Catholics and the Bible


Canon of Scripture

Roman Catholics complain that Protestants have 'removed' books from the canon of scripture. This hue and cry has even been taken up by Muslim apologists like Ahmad Deedat. But it is more accurate to say that the sixteenth century Council of Trent added books to the canon, than to complain that Protestants ever removed any. Protestants adopted the early church's canon of scripture:


"This then is the Holy Ghost, who in the Old Testament inspired the Law and the Prophets, in the New the Gospels and the Epistles. Whence also the Apostle says, 'All Scripture given by inspiration of God is profitable for instruction.' And therefore it seems proper in this place to enumerate, as we have learnt from the tradition of the Fathers, the books of the New and of the Old Testament, which, according to the tradition of our forefathers, are believed to have been inspired by the Holy Ghost, and have been handed down to the Churches of Christ.
"Of the Old Testament, therefore, first of all there have been handed down five books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; then Jesus Nave, (Joshua the son of Nun), the Book of Judges together with Ruth; then four books of Kings (Reigns), which the Hebrews reckon two; the Book of Omissions, which is entitled the Book of Days (Chronicles), and two books of Ezra (Ezra and Nehemiah), which the Hebrews reckon one, and Esther; of the Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; moreover of the twelve (minor) Prophets, one book; Job also and the Psalms of David, each one book.
"Solomon gave three books to the Churches, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles. These comprise the books of the Old Testament.
"But it should be known that there are also other books which our fathers call not 'Canonical' but 'Ecclesiastical:' that is to say, Wisdom, called the Wisdom of Solomon, and another Wisdom, called the Wisdom of the Son of Syrach, which last-mentioned the Latins called by the general title Ecclesiasticus, designating not the author of the book, but the character of the writing. To the same class belong the Book of Tobit, and the Book of Judith, and the Books of the Maccabees. In the New Testament the little book which is called the Book of the Pastor of Hermas, [and that] which is called The Two Ways, or the Judgment of Peter; all of which they would have read in the Churches, but not appealed to for the confirmation of doctrine. The other writings they have named 'Apocrypha.' These they would not have read in the Churches. These are the traditions which the Fathers have handed down to us, which, as I said, I have thought it opportune to set forth in this place, for the instruction of those who are being taught the first elements of the Church and of the Faith, that they may know from what fountains of the Word of God their draughts must be taken."
(Rufinus (late fourth century), Commentary on the Apostles' Creed, 37-38, ECF 2.03).

"The Old Testament, then, consists of all together twenty-two books in number,– which also, I have heard, is traditionally the number of written characters used by the Hebrews,– the order of which, and the name of each, being as follows: first, there is Genesis; then Exodus; then Leviticus; and after this is Numbers; and then Deuteronomy; and following these is Jesus son of Nave [Joshua]; and Judges; and after this is Ruth; and again, following after these are four books of Kingdoms, of which the first and second are counted as one [1 and 2 Samuel], and the third and fourth likewise as one [1 and 2 Kings]; and after these there is a first and second of Paralipomenon [Chronicles], likewise counted as one; then Esdras, a first and second in one [Ezra and Nehemiah]; and after this is a book of Psalms; and then one of Proverbs; then Ecclesiastes; and Song of Songs; and besides these, there is Job; and then the Prophets, the twelve counted as one book [minor prophets]; then Isaias; Jeremias, and along with it, Baruch, Lamentations, and the Letter; and after these, Ezechiel; and Daniel. It is of these so far enumerated that the Old Testament consists...
"These are the fountains of salvation at which they who thirst may be satisfied with the words they contain. Only in these is the teaching of piety proclaimed. Let no man add to these, nor take away from them....For the sake of greater clarity I must necessarily add this remark also: there are other books besides the aforementioned, which, however, are not canonical. Yet, they have been designated by the Fathers to be read by those who join us and who wish to be instructed in the word of piety: the Wisdom of Solomon; and the Wisdom of Sirach [Ecclesiasticus]; and Esther; and Judith; and Tobias; and the Teaching attributed to the Apostles [Didache]; and the Shepherd. Those which I mentioned earlier, beloved, are included in the canon, while these latter are but recommended for reading." (Athanasius, Thirty-Ninth Festal Letter, 367 A.D., 791, pp. 341-342, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1, William A. Jurgens).

"Melito to his brother Onesimus, greeting: As you have often, prompted by your regard for the word of God, expressed a wish to have some extracts made from the Law and the Prophets concerning the Savior, and concerning our faith in general, and have desired, moreover, to obtain an accurate account of the Ancient Books, as regards their number and their arrangement, I have striven to the best of my ability to perform this task: well knowing your zeal for the faith, and your eagerness to become acquainted with the Word, and especially because I am assured that, through your yearning after God, you esteem these things beyond all things else, engaged as you are in a struggle for eternal salvation.
"I accordingly proceeded to the East, and went to the very spot where the things in question were preached and took place; and, having made myself accurately acquainted with the books of the Old Testament, I have set them down below, and herewith send you the list. Their names are as follows:
"The five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy; Joshua, Judges, Ruth, the four books of Kings, the two of Chronicles, the book of the Psalms of David, the Proverbs of Solomon, also called the Book of Wisdom, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, Job, the books of the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, of the twelve contained in a single book, Daniel, Ezekiel, Esdras. From these I have made my extracts, dividing them into six books."
(Melito of Sardis, c. 177 A.D., Book of Extracts, pp. 1496-1497, ECF 0.08)

"When expounding the first Psalm, he [Origen] gives a catalogue of the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament as follows: 'It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two; corresponding with the number of their letters.'" (Origen, quoted in Eusebius, Church History, Book 6, Chapter 25).

"On the contrary, the translation [the Septuagint] was effected by the Holy Spirit, by whom the Divine Scriptures were spoken. Of these, read the twenty-two books; but have nothing to do with the apocrypha. Study diligently those only which we read publicly in the Church. Far wiser than you, and much more pious, were the Apostles and bishops of old, the rulers of the Church who handed down these books. You, therefore, being a child of the Church – infringe not on its statutes. Of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the twenty-two books; and if you happen to be desirous of learning, strive to remember them by name as I recite them. Of the law, the first five are the books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Next, Jesus the Son of Nave; and the Book of Judges together with Ruth, counted as the seventh.
"Of the others, the historical books, the first and second book of Kingdoms are counted by the Hebrews as one book; and as one book also, the third and the fourth. LIkewise, with them, the first and second Books of Paralipomenon are accounted as one book; and the first and second of Esdras are reckoned as one. The twelfth book is Esther. And these are the historical books.
"Those, however, which are written in verses are five: Job, the Book of Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. After these there are the five prophetic books: of the twelve prophets, there is one book; of Isaias, one; of Jeremias, one, along with Baruch*, Lamentations, and the Letter*; next, Ezechiel; and the Book of Daniel is the twenty-second book of the Old Testament.
"Learn also diligently, and from the Church, what are the books of the Old Testament, and what those of the New. And, pray, read none of the apocryphal writings: for why dost thou, who knowest not those which are acknowledged among all, trouble thyself in vain about those which are disputed? Read the Divine Scriptures, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, these that have been translated by the Seventy-two Interpreters. [...]
"Of these read the two and twenty books, but have nothing to do with the apocryphal writings. Study earnestly these only which we read openly in the Church. Far wiser and more pious than thyself were the Apostles, and the bishops of old time, the presidents of the Church who handed down these books. Being therefore a child of the Church, trench thou not upon its statutes. And of the Old Testament, as we have said, study the two and twenty books, which, if thou art desirous of learning, strive to remember by name, as I recite them. For of the Law the books of Moses are the first five, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And next, Joshua the son of Nave, and the book of Judges, including Ruth, counted as seventh. And of the other historical books, the first and second books of the Kings are among the Hebrews one book; also the third and fourth one book. And in like manner, the first and second of Chronicles are with them one book; and the first and second of Esdras are counted one. Esther is the twelfth book; and these are the Historical writings. But those which are written in verses are five, Job, and the book of Psalms, and Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs, which is the seventeenth book. And after these come the five Prophetic books: of the Twelve Prophets one book, of Isaiah one, of Jeremiah one, including Baruch and Lamentations and the Epistle; then Ezekiel, and the Book of Daniel, the twenty-second of the Old Testament.
"Then of the New Testament there are the four Gospels only, for the rest have false titles and are mischievous. The Manichaeans also wrote a Gospel according to Thomas, which being tinctured with the fragrance of the evangelic title corrupts the souls of the simple sort. Receive also the Acts of the Twelve Apostles; and in addition to these the seven Catholic Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude; and as a seal upon them all, and the last work of the disciples, the fourteen Epistles of Paul. But let all the rest be put aside in a secondary rank. And whatever books are not read in Churches, these read not even by thyself, as thou hast heard me say. Thus much of these subjects."
(Cyril of Jerusalem, The Catechetical Lectures, 4:33-36).

