BOOKS BANNED FROM THE BIBLE: WHAT IS MISSING FROM OUR BIBLE TODAY AND WHY?

Summary:  Most Christians have little awareness of how the Church selected which books should comprise our Bible. Fewer still know something useful about the Apocrypha. Many Evangelical Christians engaged in the current-day Bible Prophecy community are too enamored with certain books scholars label pseudepigrapha. This lengthy article intends to sort out these issues and explain why the Protestant Bible should include readings from the Septuagint in a number of places where the Masoretic Text was corrupted by rabbis in the second century. It also makes the case that the reason the Apocrypha was left out of current day Bibles (dating from late in the nineteenth century down to today) was because of cost, convenience, and hatred against Catholics. It was not for theological reasons. 

Bible 101 – On the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

It’s not understood all that well.  How did the Christian Church settle on the books that should be included in our Bible? There are a number of erroneous ideas about how this happened. And there is little understanding about the books that were once included in the Christina Bible and later were banished. And today, there are a number of books that have become popular but are excluded as well.

It is rather astonishing when you think about it, that Christianity relies upon its Bible to define what we believe and how we should live our lives, but generally speaking, we don’t know how we arrived at the 66 books that we call the Bible.

There are 39 books in our Old Testament (OT). There are 27 books in our New Testament (NT). But do you know that this arrangement has only been the case for about 150 years? Up to the time of the Reformation, the Bible of the Church was the Septuagint(LXX) in the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Vulgate in the Western Roman Catholic Church.  The Bible we know today that has only 66 books would not come into vogue until late in the eighteenth century and for matters of cost and convenience – not Theology.

The King James Table of Contents in the 1615 Edition Featuring the Apocrypha

The Septuagint means “the Seventy” for the 70 translators who created its first phase, the Pentateuch (meaning “five scrolls”), aka Torah (literally meaning “teaching”). This Greek version of the original Hebrew “Old” Testament was assembled circa 285 B.C. in Alexandria, Egypt, at the behest of Ptolemy I (Soter). Other books would be translated from Hebrew into Greek for the next 130 years or so. Several other books would be added to it that were originally written in Greek, which we know as 1,2,3, and 4 Maccabees.[1]

The Vulgate means “commonly used translation” and was translated by Jerome circa 400 A.D.  It was commissioned by Pope Damascus I in 382 A.D.  As you probably know, it is the Latin Bible that has been used almost exclusively by the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the “other books” included in the Septuagint were also placed within the Vulgate. The Vulgate was translated directly from the Hebrew “rabbinic” Bible rather than from the Greek Septuagint, known as “the Christian Bible” according to the rabbis during the second century A.D.  But to be clear, there are these “other” books that were not included in the Hebrew Bible as it was assembled circa 100 A.D. in Jamnia, Palestine, by the rabbis, eventually under the direction of Rabbi Akiba. The Bible we Protestants have today was because of this Rabbi – a hater of Christians.

These other books are known as the Apocrypha. There are variations between the Septuagint and the Vulgate based on the assigned names and their location (and whether they are separate or embedded in another canonical book, e.g., Daniel).  Otherwise, it is important to note that while they appear in the Latin Vulgate, they first were present in the Septuagint. These “other” books that were translated from Greek to Latin by Jerome included what is known as “additions to Esther,” “additions to Daniel” (originally translated by Theodotion in the second century A.D.). The other books translated into the Latin Vulgate from the Greek Septuagint (apparently by someone other than Jerome since there are major changes in style), were the following: Baruch, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees, 3 and 4 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalm 151.

Names of the Apocrypha comparing the Greek LXX and Latin Vulgate

We should also state at this point that the Septuagint was altered by three Jewish writers and one important Christian, Origen, after the rabbinic version of the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) was completed early in the second century. Three new versions of Greek Bibles were created by their respective authors: Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. All three of these Greek versions altered the original Alexandrian Septuagint (completed between 300 to 400 years prior), in order to supply the Diaspora of Israelites (any and all of the 12 tribes scattered throughout the globe) with a Greek Bible (which had become their native tongue thanks to Alexander the Great) in order to convey the altered version of what eventually would become the “Masoretic Text” during the Middle Ages. [2] Another level of confusion was introduced by Origen when he created the Hexapla– a six-column ,“multi-linear” text – which attempted to reconcile the differences between the four Greek Bibles with Origen’s “harmonized version” a fifth column, and the rabbinic Bible comprising the sixth column. The Hexapla was unwieldy due to its size (imagine six bibles strapped together in large pages and heavy vellum). It passed out of existence sometime in the sixth or seventh century (possibly destroyed by the attack of the Mohammed at Antioch). This process diluted the LXX (although it has been restored today due to versions translated into Syriac and Coptic prior to the “Hexaplaric” abomination created by Origen).

