Deuterocanonical Books

Compiler's Note: The Deuterocanonical books are found in the Septuagint; unfortunately the Septuagint never was passed on to western Christians. Even still, the dueterocanonical books continued to be included in the western Bibles until the eighteen hundreds. Today these books are also referred to as the Apocrypha, however both of the terms given to these books are misleading. The word "deuterocanonical" comes from the Greek meaning 'belonging to the second canon' thus indicating the hesitation by some with which these books were accepted into the canon. However the term does not mean non-canonical. Many who do not accept these books as part of the canon of Scripture designate them instead by the term “Apocrypha” which simply means "hidden".

It is important to take note of the place the deuterocanonical works retained during a time in which the church was moving further and further away from what the Primitive Church held to. The Apocrypha continued to have a place in the translations made by the reformers. Even the King James translation originally contained these works, although their value was minimized due to their exclusion from the Masoretic text.

It wasn’t until long after the reformation that the Apocrypha began to be omitted from the Authorized Version when Puritans and Presbyterians began to argue for its complete removal from the Bible. In 1825 the British and Foreign Bible Society got involved in the controversy, and from that time on, the Apocrypha has been eliminated from practically all English Bibles.

I. The early Christians acceptance and use of the deuterocanonical books
II. Why the Jews rejected the deuterocanonical books

I. The early Christians acceptance and use of the deuterocanonical books (Top)

The blessed Judith, when the city was beleaguered, asked of the elders that she might be suffered to go forth into the camp of the aliens. So she exposed herself to peril and went forth for love of her country and of her people which were beleaguered; and the Lord delivered Holophernes into the hand of a woman. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) ch.55

The five books of Moses - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made my extracts, dividing them into six books. Melito (190) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.8 pg.759

But Judith too, who became perfect among women, in the siege of the city, at the entreaty of the elders went forth into the strangers' camp, despising all danger for her country's sake, giving herself into the enemy's hand in faith in God; and straightway she obtained the reward of her faith, though a woman, prevailing over the enemy of her faith, and gaining possession of the head of Holofernes. Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 195) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg.431

But that we may believe on the authority of holy Scripture that such is the case, hear how in the book of Maccabees, where the mother of seven martyrs exhorts her son to endure torture, this truth is confirmed; for she says, "I ask of you, my son, to look at the heaven and the earth, and at all things which are in them, and beholding these, to know that God made all these things when they did not exist." (2 Macabees 7:28) Origen (A.D. 248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg.270

The apostle says that "God put it into the heart of Titus." That certain thoughts are suggested to men's hearts either by good or evil angels, is shown both by the angel that accompanied Tobias, and by the language of the prophet, where he says, "And the angel who spoke in me answered." Origen (A.D. 248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 332

"Behold, I show you a mystery;" which is his usual style in introducing matters of a profounder and more mystical nature, and such as are fittingly concealed from the multitude, as is written in the book of Tobit: "It is good to keep close the secret of a king, but honorable to reveal the works of God," in a way consistent with truth and God's glory, and so as to be to the advantage of the multitude. Origen (A.D. 248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 551

Moreover, the Holy Spirit gave signs of His presence at the beginning of Christ's ministry, and after His ascension He gave still more; but since that time these signs have diminished, although there are still traces of His presence in a few who have had their souls purified by the Gospel, and their actions regulated by its influence. "For the holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding." (Wisdom 1:5) Origen (A.D. 248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 614

"For even now the angel of God." He shows also, that when Susannah prayed to God, and was heard, the angel was sent then to help her, just as was the case in the instance of Tobias and Sara. For when they prayed, the supplication of both of them was heard in the same day and the same hour, and the angel Raphael was sent to heal them both. Hippolytus (A.D. 225) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg.193