"As, then, the Church reads Judith, Tobit, and the books of Maccabees, but does not admit them among the canonical Scriptures, so let it read these two volumes for the edification of the people, not to give authority to doctrines of the Church." (Jerome, Prefaces to the Vulgate Old Testament).
"As, then, there are twenty-two elementary characters by means of which we write in Hebrew all we say, and the compass of the human voice is contained within their limits, so we reckon twenty-two books, by which, as by the alphabet of the doctrine of God, a righteous man is instructed in tender infancy, and, as it were, while still at the breast. The first of these books...to which we give the name Genesis. The second...which bears the name Exodus; the third, ...that is Leviticus; the fourth,...which we call Numbers; the fifth,...which is entitled Deuteronomy. These are the five books of Moses, which they properly call Thorath, that is law. The second class is composed of the Prophets, and they begin with Jesus the son of Nave, who among them is called Joshua the son of Nun. Next in the series is...the book of Judges; and in the same book they include Ruth, because the events narrated occurred in the days of the Judges. Then comes Samuel, which we call First and Second Kings. The fourth is Malachim, that is, Kings, which is contained in the third and fourth volumes of Kings. And it is far better to say Malachim, that is Kings, than Malachoth, that is Kingdoms. For the author does not describe the Kingdoms of many nations, but that of one people, the people of Israel, which is comprised in the twelve tribes. The fifth is Isaiah, the sixth Jeremiah, the seventh Ezekiel, the eighth is the book of the Twelve Prophets,...
"To the third class belong the Hagiographa, of which the first book begins with Job, the second with David, whose writings they divide into five parts and comprise in one volume of Psalms; the third is Solomon, in three books, Proverbs, which they call Parables, that is Masaloth, Ecclesiastes, that is Coeleth, the Song of Songs...; the sixth is Daniel; the seventh,...Words of Days, which we may more expressively call a chronicle of the whole of the sacred history, the book that amongst us is called First and Second Chronicles; the eighth, Ezra, which itself is likewise divided amongst Greeks and Latins into two books; the ninth is Esther.
"And so there are also twenty-two books of the Old Testament; that is, five of Moses, eight of the prophets, nine of the Hagiographa, though some include Ruth and Kinoth (Lamentations) amongst the Hagiographa, and think that these books ought to be reckoned separately; we should thus have twenty-four book of the old law. And these the Apocalypse of John represents by the twenty-four elders, who adore the Lamb, and with downcast looks offer their crowns, while in their presence stand the four living creatures with eyes before and behind, that is, looking to the past and the future, and with unwearied voice crying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty, who wast, and art, and art to come.
"This preface to the Scriptures may serve as a "helmeted" introduction to all the books which we turn from Hebrew into Latin, so that we may be assured that what is not found in our list must be placed amongst the Apocryphal writings. Wisdom, therefore, which finally bears the name of Solomon, and the book of Jesus, the Son of Sirach, and Judith, and Tobias, and the Shepherd are not in the canon." (Jerome, Prefaces to the Vulgate Old Testament, ECF 2.06)

"These are the books of the Old Testament which ought to be read:

1. Genesis of the World;
2. Exodus from Egypt;
3. Leviticus;
4. Numbers;
5. Deuteronomy;
6. Jesus of Nave [Joshua];
7. Judges, Ruth;
8. Esther;
9. First and Second of Kingdoms [1-2 Samuel];
10. Third and Fourth of Kingdoms;
11. First and Second of Paralipomenon [Chronicles];
12. First and Second Esdras;
13. Book of One Hundred and Fifty Psalms;
14. Proverbs of Solomon;
15. Ecclesiastes;
16. Song of Songs;
17. Job;
18. Twelve Prophets;
19. Isaias;
20. Jeremias and Baruch*, Lamentation and Letters*;
21. Ezechiel;
22. Daniel.

(Canon 60, Council of Laodicea, p. 318, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 1, William A. Jurgens).

The books marked with an asterisk (*) are not included in the consensus Protestant canon. This fact: that while there is broad agreement, there are also small differences, amongst these early church lists, is presented by Roman Catholic apologists as if it were an insuperable obstacle to accepting any of these lists as relevant to the canon of scripture. Far from being an insurmountable obstacle, it is not even a real difficulty. Confronted with broad consensus incorporating small anomalies, proceed as follows: drop the outliers. There is some variability around the margins of the early church's canon, but those small differences 'average out.' Dropping the outliers, you have a very good, and very solid, canon of scripture, to which any believer can say 'Amen.' And certainly adopting a late, minority viewpoint is no solution to the absence of perfect agreement!

"These are all twelve of the historical books
Of the most ancient Hebrew wisdom.
First there is Genesis, then Exodus, Leviticus too.
Then Numbers, and the Second Law.
Then Josue and Judges. Ruth is eight.
Ninth and Tenth the Acts of Kings,
And Paralipomenon. Last you have Esdras.
The poetic books are five: Job being first,
then David; and three of Solomon,
Ecclesiastes, Canticle and Proverbs.
And five prophetic, likewise inspired.
There are the twelve written in one book:
Osee and Amos, and Micheas the third;
Then Joel, and Jonas, Abdias
And Nahum, and Habacuc, and Sophonias,
Aggeus, and Zacharias, Malachias.
All these are one. The second is Isaias.
Then the book called Jeremias, of the New-born Babe.
Then Ezechiel, and Daniel's gift.
I reckon, therefore, twenty-two old books,
Corresponding to the number of the Hebrew letters.
(Gregory of Nazianzus, p. 42, 1, 1, 12, 1020, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 2, William A. Jurgens)

"I will review for you each gift of these
Divinely inspired books; and that you may clearly know,
I will first review those of the Old Testament.
The Pentateuch has Creation, then Exodus,
And Leviticus, the middle book,
After which is Numbers, then Deuteronomy.
Add to these Josue, and Judges.
Then Ruth, and of Kingdoms four
Books, and Chronicles yoked together.
After these, Esdras, one and then the second.
Then will I review for you five in verse:
Job, crowned in the contests of many sufferings,
And the Book of Psalms, soothing remedy for the soul,
Three of Solomon the Wise, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Canticle of Canticles.
Add to these the Prophets Twelve,
Osee first, then Amos the second,
Micheas, Joel, Abdias, and the type
Of Him who three days suffered, Jonas,
Nahum after those, and Habacuc; and ninth,
Sophonias, Aggeus and Zacharias,
And angel twice-named Malachias.
After these prophets learn yet another four:
The great intrepid Isaias,
Jeremias, ready to sympathize, and mysterious
Ezechiel, and Daniel last,
Most wise in his deeds and words.
To these some add Esther."
(Amphilochius of Iconium, pp. 65-66, Apud Greg. Naz. Carm. 2, 2, 8, 1078, The Faith of the Early Fathers, Volume 2, William A. Jurgens).

Two councils, Carthage and Hippo, loom large in the Roman Catholic retelling of the history of the canon:

"What books constitute the Bible? Catholics can repair to the decisions of the Church, most clearly formulated at Trent and at the fourth-century councils at Hippo and Carthage; these produced lists of books that are to be accepted as inspired on the authority of the infallible Church." (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p. 130).

There is this difference between local and ecumenical councils: an ecumenical council seeks to gather together the whole household of faith to ascertain the mind of the church, while local or regional councils cherish smaller ambitions. This same Catholic apologist who calmly assures us that Carthage and Hippo decided the canon can hardly conceal his disgust at the Protestant accusation that the medieval Roman Catholic Church forbade the laity from reading the Bible, on the evidence that various local medieval councils did so mandate. Whereas earlier local councils had accepted the Protestant and Jewish canon, these two councils, Hippo and Carthage, under the influence of the great Western theologian Augustine, reportedly did accept the canonicity of the apocryphal works, even realizing the difficulties with their authorship and provenance. This remained however a minority view; even beyond the early church period, as late an author as John of Damascus presents the standard twenty-two book canon of the Old Testament:

"Observe, further, that there are two and twenty books of the Old Testament, one for each letter of the Hebrew tongue. For there are twenty-two letters of which five are double, and so they come to be twenty-seven. For the letters Caph, Mere, Nun, Pe, Sade are double. And thus the number of the books in this way is twenty-two, but is found to be twenty-seven because of the double character of five. For Ruth is joined on to Judges, and the Hebrews count them one book: the first and second books of Kings are counted one: and so are the third and fourth books of Kings: and also the first and second of Paraleipomena: and the first and second of Esdra. In this way, then, the books are collected together in four Pentateuchs and two others remain over, to form thus the canonical books. Five of them are of the Law, viz. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. This which is the code of the Law, constitutes the first Pentateuch. Then comes another Pentateuch, the so-called Grapheia, or as they are called by some, the Hagiographa, which are the following: Jesus the Son of Nave, Judges along with Ruth, first and second Kings, which are one book, third and fourth Kings, which are one book, and the two books of the Paraleipomena which are one book. This is the second Pentateuch. The third Pentateuch is the books in verse, viz. Job, Psalms, Proverbs of Solomon, Ecclesiastes of Solomon and the Song of Songs of Solomon. The fourth Pentateuch is the Prophetical books, viz the twelve prophets constituting one book, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Then come the two books of Esdra made into one, and Esther. There are also the Panaretus, that is the Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Jesus, which was published in Hebrew by the father of Sirach, and afterwards translated into Greek by his grandson, Jesus, the Son of Sirach. These are virtuous and noble, but are not counted nor were they placed in the ark."
(John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 4, Chapter 17, Concerning Scripture).

The reader today who encounters the voice of God in the Bible finds great encouragement in sharing the consensus of the early, spirit-filled church, who gathered together these treasures. Can not the same Holy Spirit who inspired the works also be counted upon to recognize them? Ascertaining the inspiration of a given work is, and has ever been, a quest to find the Spirit:

"We have learned in a Boraitha: R. Eliezer said: The Book of Esther was dictated by the Holy Spirit, as it is written [Esther, v. 16]: 'And Haman said in his heart;' and if it were not by the Holy Spirit, how could we know what he said in his heart? R. Aqiba said: 'Esther was dictated by the Holy Spirit because it is written [ibid. ii. 15]: "And Esther found favor in the eyes of all those that beheld her" (this also could not be known, but for the Holy Spirit). R. Meir said 'Esther was dictated by the Holy Spirit, because it is written [ibid. 22]: "And the thing became known to Mordecai" (and who told him? We must say that it was the Holy Spirit)." (The Babylonian Talmud, edited by Michael L. Rodkinson, Volume VIII, Tract Megilla, Chapter 1, Kindle location 33580).

A daunting task indeed. The canonicity of the Book of Esther was questioned, and so the agenda was, to look for the Holy Spirit. The unfortunate side-effect of the Roman Catholic way of looking at things leaves the impression that works authored by the Spirit are clay to be made, at the discretion of the molder, variously into a pot or an idol. Inspiration is an on/off, 1/0 condition: the Holy Spirit either authored, or did not author, this material.