The Latin Vulgate and Its Reliance on the Septuagint

When we arrive at the time of Jerome at the outset of the fifth century A.D., it is perfectly clear that the canon for the Christian Church was a settled issue.  It included books “of the first order” (those acclaimed canonical) and “other books” from the second order, most of what would be grouped as a separate collection, sometimes called deuterocanonical, meaning books that were considered secondary and not acceptable for establishing the beliefs of the Church – what we equate with “doctrine.” [3]

Allow me to cite Jerome’s explanation for what he elected to include and exclude from his Latin translation. First off, his methodology was to use the Hebrew for the Old Testament but consult the Greek Septuagint for he considered the original Alexandrian Septuagint authentic. Secondly, for the New Testament, he no doubt relied upon various Greek manuscripts gathered and available to him at the time, which most likely included copies of what we known today as Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Sinaiticus. Sharing his exact words:

For if we are to pin our faith to the Latin texts, it is for our opponents to tell us which; for there are almost as many forms of texts as there are copies. If, on the other hand, we are to glean the truth from a comparison of many, why not go back to the original Greek and correct the mistakes introduced by inaccurate translators, and the blundering alterations of confident but ignorant critics, and, further, all that has been inserted or changed by copyists more asleep than awake?

I am not discussing the Old Testament, which was turned into Greek by the Seventy elders, and has reached us by a descent of three steps. I do not ask what Aquila and Symmachus think, or why Theodotion takes a middle course between the ancients and the moderns.[4] I am willing to let that be the true translation which had apostolic approval. [Which was the original Septuagint aka Alexandrian Septuagint or “the Old Greek.”]

I am now speaking of the New Testament. This was undoubtedly composed in Greek, with the exception of the work of Matthew the Apostle, who was the first to commit to writing the Gospel of Christ, and who published his work in Judæa in Hebrew characters. We must confess that as we have it in our language it is marked by discrepancies, and now that the stream is distributed into different channels we must go back to the fountainhead. I pass over those manuscripts which are associated with the names of Lucian and Hesychius [labeled heretics by the Church Fathers [5]], and the authority of which is perversely maintained by a handful of disputatious persons.

It is obvious that these writers could not amend anything in the Old Testament after the labours of the Seventy; and it was useless to correct the New, for versions of Scripture which already exist in the languages of many nations show that their additions are false. I therefore promise in this short Preface the four Gospels only, which are to be taken in the following order, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, as they have been revised by a comparison of the Greek manuscripts. Only early ones have been used. But to avoid any great divergences from the Latin which we are accustomed to read, I have used my pen with some restraint, and while I have corrected only such passages as seemed to convey a different meaning, I have allowed the rest to remain as they are.

Jerome’s frank explanation expresses a conviction that the Apostles relied upon the Greek Old Testament as it was originally translated during the third and second century B.C., and should not include the Greek translations completed by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion – because they came after the Apostles. And most likely, he agreed with Justin Martyr and other Patriarchs who asserted that the rabbinical Bible we know today as the Old Testament in Protestant Bibles had been corrupted and was not trustworthy in all its parts.

What is Canonical and What Isn’t?

Thus, Jerome made decisions on the inclusion of books in the Latin Bible. It is rather obvious that he believed the Septuagint should be regarded as authoritative in this regard. While he did not personally translate all of the books in the Septuagint into Latin, others did, completing a Latin Bible that closely mirrored the Greek LXX. Therefore, Jerome’s Vulgate helped, in its own way, to finalize the canon as it recognized what had been established by the various Church leaders such as Athanasius in 367 A.D. in his so-called “Easter Epistle” (see below). But arriving at this point and determining a canon was a progressive process accomplished by an informal consensus of what the Church valued and employed. This then was formalized (in my view) by the Patriarchs.

