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Re: The Sufficiency of Scripture

Below are two emails from the same person commenting on the article The Sufficiency of Scripture by Bob Wright, along with my replies. In the first exchange, the emailer’s comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My comments are in red.


Exchange #1

>Dear Gary: I send you a letter I wrote to the author of the article The Sufficiency of Scripture on your good Web site, but from whom I didn’t received a response. I don’t want to bore you too much with critical arguments, but probably your ministry aim is also to raise questions.

I’m not sure why Bob Wright did not respond. But I do know he is busy working on his next book. In any case, I will try to answer your concerns about his article.

>I read your article about sufficiency of Scripture for salvation. You say: "At this point, the Protestant asks the Catholic to explain what spiritual furniture, and what necessary equipment, would be omitted from the competence of the Bible to supply? What good work is unprovided for? Surely this text is the most clear and comprehensive statement of the full Sufficiency of Scripture that any Protestant heart could desire. And no text contradicts it (2 Tim 2:13)."

As Catholic, I would try to answer:
1) God's word is not found only in the Bible. The Bible is a witness of God, of his works and deeds. But the living God's word is not just a written text, but Jesus. We didn’t have the chance to hear Jesus directly, so the Bible and mostly the Gospels are a surrogate of His direct words. But now we can hear God by His Spirit.<

See my Scripture Study The Scriptures on the Scriptures and note the sections: "The Scriptures are THE source of truth and knowledge" near the beginning and "Is God still giving special revelation today?" near the end.

The point of these sections is that the teachings of the "apostles and prophets" are the basis for Christian theology, not some personal "revelation" one might receive today.

I am not denying that God "speaks" to people today; but when it comes to doctrine and practice our final authority is the Scriptures.

>2) I don’t agree with you when you opposite Church to Bible, as concurrents. It is unnatural, because if Church would disappeared, the Bible also would follow (but they both would not, by Christ's promise) And also there was a time when the Church (apostolic) existed, and not the new testament.<

The NT is the record of the teachings of "the apostles and prophets." And it is on this foundation that the Church is built (Eph 2:20f). And note, a "foundation" is laid first, and only once. The "building" then "grows" on top of it.

Further, "The epistles of 2 Peter and Jude, among the last New Testament writings to be penned, exhort the readers to avoid false doctrines by recalling the teachings of the apostles (2Pet 1:12-15; 2:1; 3:2,14-16; Jude 3-4,17). Peter and Jude did not say "Listen to the apostles living today," but instead urged believers to 'remember what the apostles said'" (Bowman, Robert. "Faulty Foundation of Five-Fold Ministry." Christian Research Journal. Fall, 1987, p.31, p. 31).

The point is, Christian theology is a looking back to what the apostles taught, not a looking forward for new "truths" yet to be revealed. And again, it is only in the Bible that we have the infallible record of the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets.

>You also say: "The crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church's authority was resolved by the Catholics at the Council of Trent (meeting from 1545 to 1563) by their decision to express the superior authority of the Church over the text of Scripture by adding several books of the Apocrypha to the Hebrew Old Testament."

I disagree from historical point of view. Trent's decision did not add new books, but confirmed a previous tradition.<

The OT Apocrypha were always in dispute in the church. What Trent did was decide to "settle" the dispute by declaring the books canonical.

>In fact:
a) The consent of ancient Church is mostly to accept them: e g Council of Hippo, with St Augustine 393.<

Yes, Augustine did quote from the Apocrypha as Scripture. But other Church Fathers did not.

>b) The Septuagint with the Apocrypha is often closer to the original meaning of the old testament than the Hebraic version<

I don’t know of any scholar that would say the Septuagint (LXX) is more reliable than the Hebrew texts, either as contained in the Masoretic Text, the Dead Sea Scrolls, or other Hebrew manuscripts.

The LXX is a translation, and in many cases a very poor one at that, of the original Hebrew text. A copy of the original will always be more reliable than a translation of the original.

