What About the Apocraphal Books?
I have in my library two two-volume sets of books. One two-volume set contains many of the apocryphal and apocalyptic and pseudepigraphal writings from the OT times. The word pseudepigrapha means “false writings.” This refers to writings that circulated under false titles. The second two-volume set contains many of the apocryphal writing from the NT times. The word apocrypha comes from the Greek word “apokruphos” and means “hidden” or “secret.” And I also have a couple of Bibles that contain the Apocrypha in the OT such as the Roman Catholic Bible. Strictly speaking the term Apocrypha refers to the 14 or 15 books from the intertestamental period between 300 BC and 100 AD that were included in some versions of the Bible. They are all of unknown origin and authorship and suspect authority. But the term can be used more broadly to include numerous writings from before Christ to well into the second century AD. During the early centuries of the Christian church various Gnostic, Jewish and secret sects produced dozens of gospels, acts, epistles, and apocalyptic writings. None of the Apocryphal books were ever part of the Hebrew OT. But later they were included in the Greek translation of the OT called the Septuagint. A couple of centuries later when Jerome translated the Septuagint into Latin he included the Apocrypha, though he made it clear that he distinguished between the canonical Scriptures and these other books. But from that time on the Apocrypha stayed in the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Bibles. At the Council of Trent in Rome on April 8, 1546 the Roman Catholic Church in reaction against the Protestant Reformation declared: “If any one receive not, as sacred and canonical, the said books entire with all their parts, as they have been used to be read in the Catholic Church, and as they are contained in the old Latin vulgate edition; and knowingly and deliberately contemn the traditions aforesaid; let him be anathema.” We do not condemn the Apocryphal books nor do we say no one should read them. They are not evil or bad. We may read them and receive the same benefit from them we receive from any other ancient piece of literature. Reading them gives insight into the life and times of Jews between the time of Malachi and Jesus. They contain great examples of heroism, faith, devotion and persistence. But they require discernment as they contain errors, inconsistencies and spurious details. There are also some crazy, impossible things and magic. What the Belgic Confession Article 6 is contending is that the Apocryphal books are not authoritative, they are not the Word of God, they don’t have divine inspiration. Let me give ten reasons supporting this position.