But first, we start with the statements of Jesus in Luke 11:51 and Matthew 23:55 which begins with Genesis and concludes with the words in 2 Chronicles, “from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah.” Our Lord also referenced the three-fold sections of scripture as the “Law of Moses… the Prophets… and the Psalms” in Luke 24:44-45a: “Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures…”

 

The Twelve Apostles – The Authoritative Writers of the New Testament

Secondly, the Apostles confirmed that what we know as the New Testament, which was in a formative process, was or would be Holy Scripture. We see Paul referenced Luke’s Gospel as authoritative (1 Timothy 5:18 with Luke 10:7 and Deuteronomy 25:4). “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Timothy 5:18) “For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages.” (Luke 10:7) “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.”

Thirdly, the Church Fathers expressed their opinion. Clement of Rome cited eight New Testament books (95 A.D.); Polycarp, John’s disciple, confirmed 15 books (108 A.D.); Ignatius of Antioch identified seven books (115 A.D.); Irenaeus mentioned 21 books (185 A.D.). Likewise, Hippolytus determined there to be 22 books (sometime in the timeframe 170-235 A.D.)  In 170 A.D., the first official canon was the Muratorian Canon which included almost all NT books, except Hebrews, James, and 3 John. Three Church Councils would confirm the canon: Laodicea (363 A.D., which included the Old Testament, all 27 books of the New Testament plus the Apocrypha); The Council of Hippo (393 A.D.) and that of Carthage (397 A.D.) also confirmed the 27 books of the New Testament to be authoritative for the Church. [6]

Athanasius of Alexandria

As mentioned above, Athanasius’ “Pascal Festival Letter” of 367 A.D. puts a precise point on the topic of the canon with these words (below are the final four paragraphs of his letter comprising roughly one-half of his position statement):

    1. There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number; for, as I have heard, it is handed down that this is the number of the letters among the Hebrews; their respective order and names being as follows. The first is Genesis, then Exodus, next Leviticus, after that Numbers, and then Deuteronomy. Following these there is Joshua, the son of Nun, then Judges, then Ruth. And again, after these four books of Kings, the first and second being reckoned as one book, and so likewise the third and fourth as.1290one book. And again, the first and second of the Chronicles are reckoned as one book. Again Ezra, the first and second are similarly one book. After these there is the book of Psalms, then the Proverbs, next Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs. Job follows, then the Prophets, the twelve being reckoned as one book. Then Isaiah, one book, then Jeremiah with Baruch, Lamentations, and the epistle, one book; afterwards, Ezekiel and Daniel, each one book. Thus far constitutes the Old Testament.
    2. Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament. These are, the four Gospels, according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Afterwards, the Acts of the Apostles and Epistles (called Catholic), seven, viz. of James, one; of Peter, two; of John, three; after these, one of Jude. In addition, there are fourteen Epistles of Paul, written in this order. The first, to the Romans; then two to the Corinthians; after these, to the Galatians; next, to the Ephesians; then to the Philippians; then to the Colossians; after these, two to the Thessalonians, and that to the Hebrews; and again, two to Timothy; one to Titus; and lastly, that to Philemon. And besides, the Revelation of John.
    3. These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these. For concerning these the Lord put to shame the Sadducees, and said, ‘Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures.’ And He reproved the Jews, saying, ‘Search the Scriptures, for these are they that testify of Me.’
    4. But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read; nor is there in any place a mention of apocryphal writings. But they are an invention of heretics, who write them when they choose, bestowing upon them their approbation, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as ancient writings, they may find occasion to lead astray the simple.

This final paragraph might pose some confusion. Athanasius’ mention of the books of what we call the Apocrypha he positively affirms as profitable for reading, “for instruction in the word of godliness.” All those books named by Athanasius fall into this second order of books (including the Didache – the Teaching of the Apostles, and “the Shepherd” – which is the Shepherd of Hermas). His reference to any books that are apocryphal which he identifies as heretical, would be other books not named by him.

One source, compellingtruth.org, provides a helpful and concise recap of the canon issues. Of special note is its statement regarding the four qualities that any book included in the New Testament must possess: “First, the author must be an apostle or have a close connection with an apostle. Second, the book must have been accepted by the body of Christ at large. Third, the book had to contain consistency of doctrine and orthodox teaching. Finally, the book had to bear evidence of high moral and spiritual values that would reflect a work of the Holy Spirit as the divine Author.” [7] And then it concludes with a statement on the nature of Scriptural authority with which I concur:

Most importantly, however, it must be recognized that it was God, and God alone, who determined which books belonged in the Bible. God, via the inspiration of the Spirit, imparted to His followers what He had already decided. The human process of collecting the books of the Bible was flawed, but God, in His sovereignty, and despite the limitations of sinful man, brought the early church to the recognition of the books He had inspired, and those books are recognized today as the canon of Scripture.

