The last post on this topic I shared six common arguments that are made for the inclusion of the Deuterocanonical books into the Old Testament canon. I then shared counter arguments to those.
Again using the notes I took listening to the Canonization of Scripture (OT) lecture given by C. Michael Patton of Reclaiming the Mind Ministries from a class called “Bibliology & Hermeneutics” that is part of The Theology Program. I want to share common arguments in favor of excluding these books from the Old Testament canon.
1. The New Testament never directly quotes from any Deuterocanonical book as Scripture.
We often see Old Testament scripture directly quoted with the common designator, “It is written.” Often, when people claim that the New Testament does reference one of the Deuterocanonical books, the references are a stretch to get them to match up. At best these references are mere allusions that evidence knowledge of Deuterocanonical books.
If there are genuine allusions to certain Deuterocanonical books it doesn’t mean that the writer believed them to be any more inspired than Paul’s quotation of Aratus (310-245 B.C.) in Acts 17:28 means that he believed Phaenomems was part of the canon. Jude 9 does likely quote from the book of Enoch:
But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you,” (Jude 9, ESV).
A counter argument would be that not every Protocanonical book is quoted in the New Testament. However, each section of the Tripartite division of the Old Testament is mentioned. In particular Jesus mentions them:
- The Law, (Luke 16:17). The Law sometimes represented the entire Old Testament.
- The Law & the Prophets, (Matthew 5:17)
- The Law, Prophets, and the Psalms, (Luke 24:44)
In Jewish literature the Old Testament is often divided into – the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. There really wasn’t much debate among Jewish teachers… you had the Law and everything else was commentary based on that Law.
2. The Palestinian Jews never accepted the Deuterocanonical books.
This was a key argument for the Reformers. The basic idea is if Christ did not recognize them, they are not canonical. Josephus (born 37 A.D.) a primary Jewish historian writes about the accepted canon of his day which is the same as the current Protestant canon. He makes no mention of the Deuterocanonical books and doesn’t hint at a canon controversy in his day.
The Babylonian Talmud writes, “After the Latter Prophets Haggai, Zaechariah, and Malachi, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel.” Philo also attests to a closed threefold division of the Old Testament. He lists every book and they are what Protestants have in their canon.
Also you have the Council of Jannia (90 A.D.). After the temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., the Sanhedrin was allowed by Rome to reconvene for purely spiritual reasons. At this council, the present Old Testament (Protocanonical) books were reconfirmed officially.
3. From a Protestant perspective, there are significant theological and historical inaccuracies in the Deuterocanonical books.
Some examples would be:
- Works based salvation – “For alms doth deliver from death, and shall purge away all sin. Those that exercise alms and righteousness shall be filled with life,” (Tobit 12:9).
- Cruelty – Sirach 22 and 42 is not exactly where I would go for parenting advice.
- The Doctrine of Purgatory:
All men therefore praising the Lord, the righteous Judge, who had opened the things that were hid,
Betook themselves unto prayer, and besought him that the sin committed might wholly be put out of remembrance. Besides, that noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forsomuch as they saw before their eyes the things that came to pass for the sins of those that were slain.
And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection:
For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead.
And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin, (2 Maccabees 12:41-45).
These books also have historical errors. It is claimed that Tobit was alive when the Assyrians conquered Israel in 722 B.C. and also when Jeroboem revolted against Judah in 931 B.C. It that were the case, it would have made him at least 209 years old. The problem is according to the account, he died when he was 159 years old. Also the Book of Judith speaks of Nebuchadnezzer reigning in Nineveh instead of Babylon.
4. The Apocrypha itself attests to the absence of prophets in its own time.
There was great distress in Israel, suchas had not been since the time that prophets ceased to appear among them, (1 Maccabees 9:27).
5. The Deuterocanonical books were in dispute for a long, long time.
These books were in dispute for so long and held to secondary status that it would be problematic to say that they contain the voice of God since most people did not recognize them to be His voice. Jesus Himself said, “My sheep listen to my voice and I know them and they follow me,” (John 10:27).