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Apocrypha Article 2 - Not Written by Prophets - Dr. C. Matthew McMahon

The Apocrypha and Apologetics

Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.

Syllogism: These apocryphal books were not written by the prophets, therefore they are not canonical. Entire syllogism: All canonical books of the OT were written by prophets: none of the apocryphal books were written by any prophets: therefore they are not canonical.

The Major premise rests on Scripture: Peter says the OT is the “prophetic word.” (2 Peter 1:19); Paul calls it the “scriptures of the prophets” (Romans 16:26); Zacharias the priest says “As he spake by the mouths of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began.” (Luke 1:70); “They have Moses and the Prophets” as Abraham said (Luke 18:39); Luke wrote, “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scripture the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:24; cf. Rom. 1:2); Heb. 1:1, “God spake in divers manners by the prophets.”; the church is built upon the “apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20); “All things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me:” and it follows immediately, “And he opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45); Paul asks Agrippa, “Believest thou the prophets?” – that is the Scriptures. (Acts 26:27); When Paul dealt with the Jews at Rome he tried to convince them “out of the law of Moses and the prophets.” (Acts 28:23). From these we see that the major assertion is true, that the whole OT was given to us by God’s prophets. There is no part of the OT which was not given by the prophets.

The entire OT canonical Scriptures are deemed in the following way: 1) the prophets; 2) Moses and the prophets; 3) Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.

Augustine so shows this in his writings against Cresconius the grammarian: “Not without cause was the canon of the church framed with so salutary a vigilance, that certain books of the prophets and apostles should belong to it.” (Lib. 2. cap. 31); also “Let them shew us their church, not in the rumors of the Africans, but in the injunction of the Law, in the predictions of the prophets, in the songs of the Psalms; that is, in all the canonical authorities of the sacred books.” (De Unit. Eccles. C. 16.)

That the apocryphal books were not written by the prophets are clear and certain. All confess that Malachi was the last Jewish prophet. Between Malachi and John the Baptist, no other Jewish prophet arose, but the writers of the apocryphal books lived after Malachi. Even the RCC does not deny this.

They were written in another language (Greek – more on this later) rather than the prophetic tongue of Hebrew. The numerous quotations of the fathers affirm this, the RCC does not deny this.

Most importantly, if these books had been written by the prophets, Christ would have quoted them and used them as witness to himself, as he did with the others. Christ nor his apostles quoted the apocrypha. It is a useless case to strain the idea that they may have alluded to it. In the witness of Christ, or the apostles for Christ, they never quoted the apocryphal books (more on this later). As Augustine states of the book of Macabees, “The Jews do not esteem this scripture as the Law and prophets, to which the Lord bears testimony as his witness.” (Contra Gaudent. Epist. Lib. II cap. 23.) Christ bears no testimony of these, thus they are not credible witness of Him. They would be if they were prophetic.

These apocryphal books were not received by the church of the Israelites; therefore they are non canonical. Syllogism would be as such: The ancient church of the Hebrews received and approved all the books of the OT; The church did not receive these books; therefore they are not canonical.

Major proposition is easy to show: If the church had removed such a large portion of the “Scriptures”, they would have been thoroughly rebuked by Christ for doing so; or even by the apostles – which they were not. The Jews were blamed for putting wrong senses on the Scriptures (see Christ’s repeated arguments with the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes), they would have received a greater and more stern condemning word for removing the “scriptures” altogether; which was never the case. Christ would be negligent not to rebuke and reprove them of this, being the eternal Word, which he never did.

Josephus attests to the care and strictness of the Jews who cared for the OT canon, without the inclusion of the apocrypha – see Eusebius, Lib. III. Cap. 10.2.) Augustine and all the fathers accept the truth of this. Also, if the Jews did err in this, not accepting the apocryphal books and excluding them from the canon, then the church erred, and the RCC would never accept that, since there is only one true church. For everyone understands and knows that these books were never included in the OT canon, no matter how familiar they may have been to anyone. Bellarmine tries to escape this problem by saying that the apostles warrant and approved the apocrypha. Where is this to be found? Where did they ever say this or write this? Nowhere.

These books are not written by the prophets, nor received by the Israelite church, and therefore are not a canonical, much less inspired.

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