I produce now the prophecy of Solomon, which speaks of Christ, and announces clearly and perspicuously things concerning the Jews; and those which not only are befalling them at the present time, but those, too, which shall befall them in the future age, on account of the contumacy and audacity which they exhibited toward the Prince of Life; for the prophet says, "The ungodly said, reasoning with themselves, but not aright," that is, about Christ, "Let us lie in wait for the righteous, because he is not for our turn, and he is clean contrary to our doings and words, and upbraids us with our offending the law, and profess to have knowledge of God; and he calls himself the Child of God." And then he says, "He is grievous to us even to behold; for his life is not like other men's, and his ways are of another fashion. We are esteemed of him as counterfeits, and he abstains from our ways as from filthiness, and pronounces the end of the just to be blessed." And again, listen to this, O Jew! None of the righteous or prophets called himself the Son of God. And therefore, as in the person of the Jews, Solomon speaks again of this righteous one, who is Christ, thus: "He was made to reprove our thoughts, and he makes his boast that God is his Father. Let us see, then, if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen in the end of him; for if the just man be the Son of God, He will help him, and deliver him from the hand of his enemies. Let us condemn him with a shameful death, for by his own saying he shall be respected." (Wisdom 2:1,12,13) Hippolytus (A.D. 225) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 220-221

And again David, in the Psalms, says with respect to the future age, "Then shall He" (namely Christ) "speak unto them in His wrath, and vex them in His sore displeasure." And again Solomon says concerning Christ and the Jews, that "when the righteous shall stand in great boldness before the face of such as have afflicted Him, and made no account of His words, when they see it they shall be troubled with terrible fear, and shall be amazed at the strangeness of His salvation; and they, repenting and groaning for anguish of spirit, shall say within themselves, This is He whom we had sometimes in derision and a proverb of reproach; we fools accounted His life madness, and His end to he without honor. How is He numbered among the children of God, and His lot is among the saints? Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness bath not shined unto us, and the sun of righteousness rose not on us. We wearied ourselves in the way of wickedness and destruction; we have gone through deserts where there lay no way: but as for the way of the Lord, we have not known it. What has our pride profited us? all those things are passed away like a shadow." (Wisdom 5:1-9) Hippolytus (A.D. 225) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg.221

On which account, let us forsake the error and follow the truth, knowing that in Esdras also the truth conquers, as it is written: “Truth endures and grows strong to eternity, and lives and prevails for ever and ever. With her there is no accepting of persons or distinctions; but what is just she does: nor in her judgments is there unrighteousness, but the strength, and the kingdom, and the majesty, and the power of all ages. Blessed be the Lord God of truth!” (Esdras 4:38-40) This truth Christ showed to us in His Gospel, and said, “I am the truth.” Wherefore, if we are in Christ, and have Christ in us, if we abide in the truth, and the truth abides in us, let us keep fast those things which are true. Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 389

And thus Holy Scripture instructs us, saying, “Prayer is good with fasting and almsgiving.” (Tobit 20:8) For He who will give us in the day of judgment a reward for our labors and alms, is even in this life a merciful hearer of one who comes to Him in prayer associated with good works. Thus, for instance, Cornelius the centurion, when he prayed, had a claim to be heard. For he was in the habit of doing many alms-deeds towards the people, and of ever praying to God. To this man, when he prayed about the ninth hour, appeared an angel bearing testimony to his labors, and saying, “Cornelius, your prayers and your alms are gone up in remembrance before God.” Those prayers quickly ascend to God which the merits of our labors urge upon God. Thus also Raphael the angel was a witness to the constant prayer and the constant good works of Tobias, saying, “It is honorable to reveal and confess the works of God. For when you didst pray, and Sarah, I did bring the remembrance of your prayers before the holiness of God. And when you didst bury the dead in simplicity, and because you didst not delay to rise up and to leave your dinner, but didst go out and cover the dead, I was sent to prove you; and again God has sent me to heal you, and Sarah your daughter-in-law. For I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels which stand and go in and out before the glory of God.” (Tobit 12:12-15) Cyprian (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg.456

