Apocrypha Article 4 - Select Contradictions in the Apocrypha - Dr. C. Matthew McMahonThe Apocrypha and Apologetics
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The following is a brief look at the contradictions, errors and inconsistencies of the Apocryphal books, showing that they could not be the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Words coming from a perfect and holy God must be without error, lest they prove themselves to be frauds, as the Apocrypha does:
I treat here some things, not in any way exhaustive:
The Book of Baruch: 4 arguments are given by the RCC to keep this book: 1) a quotation in 2 Maccabees chapter 2 of the book, 2) The councils of Florence and Trent place this books among the canonical Scriptures, 3) The church takes some lessons from the book during anniversary offices, 4) that many fathers produce testimony of the book to be canonical.
First, Maccabees is apocryphal (which will be further shown). One apocryphal book cannot inspire another to be canonical. This is no argument for the book. The citation of any passage does not of itself prove a book to be canonical, for then Aratus, Menander and Epimenides (quoted by Paul in Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Tit. 1:12) would be canonical.
It makes no difference to me what Trent or Florence says, since councils and popes have often (as we saw) contradicted themselves. The councils cannot make the book inspired, they may only discover if it is so or not. As we will see this will prove faulty. Plus, I refuse to be pressed by the Roman Catholic opinion. The RCC must prove its inspiration, not a council’s opinion, which they cannot.
Just because the church reads the book, does not mean it is inspired. Pilgrim’s Progress is the second most widely read book in all the world besides the Bible, but simply because the church reads it does not make it inspired.
The Jewish church, to which the oracles of God were committed (Rom. 3:2), never considered them as canonical, but held the same canon with us (as is admitted by Josephus, Against Apion 1.39-41 [Loeb, 1:178-79], Becanus, Manuale controver siarum 1.1 , pp. 11-12) and Stapelton, “De Principiis fidei doctrinalibus controversia,” Cont. 5.7* in Opera , 1:322-23).
I do concede that there is much in the book worth reading. But it is not apocryphal simply because some testimony, (and that thin at best, and certainly not of the heavy hitters of the RCC as I have already quoted in previous emails), says that it is canonical. (Nor the reverse) It must stand the test I am about to place it under. Some fathers thought this book part of Jeremiah. Athanasius cites the book in his debate against the Arians, but though he does this, he also cites from the 3rd book of Esdras which shows inconsistency on behalf of the RCC to pick his citation on the book of Baruch to prove its canonicity and not Esdras. (Much of this is the case.) Melchior Canus says, (Lib VII. C. 6.) “For as we have shown in the second book, the church hath not placed the book of Baruch in the number of the sacred writings, certainly and clearly…”
Who wrote it? Either Baruch or Jeremiah is cited, but neither could have – why? It was written in Greek, not in Hebrew, as Jerome tells us, and as the book itself shows. Jeremiah and Baruch spoke in Hebrew, and Baruch wrote down what came from Jeremiah’s lips as Jeremiah 36:4 states. The style of the letter is in Greek, not in Hebrew diction. In Baruch, chapter 6, there is the epistle of Jeremiah which reads in verse 2, “Ye shall be there seven generations.” This construction in Greek is foreign in Hebrew. The term “generation” is never used to designate a period of 10 years as Francis Junius has correctly observed. Whoever wrote this book wrote in Greek. Whoever wrote this book did not write it in Hebrew, and not in the holy language of the prophets (Hebrew, or its immediate derivation and closely linked brother Aramaic.) Greek would not have been used until some time later. Jeremiah nor Baruch could not have written it. It was not written by any prophet, and is deemed apocryphal, and not inspired. As with others, Josephus acknowledges that those things which were written by his people after the time of Artaxerxes were not equally credible and authoritative with those which preceded “on account of there not being an indisputable succession of prophets” (Against Apion 1.41 (Loeb, 1:178-79]).
