Why Protestants Don’t Accept the Apocrypha of Roman Catholicism

  • The Roman Catholic Bible contains additional books that are referred to as the Apocrypha. These books were included in the Catholic Canon in 1546 A.D. at the Council of Trent.
  • The Roman Catholic Church admitted the Apocrypha as part of their efforts to counter the Protestant Reformation as the Apocryphal books contain teachings that support a number of Roman Catholic doctrines (ex. the atoning benefit of good works, saints, purgatory, and more).
  • Where did the Apocrypha come from? The Hebrew Old Testament was completed no later than 400 B.C. and by 150 B.C. all 39 books of the Old Testament had been recognized as Scripture by the Jews. By the 2nd century B.C. the Hebrew Old Testament had been translated into Greek (the Septuagint). It was during this period that the Apocryphal books were composed as supplemental stories and commentaries related to the Old Testament record; and as such, they were included in the Greek Septuagint.
  • It is important to note that the Apocryphal books never claim divine inspiration, but there are numerous other reasons for why Protestants reject them as Scripture.
  • The Apocrypha was written well after the completion of the Hebrew Old Testament Canon. These writings were never recognized as authoritative Scripture by Jewish religious leaders.
  • None of the 27 books of the New Testament quote from Apocrypha, though the Old Testament is referenced hundreds of times.
  • In the four Gospels Jesus never once mentions or quotes from the Apocrypha, though he quotes extensively from the Old Testament.
  • Furthermore, the Apocrypha does not bear the marks of divine inspiration: its theology is inconsistent with the 66 books of the Bible, it includes no predictive prophecy, and it contains historical and geographical errors (ex. Judith 1:1 says Nebuchadnezzar was the king of the Assyrians and ruled from Nineveh).
  • The 66 books of the Old and New Testaments contain the inspired word of God as recognized by the Jews, Jesus Christ, the apostles, and the early church. Protestants can be confident that the Canon of Scripture is complete, consistent, and trustworthy.

For more information on Roman Catholicism please check out Dr. Carlson’s lecture, Roman Catholicism in the Light of Scripture available in our online store.