And it is not just Catholic and Orthodox Bibles that include the Apocrypha. The early editions of the King James Bible, including the revered 1611 KJV, also contained the Apocrypha. It is a part of our history and despite claims to the contrary, was often quoted by the Church Fathers and was retained in the minds of the New Testament authors with allusions to its wording in a number of places.

Author Gary Michuta indicates that there were 11 cross-references in the New Testament and 102 Old Testament references to the Apocrypha. [8] The table below supplies ten New Testament cross-references included in the “inspired” King James Bible by the 47 scholars. And note, these references are only the ones listed in the KJV:

New Testament References to the Apocrypha

Hence, all of this begs the question, “Why was the Apocrypha no longer published alongside the first order of biblical books, what we call the canon?”  It turns out there are several explanations. A concise summary is presented by Michuta below. He points out that one factor was hatred for Catholics, another was the reduced cost of printing by excluding the Apocrypha – neither being particularly righteous reasons:

Those who viewed the “Apocrypha” as somehow being the last vestige of “popery” pressed for the Apocrypha appendix and its cross-references to be removed altogether from the Bible. In 1615, George Abbott, the Archbishop of Canterbury, went so far as to employ the power of law to censure any publisher who did not produce the Bible in its entirety (i.e. including the “Apocrypha”) as prescribed by the Thirty-nine Articles. However, anti-Catholic hatred and the obvious financial advantages of printing smaller Protestant Bibles began to win out against the traditionalists who wanted the Bible in the form that was given in all previous Protestant translations up until that point (in the form of Luther’s Bible – with the Apocrypha between the Old and New Testaments). The “Apocrypha” remained in the King James Bible through the 1626, 1629, 1630, and the 1633 editions. By 1632, public opinion began to decidedly turn against the “bigger” Protestant Bibles. Of the 227 printings of the Bible between 1632 and 1826, about 40% of Protestant Bibles contained the “Apocrypha.” The Apocrypha Controversy of the early 1800’s enabled English Bible Societies to flood the bible-buying market with Apocrypha-less Protestant Bibles and in 1885 the “Apocrypha” was officially removed with the advent of the Revised Standard Version, which replaced the King James Version.

It seems that Protestants abandoned the Apocrypha because of cost, convenience, and Catholics. The bitter disputes in England and elsewhere between Protestants and Catholics ignited hatred in Protestants for anything that smacked of Catholicism. This was certainly true in England with the wars between the “Popists” and the Anglicans. The English Bible Society finally elected to eliminate the Apocrypha in 1885 and the Revised Standard Version, so hated now by the KJV only crowd, was the final nail in its coffin. From my vantage point, this was a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite your face. In so doing, Protestants had just eradicated a portion of what had always been their Bible.

Martin Luther’s German Translation of the Bible

Perhaps the fault lay with Martin Luther. In his revolutionary German Bible, he pulled out the Apocrypha and made it an appendix, placing it between the Testaments. Once partitioned off, it was easier to eliminate. But to his credit, he did not throw out the books of the Apocrypha – he just made sure everyone understood it did not have equal inspiration as the other books deemed canonical and of first order by the earlier Church Fathers (as we saw in the writings of Jerome above).

An Anglican scholar, William H. Daubney made this comment in regards to the exclusion of the Apocrypha from our Bibles, noting the King James scholars cross-referenced the Apocrypha in a multitude of places, and those citations were lost:

These objectionable omissions [of the cross-reference] were made after the custom arose of publishing Bibles without the Apocrypha. These apparently profess to be what they are not, entire copies of the Authorized Version. Plainly, the reference to the Apocrypha told an inconvenient tale of the use which the Church intended should be made of it; so, either from dissenting influenced without, or from prejudice within the Church, these references disappeared from the margin.[9]

Perhaps another Protestant author, E.G. Goodspeed, said it best when he asserted, “Whatever may be our personal opinions of the Apocrypha, it is a historical fact that they formed an integral part of the King James Version, and any Bible claiming to represent that version should either include the Apocrypha, or state that it is omitting them.  Otherwise a false impression is created.” [10]

There are many advocates of the King James Bible that contend an important reason it is an averred truth of God is due to the fact that it omits the Apocrypha. Indeed, criticisms are flung at the Septuagint because it has the audacity to include these books within the pages of its testimony.  Obviously, this constitutes another place where the King James Only proponents get it wrong.[11]

But Where Are Those Other Books We Like So Much?