>c) The eastern churches have a complete canon, and they are older than Protestantism and Trent's council.<

I don’t know much about the Eastern Orthodox Church (which is what I am assuming you are referring to here) so I can’t comment. But I will say that the Jews, to whom the OT was committed, do not accept the Apocrypha as Scripture (Rom 3:1f).

>d) The Jew’s Bible is from the Council of Lamnia, after the destruction of Jerusalem, but the discoveries of Qumram shows that before 70 a d also Apocrypha were used. Moreover Christians are not obliged to accept the decrees of a Jewish Council, which states the division between the two communities.<

The Dead Sea Scrolls, as far as I know, are all Hebrew documents. The Apocryphal books were all written in Greek. So I find it doubtful that the Apocrypha are among the DSS documents.

>e) Some of them are very nice, like Syracide (Ecclesiasticus) or Judith.<

Whether the books are "nice" or not is irrelevant.

>f) Not all Reformers were to abolish them, but were kept in the Bible with reserves e.g. La Rochelle 1599 or European Protestants.<

The Apocryphal books were included in many early Protestant Bibles; but as separate sections in-between the OT and NT. They were not, as far as I know, accepted as Scripture by any of the major Reformers.

>g) There are also some New Testament Apocrypha (or better deuterocanonical) like the book of John's Apocalypse, the letter to Hebrews, 2 Peter etc that were accepted quite late in the whole church (IV century).

If you have a strict attitude with the O T Apocrypha, why not with the NT ones? Surely St Paul in 2 Tim 3:16 will not refers to them. Hebrews is not by St. Paul, 2 Peter is not from Peter, but they claim to be... ( it is a problem for me too, because I would say they are "false", and this doesn’t sound well to my ears).<

The OT Apocrypha are so designated because they were written after the rest of canonical OT texts and in a different language.

The last OT book is Malachi (c. 400 BC); whereas, the Apocryphal books, I believe, all date to about 250 BC or later. So at least a century or more separates the OT and the Apocrypha.

Also, as already indicated, the OT was written in Hebrew, with a couple of small sections in Aramaic (a derivative of Hebrew); whereas the Apocrypha were written in Greek.

It is for these reasons that the Jews did not accept them as Scripture.

As for the NT Apocrypha, yes there is such a thing; but they are not the books you cite. The NT Apocrypha are books like Clement, Barnabas, The Shepherd of Hermes, and other writings.

These books were all written after the death of the apostles and/ or did not have apostolic authority behind them. Hence why they are not included in the canon.

As for the books you cite, they are better know as the "antilegomena" (from Greek words meaning, "spoken against"). Seven of the 27 books in the NT were so designated. All 27 of these books were written in the same language, Greek.

Some in the early Church "spoke against" them as not having apostolic authority; but many others believed that they did. They were all eventually accepted on the basis that they were written within the lifetimes of the apostles and either were written by an apostle or a close associate of an apostle, and hence, had apostolic authority behind them.

Also, all seven of the antilegomena were written in the same language (i.e.Greek) as the other 20 NT books.

Moreover, conservative scholars of today have defended the Johnine authorship of The Revelation and the Peterine authorship of 2Peter. As for Hebrews, nowhere does it claim to be by Paul. There is no author actually cited in the book itself. It most likely was not written by Paul; but was probably written by a close associate of his and during his lifetime.

I don’t have the time to present all the arguments, pro and con, in reference to these books. But I would refer you to the many good conservative Biblical commentaries, study Bibles, Bible dictionaries, or books like Donald Guthrie’s New Testament Introduction for detailed discussions on these matters.

I have many such books listed at Recommended Bible Study Aids and Biblical Reliability (Recommended Reading).

>You also wrote: "the Gospels themselves show that Jesus accepted the canon of the Pharisees without question, and only appealed to the 39 books of the Hebrew Bible." Where?

