The Extra Catholic Books (I)
Donald P, Ames
Many today are sadly lacking in information as to the extra books found in the Catholic Bible and just exactly how they got there. Many Catholics sincerely wonder why and how we can say we have the Bible and yet do not include these extra books which are obviously to be found in theirs. What do they contain! Why are they there! Are they essential to salvation -- and if not why not? These, and other questions, deserve answers, and we owe it to ourselves and to God and our fellow man to examine them so we might be able to give intelligent answers.
Are They Essential?
This is really a double question, and must be so answered. If they do belong in the Bible, obviously they must be included and so recognized as thusly belonging. In this respect, one would have to say they would be essential -- if they do belong. If, on the other hand, we mean are they essential to our salvation today, the answer is in the negative. Regardless of which translation of the Bible we may use, one fact still remains: these extra books, when included, are found in the Old Testament, that which was abolished by Jesus Christ on the cross (Col. 2: 14-16; Heb. 8:6-13; 2 Cor. 3; Rom. 7:1-7). We are no longer under the law of Moses, but under law to Christ (Gal. 4:4-5, 3:2327). This being the case, it matters not to us today as to the teaching therein. They do not affect what one must do to become a Christian.
This second question, however, does not eliminate all discussion concerning these extra books. Indeed if they belong in the word of God, man has no right to remove them from it. If they do not, man also has no right to attempt to add them to it. But either way, belonging to the 0ld Testament, they do not bear on what one must do to become a Christian. This point must certainly be kept in mind.
It is the claim of the Roman Catholic Church that it is directly responsible for the Bible we have today. Note the following quotes from their own works.
The church. exercising the authority given her by Christ, fulfilling her duty as custodian and champion of the written word, separated the true from the false, the divine from the human, and gave men the New Testament, as it is today. And this in the year 397 A.D. -- nearly 400 years after Christ. Thus the Bible came from the church!" (Paulist Correspondence Course, No. 2, pp. 55-56)
Still further, along the same line, we find:
Now we have seen that the complete divine revelation is transmitted to us from Christ through the Apostles in the divine tradition of the Church. Hence the only certain guide as to the inspiration and canonicity of all the books of Sacred Scripture is the authoritative pronouncement of the Church (The Teachings of the Catholic Church, Vol. I, p. 30.)
To emphasize the claims made by the Catholic Church in this matter, we note that they point out that "what the church, therefore teaches as divinely revealed, that most certainly is revealed by God and must be believed on the divine authority" (Ibid., p. 31). This claim is made because of their claim that they are "a visible Church with a living teaching authority, infallible because the Holy Ghost is with her, preserving her from error" (Ibid. p. 28). They even point out that many reject the church, "not knowing her claim to be the infallible guardian of divine truth" (Ibid., p. 27). I believe from these quotes we can readily recognize the position that is held by the Roman Catholic Church on the matter of revelation.
We might pause here though and also note that this claim is made in spite of the facts of history, and not because of them. Arvid McGuire, in an article on "The New Testament Canon" (Evidence Quarterly, Vol. II No. 2 -- 1961) pointed out that Justin Martyr (100-165 A. D.) knew the gospels, Acts, Romans, 1 Cor., Gal., Eph., 2 Thess., 1 Pet., Heb. and Revelation. Clement of Alexandria (165-220) attributed Hebrews to Paul, and recognized all but James, 2 Pet. and 3 John in his writings. Origen of Alexandria (185-253) quoted all the New Testament books, and Clement of Rome (30-100, same time as the apostles) quoted Matt., Rom., I Cor., Heb., James, 1 Tim., Titus and Peter. Tertullian of Carthage (150-222) quoted all except Philemon and 1 John. In fact, Wm. Fain noted that Sir David Dalrymple in the 19th century reproduced all but 11 verses from secular writings -- all written before 300 A. D. (Gospel Guardian, 6-9-66). Certainly from this evidence, it is recognized that the New Testament was in circulation and recognized before the Catholic Church ever made any decisions about it. Even the best existing manuscripts of the original language today existed before the date set by the Catholic Church. In reality all the Catholic Church did, as the soldier at the cross (Matt. 27:54), was to recognize what was already established as fact. This had already been preserved and protected by God. (2 Pet. 1:3)
But getting back to the point of our study, one might ask why all the emphasis on the claims that the Catholic Church gave us the Bible. We have noted her claims, and certainly based on these claims, one would expect her to have put forth all the truth as "the infallible guardian of divine truth." Yet, it is very interesting to note that these extra Catholic Books were never accepted as divine by the Catholic Church until the year 1546 A. D. (Revelation and the Bible, edited by Carl F. H. Henry, p. 171.) This is a fact unknown to many Catholics, who have just naturally assumed these extra books were always there. They were not -- not until 1516 A. D.!
