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Question 16

Q: Is it true that the Apocrypha was never part of the Jewish canon in Palestine?

Asked by: Anonymous, Connecticut

A: You are right. It was never a part of the Jewish canon.

It’s important to realize that when Jesus was here on Earth, the Bible that He referred to—the Old Testament—had exactly the same books as our current Old Testament. Mind you, they were rearranged differently. For example, 1 and 2 Kings would have been one book. The same with 1 and 2 Chronicles, etc. So it might have appeared as though there were fewer books, but the content was absolutely the same as our Old Testament.

The Apocrypha. These books, some of which arose before the time of Jesus, were written in Greek and were circulated. The reason that they made some claim to canonicity is because Jerome was very reluctant to translate them, but under pressure, he did translate them, and so they appeared in the Latin Vulgate.

Throughout all of church history, hundreds of years, the church recognized that these books were not authentic—they were not breathed by God. Jerome himself spoke about them as being a kind of a secondary canon.

But then during the time of the Reformation, these books were used against Luther, it was then that the Catholic church officially recognized them as being fully authoritative. That’s why there is still disagreement today.

The bottom line: yes, the canon of Jesus, the one He referred to, is the same as ours; and the Apocrypha was never a part of the Old Testament canon.

Scripture references

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