The additions to Esther: In additions to the unwarranted arguments mentioned for Baruch, the RCC adds that Josephus (Antiq. Lib. X. cap. 6.2) mentions the epistles of Ahasuerus. The argument based on Josephus is inconclusive. What if Josephus was enlarging in his history with these citations? Must have Josephus, simply because he quoted them being in existence ascribe to them canonicity, which he never, anywhere, does? Sixtus Senesis (Lib 1.) approves of Lyra’s view that they are not canonical. In dealing with the book, the additions are repetitious of the same information; and there is no reason to retell the same history twice in the same book; secondly, there are inconsistencies and incongruities: 1) chapter 12:2 Mordecai is said to have dreamed of 2 eunuchs who conspired against the king in the second year. But in the second chapter, which is canonical, verse 16, we read that the conspiracy took place in the seventh year of Ahaseurus. Next, the narrative in this apocryphal section is written after the death of Mordecai, naming Ptolemy and Cleopatra, who assured lived after the time of the prophets. (Nor can anyone well understand the meaning of that passage anyway.) Some them say that Lysimachus had taken the Hebrew and translated the document into Greek, which would then explain why this apocryphal section is in Greek and not in Hebrew. But Lysimachus only translated the epistle of Phurim, and nothing else. Also, who translated this section into Latin? Jerome found a certain Latin translation, and subjoined it to his version (knowing full well that Jerome did not translate the Apocrypha well, and cut and paste other parts of it upon extreme pressure to include it as a translation in his work which attests to.) Yet, this vulgar translation, which Jerome deemed utterly unfaithful, is in the highest sense canonical with the RCC against the testimony of the very translator. Thirdly, the author of this section tells us that Mordecai received a reward from the king for this information (12:5); but no reward was given in chapter 6:3 of the true history. (and more of this could be explained as to why Haman would have plotted against Mordecai after the king rewarded him, etc…) Chapter 12:6 of the apocryphal account says Haman was incensed at Mordecai on account of the eunuch, but why would Haman favor the treason of the eunuchs? – which is not in the true history. He would then be hating the King not Mordecai. Fifthly, chapter 15:7 says that Queen Esther enraged the king upon her entrance. But 5:2 says that she found favor – a blatant contradiction. Sixthly, chapter 16:10 says Haman is called a Macedonian, but in 8:3 he is called an Agagite, from Amalek. Another blatant contradiction. And there is more…but I will not belabor the obvious. The chapters are not written in Hebrew. Jerome says he marked these chapters with an “obelus” to show their uncanonical nature. Beside others already quoted previously, Sixtus Senensis after Trent wrote in his bibliotheca that these works are apocryphal. Although Sixtus quarrels with his own men, the Jesuits, let them quarrel. It continues to show the inconsistencies.
The additions to Daniel: Jerome says “Daniel, as it stand in the Hebrew, text, has neither the history of Susanna, nor the Hymn of the three children, nor the fables of Bel and the Dragon; which we, considering that they are now dispersed over the whole world, subjoined with an obelus prefixed, and as it were, striking them through, lest the ignorant think they had cut a great portion of the volume.” Jerome says none of this is in Hebrew, he said they were apocryphal by his obelus, they are, though read everywhere, and he would have omitted them if not for the fear of calamity of certain people. Secondly, John Driedo (de Catal. Scripture. Lib. I. Cap. Ult.) does say that it is not to be despised, but is not canonical. Those, he says, who believe it to be inspired, fall into no pernicious error. They were not matters binding to faith. Thirdly, the Paranomasia, spoken of by Jerome in his preface to Daniel, shows it to be written in Greek and not in Hebrew. The Greek etymology here in this section which Jerome quotes (which I will not quote the Greek for you remembering you do not know it), is a play on Greek words and a Greek construction, and not Hebrew. Daniel could not have written it, nor any prophet. The RCC quotes Origen (of all people) as proof of the canonicity of it, and denies Jerome to be heard as he unequivocally denies its inspiration and inclusion and rebukes Origin in the same breath. (Hieronym. Opp. T. v. 619.) There is more but this suffices.