Let us think of the consequences of this fact. The Catholic Church claims to be the divine guardian of truth and claims infallibility in its presentation of truth. Yet it claims to have given us the Bible in 397 A.D. and then added to it in 1546 A. D. Which time did it err? It either erred in giving us just part of the Bible in 397 A.D., or it erred in adding the other books to it (note they were added to the Old Testament too ---- not to the New Testament) in 1546 A. D. There is no way out of this dilemma, and either horn they accept means that the Catholic Church claim of being the infallible guardian and giver of truth has been disproved.
The truth of the matter is that they never had anything to do with the selection of the books of the Bible. As already noted the Bible was in circulation and accepted long before the Catholic Church ever came into existence or had any ideas of giving a decree on the Bible. As for the extra books that a-ere accepted by the Catholic Church as Divine in 1546 A.D., we might note that the Church itself never accepted them as divine until 1546 A.D. -- a very good argument against their acceptance. If divine, why did they have to wait until 1500 years after Christ to finally accept them?
In addition to the rejection of these books as divine by the Catholic Church until 1546 A. D., attention is also called to the fact that much in the New Testament comes to us from the Old Testament. In fact, being the divine Son of God, Christ in his reference to the Old Testament gives us his divine approval of what is composed in the old. Going through the New Testament, we find a total of 295 Old Testament quotes made directly, and allusions to still more, so that a total of 10% of the New Testament comes to us from the Old (Ibid., p. 137). Yet, despite all this quoting and references, not once did either Christ or the apostles quote or refer to the extra Catholic Books -- thus failing to place the divine stamp of approval thereon. If divine, this absence cannot be explained especially because of the nature of some of these extra books. The only alternative explanation is that neither Christ nor the apostles intended to so endorse them.
Next, we might look to the Jews themselves (other than Christ and the apostles). Surely if anyone would know whether or not these books were divine, the Jews would -- seeing these books are in the Old Testament given to the Jews and compiled by them under the guidance of God almighty (2 Pet. 1:3). Did they accept them? No! This glaring rejection is even admitted within the Catholic Bible itself, as they point out that each of these books were not contained in the Jewish canon or the Protestant Bibles. Did not God know the Jews were meant to add them? If so, why didn't he so direct?
For the fourth rejection, let us next turn to the so called "Church Fathers." As is true of almost any subject, these men can be quoted on both sides of the issue, and in reality prove nothing, as they were merely men, and the rejection by Christ and the apostles is sufficient to settle the issue. Nevertheless they are always of interest since they lived during the first couple of centuries of the early church. Again, in the majority of the cases, they are lined up against these apocryphal books (books of doubtful origin). Although regarded as good reading and literature, the majority did not hold them as being on equality with the rest of the Bible. Jerome, whose translation was later regarded as divine by the Catholic Church, regarded them as being valuable for ecclesiastical values only -- not as canonical. Augustine, another quoted Church Father by the Catholics, is often claimed to have endorsed them, yet he admitted Judith was not in the canon as received and accepted by the Jews, and when reference was made to 2 Maccabees ill an argument, he replied they were hard put to resort to a book not in the same category as those received and accepted by the Jews. (Ibid., pp. 176-177)
In view of this evidence, one is less concerned as to why we do not have these extra books, and much more concerned about why the Roman Catholic Church ever decided to include them in 1546 A.D. -- nearly 1500 years alter the Bible was given. And why do they contend they are divine when they were never accepted by Christ and the apostles, or the Jews, or even the majority of the Church Fathers, as well as Catholicism itself for many years. But, as in so many cases, they are less concerned about being consistent as they are about keeping their followers ignorant of the true facts of history.
Later we will continue this study, noting from these books themselves both their contents and reasons why they have never been accepted in the true canon of God's revealed word.
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 2, pp. 12-14