With regards,
Paolo (Italy)<

First off, nowhere does Jesus, nor any NT writer, ever quote from or refer to any of the Apocryphal books. The only possible allusion is in Heb 11:35-40 (to events in 1Macc). But these references are so general that they could refer to any number of possible situations, and not necessarily the Maccabean revolt.

One thing is certain, no Apocryphal quotes or events are introduced with the formula "It is written" or "Have you not read" or similar phrases that indicate the book being quoted from is Scripture.

Now, not every OT canonical book is quoted from in the NT; but most are. Also there are quotes from every major section of the OT as according to its division in the Hebrew canon (i.e. the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings).

Second, in Matt 23:35, Jesus declares to the Pharisees, "that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar" (NKJV).

The murder of Abel is recorded in Genesis 4:8 (the first book in the Hebrew canon); the murder of Zechariah is recorded in 2Chron 11:24f (the last book in the Hebrew canon).

So Jesus appears to be saying, "From the first murder in the Bible to the last." Murders are recorded in the Apocryphal books if I remember correctly; but Jesus doesn’t include them in his "first to last" declaration.

I will close with a quote from Christ & the Bible by John Wenham.

In reference to the canon of Scripture he writes:
This was not a collection of books blown together by chance; nor was it a collection that "forced itself" upon the church. In the gentlest way it quietly and unhurriedly established itself in the church’s life.

There was no noticeable change of attitude before and after the Festal letter of Athanasius, no flourish of trumpets at Hippo or Carthage. They were not infallible pronouncements; they were weighty confirmations of views already held with more or less firmness throughout the church at large (pp. 167-168; quoted in Heart and Mind. Institute for Religious Research: Grand Rapids, MI. Special Issue 1997, p.6).

Notice that Church councils only confirmed what the early Church already believed. They did not establish anything new.

Exchange #2

In this second exchange, my comments to which the emailer is responding to are in purple and enclosed in double "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. His responses are in black and enclosed in single "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My replies to his responses are in red.

>Dear Gary: My answer is late, also because I lost all my work a first time without saving.<

The first time I used a computer was when I was attending Denver Seminary. I tried to type a paper for a class using my electric typewriter; but it keep breaking on me. So a friend loaned me an old computer.

I typed the entire paper and then tried to save it to a 5 " floppy. The computer told me the disk had insufficient space to save it. Then for some reason, the entire text got wiped out in memory also!

So I learned real quick to save, save, save, while doing my work!

>Here I grouped the argument under titles to avoid repetitions. Thank you a lot for giving me a chance to discuss this argument.<

REVELATION

>>I am not denying that God "speaks" to people today; but when it comes to doctrine and practice our final authority is the Scriptures.<<

>I wasn't speaking of another external personal revelation (that may happen, but which is strictly personal). But I said: "the living God's word is not just a written text, but Jesus" because I think God revelation is not only in the Bible. The Bible is the historical report of God's action with the people of Israel and the first Church. But this action has been acting until today.

The agent is Jesus ( the Word) and the Spirit. The Spirit can be found everywhere he wants, not only in the Bible. e.g. our conscience is a place where God speaks ( in this sense it is a word of God). Reason and nature are also places where God speaks.

In Middle Ages it was believed that God was to be found in two books: the books of Bible and the book of nature, because both were saying of Him. That's why I cannot accept the Sola Scriptura principle. Eph. 3:14-19<

Yes, God does speak in nature and the human conscience (Rom 1:18-20; 2:12-16). But, as a result of sin, our conscience is corrupted. So we cannot always trust our conscience to tell us what right and wrong is.

For instance, I know of "Christian" singles who tell me they do not believe that pre-marital sex is sinful as they do not feel "guilty" when engaging in it. But the Scriptures are clear that pre-marital sex is wrong. So whatever their "conscience" is saying, it must be corrected by the Scriptures.

