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Article 12 - The Apocrypha

The Apocrypha: Is it Inspired?

Jon Gary Williams

The Apocrypha is made up of a group of fourteen ancient books, written during the inner Biblical period, between 200 B.C. and the 1st century A.D. Though they contain some valuable historical information, they are not a part of the inspired Bible. They are not found among any of the Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts; they appear in only one of the late copies of the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament about 400 A.D.    

The word Apocrypha means "hidden" and has been applied to these books because they are largely spurious and lack authenticity. Hence, they fail to reflect the marks of inspired writings. 

These books are: I Esdras, II Esdras, Song of the Three Holy Children, History of Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, Prayer of Manasses, Tobit, Judith, The Rest of Esther, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch and I Maccabees & II Maccabees.  


1. While the Apocrypha is often associated with Bibles used in the Catholic Church, only the last eight of these books are found in Catholic editions of the Old Testament.

2. In Catholic Bibles the books of I & II Samuel are titled I & II Kings, the books of I & II Kings are titled III & IV Kings, and the books of I & II Chronicles are titled I & II Parali-pomenon.

3. While Catholic Bibles contain the names I Esdras and II Esdras, these are not the Apocryphal books of the same name. Rather, these titles were given to the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah.

4. Though The Rest of Esther is a separate book in the Apocrypha, in Catholic Bibles it has been placed at the end of the Old Testament book of Esther.

5. In Catholic Bibles, the book of Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach) is not the same as Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon is called Canticle of Canticles.  

Reasons Why The Apocryphal Books are Not Inspired

1. They never had a place in the Jewish Hebrew Old Testament, hence, were never recognized as inspired by the Jews.

2. Though the writers of the New Testament were aware of their existence, they never quoted from them.

3. Early secular writers who quoted the Old Testament, never referred to them. This includes such men as: Josephus, Philo, Tertullian, Origen, Hilary and Epiphanius.

4. Jerome (400 A.D.), who is held in high esteem by the Catholic Church, regarded only the 39 books of the Old Testament as inspired.  He did not include them in his own version, the Latin Vulgate

5. None of the Apocryphal books are found in the oldest known catalog of Old Testament books.

6. None of the writers of these books claim inspiration. To the contrary, one wrote: "I also will here make an end on my narration, which if I have done well and as it becometh the history, it is what I desired. But if not so perfectly, it must be pardoned me."  (II Maccabees 15:38,39)

7. They contain no prophetic element.

8. They sometimes contradict themselves.

9. They teach doctrines that are contrary to the Bible.

10. They contain events that are contrary to the Bible.

11. They teach practices which are at variance with the Bible, such as sorcery, witchcraft and prayers for the dead.

12. They are weak in expression and lack originality.

13. Some of them contain stories that are legendary and absurd.

14. They are on a spiritual and moral level far below the Old Testament writings. As one textual analyst said: "You feel like you are in different world."

15. The Apocryphal books accepted as inspired by the Catholic Church were not officially recognized until the Council of Trent in 1546.

16. Early Christians did not accept these books as inspired.

Apocryphal Books As They Appear In Catholic Bibles (bold type)

I Kings  (or I Samuel) 
II Kings (or II Samuel)
III Kings  (or I Kings)
IV Kings  (or II Kings)
I Paralipomenon  (or I Chron.)
II Paralipomenon  (or II Chron.) 
I Esdras  (or Ezra)
II Esdras  (or Nehemiah)
Esther (Rest of Esther) 
Canticle of Canticles (or Song of Solomon)
Wisdom of Solomon
Ecclesiasticus (or Sirach)
I Maccabees
II Maccabees