There are several reasons why the Apocrypha is to be rejected as part of the Bible.

General Principles

1. There is abundant evidence that none of these books was ever received into the canon (that
which conforms to “rule”) of the Hebrew Old Testament. Though they appear in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament - known as LXX), that is not necessarily a reliable criterion. Professor G.T. Manley notes: “[These books] do not appear to have been included at first in the LXX [3rd/2nd centuries B.C.], but they found their waygradually into later copies, being inserted in
places that seemed appropriate...” (The New Bible Handbook, Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1962, p. 39).

2. The apocryphal books are not in those most ancient works which allude to the Old Testament Scriptures. For example:

(a) Philo, the Jewish philosopher of
Alexandria (20 B.C. - A.D. 50), wrote
prolifically and frequently quoted the Old
Testament, yet he never cited the Apocrypha,
nor did he even mention these documents.

(b) Josephus (A.D. 37-95) rejected them. He
wrote: “We have not an innumerable
multitude of books among us, disagreeing
from and contradicting one another, but only
twenty-two books, which contain the records
of all the past times; which are justly believed
to be divine...” (Against Apion 1.8). By
combining several Old Testament narratives
into a “book,” the thirty-nine of our current
editions become the twenty-two alluded to by

(c) The most ancient list of Old Testament
books is that which was made by Melito of
Sardis (cf. A.D. 170); none of the apocryphal
books is included (cf. Eusebius,
Ecclesiastical History 4.26.14).

(d) In the early 3rd century A.D., neither
Origin nor his contemporary, Tertullian,
recognized the books of the Apocrypha as
being canonical.

(e) Though some of the apocryphal books
were being used in the church services by the
5th century A.D., they were read only by
those who held inferior offices in the church
(see: T.H. Horne, Critical Introduction to
the Holy Scriptures, Philadelphia: Whetham
& Son, 1841, Vol. I, p. 436).

3. The apocryphal books were produced in an
era when no inspired documents were been
given by God. Malachi concludes his
narrative in the Old Testament by urging
Israel: “Remember ye the law of Moses my
servant, which I commanded unto him in
Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and
ordinances.” He then projects four centuries
into the future and prophesied: “Behold, I will
send you Elijah the prophet before the great
and terrible day of Jehovah come...” (Mal.
4:4-5). This text pictured the coming of John
the Baptist (cf. Mt. 11:14; Lk. 1:17). The
implication of Malachi’s prophecy is that no
prophet would arise from God until the
coming of John. This excludes the apocryphal

Josephus confirms this when he declares:
“It is true, our history has been written
since Artaxerxes very particularly, but
has not been esteemed of the like
authority with the former by our
forefathers, because there has not been an
Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings 188
exact succession of prophets since that

He further says that no one “has been so bold
as either to add any thing to them, to take any
thing from them, or to make any change in
them . . .” (Against Apion 1.8).

F.F. Bruce contended that there “is no
evidence that these books were ever regarded
as canonical by any Jews, whether inside or
outside Palestine, whether they read the Bible
in Hebrew or in Greek” (The Books and the
Parchments, London: Pickering & Inglis,
1950, p. 157).

4. Jesus Christ and His inspired New Testament
penmen quoted from, or alluded to, the
writings and events of the Old Testament
profusely. In fact, some 1,000 quotations or
allusions from thirty-five of the thirty-nine
Old Testament books are found in the New
Testament record. And yet, significantly, not
once is any of these apocryphal books quoted
or even explicitly referred to by the Lord, or
by any New Testament writer. Noted scholar
Emile Schurer argued that this is really
remarkable since most of the New Testament
habitually quoted from the LXX (Schaff-
Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious
Knowledge, New York: Funk & Wagnalls,
1894, Vol. I, 99).

“Despite the fact that New Testament
writers quote largely from the
Septuagint rather than from the
Hebrew Old Testament, there is not a
single clear-cut case of a citation
from any of the fourteen apocryphal
books . . . . The most that can be said
is that the New Testament writers
show acquaintance with these
fourteen books and perhaps allude to
them indirectly, but in no case do
they quote them as inspired Scripture
or cite them as authority” (Merrill F.
Unger, Introductory Guide to the
Old Testament, Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 1951, p. 101).