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Hebrew Oracles

"What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God." (Romans 3:1-2).

The twenty-two book Old Testament canon (as the reader will note, the count is artificial) referenced above by early church writers is and was the Hebrew canon of scripture:

"For 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. . .and how firmly we have given credit to those books of our own nation is evident by what we do; for during so many ages as have already passed, no one has been so bold as either to add anything to them or take anything from them, or to make any change in them; but it becomes natural to all Jews, immediately and from their very birth, to esteem those books to contain divine doctrines, and to persist in them, and, if occasion be, willingly to die for them." (Josephus, 'Against Apion,' Book I, 8.).

This is not a coincidence. Contrary to what some Roman Catholics seem to think, no books were ever 'removed' by the Jews at any time. It is biblically difficult to understand the church's Old Testament canon as differing from the Hebrew canon, because the Bible says that the oracles were entrusted to the Hebrews. Some of these books, like 'Wisdom,' do not even have Hebrew exemplars. What was ever "committed" to the Hebrews, as Paul says, in a book not even written in their language?

The Deuterocanonical books fall into the void between the two testaments. They are not the oracles delivered to the Hebrews, but nor do they testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ; they are neither New, nor Old, Testament.

Inspiration of God

Bible believers who talk to contemporary Roman Catholics are used to hearing them debunk the Bible, claiming that it teaches the earth is flat and other gross errors. It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn of the respect in which Catholic authors of old times held sacred scripture:

"But it [sacred doctrine] properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as a necessary argument, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, though merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets, who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. Hence Augustine says (Epist. ad Hieron.): 'Only those books of Scripture which are called canonical have I learnt to hold in such honor as to believe their authors have not erred in any way in writing them. But other authors I so read as not to deem anything in their works to be true merely on account of their having so thought and written, whatever may have been their holiness and learning.'" (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, First Part Question 1, Article 8).

Thomas Aquinas thought that the Bible was inerrant: "I answer that, The author of Holy Writ is God, in whose power it is to signify His meaning not by words only (as man also can do), but also by things themselves. . .Hence it is plain that nothing false can ever underlie the literal sense of Holy Writ." (Summa Theologica, First Part Question 1, Article 10). The same high view of scripture is taken in the Summa Contra Gentiles:

"The authority of St. Augustine also agrees with this. He writes as follows: 'That which truth will reveal cannot in any way be opposed to the sacred books of the Old and the New Testament.' [St. Augustine, De genesi ad litteram, II., c. 18]." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One, Chapter 7, [6]).
"The sole way to overcome an adversary of divine truth is from the authority of Scripture — an authority divinely confirmed by miracles. For that which is above the human reason we believe only because God has revealed it." (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book One, Chapter 9, [2]).

As late as this author, burned at the stake, it was still possible for Catholics to take a stand upon the Bible:

"When we take into account the differences of times and circumstances, of language and of authors, the extraordinary uniformity which exists between the Old and the New Testaments would not be possible, were they not the work of one mind. A mind that knows all that has taken place at all times.

"This uniformity cannot be explained by pure chance, since there is no discord or lack of harmony between the two Testaments, but perfect agreement between them, even in the smallest particulars. What is obscure in one passage is explained in another; and the Scripture interprets itself. Although those who have not studied the Bible may be ignorant of this fact, the truth of what I say will be acknowledged by all who examine Holy Scripture with faith, humility and purity of heart.

. . ."I also speak from personal experience. At one time (in order to demonstrate the profundity of Holy Scripture to pretentious people188 who possessed only superficial knowledge) my preaching centred on subtle points of philosophy. I found that the people who heard me were left daydreaming. But as soon as I devoted myself to the exposition of the Bible, I found all eyes were riveted upon me. My audience were so focussed on my words, that they might have been carved out of stone.

"I also found that when I put theological questions to one side, and confined myself to explaining Holy Scripture, my hearers were enlightened and my preaching resulted in the conversion of men to Christ and to transformed lives. For, Holy Scripture contains that marvellous gospel word, which is more effective than a two-edged sword, in piercing men's hearts with love. This message has clothed the world with goodness, and over-thrown idolatry, superstition, and numberless errors. This proves that it has come from God."

(Girolamo Savonarola, The Triumph of the Cross, Book 2, Chapter 8).

The people of the present day who agree with Thomas and Augustine on this point are not Roman Catholics, who have wandered altogether off the reservation, but fundamentalists:




Augustine and Thomas were fundamentalists; modern Roman Catholics are not. It is often observed that fundamentalists have trouble getting along with their more liberal brethren, and schism is the all too common outcome. Perhaps it is fortunate for the contemporary church that these men are deceased and cannot voice their dismay. The way modern Catholics read the Bible has no history in the church; they have wandered altogether off the reservation. The view not only of the early church, but even of the medieval church, was that God attends to details. No one held the modern Catholic view that the Bible is more or less correct in its main thrusts, but all messed up in the details:

"I remembered the days of old, and, recurring to one of the ancient histories, drew counsel for myself therefrom as to my present conduct; for let us not suppose these events to have been recorded without a purpose, nor that they are a mere assemblage of words and deeds gathered together for the pastime of those who listen to them, as a kind of bait for the ears, for the sole purpose of giving pleasure. Let us leave such jesting to the legends and the Greeks, who think but little of the truth, and enchant ear and mind by the charm of their fictions and the daintiness of their style.

"We however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle, will never admit the impious assertion that even the smallest matters were dealt with haphazard by those who have recorded them, and have thus been borne in mind down to the present day: on the contrary, their purpose has been to supply memorials and instructions for our consideration under similar circumstances, should such befall us, and that the examples of the past might serve as rules and models, for our warning and imitation."

(Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 2, In Defense of His Flight to Pontus, 104-105, ECF 2.07, p. 434).

When modern-day Roman Catholics dispute with evangelicals about the 'canon of scripture,' there is a fatal equivocation: there is no common notion of 'scripture' shared by these two groups. To contemporary Roman Catholics, there are no books which are "God-breathed" in such a direct way that their authorship might as well be attributed to God, as Jesus so attributes the Old Testament works He cites. Looking to substance rather than words merely, there is no residual dispute between evangelicals and Roman Catholics about the deuterocanonical works: both believe these works were authored by who knows whom, not by their stated authors; both believe these works to be an amalgam of truth and error; both believe their human authors did the very best they could; they were not the receptacles of any special divine influx. Protestants and Catholics agree on these points. Where there is no disagreement, there should be no argument. Rather, evangelicals should seek to persuade Roman Catholics that there are other books, inspired by God, which are not an amalgam of truth and error; and that these books, Isaiah, Matthew, the letters of Paul, etc., should be consulted to resolve doctrinal disputes.




What is Written

Modern Catholics claim to have in their possession oral traditions dating from the apostles, though what these are or how their authenticity might be verified, no one knows. But Paul was already not planning to conduct church business in this manner:

"Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other." (1 Corinthians 4:6).

Contrary to what some people seem to think, this is not a 'difficult' passage of scripture, nor is it hampered with variants which change the meaning. Paul does not want schools of thought to arise in the church (modern Roman Catholicism for example) which are based on personal authority (as of one bishop) or 'oral traditions' which may or may not be traditional; rather he would have the church firmly founded on the Old Testament scriptures and the written instructions compiled by himself and his fellow apostles. We can obey, or disobey, Paul's instructions.

Bad Precedent

Many of the distinctive Roman Catholics ideas, like Mary's perpetual virginity and clerical celibacy, were gnostic ideas before they were Catholic ideas. There seems to be a stream of influence there. In this instance, too, the gnostics were the first people to claim you need oral tradition in order to interpret the written scriptures:

“When, however, they are confuted from the Scriptures, they turn round and accuse these same Scriptures, as if they were not correct, nor of authority, and [assert] that they are ambiguous, and that the truth cannot be extracted from them by those who are ignorant of tradition. For [they allege] that the truth was not delivered by means of written documents, but viva voce: wherefore also Paul declared, 'But we speak wisdom among those that are perfect, but not the wisdom of this world.'” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 3, Chapter 2, Section 1.)

Addition and Subtraction

There is no suggestion in the Bible that the work will be improved by addition, though there have always been those eager to help:

"You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you." (Deuteronomy 4:2).

"Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it." (Deuteronomy 12:32).

"Do not add to His words, Lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar."" (Proverbs 30:6).

"Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go." (Joshua 1:7).

It was in keeping with this idea, of swerving neither to the left nor to the right, that Jesus said, “He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.’” (Mark 7:6-9).

Sola

"All things, therefore, that have been delivered to us by Law and Prophets and Apostles and Evangelists we receive, and know, and honor, seeking for nothing beyond these. . .It is not within our capacity, therefore, to say anything about God or even to think of Him, beyond the things which have been divinely revealed to us, whether by word or by manifestation, by the divine oracles at once of the Old Testament and of the New." (John of Damascus, An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 1, Chapter 1-2).

Godly Forgery

The apocryphal 'Wisdom of Solomon' claims authorship by King Solomon of ancient Israel:

"You yourself have chosen me to be king over your people, to be judge of your sons and daughters. You have bidden me build a temple on your holy mountain, an altar in the city where you have pitched your tent, a copy of that sacred tabernacle which you prepared from the beginning." (Wisdom 9:7-8).

What king was chosen by God to build the temple? This author is not claiming to be a private citizen. He claims to be King Solomon of old, though he is not. This is a 'pseudepigraphic' work; i.e., it makes a bogus authorship claim.

The author wrote in Greek, as the preface to the work in the Jerusalem Bible admits: "And indeed the whole book is written in Greek. . ." (Introduction to the Book of Wisdom, Jerusalem Bible). It is less than obvious why King Solomon of ancient Israel would have written a book in the Greek tongue, much less why he would espouse the Platonic philosophy centuries before Plato.

