The Extra Catholic Books (III)
Donald P. Ames
Certainly if a book is to be considered for the canon of the Bible, and if it is inspired by God, we would not only expect it to be in harmony with the rest of the revealed truth, but also to be in harmony with the character of God. And if, as claimed, the Catholic Church is the "infallible guardian of divine truth," then one would think these extra Catholic books would readily meet such a test. Such, however is not the case, as we continue our study.
The book of Judith was evidently written somewhere around the period of the Babylonian exile in 605-586 B.C., and centers around the life of the "godly" woman of Judith and her efforts to deliver the Israelites from the hands of their enemies, as did Jael in Judges 4. To give the story, we note that Holofernes had laid siege to the Jews, and as the food and water supply was short within the city walls, talk of surrender was prominent. However, after talking it over, they decided to wait on God they would give him exactly five days to either deliver them or their food supply would be exhausted and they would have to surrender. Judith, a very godly and righteous woman -- and also a very beautiful one, as well as wealthy heard of it, and rebuked them very strongly for not having faith in God and trusting in him for deliverance. She pointed out they needed to repent of their sins and beg his forgiveness if they desired deliverance; to bring their lives in harmony with his will, and then he would come to their aid. She also rebuked them for their ultimatum to God, and assured them God was going to deliver Holofernes into her hands so his defeat would be the shameful defeat of being delivered up to a woman.
Having set her course of action, the book tells us that "the Lord also gave her more beauty: because all this dressing up did not proceed from sensuality, but from virtue: and therefore the Lord increased her beauty, so that she appeared to all men's eyes incomparably lovely" (10:4). So having set her course of action, we find she also has the Lord working with her thus endorsing her actions by his.
"But Judith praying to the Lord passed through the gates, she and her maid. And it came to pass, when she went down the hill, about the break of day, that the watchmen of the Assyrians met her, and stopped her, saying: Whence comest thou! Or whither goest thou? And she answered: I am a daughter of the Hebrews, and I am fled from them, because I knew they would be made a prey to you, because they despised you, and would not of their own accord yield themselves, that they might find mercy in your sight. For this reason I thought with myself, saying: I will go to the presence of Holofernes, that I may tell him their secrets and shew him by what he may tell them, without the loss of the one man of his army. And when the men had heard her words, they beheld her face, and their eyes were amazed, for they wondered exceedingly at her beauty" (10:10-14).
Perhaps at first reading, it would sound as if we here had a case similar to that of Benedict Arnold, but in reality such is not so. We do note though that God is indeed with her in her trip into the enemy camp, amazing them with her beauty and protecting her on the journey. Is this treason? If so, it is God-endorsed. But let us then note what she tells Holofernes:
"For it is certain that our God is so offended with sins, that he hath sent word by his prophets to the people, that he will deliver them up for their- sins. And because the children of Israel know they have offended their God, thy dread is upon them. Moreover also a famine hath come upon them, and for drought of water they are already to be counted among the dead. And they have a design even to kill their cattle, and to drink the blood of them. And the consecrated things of the Lord their God which God forbade them to touch, in corn, wine, and oil, these have they purposed to make use of, and they design to consume the things which they ought not to touch with their hands: therefore because they do these things, it is certain they will be given up to destruction. And I thy handmaid knowing this, am fled from them, and the Lord hath sent me to tell thee these very things and 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. And because God is angry with them, I am sent to tell these very things to thee"(11:8-17).
Quite a story isn't it? How much of it is true? Not even the first syllable! Like the Gibeonites (Joshua 9) who were displeasing to God, it was something she created to gain the captains favor -- endorsed and helped by God by her beauty and lies, while rebuking the Israelites for not trusting God and conforming their lives to his commandments. She then enticed him; got him drunk, in secret cut off his head, placed it in her basket, and returned it safely to the Jews in the city. Needless to say, defeat for the Assyrians soon followed, anti she retired in wealth and respect amongst the Jews for the remainder of her "faithful" and "God-fearing" life. Such a story not only makes a mockery of God, but is a disgrace to any purporting to believe him and trust in his righteousness. It makes God an endorser of lies and a participant in the same by assisting her in her plot. And it makes Judith a dishonest person as well for not abiding in the very thing she urged the Jews to do.
If this were all, it would be sufficient to condemn the book, but let us note a bit more from 1:5 "Now in the twelfth year of his reign, Nabuchodonosor king of the Assyrians, who reigned in Nineveh the great city, fought against Arphaxas and overcame him.'' Interesting - did it sound a bit odd? Commenting on this passage at the end of the book, the Catholic Bible itself admits:
"This text creates a difficulty, since Nabuchodonosor was not an Assyrian but the ruler of the Babylonian Empire from 605 to 562, and Nineveh had been destroyed in 612; further, later passages indicate that the events recounted in this book took place after the Babylonian Exile."