As for the "book of nature" - we can learn some of what God is like through it; but, being based on empirical research, such knowledge can never be final. See my article Science and the Bible for more on this idea.

Moreover, nature cannot tell us about the atonement of Christ and other Christian doctrines. These are only to be found in the Bible. So I stand by DTL’s Confession of Faith when it states that the Bible is "the complete revelation of His will for our salvation and the Divine and final authority for all Christian faith and life."

>But your answer raises another problem, probably the central point. You say that the final authority to doctrine and practice is the Scriptures. Yes, it is true, but the many divergences on what the Bible really means (not only for evil interpretations, but because the Bible itself made possible different honest interpretations, as Paul is different from Peter or James).<

I assume you mean different people interpret the Bible in different ways. This is true; but that only means we need to spend time studying the Bible for ourselves and decide for ourselves what it means. Hence, why I am currently posting as many Scripture Studies on my Web site as possible.

In these studies I often present opposing viewpoints as to the interpretation of verses. Now, I do generally give my opinion on how the verse should be interpreted. But I present each position so readers can decide for themselves (Prov 18:17).

However, I disagree with you if by your comments you mean there are contradictions between different Biblical writers; differences in emphases sure, but not contradictions.

>When you speak of doctrine, IMO as consequence you speak of the authority in the Church. Catholics would say there is a pastoral authority, given by Christ and witnessed in the NT. Protestants say there is a theological authority, in the sense that the more erudite and persuasive a theologian is, the more he has moral authority in the church, freely accepted.<

Protestants say that a teacher is only to be accepted if his teachings are in accord with the Scriptures.

>As far as I understand, a pure Protestant ministry is a free service given by a Christian to another Christian, while for Catholics it is an holy NT institution, given to Christians to assure right transmission of the deposit of faith, and would always works ( in its whole, not in every single circumstance), by Christ's promise.

This is the prophetic office of the Church, Note that I'm speaking in an extreme sense, because theological researches are important in Catholic church too, and also the pastoral and doctrinal ministry among Protestants differs from a church to another, and also Church confessions of faith are a bound for individuals.<

This is where the "central point" really is. I do not accept the Catholic church as being a "holy NT institution" because, IMHO, it teaches doctrines that are contrary to the Scriptures. So Catholicism has not "assured right transmission of the deposit of faith" but has been a means of corrupting "the faith" (Jude 3).

I know those are strong words. And please excuse me if I have offended you. But the main reason I am no longer a Catholic is because its teachings simply are not Biblical.

Now, I hope to write more on my disagreements with Catholicism in the future. I did just set up a Subject Index page on Catholicism. There are already a few items posted there. God-willing, in the future I will post some more articles directly dealing with Catholicism.

>>The point is, Christian theology is a looking back to what the apostles taught, not a looking forward for new "truths" yet to be revealed. And again, it is only in the Bible that we have the infallible record of the teachings of Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets.<<

>I agree with you in the principle, but probably we differ in consequences: apostolic truths can be explained with non biblical words, as it happened at Nicea, and this is not a very controversial problem.<

Agreed. The word "Trinity" is not in the Bible; but the concept of a three-in-one God is supported by hundreds of Scriptures. However, neither the words "Immaculate Conception" nor the concept in regards to Mary are to be found in the Bible. So in this latter case, the Catholic church has added to "the deposit of faith" not preserved it.

>The problem is when there are truths which are not openly reported in the Bible.<

If a doctrine is not explicitly supported by Scripture, it should not become a "dogma" that Christians are told they must believe, as the Catholic church has done with its many teachings about Mary.

>A Catholic should recognize that the Church is an authority to discriminate and select doctrines which raise from time to time: 1Tim 3:15, where the Church is called pillar and fundament of truth. We believe that God wouldnt permit the Church to be totally driven out of His ways. This is an "act of faith", as for the existence of God and for the Bible contains God's revelation.<

Maybe a Catholic needs to accept the authority of the Catholic church to be a good Catholic. But our disagreement here would be over what "the Church" is. To you, it is apparently synonymous with "the Catholic church." But to me, the Church is simply all true believers everywhere, regardless of what organization they are members of.