The book of Tobit: The RCC add Iraneus, Cyprian, Hilary, and Ambrose to prove the canonicity of the book, since they mention it. But what makes these men deem it canonical without a general council? Jerome in Hieronym. Opp. T. IX. 1296 says the book is not part of the canon. As for problem win the book: Tobias makes the angel tell a falsehood. He says that he is Azariah, the son of Ananias (Tob. 5:12*) and that he is Raphael, the angel of the Lord (12:15). The angel gives a magical direction for driving away the devil by the smoke of a fish’s liver (Tob. 6:6), against that of Christ (Mt. 17:21). He arrogates to himself the oblation of prayers (Tob. 12:12), which belongs to the work of Christ alone.
The book of Judith: Jerome says this books is not canonical (Opt. T. X. p. 22) He shows this by stating that the Jews saw it as apocryphal (Opt. T. X. p. 22), and because it was written in Chaldean and copies of it grossly corrupted and depraved. Neither did Josephus, in his history of the Jews, say anything concerning this book which would be extremely strange if it were a part of their history. Problems with it: The book of Judith celebrates the seed of Simeon (Jud. 9:2), which Jacob cursed (Gen. 49:5-7); praises the deceits and lies of Judith (Jud. 11), which are not very consistent with true piety. Worse still, she even seeks the blessing of God upon them (Jud. 9:13). No mention is made of the city Bethulia in the Scriptures; nor does any trace of the deliverance mentioned there occur in Josephus or Philo, who wrote on Jewish subjects. Nabuchodosor is called a Persian emperor, where no Persian emperor ever existed by that name. And problem with chronological and geographical history occur with him and Holofernes. The history of Kings, in which the acts of Manasseh are written, read nothing about Holofernes. We also see Judith living 105 years and more, and that while she lived there was peace. This peace, therefore lasted many years, at least 100. But Amon succeeded Manasseh, and reigned 2 years, Josiah succeeded Amon and reigned 31 years and after his death a great amount of war came to the people. This is contradictory. The multiple problems of this kind show the books to be apocryphal and uninspired.
The book of Wisdom: The RCC says that Paul alludes to this in Rom. 11:34 when he says “Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counselor?” As well as Hebrews 1:3, “Who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” Similar words proves nothing. They are not alluding to Wisdom, rather to Isaiah, which the NT quote everywhere. The sentiment is found in Isaiah 40:13, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or who hath been His counselor, hath taught him?” Aquinas agrees with this (T. XVI. P. 37. 2. Opp. Venet. 1593.) The author of Wisdom falsely asserts that he was king in Israel (Wis. Sol. 9:7, 8) that he might be taken for Solomon. Yet he alludes to the athletic contests which in the time of Solomon had not been established among the Greeks (Wis. Sol. 4:2). Further, he introduces the Pythagorean metempsychosis (metempsychosin, Wis. Sol. 8:19, 20) and gives a false account of the origin of idolatry (14:15, 16). It is written in Greek which excludes it from the OT canon. Most determine it was written by Philo, who lived at the time of Christ. Christ said that the “law and the prophets were until John” not after which excludes Philo. Bellarmine tries to escape this by saying there must have been some other Jewish Philo, but this is nonsense, also rejected by Sixtus Senesis (Lib. VIII. C. 9) For if Philo was a true prophet, and sent of God, why then did he not receive the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah and only Savior? (Ouch!)
The book of Ecclesiasticus: just a few things to not weary: the writer asks for apologies in his preface in that the Hebrew cannot be rendered well into the Greek. He asks for pardon as if inadequate for the task. By this he proves himself to not be a prophet, nor endowed with a prophetic Spirit. For the prophets never do this. What is written in Chapter 49:4 concerning Samuel is nonsense, as Augustine states (Ad Simplicainum, Lib. II quaest. 3) and in Cura pro mortis cap. 15.) Augustine says it was not Samuel but a demonic spirit. Otherwise Samuel would have never said that Saul and his sons would be with him when they die, which if it were the prophet, would have been heaven; which is not so. Aquinas says this as well (I. p. 89. 4. 8.)