Such a glaring contradiction of history is so obvious that the impact cannot be ignored by either those examining the book nor even by the Catholics in their defense of these books which they admit are not accepted by either Jews nor protestants. Note their defense: "Some authors (here we go again with that clear cut statement of conviction - DPA) are of the opinion that the names given here and later (especially Nabuchodonosor and the Assyrians) are not intended to be historical." Convenient, isn't it? Some authors" -- "of the opinion" -- really says something! Agree with the book and they say we do too; differ and they say so do we! How do they explain it then? "The author would have chosen them for purposes of Symbolism, i.e., instead of using the actual names he used names that served as types of the enemies of the Jewish people; or perhaps he chose the names because they were better known than the actual names," so says the Catholic Bible itself! What does it mean? They have a g1aring contradiction, they know I, and they do not know what to do about it! But they still claim the book is inspired! Commenting in the notes at the end of the book, they also admit there are some exaggerations to be found in the book, such as 2:7-8 -
"The Holofernes called the captains, and the officers of the power of the Assyrians: and he mustered men for the expedition, as the king commanded him, a hundred and twenty thousand fighting men on foot, and twelve thousand archers, horsemen. And he made all his warlike preparations to go before with a multitude of innumerable camels, with all provisions sufficient for the armies in abundance, and herds of oxen, and flocks of sheep, without number."
Or perhaps there can also be excused at; symbolism too! The truth of the matter is that the book is not written in symbolism or accurate facts, and there is no explanation for these problems. So great are the contradictions, etc., that in an effort to escape the consequences of having accepted the book
as divine, again the Catholics insert in the notes at the end of the book: "As in the case of the Book of Tobias, the question arises whether the account is historical or fictional. Some Catholic authors (how I love these statements of "our" convictions--DPA) are of the opinion that the author is describing actual events but that he adds non-historical features." Now, it is not symbolism, but "some" are of the "opinion" they are actual with fiction added to dress them up a bit. Then they still have the contradictions to deal with, and in the final analysis, they still cannot justify the book as being from God.
The book of Ecclesiasticus, written about 180 B. C. is not to be confused with our own book of Ecclesiastes (same, except with a "cus" on the end). In nature, it reads a lot like the book of proverbs, and makes no claim to inspiration. In fact, the prologue thereof states:
"My grandfather Jesus, after he had much given himself to a diligent reading of the law, and the prophets, and other books, that were delivered to us from our fathers, had a mind also to write something himself, pertaining to doctrine and wisdom: that such as are desirous to learn, and are made knowing in these things, may be more and more attentive in mind, and be strengthened to live according to the law. Therefore I thought it good, and necessary for me to bestow some diligence and labour to interpret this book; and with much watching and study in some space of time, I brought the book to and end and set it forth ..."
The teachings of this book, as Proverbs, are many, varied, short and to the point as well. It is a long book, having more chapters in it than to be found in Isaiah, and more false teaching than to be found in the book of Mormon! In presenting the doctrine of salvation by works, again we find in 3:32-34 that "water quencheth a flaming fire, and alms resisteth sins: and God provideth for him that sheweth favour: he remembereth him afterwards, and in the time of his fall he shall find a sure stay."
But let us consider some of the other equally pointed statements to be found therein: "Be not ashamed to confess thy sins, but submit not thyself to every mall for sin. Resist not against the face of the mighty, and do not strive against the stream of the river." (4:31). Contrast this with the statement of Peter in Acts 5:29! Resist if the going is "with the stream," or else just fade away and keep quiet.
"Separate thyself from thy enemies, and take heed of thy friends" (6:13). "Bring not every man into thy house: for many are the snares of the deceitful ... Receive a stranger in, and he shall overthrow thee with a whirlwind, and shall turn thee out of thy own" (11:31, 36). "Do good to the humble, and give not to the ungodly: hold back thy bread, and give it not to him, lest thereby he overmaster thee. For thou shalt receive twice as much evil for all the good thou shalt have done to him..." (12:6-7). Doesn't this make for a pleasant setting? Suppose this had been the attitudes of Abraham when the angels came to tell him of the coming son or the fall of Sodom. Or suppose this is the teaching set forth by Christ today. Quite a contrast with that to be found in the beatitudes, or in Matt. 5:43-47, or in Rom. 12:1821, or Prov. 25:21-22.
Or further consider this doctrine of expedience in the following:
"Better is the man that hideth his folly, than the man that hideth his wisdom. Wherefore have a shame of these things I am now going to speak of. For it is not good to keep all shamefacedness: and all things do not please all men in opinion. Be ashamed of fornication before father and mother: and of a lie before a governor and a man in power: of an offence before a prince, and a judge: of iniquity before a congregation and a people: of injustice before a companion and friend: of deceit in fiiving and takings be ashamed of upbraiding speeches before friends: and after thou hast given, upbraid not" (41:18-28).
Of course, we conclude if these people are not present, then it is "not good to keep all shamefacedness." Makes it rather convenient -- you can sin, just so you do not pet caught before someone with influence to shame you. Is this the origin of the Catholic dogma one can lie and not be held responsible providing the one lied to had no business knowing in the first place?
Or perhaps we can contrast Paul's teachings of Philemon 1:16 and Eph. 5:6-9, and Christ's in Luke 6:27-31 with that found in the following:
Be not ashamed of any of these things, and accept no person to sin thereby: Of the corruption of buying, and of merchants, and of much correction of children, and to make the side of a. wicked slave to bleed ... where there are many hands, shut up, and deliver all things in number, and weight: and put all in writing that thou givest out or receivest in." (42:1-7).
(Concluded next month)
TRUTH MAGAZINE XIII: 4, pp. 14-17