Roman Catholic apologists assert that false attribution of authorship was an accepted practice of the day. To the contrary, Tertullian realized that a forger had produced 'The Acts of Paul and Thecla,' and he was every bit as indignant as any modern reader would be:

"But if the writings which wrongly go under Paul’s name, claim Thecla’s example as a license for women’s teaching and baptizing, let them know that, in Asia, the presbyter who composed that writing, as if he were augmenting Paul’s fame from his own store, after being convicted, and confessing that he had done it from love of Paul, was removed from his office." (Tertullian, 'On Baptism,' Chapter 17).

Why does Tertullian say the man was "convicted" if this practice was accepted? Why the judgmental vocabulary? Why was the forger removed from office if the church at large accepted the practice? No doubt they had plenty of liars back then, we still do today. People who were deceived by a liar back then got just as angry when they found out as we do today.




The living God does not breathe lies into the souls of His prophets; His holy eyes cannot look upon evil: "Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?" (Habakkuk 1:13). Knowing this we have confidence in His promises: "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began. . ." (Titus 1:2). Bibles which contain the 'Wisdom of Solomon' come with no such guarantee. Must we ask the Pope to sort out for us which statements of God are deceptive and which can be trusted?

Roman Catholics retort, but there are forgeries in the universally accepted canon of scripture. So they believe. This is how they reason: 'Daniel' claims to have been written by a man living during the exile, but seems to refer to identifiable events of the second century B.C.; therefore it cannot have been written any earlier than the second century B.C. They believe, as does Bart Ehrman, that certain of the letters claiming to have been written by Paul, like Ephesians, were in fact written by an imposter:

"It is striking that in his instructions about the Christian 'armor' the author of Ephesians also tells his readers, 'Fasten the belt of truth around your waist' (6:14). Truth was important for this writer. Early on he refers to the gospel as 'the word of truth' (1:13). He later indicates that the 'truth is in Jesus' and tells his readers to 'speak the truth' to their neighbors (4:24-25) He also claims that the 'fruit of the light' is found in 'truth' (5:9). How ironic, then, that the author has deceived his readers about his own identity. The book was written pseudonymously in the name of Paul by someone who knew full well that he was not Paul. Falsely claiming to be an impeccable Christian authority, this advocate for truth produced a pseudephigraphon, a 'falsely inscribed writing.' At least that is what ancient critics would have called it, had they known the author was not Paul. So some Christians went into battle armed not with truth, but with deception." (Bart D. Ehrman, Forged, p. 144).

Those modern Roman Catholics who remain convinced that the scriptures are God-breathed must realize they are swimming against the tide. Take away this author's condescending tone, and what he believes is what they believe, or are told to believe. When the reader investigates to discover how we know that the gospels were written much later than the apostles and apostolic companions for whom tradition claims authorship, we discover such reasons as this: the gospels 'predict' the destruction of the Jewish temple, and so therefore must have been written subsequent to the destruction of the Jewish temple:




It is difficult to imagine why any theist would buy into this set of ideas, but there you have it. Unfortunately, modern Roman Catholics have such a low concept of scripture that they freely admit to falsehood, not only in the deuterocanonical works, but in undisputed scripture. Forgery is no bar to canonicity, with such a debased concept of the canon. These discussions were meaningful in past times, when all agreed that Holy Writ must be true; but once one party grows bold enough to say, 'this is false, and it is scripture,' upon what common understanding can discussion hinge? Bible-believers and Roman Catholics have no common concept of 'scripture' about which to dispute.

In addition to its false attribution of authorship, the 'Wisdom of Solomon' teaches the Platonic doctrine of the pre-existence of the human soul: "I was a boy of happy disposition, I had received a good soul as my lot, or rather, being good, I had entered an undefiled body. . ." (Wisdom, 8:19-20). Plato adopted the doctrine of reincarnation which was taught in those environs by Pythagoras, who may have adopted it from the Hindus and Buddhists who took the expectation of a return trip for granted, as the native Greeks did not. It is not compatible with Christian revelation, because of Hebrews 9:27: "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. . ."

Plato Home

Another Platonic doctrine favored by the author is that God created, not ex nihilo, but by giving form to pre-existent matter: "For thy Almighty hand, that made the world of matter without form, wanted not means to send among them a multitude of bears or fierce lions. . ." (Wisdom 11:17). Both of these two doctrines, of pre-existent human souls and pre-existent matter, are defended in the modern era by the Mormons. How Catholic apologists can criticize the Mormons for so teaching I don't know, given that their own 'holy books' teach these same errant doctrines. Origen points out that, in his day, the Wisdom of Solomon was not accepted as inspired scripture by all:

"And if this word “matter” should happen to occur in any other passage, it will never be found, in my opinion, to have the signification of which we are now in quest, unless perhaps in the book which is called the Wisdom of Solomon, a work which is certainly not esteemed authoritative by all." (Origen, On First Principles, Book Four, Chapter 1, Section 33, ECF 0.04, p. 725).

With a more accurate understanding of its fraudulent authorship, would it have been accepted by any?

The author of Ecclesiasticus, thankfully, does not believe in reincarnation; however, he does not seem to believe in any after-life at all: "Whether life lasts ten years, or a hundred, or a thousand, there will be no questions asked in the grave." (Ecclesiasticus 41:4). He seems to take the Sadducees' side of the debate: "My son, shed tears for the dead. . .Never forget! there is no return; you cannot help him and can only injure yourself." (Ecclesiasticus 38:16-21). "Who will praise the Most High in the grave in place of the living who give him thanks? When a man is dead and ceases to be, his gratitude dies with him; it is when he is alive and well that he praises the Lord." (Ecclesiasticus 17:27-28). "Before the time came for his eternal sleep, Samuel called the Lord and his anointed to witness. . ." (Ecclesiasticus 46:19).

Moreover he is a misogynist: "Better a man's wickedness than a woman's goodness; it is woman who brings shame and disgrace." (Ecclesiasticus 42:14). He is in favor of whipping a recalcitrant slave: "Do not be ashamed of the law and covenant of the Most High. . .of frequent disciplining of children, or of drawing blood from the back of a worthless servant." (Ecclesiasticus 42:5). While he wants the good servant treated like a brother, he is in favor of torture for the bad one:

"Fodder, and stick, and burdens for the donkey; bread, and discipline, and work for the servant! Make your slave work, if you want rest for yourrself; if you leave him idle, he will be looking for his liberty. The ox is tamed by yoke and harness, the bad servant by racks and tortures." (Ecclesiasticus 33:24-27).

And his child-rearing advice may be a bit in excess: "A man who loves his son will whip him often. . .Break him in while he is young, beat him soundly while he is still a child, or he may grow stubborn and disobey you and cause you vexation." (Ecclesiasticus 30:1-12). There are also good things in these works; as with all human and all-too-human literary productions, the trick is to chew the meat and spit out the bones. Only they are not scripture.

Quotation

When early church writers compile canon lists, certain works are missing; yet, their adherents point out, these works are sometimes quoted by these Christian authors. This is true; for that matter, Josephus is quoted, and Philo Judaeus is quoted, though no one has ever suggested these two authors should have a place in the Christian canon. Paul is quoted in Acts as quoting a pagan poet who said, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being;" — "as certain also of your own poets have said," — "For we are also his offspring." (Acts 17:28). The identify of this pagan poet, probably Aratus, is stated variously by commentators because several pagan poets said very similar things. But whoever he was, he certainly has no place in the Christian canon of scripture. The fact that he is quoted does not automatically give him any such status. Does the author says, 'it is written?' or use the verse to determine a point of doctrine? The Book of Enoch is quoted in Jude's epistle, yet without sucking 'Enoch' into the canon. We all quote Shakespeare and Benjamin Franklin without ever imagining the words of those authorities are God-breathed.

By no early church writer are these apocryphal works quoted often, an anomalous situation if they were indeed understood to be scripture. Catholics allege that the Jews suppressed these books, which they had purportedly at a prior time received as scripture, out of hostility to Christianity. And yet not a one of these books testifies to Christianity; not a one is doctrinally important. Why suppress what does not advance your adversary's case? It is true that Greek-speaking Judaism lost its patronage and its constituency with the disasters that overtook the Jewish nation. Judaism turned inward, 180 degrees away from the proselytizing religion in dialogue with the world which it had been in Philo's day. Instead of compassing sea and land to persuade everyone to become Abraham's children, they adopted a racialist definition of what it means to be Abraham's child, which may be summarized as 'we are, you're not.' Had the church not cared to preserve Philo's writings as well as the Apocrypha, these works would have been lost, as the Jews walled themselves off from their Greek heritage. And yet searching for Christian quotes of a book like 'Judith' yields unimpressive results, given the book's lack of any point of contact with the Christian faith.

In a similar vein, some works that almost never show up on canon lists were on occasion bound in a volume with the Bible. The reader should reflect that early editions of the King James version of the Bible included the Apocrypha, yet with a translators' preface that clearly labelled the Apocrypha as non-canonical. Binding and quoting, as indices of canonicity, must be used with caution. They must be used by advocates, no doubt, because there's not much else.

Every Time

Some people say, 'I don't know much about the Bible, but what I do know has changed my life.' No one ever said, "Reading 'Judith,' or 'Tobit,' has changed my life;' these are not life-changing books. Their insipidity and mediocrity do not testify in favor of their inspiration, but against, because the God whom man cannot bear to look at and live cannot be expected to write little stuff. It is rather surprising that people keep trying to sell such an unremarkable and unexciting product. It doesn't sell itself; it is not self-authenticating.

