkiah wrote in Babylon,”

                                    b.         Jeremiah 43:6-7 says “the men, the women, the children, the king’s daughters and every person that Nebuzaradan the captain of the bodyguard had left with Gedaliah the son of Ahikam and grandson of Shaphan, together with Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah— and they entered the land of Egypt (for they did not obey the voice of the LORD) and went in as far as Tahpanhes.”

                        3.         Conflicts with Ezra and Nehemiah about the return of the temple items

                                    a.         Baruch 1:8 says “At the same time, on the tenth day of Sivan, Baruch took the vessels of the house of the Lord, which had been carried away from the temple, to return them to the land of Judah—the silver vessels that Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, had made,”

                                    b.         Ezra 5:14-15 says “Also the gold and silver utensils of the house of God which Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, and brought them to the temple of Babylon, these King Cyrus took from the temple of Babylon and they were given to one whose name was Sheshbazzar, whom he had appointed governor. He said to him, “Take these utensils, go and deposit them in the temple in Jerusalem and let the house of God be rebuilt in its place.”

                        4.         It has the return taking place during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, not Cyrus, king of Persia.

                        5.         This book fails the test of not conflicting with God’s revealed word.

            D.        The Letter of Jeremiah (Baruch 6)

                        1.         Length of the captivity

                                    a.         Baruch 6:3 - “Therefore when you have come to Babylon you will remain there for many years, for a long time, up to seven generations; after that I will bring you away from there in peace.”

                                    b.         Jeremiah 25:11 - “This whole land will be a desolation and a horror, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.”

                        2.         This writing fails the test of not conflicting with God’s revealed word.

            E.        I and II Maccabees

                        1.         While a fascinating history of the Jewish rebellion, it contains several statements stating that the prophets were gone.

                        2.         I Maccabees 4:46 - “and stored the stones in a convenient place on the temple hill until a prophet should come to tell what to do with them.”

                        3.         I Maccabees 9:27 - “So there was great distress in Israel, such as had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them.”

                        4.         I Maccabees 14:41 - “The Jews and their priests have resolved that Simon should be their leader and high priest forever, until a trustworthy prophet should arise

            F.        Tobit

                        1.         Contains many historical and geographical errors, but most telling is the claim that Tobit’s was a youth when the ten tribes revolted (B.C. 925) and lived to see the Assyrian conquest (B.C. 725) – a period of 200 years, yet it says Tobit died at the ripe old age of 158.

            G.        Judith

                        1.         Contains many historical and geographical errors.

                        2.         Judith 1:1 - “It was the twelfth year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, who ruled over the Assyrians in the great city of Nineveh.”

                        3.         Nebuchadnezzar was the King of Babylon. Daniel 1:1 - “In the third year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.”

IV.      The New Testament also recognizes the works of the prophets as inspired of God.

            A.        Jesus refers to the Law and the Prophets on several occasions. - Matthew 26:56

                        1.         Notice the emphasis that the Scriptures were written by the prophets.

            B.        The Apostles also made similar statements - II Peter 1:20-21

                        1.         Men moved by the Holy Spirit (prophets) spoke the Scriptures.

            C.        We don’t who wrote the books of Esther, Chronicles, and Job, but they are always listed with the prophets. The remainder have names associated with them that we recognize as prophets of God.

            D.        The New Testament quotes from every book of the Old Testament as Scripture, except for Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. This does not mean these five books were not inspired, just that the words they spoke were not useful to the New Testament writers to support the topics they were writing about.

            E.        Of all the books of the Old Testament, Esther is the only one in a weak position. We don’t know who wrote it and it was never quoted. However, knowing how careful the Jews were about accepting only prophetic writings, we can feel confident that the book was known by the Jews of that day to be written by a prophet of God.

V.        Unlike the books of the Old Testament

            A.        Jesus and the Apostles never quoted from these books, even though they existed in some Septuagint versions. Jesus and the Apostles often used the Septuagint for their quotations.

            B.        These books were never accepted by the Jews as being inspired writings

            C.        The early church writers never referred to these writings as inspired, though they obviously knew of their existence.

            D.        As we have noted before, the writings of the Bible were accepted because of who wrote the books. - II Peter 1:21

The Apocrypha


Date Believed to be Written

Style of Writing


about B.C. 200

Religious Novel

Letter of Jeremiah

about B.C. 200


I Esdras

about B.C. 150

History and Legend


about B.C. 150

Romantic Novel

Prayer of Manassah

about B.C. 150


Additions to Esther

about B.C. 130


I Maccabees

about B.C. 110


II Maccabees

about B.C. 100

History and Legend

Prayer of Azariah

about B.C. 100


Bel and the Dragon

about B.C. 100



about B.C. 100


Wisdom of Solomon

B.C. 30



B.C. 32



about 100 A.D.


II Esdras

about 100 A.D.