Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Six Arguments Against the Apocrypha

We are continuing our series at CRBC through the Second London Baptist Confession (1689).  On Sunday November 6 I led a Bible Study on Canon and Apocrypha from chapter one, paragraph three of the confession.

I concluded by offering the following six arguments against the inclusion of the Apocrypha within the canon of Scripture:

1. It was rejected by the Jews, the guardians of God’s oracles (Romans 3:2), as Scripture.

2. It was not written and preserved in the language of the Old Testament (either Hebrew or Aramaic).

3. It is not always historically reliable and cannot be considered infallible.

4. It makes use of fiction, false information, and pseudonyms.

5. It is never directly cited as Scripture in the New Testament.

6. It was and is not universally recognized by believers as inspired.



Phil Brown said...

The Jewish councils that rejected the Septuagint (e.g., School of Javneh (also called “Jamnia” in 90 - 100 A.D.) were the same councils that rejected the entire New Testatment canon. There is also frequent use of the Septuagint in the early church alongside other Old and New Testament books without distinction. I have found the Septuagint helpful and encouraging. There are many godly principles taught in them, and since our forebears used them, I don't see why we should avoid them or even fear to use them.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Thanks for the comment Phil. Responses:

1. Recent scholarship has challenged the idea that the "Council of Jamnia" determined the OT canon. See Jack P. Lewis, "Jamnia Revisited" in "The Canon Debate" (Hendrickson, 2002): 146-162. At any rate, I do not think it is claimed that this council discussed the NT books.

2. I did not say that the NT shows no evidence of perhaps knowing the Apocrypha (from the LXX). Compare Hebrews 11 and 2 Maccabees. I noted that the NT authors never cite the Apocrypha as Scripture, as they do the OT.

3. I do not deny there are citations from the LXX in the NT. The point is that the OT was originally written and was, therefore, immediately inspired in Hebrews/Aramaic (see London Confession 1.8). The LXX was a translation that sometimes expanded, deleted, and changed the original text. When cited in the NT it is inspired by virtue of it being in the NT.

4. You note you have found the LXX helpful and encouraging. I assume by this you mean the Apocrypha of the LXX in particular. I noted in the study that the confession does not say the Apocrypha is wicked but that it is uninspired. Therefore, it might be read for profit as might "other human writings" (London Confession 1.3). But it is not inspired Scripture.

Phil Brown said...

I appreciate your thoughtful response. I am in total agreement with you concerning the text of the New Testament. I have been wrestling though with the LXX vs the Masoretic. I have also been reading a lot of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and they don't seem to have as narrow of a scope in their writings. In this age of buffet line theology, it is hard to pin down the most Orthodox view since church history is so messy. I will continue to study and examine this. I also read a book recently by Craig D. Allert called "A High View of Scripture?" that probably raised more questions than answers. He seems to take a unique approach to the study of the Canon that is different from at least the Reformers. The Subtitle is called: "The Authority of the Bible and the Formation of the New Testament Canon." I would really like to know your thoughts on this work. Baker Academic is the Publisher.

Jeffrey T. Riddle said...

Phil, I did not know of Allert's work but I ordered a cheap used copy on Amazon. It came quickly and I read the first two chapters last week. I'll try to post a book note later. My first impression is that he takes a broad view on interpreting evangelicalism. My hunch is he will take a broad view on the definition of canon. Thanks for the reference. JTR