5. Finally, it must be observed that the
apocryphal books, unlike the canonical books
of the Old Testament, make no direct claims
of being inspired of God. Not once is there a,
“thus says the Lord,” or language like, “the
word of the Lord came unto me, saying.” In
fact, some of the documents actually confess
non-inspiration! In the Prologue of
Ecclesiasticus, the writer states:
“Ye are intreated therefore to read with
favour and attention, and to pardon us, if in
any parts of what we have laboured to
interpret, we may seem to fail in some of the
phrases” (The Apocrypha, New York:
Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1894).

6. Too, there is the matter of literary style.
Dr. Raymond Surburg has written:
“When a comparison is instituted of the style
of the Apocrypha with the style of the
Biblical Hebrew Old Testament writings,
there is a considerable inferiority, shown by
the stiffness, lack of originality and
artificiality of expression characterizing the
apocryphal books” (The Christian News,
November 24, 1980, p. 7).

Evidence negating inspiration

The Apocrypha contains a great variety of
historical, geographical, chronological, and moral
errors. Professor William Green of Princeton
wrote: “The books of Tobit and Judith abound in
geographical, chronological, and historical
mistakes...” (General Introduction to the Old
Testament, New York: Scribner’s & Sons, 1899,
p. 195). A critical study of the Apocrypha’s
contents clearly reveals that it could not be the
product of the Spirit of God. The following
examples are ample evidence of this:

1. Rather that the creation being spoken into
existence from nothing by the word of
Almighty God, as affirmed in the Scriptures
(Gen. 1:1; Psa. 33:6-9; Heb. 11:3), the
Apocrypha has God creating the world out of
“formless matter” (Wisdom of Solomon

2. According to the prophet Jeremiah,
Nebuchadnezzar burned Jerusalem on the
tenth day, fifth month, or the nineteenth year
of his reign (Jer. 52:12-13). Subsequent to
this, both the prophet and his scribe, Baruch,
were taken into Egypt (Jer. 43:6-7).
Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings 189
According to the Apocrypha, however, at this
very time Baruch was in Babylon (Baruch

3. There are two contradictory accounts of the
death of Antiochus Epiphanes, that dreaded
enemy of the Jews. One narrative records that
Antiochus and his company were “cut to
pieces in the temple of Nanaea by the
treachery of Nanaea’s priests” (II Maccabees
1:13-16), while another version in the same
book states that Antiochus was “taken with a
noisome sickness” and so “ended his life
among the mountains by a most piteous fate
in a strange land” (II Maccabees 9:19-29).

4. Tobit is said to have lived 158 years (14:11),
yet, supposedly, he was alive back when
Jeroboam revolted against Jerusalem (931
B.C.), and then still around when the
Assyrians invaded Israel (722/21 B.C.)óa
span of some 210 years (Tobit 1:3-5)!

5. The Apocrypha teaches the erroneous
doctrine of the pre-existence of the soul,
suggesting that the kind of body one now has
is determined by the character of his soul in a
previous life. “Now I was a goodly child, and
a good soul fell to my lot; Nay rather, being
good, I came into a body undefiled” (Wisdom
of Solomon 8:19-20). The foregoing was a
common belief among heathen peoples, but
certainly it is contrary to the biblical view that
the soul of man is formed with him at
conception (Psa. 139:13-16; Zech. 12:1).

6. The Apocrypha teaches that prayer may be
made for the dead. “Wherefore he made the
propitiation for them that had died, that they
might be released from their sins” (II
Maccabees 12:45). Roman Catholics cite this
passage to find support for their dogma of
praying for the dead to be released from
purgatory (obviously there’s no New
Testament passage to buttress the notion), but
the effort is vain.

7. The Apocrypha suggests that one may atone
for his sins by the giving of alms. “It is better
to give alms than to lay up gold: alms doth
deliver from death, and it shall purge away all
sin” (Tobit 3:9).

8. The moral tone of the Apocrypha is far below
that of the Bible. Note some examples:

(a) It applauds suicide as a noble and manful
act. II Maccabees tells of one Razis who,
being surrounded by the enemy, fell upon his
sword, choosing “rather to die nobly” than to
fall into the hands of his enemy. He was not
mortally wounded, however, and so threw
himself down from a wall and “manfully”
died among the crowds (14:41-43).

(b) It describes magical potions which are
alleged to drive demons away (Tobit 6:1-17).