The Son of Sirach (Sir 46:20) attributes to Samuel what was done by the evil spirit raised by wicked devices (1 S. 28:11), falsely speaks of Elijah’s bodily return (Sir. 48:10), and excuses his oversights in the prologue.
Maccabees’ history is faulty in many places. The RCC holds these books under the authority of the apostolical canons, which also accept 3 Maccabees which the RCC does not. This is bias and shows lack of prudence to “listen to their authorities.” Augustine said “The calculation of which times is not to be found in the sacred Scriptures which are called canonical, but in others, amongst which are also the books of Maccabees.” So the RCC’s attempt to use Augustine’s quotes concerning their “sacredness” is destroyed by Augustine’s own qualification of the books as other than canonical – which he never retracted. Also, Maccabees praises suicide. Augustine repudiates this when he says “Nor is it in vain that nowhere in the sacred canonical scriptures do we find any precept or permission to take away our own lives.” For in 1 Maccabees 6 Eleasar is praised for voluntary rushing upon death. And in 2 Maccabees 14, Razis is praised for laying hands on himself. These books teach what is contrary to he law of Christ and of God. Augustine also argues that Christ never mentions them as his witnesses and shows them as non-canonical. Jerome says Josephus is the author of these books (Cap. XIII. Opp. T. II. 837) Josephus is not prophet, did not accept Christ and lived after the prophets. The books are expressly stated by Gregory the Great as apocryphal, who was Pope of Rome (Morals. Lib. XIX. c. 16.) Eusebius says the same (Lib. De Temp.), as does Richard of S. Victor. (Except. Lib. II. c. 9.) and Occam (3 Part.Dial. Tract.. I. Lib. III c. 16) Will worship is seen in 2 Maccabees 12, where Judas Maccabees is praised for sacrificing to the dead, something God never commanded (See Leviticus 101-3). Judas is said to have been slain in 152 during the reign of Seleucide in Mac. 9:3; but 2 Mac. 1:10 he writes a letter to Aristobulus in the year 188, 36 years after his death (I wish I could do that!) So much more can be added, but I will add one more. Within the 2 Maccabean books, Antiochus is said to have died 3 different ways and in two different geographical locations. (See 1 Macc. 6:18, 16; 2 Macc. 1:16; 2 Macc 9, etc.) Josephus was not careful.
There are so many contradictions and absurdities in the additions to Esther and Daniel that Sixtus Senensis unhesitatingly rejects them. Baruch says that in the fifth year after the destruction of Jerusalem, he read his book to Jeconiah and to all the people of Babylon; but Jeconiah was in prison and Baruch had been taken away to Egypt after the death of Gedaliah (Jer. 43:7). He mentions an altar of the Lord (Bar. 1:10) when there was none, the temple being destroyed. The books of the Maccabees often contradict each other (compare 1 Mac. 1:16 with 9:5, 28 and chapter 10). The suicide (autocheiria) of Razis is praised (2 Mac. 14:42). Will-worship (ethelothreskeia) is commended (2 Mac. 12:42) in Judas’s offering a sacrifice for the dead contrary to the law. The author apologizes for his youth and infirmity and complains of the painful labor of abridging the five books of Jason, the Cyrenian (2 Mac. 2:23*, 24; 15:39). If you wish any more exmaples from these books, consult Rainold, Chamier, Molinaeus, Spanheim and others who have pursued this line of argument with fullness and strength. Do I need to go on?
Seeing then that from the testimony of the books themselves, they are contradictory, chronologically inaccurate, they introduce characters which are fables, they contradict not only themselves but also the Holy Scriptures. They are not inspired, and not included in the canon by most of the early fathers and no council approved them with any degree of prudence. These differences are irreconcilable.