Today, there are quite a number of other books looked to by conservative Christians for spiritual truth outside both the canon and the deuterocanonical books. These other books have recently become popular among many Evangelical groups, particularly those with interest in the so-called fringe topics such as the Nephilim and the supernatural. (By fringe, I am not attempting to call them into question – just describing those Christians like myself who find these other books worth noting even though they are often deemed “out there” or “over the top”).  These books are grouped together in what is called, pseudepigrapha. The name conveys that the writings declare themselves to have been written by a particular author, generally a biblical character. However, the evidence is slim to none that the author named had anything to do with writing the book. [12] This is not forgery – it was an acceptable mode of writing in ancient times.

The most frequently discussed pseudepigrapha are The Book of Jubilee, the Letter of Aristeas, and the Book of Adam and Eve. Another book which I would put into this category would be the Book of Jasher.  Each has its own story and requires explanation which won’t be offered here, except to point out the Jubilees (aka “Little Genesis”) and the Letter of Aristeas were written in the second century B.C. Aristeas champions the Old Greek Septuagint, while the Book of Adam and Eve seeks to explain facets of Genesis’ first few chapters that are absent from the canonical version.

And there are several apocalyptic books, most notably 1 Enoch, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Assumption of Moses, and the Secrets of Enoch (2 Enoch) as well as the Syriac Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch). Of these, only 1 Enoch has gained a popular following, many wondering why it was not included in the New Testament since it appears to be cited by Jude and Peter. Additionally, many books have been written about Enoch’s visions, with emphasis on the single verse in Genesis that mentions “the sons of God coming into the daughters of men” (Genesis 6:4), giving rise to giants that continue to plague the people of God up to the time of David when he kills Goliath, who was likely one of the last living giants from this line. Theologian and friend, Michael Heiser, has written extensively on this topic and his books are at the top of my recommended list, especially The Unseen World and Reversing Hermon.

Lastly, there are another set of pseudepigraphal books that deserve a hearing, sometimes known as “Adamic Literature.” This final group merits consideration as it may have been influential in creating a mysterious prophecy that appears causative in the alteration of the chronology of the Old Testament. Specifically, this prophecy is known as the “prophecy of the five and one-half days” (5 ½ days). According to my research and confirmed by several other researchers and authors, [13] there was a belief among Jewish leaders leading up to the time of Christ, and echoed in the writings of the Church Fathers, that the Messiah would come 5,500 years after Adam.

As the reader may know given I have spoken about it in a number of places, the Septuagint’s chronology covers roughly 5,500 years from Adam to Christ. The rabbis altered the Genesis chrono-genealogy by 1,386 years (in chapters 5 and 11) through some complex editing of the ages at which the Genesis Patriarchs “brought forth” their respective children. Additionally, as it pertains to Daniel’s 70 Weeks (from the edict to rebuild the Second Temple to the time of Messiah the Prince) the rabbis cut out several Persian kings in the line of succession, reducing the timeframe from the conquering of Babylon (539 B.C.) to the time of Simon bar Kochba (at the beginning of the second century A.D.) by approximately 165 years. This was done in concert with the wishes of Rabbi Akiba to exalt bar Kochba as the expected Messiah rather than Jesus of Nazareth.

This additional corruption of biblical history was a significant aspect of the Seder Olam Rabbah created in mid-second-century A.D. (aka the Jewish Calendar). Combined with the alterations made to Genesis, today’s Jewish calendar supposes the current year to be 5779 A.M, commensurate with our Gregorian date of 2019. Thus, the correct date for the Jewish calendar, if I may be so bold, would actually be approximately 7330 A.M. [14] The Jewish calendar is dated anno mundi (A.M), or from the creation of the world, whereas the calendar followed in today’s world employs the abbreviation C.E. as another means to cut out the Lord Christ from our history. C.E., the “common era,” I refuse to use, sticking instead to the conventional B.C., before Christ, and A.D., anno domini, “in the year of our Lord.” I subscribe to the idea that history is His Story.