In the view of Roman Catholic apologists, of course, none of the Bible, not even those books genuinely God-breathed, are self-authenticating. The sole and only way anyone could ever know these books are inspired is if the properly appointed authority told them so:

"Fundamentalists are quite right in believing that the Bible is inspired, but their reasons for so believing are inadequate because knowledge of the inspiration of the Bible can be based only on an authority established by God to tell us the Bible is inspired, and that authority is the Church." (Karl Keating, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, p. 127).

This epistemology: that we can only know a thing is so if informed by properly constituted authority,— is itself lacking, and not only because it leads to infinite regress: how can we know "the Church" is the authority to whose voice we must give heed, if the only way to know anything is by instruction from the appropriate authority? Some other authority must recommend "the Church," and some prior authority must have commended that referring authority, and so on and so on, ad infinitum.

It's a shame that none of these people has ever experienced hearing the voice of God in the pages of scripture. When I began to read the Bible, as an atheist by default, no "Church" supplied the conviction that this book was written by God. It is simultaneously boastful and naive to assume that a human institution noteworthy for its staff wearing brightly-colored and unusual clothing, like the Pope's ruby slippers, but also for for child molestation and other bad stuff, and perhaps for some good stuff, would have such instantaneous and self-authenticating authority that it could tell people a book was inspired and they would feel they had reason so to believe. Those churches do better who modestly place themselves behind and under the authority of scripture, not above.

All the Scriptures

"And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." (Luke 24:27).

How could Luke know that anyone had searched all the scriptures, if there was not in his day a functioning, closed canon of Old Testament scripture?

New Testament

What about the lists of New Testament citations of the deuterocanonical works? The web-site 'Scripture Catholic' provides such a list. But there is much less here than meets the eye. To give a few examples:

Infanticide
"Matt. 2:16 - Herod's decree of slaying innocent children was prophesied in Wis. 11:7 - slaying the holy innocents." (Scripture Catholic).

Wisdom 11:8 does reference the murder of children:

"And whilst they were diminished for a manifest reproof of their murdering the infants, thou gavest to thine abundant water unlooked for: Showing by the thirst that was then, how thou didst exalt thine, and didst kill their adversaries." (Wisdom 11:8-9).

This reference to infanticide does not occur in a prophetic passage, but in an account of human history. The author traces the history of Lady Wisdom's dealings with mankind starting with Adam. He moves on through the Exodus of the people of God from Egypt: "And she brought them through the Red Sea, and carried them over through a great water. But their enemies she drowned in the sea, and from the depth of hell she brought them out. Therefore the just took the spoils of the wicked." (Wisdom 10:18-19). King Herod and his men did not traverse the Red Sea. The author dwells upon the judgments God brought upon Egypt, which he perceives as just punishment for Pharaoh's murderous oppression, including infanticide:

"And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:  And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live." (Exodus 1:15-16).

The details of the story all fit in with God's judgment of Egypt, and not at all with Herod's murder of the innocents. God turned the water into blood: "For instead of a fountain of an ever running river, thou gavest human blood to the unjust." (Wisdom 11:7). When did Herod's water turn to blood? This did however happen to the Egyptians: "And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood. And the fish that was in the river died; and the river stank, and the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river; and there was blood throughout all the land of Egypt." (Exodus 7:20-21). The passage is not prophetic, but if it were, the circumstances would not fit iHerod's murder of the innocents, which did not involve water turning into blood or clouds of irrational creatures such as are found in the plagues of Egypt.

Sheep Without a Shepherd
"Matt. 9:36 - the people were "like sheep without a shepherd" is same as Judith 11:19 - sheep without a shepherd." (Scripture Catholic).
"But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd." (Matthew 9:36).

In Judith 11:15, Judith tells Holofernes,

"For I thy handmaid worship God even now that I am with thee, and thy handmaid will go out, and I will pray to God, and he will tell me when he will repay them for their sins, and I will come and tell thee, so that I may bring thee through the midst of Jerusalem, and thou shalt have all the people of Israel, as sheep that have no shepherd, and there shall not so much as one dog bark against thee: Because these things are told me by the providence of God." (Judith 11:14-16).

Is Matthew quoting Judith, or do both follow earlier exemplars? The context is certainly different, as Judith does not offer the abandoned sheep as objects of commiseration but as prey. The same phrase occurs several times in the Old Testament:

"Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd." (Numbers 27:16-17).
"And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace." (1 Kings 22:17).
"Then he said, I did see all Israel scattered upon the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master; let them return therefore every man to his house in peace." (2 Chronicles 18:16).
"And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?. . .And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them." (Ezekiel 34:1-6).

When the New Testament authors quote a well-known Old Testament phrase, is it more likely they are quoting a non-conforming passage in Judith, or the familiar Old Testament phrase?

The Magnificat
"Luke 1:52 - Mary's magnificat addressing the mighty falling from their thrones and replaced by lowly follows Sirach 10:14." (Scripture Catholic).

Mary sang the praises of the Lord:

"He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away." (Luke 1:51-53).

Mary's song is patterned on Hannah's:

"The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up. The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up. He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them." (1 Samuel 2:6-8).

However, according to this Catholic web-site, Mary is quoting Sirach 10:17:

"God hath overturned the thrones of proud princes, and hath set up the meek in their stead." (Sirach 10:17).

But how many times is Sarah's theme repeated in the Bible!:

"Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck. For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." (Psalm 75:5-7).
"Who is like unto the LORD our God, who dwelleth on high, Who humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth! He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD." (Psalm 113:6-9).
"This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men." (Daniel 4:17).
"Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor." (Ecclesiastes 4:13-14).
"Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him." (Ezekiel 21:26-27).
"And all the trees of the field shall know that I the LORD have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the LORD have spoken and have done it." (Ezekiel 17:24).

Not only does the Bible say this in words, but also tells it in stories, as of Joseph taken out of prison to rule, and David taken from tending sheep to be king of Israel. Even Job's comforters knew, "To set up on high those that be low; that those which mourn may be exalted to safety." (Job 5:11). It is not too much to ask to expect a quote to be distinctive, in order to trace it to the suggested source. A theme which is a common-place is no evidence that the author was aware of any given one of many documents which repeat it. If a given theme occurs commonly in the canonical Old Testament, then it is likely that both the writers of the New Testament and the authors of the apocrypha were familiar with it from that source.

By the Edge of the Sword
"Luke 21:24 - Jesus' usage of "fall by the edge of the sword" follows Sirach 28:18." (Scripture Catholic).

The phrase "the edge of the sword" occurs thirty-two times in the KJV Old Testament. Though it's more common to see 'smiting' with the edge of the sword or 'slaying' with the edge of the sword, 'falling' happens too:

"And it came to pass, when Israel had made an end of slaying all the inhabitants of Ai in the field, in the wilderness wherein they chased them, and when they were all fallen [naphal] on the edge of the sword, until they were consumed, that all the Israelites returned unto Ai, and smote it with the edge of the sword. (Joshua 8:24).
"But Barak pursued after the chariots, and after the host, unto Harosheth of the Gentiles: and all the host of Sisera fell [naphal] upon the edge of the sword; and there was not a man left." (Judges 4:16).
"And Barac pursued after the chariots and after the army, into Arisoth of the Gentiles; and the whole army of Sisara fell [πιπτω] by the edge of the sword, there was not one left." (Brenton Septuagint, Judges 4:16).

The Hebrew and Greek way of saying 'edge' of the sword is more graphic than ours: mouth. Perhaps the usage should be, 'devoured by the sword.' Jesus uses the same phrase in an apocalyptic passage about the destruction of Jerusalem:

"And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." (Luke 21:24).

It is difficult to see any connection between this and ben Sirach's concerns about an over-active tongue causing trouble,

"Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but not so many as have perished by their own tongue." (Sirach 28:22).

The author of Scripture Catholic seems to believe there is something remarkable or unusual about the phrase, 'fall by the edge of the sword,' but there isn't.

Respect of Persons
"Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6 - Peter's and Paul's statement that God shows no partiality references Sirach 35:12." (Scripture Catholic).

Peter and Paul understood that God is no respecter of persons:

"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." (Acts 10:34-35).

They might have learned this from Ben Sirach (Ecclesiasticus):

"And look not upon an unjust sacrifice, for the Lord is judge, and there is not with him respect of person. The Lord will not accept any person against a poor man, and he will hear the prayer of him that is wronged. He will not despise the prayers of the fatherless: nor the widow, when she poureth out her complaint." (Sirach 35:15-17).

Or they might have learned it from the Law of Moses:

"For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment." (Deuteronomy 10:17-18).

Ben Sirach, Peter and Paul all learned this lesson from the same teacher, from Moses, who predated the lot of them by more than a thousand years. Everyone who knew Moses' law knew that God is no respecter of persons. God judges justly, without fear or favor:

"And said to the judges, Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the LORD, who is with you in the judgment. Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." (2 Chronicles 19:6-7).
The Throne of God
"Rev. 5:7 - God is described as seated on His throne, and this is the same description used in Sirach 1:8." (Scripture Catholic).

The book of Revelation describes God as seated upon a throne:

"And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." (Revelation 4:2).

This 'throne' is supposed to be borrowed from Sirach 1:8:

"There is one most high Creator Almighty, and a powerful king, and greatly to be feared, who sitteth upon his throne, and is the God of dominion." (Sirach 1:8).

This rather generic reference to God's throne is eclipsed by bona fide scriptural references of far greater specificity:

"And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone:. . ." (Ezekiel 1:26).
"In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." (Isaiah 6:1).
"I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." (Daniel 7:9).

In any case references to God's throne, with or without the burning wheels, are common enough in the canonical scriptures:

"The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD’S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men." (Psalm 11:4).

Ezekiel Saw the Wheel


Plagues of Egypt
"Rev. 9:3 - raining of locusts on the earth follows Wisdom 16:9." (Scripture Catholic).