APOCRYPHA

>First of all, I have to explain the terminology I used in my last letter: in Italian the word "apocrifo" means a writing which is ascribed to someone who is not actually the true author. In this sense a canonical book could be considered "apocryphal", for example the attribution of the Canticle to Salomon is probably apocryphal, and not the book of Syracide (Ecclesiasticus), whose author is not controversial. OT "Apocrypha" (the supplementary books contained in LXX Bible version) are called Deuterocanonical, and the Jew Bible Protocanonical, and they both form the OT.

The same distinction is used in the NT, where antilegomena, which were accepted later in the Canon, are "Deuterocanonical" (second Canon). To growth the confusion, books with legendary elements as Gospels different from the Four and other writings (of Jew and Christian origin) are also called Apocrypha, or sometimes Pseudoepigrapha (with a false title), to distinguish them from sub–apostolic literature, which have not such negative connotation.

But to keep uniformity in discussion, I will follow the terminology you previously defined.<

Doing some further research on the subject, your comments about terminology are basically accurate. But the manner in which I used "Apocrypha" is how the term is generally used today.

Three of the sources I re-checked in regards to the Apocrypha are: The Classic Bible Dictionary (ed. J.P. Green. Christian Literature World, 1988), Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (ed. Walter A. Elwell. Baker Book House, 1984), and The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE, as found on Biblesoft’s PC Study Bible version 2.1b).

I would strongly recommend all three of these resources and could provide good quotes from each. But since it is easier to "copy and paste" from the ISBE on my Bible program, rather than re-type from the hardcopy books, I will stick to quotes from it in what follows.

CANONICAL BOOKS

>>The OT Apocrypha were always in dispute in the church. What Trent did was decide to "settle" the dispute by declaring the books canonical.<<

>Yes, it is true. But, as far as I know, before Reformation the balance was more on accepting them, as they appear in many list of Canonical books. I found on the Internet a site with ancient Councils and Authors in favour of them (I didn’t find against, but maybe they exist somewhere): Catholic Anwsers.<

I’ll check out the Web site. But it probably depends on what you mean by "in favor of them." Many early writers QUOTE from the Apocrypha but this does not mean they accepted them as Scripture. In the Bible there are many quotes from non-biblical books but this does not mean the author thought these books were Scripture (see, for example, Titus 1:12.

In any case, the following is copied from the ISBE:
MACCABEES, BOOKS OF, PART I:
2. Canonicity: Since the Vulgate (Jerome's Latin Bible, 390-405 A.D.) includes only the first 2 books of Maccabees, these are the only books pronounced canonical by the Council of Trent and included in recognized Protestant versions of the Apocrypha. That 1 Maccabees was used largely in the early Christian church is proved by the numerous references made to it and quotations from it in the writings of Tertullian (died 220), Clement of Alexandria (died 220), Hippolytus (died 235), Origen (died 254), etc.

The last named states that 1 Maccabees is uncanonical, and it is excluded from the lists of canonical writings given by Athanasius (died 373), Cyril of Jerusalem (died 386), and Gregory of Nazianzus (died 390).

So early writers did quote form this Apocryphal book, but it was not considered to be Scripture.

SEPTUAGINT

>>The LXX is a translation, and in many cases a very poor one at that, of the original Hebrew text. A copy of the original will always be more reliable than a translation of the original.<<

>The problem is that there is no "original" manuscript, neither a standard version. Jews follows the Masoretic text, which is not the oldest and (as every Hebrew version) contains words of hard comprehension or that appear only one time (hapax). DSS is one of the various ancient versions, but not necessary the best (it is not, for example, the original for LXX). The reliability of LXX Bible is, as it is a translation from an ostic language (Biblical Hebrew) to a used one, it fixed the meaning given by the translators. Probably they knew a meaning that was closer to the original.