(c) The murder of the men of Shechem (Gen.
34), an act of violence which is condemned in
the Scriptures (cf. Gen. 49:6-7), is
commended and is described as an act of God
(Judith 9:2-9).

These, along with various other considerations,
lead only to the conclusion that the Apocrypha
cannot be included in the volume of sacred

Reasons For Rejecting The Apocrypha From
The Canon

(Copied, with minor variations, from the fact
sheet distributed by Clyde Woods in a session of
Critical Introduction to the Old Testament in the
fall of 1986).
• The books were never included in the Hebrew
• Josephus expressly excludes them.
• Philo, the Jewish philosopher in Alexandria
(ca. 20 BC – AD 40) quoted the O.T.
Scriptures very frequently, yet never quoted
the Apocrypha nor even mentioned these
• Targums (Aramaic paraphrases) were
provided for the canonical books but were not
provided for the Apocrypha.
• These books are never quoted in the New
• Most of the Apocrypha material existed and
was likely incorporated in Septuagint editions
in the New Testament period, yet it is never
cited by Jesus or the apostles. The oldest
copies of the Septuagint now in existence date
Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings 190
from the fourth century AD, plenty of time
for them to have been incorporated in later
• NT references rather allude to the commonly
accepted Hebrew canon.
• Christian tradition offers no real support for
accepting the Apocrypha as canonical.
• These books are not included in the canonical
lists of the early centuries.
• Jerome expressly supported the strict Hebrew
canon and emphatically rejected the
Apocrypha as secondary.
• Books of the Apocrypha were considered
suitable for reading and instruction but they
were not considered authoritative in the early
• The Apocrypha bears no internal marks of
• No Apocrypha writer actually claims
inspiration; indeed, some disclaim it.
• These books contain historical, geographical,
and chronological errors.
• Doctrinally, the books at times contradict the
canonical Scriptures.
• Stylistically, the books are inferior to the
canonical Scriptures.
• Stories in the Apocrypha contain some
legendary and fantastic materials.
• The moral and spiritual level is beneath that
of the canonical Scriptures.
• Proper dating of the Apocrypha shows its
non-canonical character.
• These books were written later than those of
the Old Testament.
• Portions of these books even date from the
Christian era.
The Apocrypha was first declared canonical by
the reactionary Roman Catholic Council of Trent
(1546). This conciliar decision was transparently
dogmatic. This action was passed by a narrow
The Apocrypha is rejected from the canon of
Scripture for numerous reasons.
Besides the fact that Jesus and the apostles
never once quoted from it; and aside from its
obvious lack of inspiration (it "just doesn't sound
like" scripture; "My sheep hear My voice," John
10; etc.) – there are many solid reasons for
rejecting its contents from being included with the
canonical scriptures. [Much of the following
material comes from Paul D. Wegner, The
Journey from Texts to Translations (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1999), 125.]
A. The Apocrypha contains chronological
errors and statements contrary to history.
• Baruch 1:2 (comp. Jeremiah 43:6-7)
• Bel and the Dragon 22 (Xerxes did it); Bel
and the Dragon 33
• Tobit 1:4 (Tobit is said to live in Nineveh in
722 BC, and yet he also saw the division of
the united kingdom in 931 BC. [1 Kings
• Esther 11:2-4 (the dates of Mordecai's
captivity [597 BC] and dream [485/484 BC]
would make him 112 years old)
• 1 Esdras 5:56 has the second year of Cyrus
rather than the second year of Darius; in 5:73
Cyrus (c. 530 BC) died more than two years
before the reign of Darius (c. 522/521-486
• Tobit 1:15 "But when Shalmaneser died, and
his son Sennacherib reigned in his place,"
Shalmanezer died before the fall of Samaria,
and Sennacherib was Sargon's son.
• Tobit 14:15 " Before he died he heard of the
destruction of Nineveh, and he saw its
prisoners being led into Media, those whom