Some interpreters see a family resemblance between the calamities of the Book of Revelation and the plagues of Egypt, for instance, "The first four trumpets are very much like the plagues in Egypt, this one like a semitropical thunderstorm with blood like the first plague. . ." (Robertson's New Testament Word Pictures). While there is a general resemblance, it falls short of point-by-point correspondence.

No one need read the apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon to find out about the plagues of Egypt; they are laid out in great detail in the canonical book of Exodus. In a history section of the book of Wisdom, the author contrasts the Israelites, beloved of God and under His care, with the Egyptians, stricken and hated:

"And in this thou didst show to our enemies, that thou art he who deliverest from all evil. For the bitings of locusts, and of flies, killed them, and there was found no remedy for their life: because they were worthy to be destroyed by such things." (Wisdom 16:8-9).

The locusts are described in Exodus 10:4-19, the flies in Exodus 8:21-31. It is difficult sometimes to avoid the impression that 'Wisdom' was written by an Alexandrian Jew who did not much like his native Egyptian neighbors. The Egyptians were smitten with fire and hail:

"And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. So there was hail, and fire mingled with the hail, very grievous, such as there was none like it in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, was there no hail." (Exodus 9:23-26).

In this way God showed His wrath, in contrast to His gift of manna to the children of Israel:

"For the wicked that denied to know thee, were scourged by the strength of thy arm, being persecuted by strange waters, and hail, and rain, and consumed by fire." (Wisdom 6:16).

What the wicked Egyptians suffered at the hands of angry God is similar in a general way to the catastrophes of Revelation:

"And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power." (Revelation 9:3).

Not precisely similar, in that the locusts of Egypt ate the crops, which the locusts of Revelation are commanded not to touch. In any case, the events of the exodus, including the plagues of Egypt, were so well known to John and his readers that they scarcely needed to consult 'The Wisdom of Solomon' to be reminded of them. These events are commemorated in the annual observance of the Passover, and are not unfamiliar to any of the people of God.

If you and I were challenged to produce a list of the plagues of Egypt, it is to be hoped, dear Reader, that our lists would 'resemble' each other, indeed that they would match. But the reason is not that I am 'following' you or you are 'following' me; we are not copying one another's lists. If we disagree, how will we resolve our dispute? By consulting Moses, whose sequential history of these events describes them with great detail and specificity; he conserves the master list, not you or I.

Terrible Swift Sword
"Rev. 2:12 - reference to the two-edged sword is similar to the description of God's Word in Wisdom 18:16." (Scripture Catholic).

The Messiah has a two-edged sword:

"And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength." (Revelation 1:16).

Where did He come by this attribute? From this beautiful passage in the apocryphal book of Wisdom, recalling God's judgment of Egypt?:

"Thy Almighty word leaped down from heaven from thy royal throne, as a fierce conqueror into the midst of the land of destruction, With a sharp sword carrying thy unfeigned commandment, and he stood and filled all things with death, and standing on the earth, reached even to heaven." (Wisdom 18:15-16).

Or from the canonical Old Testament, where the Messiah already holds the sword? In the passage of Isaiah where God promises to send His servant, Israel, whom "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles:"

"Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye peoples, from far: the LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name: and he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me; and he hath made me a polished shaft, in his quiver hath he kept me close: and he said unto me, Thou art my servant; Israel, in whom I will be glorified." (Isaiah 49:1-3).

This servant is both the Messiah and the Word: "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12). The Messiah's sword is also mentioned in Psalm 45, a Messianic psalm: "Gird thy sword upon thy thigh, O most mighty, with thy glory and thy majesty." (Psalm 45:3). There is nothing novel about the Messiah's sword that requires intervention by the very late book of Wisdom.

Counted as Righteousness
"James 2:23 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness follows 1 Macc. 2:52 - it was reckoned to him as righteousness." (Scripture Catholic)

Moses teaches that Abraham was counted as righteous because of his faith:

"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Genesis 15:6).

This Old Testament text is very important for Paul, who quotes it:

"For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." (Romans 4:3).
"Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." (Galatians 3:6).

James also quotes the verse:

"And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God." (James 2:23).

The author of 1 Maccabees is also aware of the verse:

"Was not Abraham found faithful in temptation, and it was reputed to him unto justice?" (1 Maccabees 2:52).

You or I could say, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' but Bartlett's Quotations is not going to revise its listing and give us the credit. Why not? Because it's already been said. This is a familiar pattern by now. When there is a real similarity between the apocrypha and the New Testament, it's because both of the later works are quoting the Old Testament.

Righteous Lot
"2 Peter 2:7 - God's rescue of a righteous man (Lot) is also described in Wisdom 10:6." (Scripture Catholics)

The Book of Genesis recounts how Lot was saved from the destruction of Sodom:

"And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. . .Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground." (Genesis 19:15-25

Peter recalls this history:

"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;). . ." (2 Peter 2:6-8).

The author of the Wisdom of Solomon also had this story in his Old Testament:

"She delivered the just man, who fled from the wicked that were perishing, when the fire came down upon Pentapolis: whose land, for a testimony of their wickedness, is desolate, and smoketh to this day, and the trees bear fruits that ripen not, and a standing pillar of salt is a monument of an incredulous soul." (Wisdom 10:6-8).

There is no verbal similarity between 'Solomon's' account and Peter's, so our author very modestly points out that the episode is "also described" in the Book of Wisdom. This is true; many incidents from Bible history are also described in the Wisdom of Solomon.

Seven Brothers
"Matt. 22:25; Mark 12:20; Luke 20:29 - Gospel writers refer to the canonicity of Tobit 3:8 and 7:11 regarding the seven brothers." (Scripture Catholic).

The Sadducees challenge Jesus with a case drawn from their own community's experience:

"The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her." (Matthew 22:23-28).

When the Sadducee says "there were with us," this suggests the people involved belonged to or were associated with the sect of the Sadducees. Whoever wrote the Book of Tobit, it certainly wasn't a Sadducee, whose beliefs are summarized as, "For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both." (Acts 23:8). Since Tobit features angels, demons, and such folk superstitions as a recipe for fumigating with fish liver as the ideal remedy for demonic oppression, it is a certainty this book did not originate in Palestinian Sadducee circles. The husband count is wrong as well. The Sadducee woman was married to seven men and then died herself. Sara was married to seven men, not stated to be brothers, who died without consummating the marriage, then successfully married to an eighth, the hero of the book:

"Because she had been given to seven husbands and a devil named Asmodeus had killed them, at their first going in unto her." (Tobit 3:8).
"Tobias said: I will not eat nor drink here this day, unless thou first grant me my petition, and promise to give me Sara thy daughter. Now when Raguel heard this he was afraid, knowing what had happened to those seven husbands, that went in unto her: and he began to fear lest it might happen to him also in like manner: . . ." (Tobit 7:10-11).

Perhaps the greatest wonder of this book full of wonders is that this woman was able to attract eight (count 'em, eight) husbands in spite of the brief life expectancy of those who had married her previously. Did no one suspect a 'Brides in the Bathtub' scenario? The author of Scripture Catholic is arguing, not only for the canonicity of Tobit, but for its historicity, which is a bridge too far for mainstream Catholic exegetes: "The only explanation of this surprising indifference is that the authors are not trying to write history." (Introduction to the Jerusalem Bible Book of Tobit, p. 602). The book is fiction.

Deliver Him
"Matt. 27:43 - if He is God's Son, let God deliver him from His adversaries follows Wisdom 2:18." (Scripture Catholic).

Psalm 22, the great Messianic psalm which prophesied the crucifixion, foretells that the crowd will mock Jesus on the cross, asking why God does not deliver Him:

"All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him." (Psalm 22:7-8).

And so they did:

"He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God." (Matthew 27:43).

This is a direct verbal quotation of a psalm often quoted in the New Testament. There is also a striking passage in the book of Wisdom,

"Let us, therefore, lie in wait for the just, because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law, and divulgeth against us the sins of our way of life. He boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the son of God. . . Let us see then if his words be true, and let us prove what shall happen to him, and we shall know what his end shall be. For if he be the true son of God, he will defend him, and will deliver him from the hands of his enemies." (Wisdom 2:12-18).

There is much to ponder in this remarkable passage. But does Matthew 27:43 "follow" a text with a similar thought, or a canonical text which it exactly copies?




Father Abraham
"Rom. 4:17 - Abraham is a father of many nations follows Sirach 44:19." (Scripture Catholic)

That Abraham was the father of many nations was known to Paul on much higher authority than ben Sirach. God told Abraham,

"And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee." (Genesis 17:3-6).

Ben Sirach knew this too:

"Abraham was the great father of a multitude of nations, and there was not found the like to him in glory, who kept the law of the most High, and was in covenant with him." (Sirach 44:20).

So who is Paul quoting when he says in Romans 4:17, " As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations. . ."? As a rule, it is best to attribute a quote to the first known author who stated it. Since Moses reported this interview between God and Abraham more than a thousand years before ben Sirach mentioned it, he must receive the credit. Both Paul and ben Sirach are following Moses.

Potter and the Clay
"Rom. 9:21 - usage of the potter and the clay, making two kinds of vessels follows Wisdom 15:7." (Scripture Catholics)

Paul describes God as a potter making vessels of clay:

"Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" (Romans 9:20-21).

This imagery is not original to Paul, it has a history in the Old Testament:

"But now, O LORD, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand." (Isaiah 64:8).
"The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will cause thee to hear my words. Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." (Jeremiah 18:1-6).