The standard text of the OT should be a critical mixing of all these and others variables, but I don't think it is possible to settle a text without variants or ambiguities.<

There is also no "original manuscript" for the LXX either. So the same problems of textual variants in regards to the Hebrew would apply to the LXX.

You are correct, though, that all available sources should be used in textual criticism. But some are better than others. I would start with the Masoretic text and only deviate from it when there is a clear reason to do so.

EASTERN CHURCHES CANON

>>I don't know much about the Eastern Orthodox Church (which is what I am assuming you are referring to here) so I can't comment. But I will say that the Jews, to whom the OT was committed, do not accept the Apocrypha as Scripture (Rom 3:1f).<<

>I wrote about Eastern Churches (Orthodox and non-Calcedonian), because they translated very early the Bible in their language from LXX with Apocrypha. This shows that also the Greek version was authoritative in the first Church.

Here are some of the old translation from Greek, east and west:
Vetus Latina II cent.
Coptic III cent.
Etiopic IV V cent. Etc.<

Or it could just show that Christians at the time these translations were made were people who knew Greek, not Hebrew. Hence they relied on the LXX rather than the Hebrew OT.

DEAD SEA SCROLLS

>>The Dead Sea Scrolls, as far as I know, are all Hebrew documents. The Apocryphal books were all written in Greek. So I find it doubtful that the Apocrypha are among the DSS documents.<<

>At Qumram were found many Apocrypha, and among them fragments of the Hebraic version of Syracide Of this book, for example, Jerome knew the Hebraic version, which were lately lost. In modern times Hebrew fragments were found in a synagogue at Cairo, at Qumram and at Masada.

I can confirm. I found a very good web site.<

I stand corrected. I thought the Apocrypha were all written in Greek. As it turns out, some were indeed written in Greek, but others in Hebrew.

Quoting again from the ISBE:
APOCRYPHA:
V. Original Languages of the Apocrypha.-- The bulk of the Apocrypha was written originally in the Greek language and existed at the first in that language alone. The following books were however written in Hebrew: Tobit, Judith, Sirach, Baruch (part probably in Greek), and 1 Maccabees. In these cases some prefer regarding Aramaic as the original language in at least parts of the above books.

I’ll check out the Web site you indicated.

REFORMERS

>Reformers didn’t use Apocrypha to establish doctrines, but they kept them in Bibles and (I am not sure) translated them, at least as edificant readings. As far as I know Apocrypha were omitted only in XIX century. It is "new" to omit them.<

According to the ISBE and the other sources I checked, it was in 1827 that the Apocrypha began to be omitted entirely from Protestant Bibles. However, as I previously stated, when the Apocrypha was included it was in a separate section, generally in-between the Testaments, and it was never considered to be Scripture by the Reformers or Protestants in general.

CHRONOLOGY

>>The last OT book is Malachi (c. 400 BC); whereas, the Apocryphal books, I believe, all date to about 250 BC or later. So at least a century or more separates the OT and the Apocrypha.<

>I am not so sure of your datation. I found the book of Daniel was written in 165 BC, so it is more recent than the Hebraic version of Syracide (190 BC) or Tobiah (200 BC). But yes in general Apocrypha are often more recent than OT.<

The book of Daniel was written by the prophet Daniel in the sixth century BC, at least according to conservative scholarship. The conservative vs. liberal debates in this regard are similar to the debates over the authorship and dating of some of the NT books.

For a defense of the conservative view, I refer you to books like the ones I mentioned previously in regards to the NT. Also, a detailed discussion is found in Gleason L. Archer’s A Survey of Old Testament Introduction.

As for the dating of the Apocryphal books, you are basically correct.