Conclusion: Should Christians Stick with the Rabbinic Bible?

450 pages, released January 2019

The matter of whether Christians should be using the Septuagint instead of the traditional Old Testament that comes to us from the Masoretic/rabbinic text, constitutes a serious matter. I am very much an advocate for referencing the Septuagint and making note where the rabbinic text was corrupted in the Old Testament.  I have argued in my book, Rebooting the Bible, that the Septuagint is one of the most important sources we have in textual criticism. It helps us look far back into ancient history – hundreds and hundreds of years before the rabbinic text – to see what the oldest versions of the Hebrew Bible expressed. As I explain in my book, the argument is solid and supported by scholars that the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew into Greek by referencing manuscripts, perhaps some of them only one generation (of copying) away from the originals as compiled (and some written) by Ezra in the mid-fifth century B.C. However, witness is the unique and virtually unknown story of the Septuagint which I won’t recount further here. Readers are encouraged to get my book to learn about the corrupting process and why the Septuagint likely reflects a more accurate rendering of the original writings of the Old Testament authors.

However, I stop short of recommending dropping the Old Testament as transmitted down to us through recent Church History. The corruptions are limited in scope, although they deal with some of the most important aspects of our Bible. Nevertheless, there are simply too many scholars and too much scholarship based on the Hebrew Bible (not to mention thousands of trained seminarians who know Hebrew), to suggest that the Greek Old Testament should always take precedence over the Hebrew. But any serious student of the Bible that knows Greek should certainly avail themselves to a copy of the Septuagint. For those of us that don’t know Greek, the most academically sound Septuagint is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS), published in 2007. It is not a pure translation of the Greek into English as it updates the New Revised Standard Version with what it intends to be more accurate Greek readings. An easier to read version is the Orthodox Study Bible published in 2008. I am less enthusiastic about recommending it for Protestants as it contains commentary expressly for Orthodox believers. But it does correct one major flaw in the KJV: It makes references to the Old Testament consistent with the New – since its New Testament is, after all, quoting the Septuagint which the NT authors did, about 80% of the time.

Nevertheless, I argue it is a gross oversight for which the Church remains guilty of today (and for two centuries) in not understanding the Septuagint was the Bible for every Christian for almost 500 years and for at least half of Christendom during its next 1,000 years. Plus, it remains the Old Testament for the Orthodox Church today (e.g., Greek and Russian Orthodox – names which Americans are more likely familiar). Orthodox believers in the U.S. number two to three million. Worldwide, there are as many as 300 million. It hardly comprises an insignificant number – therefore, it is more than appropriate to recognize its place in Christendom – and its preference for the LXX Bible.

In addition, we must remember that the rabbis rejected the Apocrypha because they believed that all prophecy ceased at the time of Nehemiah and Ezra (mid-fifth century). There could be no canonical scripture after that time. (That would include the New Testament). They decried apocalyptic literature altogether. Ironically, this is in part why they did not see the Book of Daniel as prophetic since they believed it was written during the intertestamental period, after prophecy had ceased! Nonetheless, Daniel was akin to 1 Enoch in that it contained apocalyptic visions – which is also hard to fathom since Daniel was accepted into the rabbinic canon, but 1 Enoch was not. [15] Once again, the rabbis decisions may be because the references in 1 Enoch seemed too much like what was being taught by Christians such as Jude saw Jesus of Nazareth to be the one who is coming with the clouds of heaven, something that both He and Enoch predicted would come at the end of the age.

We mustn’t overlook the fact that the apocalypse was at the heart of the Gospel message – the Kingdom of God is coming!  This would also set the rabbis on edge since their notion of the Messiah’s advent had to be at a time when Judaism was ready to rule the earth. With their temple in ruins, and their land under the thumb of Rome, the time was not right. Most importantly, their decision at Jamnia made being Jewish, henceforth, about following the oral law of the Mishnehand not Second Temple ritual. Any “last days” language was simply unacceptable and out of the question.

Finally, as the Orthodox Church maintains, the Christian Bible has been in the safekeeping (for the most part) in an unbroken legacy from the first or second century. Likewise, we must grasp that the rabbis repudiated the Old Greek Septuagint because they believed it had become “the Christian Bible.” That in itself should be enough to ask ourselves, “Why do we ignore the Septuagint?” And in regards to which Old Testament tradition we should support, we ought to ask one another, “Should we side with the decision of the rabbis or with the decision, collectively, of the early Church?”