It is particularly distressing to derive Paul's language from Wisdom owing to the extreme dissimilarity between the two passages. Admittedly, the potter is making two vessels. But who is the potter? In Paul and Isaiah and Jeremiah, the potter is God. In Wisdom, the potter is a man who is manufacturing idols:

"The potter also tempering soft earth, with labor fashioneth every vessel for our service, and of the same clay he maketh both vessels that are for clean uses, and likewise such as serve to the contrary: but what is the use of these vessels, the potter is the judge. And of the same clay by a vain labor he maketh a god: he who a little before was made of earth himself, and a little after returneth to the same out of which he was taken, when his life, which was lent him, shall be called for again. . .For his heart is ashes, and his hope vain earth and his life more base than clay: Forasmuch as he knew not his maker, and him that inspired into him the soul that worketh, and that breathed into him a living spirit. . .For that man knoweth that he offendeth above all others, who of earthly matter maketh brittle vessels, and graven gods." (Wisdom 15:7-13).

What is the point of commonality between God and a man who "knoweth that he ofendeth above all others"?

Demons
"1 Cor. 10:20 - what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God refers to Baruch 4:7." (Scripture Catholics)

Paul explains that the pagans ignorantly worship demons:

But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils." (1 Corinthians 10:20).

'Baruch' concurs:

"For you have provoked him who made you, the eternal God, offering sacrifice to devils, and not to God. For you have forgotten God, who brought you up, and you have grieved Jerusalem that nursed you." (Baruch 4:7-8).

The actual recipients of the pagans' devotion were not the resplendent, shining beings which they imagined, but foul, loathsome demons. Did Paul learn this from 'Baruch,' or did both 'Baruch' and Paul learn it from the Old Testament?:

"They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee." (Deuteronomy 32:17-18).
"And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations." (Leviticus 17:7).
"Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions." (Psalm 106:37-39).
Spirit of Wisdom
"Eph. 1:17 - Paul's prayer for a "spirit of wisdom" follows the prayer for the spirit of wisdom in Wisdom 7:7." (Scripture Catholic)

At the time of his accession to the throne of Israel, Solomon prayed, not for riches or the overthrow of his enemies, but for wisdom:

"In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast showed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honor, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like." (2 Chronicles 1:7-12, 1 Kings 3:5-14).

The author of the Wisdom of Solomon, who is pretending to be King Solomon, is aware of this history and tells the story this way:

"Wherefore I wished, and understanding was given me: and I called upon God, and the spirit of wisdom came upon me: and I preferred her before kingdoms and thrones, and esteemed riches nothing in comparison of her." (Wisdom 7:7-8).

The author of the Scripture Catholic web-site sees a kingship between Solomon's wish and Paul's prayer for the saints:

"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:. . ." (Ephesians 1:15-17).

Paul is not saying anything about King Solomon here; the only point of commonality between the two passages is the phrase "spirit of wisdom." Is this phrase indeed so distinctive that Paul could only have found it in the apocryphal work, the Wisdom of Solomon, or is it found in the canonical Old Testament?:

"And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses." (Deuteronomy 34:9).
"And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:. . ." (Isaiah 11:2-3).
"And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office." (Exodus 28:3).
Enoch
"Heb. 11:5 - Enoch being taken up is also referenced in Wis 4:10 and Sir 44:16. See also 2 Kings 2:1-13 and Sir 48:9 regarding Elijah." (Scripture Catholic).

The Bible teaches that Enoch was "taken:"

"And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." (Genesis 5:24).

The seventy translators rendered this as 'translated:'

"And Enoch was well-pleasing to God, and was not found, because God translated [μετατιθημι] him." (Brenton Septuagint, Genesis 5:24).

The same word is used in Hebrews 11:5:

"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated [μετατιθημι] him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." (Hebrews 11:5).

Not speaking of any particular individual, the author of Wisdom of Solomon speaks of the just man being translated, taken out of this wicked world. But here it simply means death!:

"He pleased God, and was beloved, and living among sinners, he was translated. He was taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul." (Wisdom 4:10-11).

Speaking paticularly of Enoch, ben Sirach says that he was translated:

"Henoch pleased God, and was translated into paradise, that he may give repentance to the nations." (Sirach 44:16).

Since this word 'translated' is found in the Septuagint of Genesis, this shared understanding of what happened to Enoch may show some dependence of the author of Hebrews on the Septuagint, on which ben Sirach also depends. Ben Sirach is also aware that Elijah was carried up in a whirlwind of fire: "Who wast taken up in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot of fiery horses." (Sirach 48:9). Since ben Sirach wrote centuries after the Bible account in 2 Kings, it is far from obvious what commendation of the apocrypha Scripture Catholic perceives in this:

"And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." (2 Kings 2:11).

It is by no means remarkable that the apocrypha quotes the Old Testament, so does the New Testament.

The Word
"John 1:3 - all things were made through Him, the Word, follows Wisdom 9:1." (Scripture Catholic).

The Old Testament teaches that God created the world by His word:

"By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth." (Psalm 33:6).

That this is so is already apparent to the careful reader of Genesis, which teaches, "For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." (Psalm 33:9).

The author of the Wisdom of Solomon (who is not Solomon) is indeed aware that God created all things by His word:

"God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word, And by thy wisdom hast appointed man, that he should have dominion over the creature that was made by thee,. . ." (Wisdom 9:1-2).

It is always best to trace things back to their source, and while it is true that John could have learned about 'the Word' from the Wisdom of Solomon, or from Philo Judaeus, or other late authors, given that the same concept occurs much earlier in the Old Testament, there is no need to attribute it to these late-comers. As to Jesus' identity as the Word, John must have heard this from His own lips, as neither Philo nor pseudo-Solomon knew anything about it.

The First Page

The Golden Rule
"Matt.. 7:12 - Jesus' golden rule "do unto others" is the converse of Tobit 4:15 - what you hate, do not do to others." (Scripture Catholic).

Jesus taught the positive form of the Golden Rule:

"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12).

The negative form of this Rule is widely accepted by a variety of schools of religious and ethical teaching. Rabbi Hillel stated this Rule as, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn." (Talmud, Shabbat 31a). Confucius also explicitly stated the negative Rule, and other Eastern religions teach a similar concept, if not stated so concisely. The Greek sage Thales stated the Rule as,

"'How shall we lead the best and most righteous life?'
"'By refraining from doing what we blame in others.'"
(Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, Volume 1, Book 1, 36).

Tobit also knew the Rule:

"See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by another." (Tobit 4:15).

The negative form of the Golden Rule is a valuable maxim, but it is not equivalent to the positive form, as is alleged by the new atheists arguing against Jesus' originality. The negative form of the Golden Rule can be obeyed by total inactivity. A Buddhist sage, seeking to suppress not only needless busy-ness and chatter but even all mental activity by achieving the status of 'no-mind' is honoring the negative form of the Golden Rule; whom has he harmed by withdrawing from society and making it his constant study and business to do nothing at all? Likewise, the priest and the Levite who passed by on the other side of the road from the wounded man (Luke 10:29-37) successfully observed the negative form of the Golden Rule. The Hindu holy man, preceded by a boy who sweeps the ground with a broom to prevent the holy man from inadvertently crushing an insect, has obeyed his highest moral construct; he has harmed no one, not even an insect, as he steps delicately over the dying man sprawled on the side-walk. The negative form of the Golden Rule forbids harm but does not demand help. What is lacking is explained by William Jennings Bryan:


"I was more disappointed in Confucianism than in either Mohammedanism or Buddhism, for I had been led to form a higher opinion of the philosophy of the Chinese Sage. I had not read much that Confucius had said, although I had read tributes to his wisdom, but the more I read of his utterances, the more my admiration for him diminished. I have wondered whether some have not magnified his teachings in order to find in them justification for the rejection of the teachings of the Nazarene. The golden rule of Confucius reads, “Do not unto others as you would not have others do unto you.” The Golden Rule of Christ is, “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” There is a wide difference between the two; one is negative and the other positive; one enjoins a life of negative harmlessness, while the other commands a life of positive helpfulness. You could stand by a stream and watch a neighbor fall in and drown, and if you did not push him in you need not pull him out; and yet you would not violate the negative form of the rule, but you would violate the positive form of the rule.

"The Chinaman, following the doctrine of Confucius, does not regard it as a duty to help others, but the streams of Christian benevolence girdle the globe."

(William Jennings Bryan, Missions).



As William Jennings Bryan and his wife travelled through India and the Orient, they noticed that the ethical maxim 'Do no harm to others' can co-exist with the most dire poverty, filth and disease, which none of the numerous holy men wandering the land lifted a finger to relieve. This maxim allows the most shocking indifference to the well-being of others; you owe the sufferer nothing but not to cause him further harm. The negative form of the Golden Rule is by no means to be despised, and it might well serve for some people as a stepping-stone to the higher, positive form. While its presence in Tobit is the best feature of that otherwise uneven work, it is not however the same as the positive form. Jesus did not claim originality; He said He was summarizing the Law and the prophets. Nevertheless He showed more originality than the new atheists allow Him; the positive form of the Golden Rule is neither obvious nor accepted by everyone. Nor is it a quotation of the negative form.

Festival of Lights
"John 10:22 - the identification of the feast of the dedication is taken from 1 Macc. 4:59.

"John 10:36 – Jesus accepts the inspiration of Maccabees as He analogizes the Hanukkah consecration to His own consecration to the Father in 1 Macc. 4:36." (Scripture Catholic).

The Jews do not observe Hanukkah because they consider the book of 1 Maccabees to be canonical scripture. As a rule they do not so consider it. The historian who wrote 1 Maccabees was not the first person to suggest adopting the anniversary of the rededication of the temple altar as a holiday. Rather, as he himself tells the story, it was Judas and his brothers who proposed this observance, and the assembly of the people who concurred:

"And Judas, and his brethren, and all the church of Israel decreed, that the day of the dedication of the altar should be kept in its season from year to year for eight days, from the five and twentieth day of the month of Casleu, with joy and gladness." (1 Maccabees 4:59).

Jesus taught in the temple during this festival:

"And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch." (John 10:22-23).

