The Apocryphal Books Of The Old Testament, And The Reasons For Their Exclusion From The Canon Of Scripture -- By: C. E. Stowe

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:42 (Apr 1854)
Article: The Apocryphal Books Of The Old Testament, And The Reasons For Their Exclusion From The Canon Of Scripture
Author: C. E. Stowe


The Apocryphal Books Of The Old Testament, And The
Reasons For Their Exclusion From The Canon Of Scripture

C. E. Stowe

I. The Apocryphal Books of the Old Testament

The books pertaining to the Old Testament which the Romish church holds to be sacred and canonical, in addition to the original Hebrew canon, are the following: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Maccabees I. and II., additions to Daniel, additions to Esther. Besides these, there are generally printed, as an appendix to the Vulgate, the Prayer of Manasseh, and Esdras III. and IV. In the English Apocrypha these two books of Esdras are designated as I. and II. The reason of the Vulgate numeration is, that the canonical Esdras is in that translation called Esdras I., and the canonical Nehemiah, Esdras II. In this it differs from the Septuagint, which retains for Nehemiah the Hebrew canonical name.

Before the time of the Council of Trent, the books above mentioned had not been received as canonical by the Christian church; most of them had been positively and very pointedly condemned by some one or more of the eminent church fathers; those who had received them to be read in churches made a marked distinction between them and the books of the original Hebrew canon, assigning to them a much lower place; and those who called any of them canonical, generally assigned the most trivial and unsatisfactory reasons for so doing. For example, Hilary (Proleg. in Psalm.) mentions, that the Hebrews had twenty-two canonical books of the Old Testament corresponding to the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet; but as the Greeks have twenty-four letters in their alphabet, they ought to have twenty-four books in their Old Testament canon, and he, therefore, in order to make out the number twenty-four, would add to the Hebrew canon the books of Tobit and Judith, for the Greek Bible. According to this principle, the Old Testament for the Arabs, Ethiopians, Cherokees, and many other nations,

ought to be enlarged by a number of books greater than all the apocryphal writings, numerous as they are, would be able to supply. Augustine, though the greatest man of his time intellectually, was a very poor critical scholar. He was disposed to receive all the books usually included in the Septuagint as canonical, because he ignorantly supposed that the Septuagint as a, whole had the sanction of the apostles (quae etiam ab Apostolis approbata est.—Epist. 32. ad Hieron. n. 35); yet, though he called all the Septuagint books canonical, he made a marked distinction among them in respect to their authority. He says: In canonicis Scripturis ecclesiarum catholicarum quamplurium auctoritatem sequatur, ut eas, quae ab omnibus accipiu...

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