I, for one, do not wish to overlook either the Septuagint or the Apocrypha because they remain at the heart of Christianity as it has been handed down to us.

Endnotes

[1] The books of Tobit and Judith were written in Aramaic.

[2] The earliest examples we have of this text dates from the ninth century, The Aleppo Codex, and from the tenth century, the Leningrad Codex.

[3] Deuteronomy, according to BibleStudyTools.com, means “repetition of the law” suggesting that to follow the law one must repeat the words many times to learn it and follow it.

[4] This is a clear refutation of the newer translations into Greek from the remanufactured Hebrew Bible of the rabbis.

[5] Lucian was associated with Arius and the Arian heresy. Hesychius believed in allegorical interpretation of the Bible, along the line of Origen, but apparently far greater in degree.

[6] The matter of Apostolic authority was clearly spoken of in the writings of the Church Fathers. They made clear distinctions between the time of the Apostles and their time. The Apostles writings were unique. Justin Martyr stated, “For from Jerusalem there went out into the world, men, twelve in number…by the power of God they proclaimed to every race of men that they were sent by Christ to teach to all the word of God.” (1 Apology 39). Clement wrote, “Take up the epistle of that blessed apostle, Paul.” And also, “The Apostles received the Gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ, Jesus the Christ was sent from God. The Christ therefore is from God and the Apostles from the Christ.” (1 Clement 47:1-3 and 1 Clement 42:1-2) I recommend reading an article by Michael J. Kruger, “Did the Early Church Fathers think They Were Inspired Like the Apostles?” It may be found at https://www.michaeljkruger.com/did-the-early-church-fathers-think-that-they-were-inspired-like-the-apostles/. My citations of Justin and Clement are found in his article.

[7] Retrieved June 20, 2019, from https://www.compellingtruth.org/canon-Bible.html.

[8] Gary Michuta, “The Inconvenient Tale” of the Original King James Bible. Retrieved June 21, 2019, from http://www.handsonapologetics.com/King%20James%20Bible.html. This is an important article with additional detail.  I recommend reading it.

[9] William H. Daubney, The Use of the Apocrypha in the Christian Church.London: C.J. Clay and Sons, 1900, p. 17.

[10] E.G. Goodspeed, Story of the Apocrypha. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939, p. 7.

[11]A well-written article, which this author disagrees with, was writ ten by Ryan Turner, presenting ten reasons why the Apocrypha should be rejected. I encourage the reader to consider his viewpoint and then return to reread my material. Ryan Turner, “Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible.” (10/13/2009). Retrieved June 22, 2019, from https://carm.org/reasons-why-apocrypha-does-not-belong-bible. Despite strongly disagreeing with Turner on the Apocrypha, my assessment of the CARM organization is that it is intelligent and constructively conservative. It is not King James Only and is not Young Earth only. See https://carm.org/KJVO/do-differences-in-translations-mean-only-one-can-be-the-word-of-god.

[12] This standard means of writing literature “in the spirit of ‘so and so’” was common in the ancient world. It is important to note that the Gospels do NOT follow this pattern.  They are all anonymous, almost as if the names were intentionally left off so that there would be no confusion with the convention in ancient times of putting a name of someone on the manuscript that had nothing to do with it, attempting to imbue it with authority.  Absent a name, and quite nonintuitively, it may have enhanced the truthfulness ascribed to the Gospels. The Epistles, absent the Book of Hebrews, all have author names associated with them.

[13] See W. Kent Smith, Tales of Forever: The Unfolding Drama of God’s Hidden Hand in History, Lodestar Cinema Publications, 2016.

[14] A disciple of Rabbi Akiba, Yose ben Halafta, is credited with its creation in 160 A.D.

[15] The matter of 1 Enoch’s acceptance (or not) in the Christian canon was a difficult matter for many Christians. The Ethiopian Church accepts it in its canon. Some Church Fathers supported its inclusion, while most did not. It remains an important supplement to biblical literature, however, and should not be rejected out of hand. Neither should its importance be overstated. Many of my friends are, in my view, far too enthusiastic about 1 Enoch, and not appropriately critical of its contents.

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