How the authors make the leap from Jesus' presence in the temple precincts during Hanukkah to the conclusion that Jesus accepted the canonicity of 1 Maccabees is unclear. First of all, the Jews do not observe Hanukkah because the circumstances of its adoption are described in the book of 1 Maccabees; rather, their adoption of this holiday, along with other historical circumstances, are recounted in that book. Even if it were the author of 1 Maccabees who first suggested keeping a holiday to commemorate the rededication of the temple after its desecration by the pagans, which it was not, and his advice were followed, it would not then follow that his works were considered canonical by anyone. Americans followed the advice of Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis in adopting Mother's Day, yet no one considers the writings of those ladies to be canonical.

Any history book recounting the birth and infancy of our Republic will discuss the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and then recount how later generations of grateful Americans came to memorialize that day. It does not then follow that Americans who honor July 4th are confessing the canonicity of any particular history book which happens to explain the history of how Americans came to celebrate July 4th. There is some strange circularity here, as of deja vu: perhaps if you stumbled across a book which explained why you did something, then you would be obliged to do it, because the book said so.

Queen of Sheba
"Matt. 12:42 - Jesus refers to the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded and made part of the deuterocanonical books." (Scripture Catholic).

Jesus does indeed use the phrase "wisdom of Solomon:"

"The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:42).

The same phrase occurs in the Old Testament:

"And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built, and the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel; his cupbearers also, and their apparel; and his ascent by which he went up into the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her." (2 Chronicles 9:3-4).

Can the theory be supported that this means the queen of Sheba leaned back and listened to a recitation of Solomon's just completed book, 'The Wisdom of Solomon'? This does not seem very likely, given that she was dust by the time this book was written by a less than honest author: "it seems that he wrote towards the middle of the 1st century B.C." (Introduction to the Book of Wisdom, Jerusalem Bible, p. 1004).

The Follower Following
"2 Kings 2:1-13 – Elijah being taken up into heaven follows Sirach 48:9." (Scripture Catholic).

It does not seem too much to ask, that the text which purportedly "follows" another should be of later date than the text it purportedly "follows." Though Catholic Bible scholarship is notorious for its liberalism, even they do not date Kings subsequent to Sirach: "It is not improbable that a first deuteronomic edition was made before the Exile and before the death of Josiah at Megiddo in 609. . .A second edition, also deuteronomic, was compiled during the Exile — after 562 if we assign to it the present conclusion of the book. . .Finally, certain additions were made to the work during or after the Exile." (Introduction in the Jerusalem Bible to Kings, p. 274). The same liberal translation assigns a date to Ben Sirach's original work (not the later translation by his grandson) of "about 190 B.C." This date, while earlier than others would allow, is still centuries after the Exile. Only in the wonderful world of Catholic apologetics would a similarity between two books lead to the conclusion that the earlier work "follows" the later. This author runs the clock backwards several other times:

Follower Following Redux
"Exodus 23:7 - do not slay the innocent and righteous - Dan. 13:53 - do not put to death an innocent and righteous person.

"1 Sam. 28:7-20 – the intercessory mediation of deceased Samuel for Saul follows Sirach 46:20." (Scripture Catholic).

The earlier work cannot 'follow' the later. Everyone knows that modern Roman Catholics do not share Jesus' attribution of authorship of the Pentateuch to Moses, but even under the most hyper-liberal dating scheme imaginable, Exodus is still earlier than the apocryphal additions to Daniel.

The pagan conqueror Alexander the Great declared that the best men were sons of God:

"To the barbarians, he would demand the groveling due to an oriental despot, and would claim the title of Son of God. But to the Greeks, Alexander was more modest. He used to say that God was the common father of all of us, but especially of the best." (Plutarch, Life of Alexander the Great).
The Just Man
"John 5:18 - Jesus claiming that God is His Father follows Wisdom 2:16." (Scripture Catholic).

The author of the 'Wisdom of Solomon' expresses a similar thought, that the just man is a son of God:

"Let us oppress the poor just man, and not spare the widow, nor honor the ancient grey hairs of the aged. . . Let us, therefore, lie in wait for the just, because he is not for our turn, and he is contrary to our doings, and upbraideth us with transgressions of the law, and divulgeth against us the sins of our way of life. He boasteth that he hath the knowledge of God, and calleth himself the son of God." (Wisdom 2:10-13).

I suppose it might be possible to rescue this intriguing passage for Christianity by pointing out there is only one just man, the Messiah. However that is not necessarily what the author has in mind. It is by no means true that, when Jesus calls Himself the Son of God, all He means to do is "follow" this generic passage about the just man:

"Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." (John 5:18).

Jesus' accusers 'got it' better than does the author of Scripture Catholic. There are various senses in which the phrase 'son of God' is used in the Bible. It is possible for all Israel to call upon God as father:

"Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting." (Isaiah 63:16).

However, as the authorities understood, Jesus also called God "my" Father in a different, unshared and unique sense. He was not employing pseudo-Solomon's common, generic usage. Jesus is the Eternal Son:


Eternal Son

The Son: Eternal God?



There likely are a few legitimate quotations of the apocrypha in the New Testament. Catholics would only help their case by concentrating on the small assortment of legitimate examples, instead of padding the list with familiar Old Testament phraseology whose occurrence in the New Testament requires no further explanation, because both the authors of the late works of the apocrypha and the New Testament authors are drawing from the same well. Of the 80 purported New Testament citations of the apocrypha listed on the Scripture Catholic web-site, perhaps three or four are legitimate.

Lord of Heaven and Earth
"Matt. 11:25 - Jesus' description "Lord of heaven and earth" is the same as Tobit 7:18 - Lord of heaven and earth." (Scripture Catholic).

The phrase "Lord of heaven" is found in the Old Testament:

"But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified:. . ." (Daniel 5:23).

So is the phrase "Lord of all the earth:"

"Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. . .And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap." (Joshua 3:11-14).
"And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth." (Zechariah 6:5).

And of course God, who created all things, is the possessor of heaven and earth:

"And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: . . .And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:. . ." (Genesis 14:19-23).

Certainly it all belongs to Him inasmuch as He made it:

"Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?" (Isaiah 66:1).
"Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is." (Deuteronomy 10:14).

He is the God of heaven and earth:

"And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up." (Ezra 5:11).
"And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:. . ." (Genesis 24:3).

All the pieces are there, but no one put them together into that precise complex. The exact phrase "Lord of heaven and earth" isn't found in the Old Testament; it doesn't occur until the New. Jesus uses this title:

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." (Matthew 11:25).

Perhaps His hearers were already used to hearing the phrase in their synagogues. It occurs in Tobit in some versions:

"Be of good comfort, my daughter, the Lord of heaven and earth give thee joy for this thy sorrow: be of good comfort, my daughter." (Tobit 7:18 KJV).

However the Jerusalem Bible has "Lord of heaven," the Douay-Rheims has "Lord of heaven," the Vulgate has "Dominus caeli," and the New English Bible has "Lord of heaven." Perhaps there is a textual variant. It would be good to know, to have a ready answer for the trivia contest.

The study of the apocrypha can be genuinely useful to answer historical questions; it's a shame this study is clouded by unconvincing arguments in favor of these books' inspiration, inerrancy and authority. Or wait. . .Roman Catholics don't really think that way any longer about the Bible, theirs or anyone else's. . .

Council of Florence

A frequent 'Catholic Answers' caliber resolution to the problem of the canon is to cite the medieval Council of Florence. As the Byzantine Empire tottered toward its final demise, an effort was made to reconcile East and West. The East, desperate for military assistance and money, might be expected to 'give' a little on thorny theological disputes like the 'filioque' clause of the creed. This Council, held at the height of the conciliar movement, was admirably democratic in its proceedings. But its findings were never ratified by the Eastern church, and in 1453 Constantinople fell to the Turks. The 'Council of Florence' thus subsists in the rarefied air of proposals never agreed to, contracts never signed, understandings never consented to, possibilities never instantiated. Even Roman Catholic jurists do not accept the findings of this Council, because of all the varied difficulties it presents, yet a text exists; thus, Catholic Answers has discovered this matter was resolved prior to Trent. It was not. And once the matter was addressed at the counter-Reformation Council of Trent, understandably the attention of the Protestants had wandered. The canon was resolved, as it should have been, by the consensus of the spirit-filled early church, not by decree from the top down.

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People of the Book

"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." (Isaiah 45:22).

The Roman Catholic Church has adopted in recent years a startling attitude toward Islam: "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, §841)

Answering Islam

Muslims know, because they read it in the Koran, that Jesus is the Messiah: "Remember when the angel said, ‘O Mary! Verily God announceth to thee the Word from Him: His name shall be, Messiah Jesus the son of Mary, illustrious in this world, and in the next, and one of those who have near access to God; and He shall speak to men alike when in the cradle and when grown up; and he shall be one of the just.’" (Sura 3:40-41). But they do not look to Him for salvation.

But that is just what the Messiah is for; He is to save His people:

“Indeed He says,
‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.’” (Isaiah 49:5, Acts 13:47).

This would seem to be a classic case of hearing the gospel, and rejecting it. They acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, yet do not trust in Him to be saved. Why, then, does the Roman Catholic Church give them a place in the "plan of salvation"?

"The LORD is their strength, and He is the saving refuge of His anointed. Save Your people, and bless Your inheritance; Shepherd them also, and bear them up forever." (Psalm 28:8-9).
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Mary: Mediatrix?


Bible Contradictions

Bible-believing Christians who talk with Roman Catholics nowadays are familiar with a little satchel of 'Bible contradictions' which Catholics like to pull out. In fact they have heard these very same 'Bible contradictions' many times from the atheists. Are these contradictions real, or is there less here than meets the eye?




'Bible Contradictions' work like this: One writer says A, B, and D happened; another writer says A and C happened. The only way this is a 'conflict' much less a 'contradiction' is if it is impossible for A, B, C, and D to have all happened. This is what is advertised, by the atheists and Roman Catholics, but not delivered.



Vulgate






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