The Epistle of Jude, indeed, and two belonging to the above-named John - or bearing the name of John - are reckoned among the universal epistles. And the book of Wisdom, written by the friends of Solomon in his honor. We receive also the Apocalypse of John and that of Peter, though some amongst us will not have this latter read in the Church. The Pastor, moreover, did Hermas write very recently in our times in the city of Rome, while his brother bishop Pius sat in the chair of the Church of Rome. And therefore it also ought to be read; but it cannot be made public in the Church to the people, nor placed among the prophets, as their number is complete, nor among the apostles to the end of time. Of the writings of Arsinous, called also Valentinus, or of Miltiades, we receive nothing at all. Those are rejected too who wrote the new Book of Psalms for Marcion, together with Basilides and the founder of the Asian Cataphrygians. Caius (A.D. 250) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.5 pg. 603-604

ORIGEN to Africanus… Your letter, from which I learn what you think of the Susanna in the Book of Daniel, which is used in the Churches… In answer to this, I have to tell you what it behooves us to do in the cases not only of the History of Susanna, which is found in every Church of Christ in that Greek copy which the Greeks use, but is not in the Hebrew, or of the two other passages you mention at the end of the book containing the history of Bel and the Dragon, which likewise are not in the Hebrew copy of Daniel. Origen (A.D. 240) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 386

Tobias (as also Judith), we ought to notice, the Jews do not use. They are not even found in the Hebrew Apocrypha, as I learned from the Jews themselves. However, since the Churches use Tobias, you must know that even in the captivity some of the captives were rich and well to do. Origen (A.D. 240) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg. 391

II. Why the Jews rejected the deuterocanonical books (Top)

But since Enoch in the same Scripture has preached likewise concerning the Lord, nothing at all must be rejected by us which pertains to us; and we read that "every Scripture suitable for edification is divinely inspired." By the Jews it may now seem to have been rejected for that (very) reason, just like all the other (portions) nearly which tell of Christ. Nor, of course, is this fact wonderful, that they did not receive some Scriptures which spoke of Him whom even in person, speaking in their presence, they were not to receive. To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude. Tertullian (A.D. 198) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg.16

Moreover, I remember hearing from a learned Hebrew, said among themselves to be the son of a wise man, and to have been specially trained to succeed his father, with whom I had intercourse on many subjects, the names of these elders, just as if he did not reject the History of Susanna…But probably to this you will say, Why then is the "History" not in their Daniel, if, as you say, their wise men hand down by tradition such stories? The answer is, that they (the Jews) hid from the knowledge of the people as many of the passages which contained any scandal against the elders, rulers, and judges, as they could, some of which have been preserved in the (Apocrypha). Origen (A.D. 248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg.388

Let us see now if in these cases we are not forced to the conclusion, that while the Savior gives a true account of them, none of the Scriptures which could prove what He tells are to be found…"If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets." In the blood of what prophets, can any one tell me? For where do we find anything like this written of Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or any of the twelve, or Daniel? Then about Zacharias the son of Barachias, who was slain between the temple and the altar, we learn from Jesus only, not knowing it otherwise from any Scripture. Wherefore I think no other supposition is possible, than that they who had the reputation of wisdom, and the rulers and elders, took away from the people every passage which might bring them into discredit among the people. We need not wonder, then, if this history of the evil device of the licentious elders against Susanna is true, but was concealed and removed from the Scriptures by men themselves not very far removed from the counsel of these elders…In the Acts of the Apostles also, Stephen, in his other testimony, says, "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom you have been now the betrayers and murderers." That Stephen speaks the truth, every one will admit who receives the Acts of the Apostles; but it is impossible to show from the extant books of the Old Testament how with any justice he throws the blame of having persecuted and slain the prophets on the fathers of those who believed not in Christ. And Paul, in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians, testifies this concerning the Jews: "For you, brethren, became followers of the Churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus: for you also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men." What I have said is, I think, sufficient to prove that it would be nothing wonderful if this history were true, and the licentious and cruel attack was actually made on Susanna by those who were at that time elders, and written down by the wisdom of the Spirit, but removed by these (Jewish) rulers of Sodom, as the Spirit would call them. Origen (A.D. 248) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.4 pg.389