- 435 B.C. – the final books (i.e. Nehemiah, Ezra, Esther) of the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) were written
- 250 B.C. – this Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek (called the Septuagint) as Greek was becoming the dominant language
- The problem with this is that content was changed and books were added
- The books that were added are what we now call the Apocrypha
- Note: these debated books are included in the Old Testament list, not the New Testament list. Catholics and Protestants fully agree on the list of New Testament books.
- These books were written during this ~400 year period between the end of the Hebrew Bible and the coming of Jesus (the New Testament)
- Early Christians (including Jesus) did not follow the Apocrypha – we see an official list of “books of the old covenant” in A.D. 170, which is same as today’s Protestant Old Testament list, minus Esther
- The Church spread away from (Hebrew speaking) Jerusalem and into Greek speaking culture, so the (Greek) Septuagint was used more widely
- In the 2nd Century, the universal language was again shifting, this time from Greek to Latin. The Greek Bible (Septuagint) was now being translated into Latin to accommodate this. The Apocryphal books were included in these translations.
- In A.D. 382, Jerome was commissioned by the Catholic Church to write a new Latin translation, this became knows as the Vulgate
- Jerome realized a proper translation required the Hebrew original, not the Greek Septuagint
- the basic idea is: Hebrew directly to Latin is going to be much more accurate than Hebrew to Greek to Latin
- As he began translating, he had to confront obvious differences between the original Hebrew and the Greek Septuagint the church had widely been using
- Jerome’s original canonical list (his “books of the Bible”) only included the books found in the Hebrew Bible (not the Apocrypha of the Greek Septuagint)
- Augustine urged Jerome to also translate the Apocryphal books into Latin. Augustine was a very influential church leader and Jerome consented.
- The Church’s Councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397 & 419) all ratified the canon of Augustine (which included the Septuagint’s translation, thus the Apocrypha)
- Jerome urged the Apocrypha could be read “for the edification of the people” but not “to give authority to doctrines of the Church.” Augustine blurred this distinction.
- The Catholic doctrine of purgatory (a place of purification or temporary punishment where those who die in a state of grace are made ready for Heaven) comes from 2 Maccabbees 12:38-45, which is part of the Apocrypha. Purgatory is not found in Protestant Bibles.
- The Catholic sacrament of penance(the sinner must do something more to make amends for his sin, i.e. prayer, charity, or an act of depriving oneself) comes from the Latin translation of Matthew 4:17…The (original) Hebrew translation has Jesus preaching that his message was, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, whereas the Latin translation has him saying “Do penance, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” –This is a big difference in meaning! One requires a list of works and one does not.
- At the Reformation (A.D. 1517), reformers attempted to rid the church of many traditional teachings and get back to the original biblical text. They rejected the Apocrypha (as Jerome had) and returned to the original Hebrew books (like Jesus and the early church had).
- Some of the Apocrypha includes incorrect historical and chronological info
- The reformers rejected the Roman Catholic Church’s claim to possess authority over Scripture
- 1559 French Confession of Faith & 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith – Protestants officially said no to the poorly translated Vulgate and the Apocrypha as being Scripture (and thus to its unique doctrines such as penance and purgatory)
- 1545-1563 Council of Trent – The Catholics responded by keeping the Apocrypha as Scripture (and its unique doctrines)
Latest posts by Noah Filipiak (see all)
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- Psalm 30 Devotional – Taking Time to Remember - April 8, 2021
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