King Cyaxares of Media had taken captive."
Nineveh's conquerors were Naboplazzar and
Cyaxares (612 B.C.).
• Judith 1:1 Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 BC)
ruled over Babylon after Nineveh was
destroyed in 612 BC.
• Judith 2:1 Nebuchadnezzar was king of the
Babylonians, and Holofernes [v.4] may be
from a much later time.
• Judith 4:3-4 and 5:19 Nebuchadnezzar sent
the Jews into exile, and they returned under
Cyrus (538 BC).
• Bel and the Dragon 33 Habakkuk wrote
before 612 BC [Hab. 1:6], making unlikely a
visit to Daniel almost 75 years later (539 BC).
B. It contains geographical errors.
• Tobit 1:4; 6:1; 9:2 (This was an 11 day
journey from Ecbatana to Rages but made to
Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings 191
seem shorter.) The Tigris River is west of
Nineveh; Persia is east.
• Judith 1:6 Hydaspes, a river in India, is
erroneously placed in Mesopotamia.
• Judith 2:21 The 300 miles separating Nineveh
and Bectileth makes a 3-day march
• Judith 2:24 The normal route is south from
Cilicia to Damascus, not following the
Euphrates River.
• 1 Maccabees 9:2 says "Gilgal" when it should
have said "Galilee" (cf. Josephus, Ant.
12:11.1, sections 420-421)
C. Mistakes
• Baruch 6:1-3 (Epistle of Jeremiah) 70 years
called seven generations
• 2 Esdras 6:42 says that God in creation
gathered the waters to a seventh part of the
earth, whereas in fact water covers 70% of the
earth's surface.
• 2 Esdras 3:1 has Ezra in Babylon 30 years
after the fall of Jerusalem, whereas Ezra lived
a century later.
• 2 Maccabees 1:19 Persia should be Babylon
(2 Kings 24:14)
D. Many false teachings are represented, and
evil practices that the inspired Word of God
condemns are condoned.
1. Prayers for the dead. 2 Maccabees 12:40-45. A
post-death visit by Jeremiah in 15:14.
2. Salvation by good works (almsgiving, etc.).
Sirach 3:3, 14-15 (kindness to parents atones
for sin)
Sirach 3:30 (almsgiving atones for sins)
30:11-12 2; Esdras 7:7; 8:33, 36; Tobit 12:9, 8a;
3. The use of magic.
a. In demon exorcism. Tobit 6-8
b. In healing. Tobit 11
c. "Good luck" (fortune). Sirach 8:19
4. The intercession of angels. Tobit 12:15
5. Suicide. 2 Maccabees 14:4146
6. Mourning for the dead. Sirach 38:16-23
(especially verses 20-21)
7. Sinless lives of Old Testament personalities.
Prayer of Manasseh 8
8. 2 Esdras 6:55 The Bible never says the world
was created for Israel
9. 2 Esdras 8:4-5 possibly suggests the preexistence
of souls
E. Contradictions
1. 1 Maccabees 4:26-35 contradicts 2 Macc.
10:37-11:12, which puts Lysia's defeat after
the death of Timothy.
2. 1 Maccabees 4:30-35 contradicts 2 Macc.
11:6-15, which says it was a negotiated peace.
3. 1 Maccabees 6:8-9 contradicts 2 Macc. 9:5-
12, which says that the king was struck with a
repulsive physical disease.
4. 2 Maccabees 8:9 contradicts 1 Macc. 3:38-
4:25, which says that Gorgias, not Nicanor,
was leader.
5. 2 Maccabees 8:13 contradicts 1 Macc. 3:56,
which cites other reasons for the troop
6. 2 Maccabees 10:3 contradicts 1:19-2:1 on
how altar fire was restarted and contradicts
1:54 and 4:52, which say 3 years instead of 2.
7. 2 Maccabees 10:37 contradicts 12:2, 18-25,
where Timothy reappears (cf. 1 Macc. 5:11-
8. 2 Maccabees 11:13-15 contradicts 1 Macc.
4:35, which says that no peace was made.
9. 2 Maccabees 13:16 contradicts 1 Macc. 6:47,
which says the Jews fled.
F. Some of the miracles and events described
are simply fabulous and silly.
Tobit 6:2-7, 16-17, etc. (placing incense smoke on
the organs of a man eating fish to ward off evil
spirits; the demon was in love with the woman
and had killed her last seven husbands on their
wedding night)
G. Only three divisions of the Old Testament
are described in Luke 24:44. Matthew 23:35
and Luke 11:51 also witness the arrangement and
compass of the Old Testament – not allowing for
any books outside the time from Genesis to 2
Chronicles. The books of the Apocrypha form no
part of the canon, but rather serve as witnesses to
life and thought in the inter-testamental period.

FROM Evangelism Handbook: False Teachings