Again quoting from the ISBE:
The oldest apocryphal book is Sirach, which in its original Hebrew form belongs to between 190-170 BC. In its Greek form the best modern scholars agree in fixing it at between 130-120 BC. None of the books can well belong to a date later than 100 AD, though some (2 Esdras, etc.) may be as late as that. The whole of the Apocrypha may with more than average certainty be said to have been written some time between 200 BC and 100 AD.

So the Apocryphal books are ALWAYS later in date than the canonical OT books.

QUOTES FROM THE NT

>>One thing is certain, no Apocryphal quotes or events are introduced with the formula "It is written" or "Have you not read" or similar phrases that indicate the book being quoted from is Scripture."<<

>Yes, you are right, but there are some indirect references. The John's Gospels Prologue reflects the book of Wisdom (Chapter 7) as Logos theology. Heb 1:13 adopt the quite the same word as in Wisdom 7:26. Again, Apocrypha are not profethical books, but mostly sapiential. In the NT are mostly quoted prophets, psalms and Pentateuch. And they are quoted from Greek version.<

The background to John’s use of the term logos is long and varied and cannot be traced to any one book.

Again, from the ISBE:
LOGOS:
The doctrine may be said to have two stages: a Hellenistic and a Hebrew; or, more correctly, a pre-Christian and a Christian. The theory of Philo and of the Alexandrian thinkers generally may be regarded as the connecting link between the Greek and the Christian forms of the doctrine. The Greek or pre-Christian speculation on the subject is marked by the names of Heraclitus, Plato and the Stoics. Philo paves the way for the Christian doctrine of Paul, Hebrews and the Johannine Gospel.

As for Hebrews 1:3 (which is what I believe you meant) and Wisdom 7:26, there is only a slight similarity in the Greek texts. The only important word that is in both is apaugasma ("brightness"). The important terms of doxees ("glory"), charakteer ("express image"), and hupostaseoos ("person") in Heb 1:3 are not in Wisdom. So it is at best an allusion, but not really a reference, let alone a direct quote.

FROM ABEL TO ZECHARIAH

>>So Jesus appears to be saying [in Matt 23:35], "From the first murder in the Bible to the last." Murders are recorded in the Apocryphal books if I remember correctly; but Jesus doesn't include them in his "first to last" declaration.<<

>Again, you are right. It is a good argument (IMO the best). I can just say, on this point, that Maccabean murders are made by Pagans against Jews (or vice-a-versa), so they are not very pertinent with Jesus' speech. Judith's killing of Olophern is said of the time of Nabucodonosor. The other books, if I remember well, are not bloody. And Malachi is the last book of the Catholic canon too.<

Since I consider the Scriptures to be "the divine and final authority" this Biblical evidence is what most matters to me and is the main reason I reject the Apocrypha as being Scripture.

ANTILEGOMENA

>>Moreover, conservative scholars of today have defended the Johnine authorship of The Revelation and the Peterine authorship of 2Peter. As for Hebrews, nowhere does it claim to be by Paul. There is no author actually cited in the book itself. It most likely was not written by Paul; but was probably written by a close associate of his and during his lifetime.<<

>I cannot enter the question for my incompetence. I said Hebrews claim to be by Paul because of its title. But I know in Catholic churches, before liturgical reform, when it was read in services, it was said " From the epistle of St Paul to Hebrews", and now just " From the epistle to Hebrews"<s

A similar change has occurred among Protestant churches and in Protestant Bibles.

>"God, keep us still in your care, for without you nothing is achieved in anything we do"

Thank you again
Paolo<

And thank you for your letter. Much more could be said on the subject of the Apocrypha. I will simply refer you to the books and Bible program I mentioned above or similar resources. Many such resources can be purchased at reduced prices from the companies listed at Christian Books and Software Sites.

BTW, I mentioned to my dad that I was corresponding with someone in Italy. He told me to make sure to tell you that I’m Italian. His parents were born in Italy.

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The above email exchange was posted on this Web site in October 1997.

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