On Knowing the Bible, by Witness Lee


A. Not Being in the Bible in the Beginning

There were fourteen books of the Apocrypha which were not included in the Bible. Some have thought that these fourteen books were included in the Old Testament before the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament into Greek in 277 B.C. But we can find out from verified historical information that such a postulate is wrong.

1. The Proof of Josephus

The authoritative Jewish historian Josephus (born in A.D. 37) said: “We [the Jews] are not like the Greeks, having a lot of books that do not agree and are contradicting. We have only twenty-two books, including all the past writings, as recognized correctly to be divine. After such a long time, no one has ever dared to add to, delete from, or alter them.” This proves that even at the time of Josephus (first century A.D.), the Old Testament had only the original twenty-two books without the additional fourteen books from the Apocrypha. Therefore, to assume that the Old Testament contained the Apocrypha before 277 B.C. is not correct.

2. The Proof of Cyril

There was a scholar in Jerusalem called Cyril, born in A.D. 315 who said, “Please read the Holy Scripture, the twenty-two books of the Old Testament, which were translated by the Seventy-Two.” This shows that even as late as A.D. 315, the authoritative Jewish scholars still recognized their Old Testament to have only twenty-two books. His words also clearly prove that in the translation of the Septuagint (Cyril referred to the Seventy-Two, the number of scholars who translated the Septuagint. The historians are unclear whether it was seventy or seventy-two people there.), there were no fourteen apocryphal books in the Old Testament.

3. The Proofs of the Lord Jesus and the Apostles

The Lord Jesus and the apostles quoted the Old Testament frequently. If the fourteen books of the Apocrypha were already among the Old Testament books, the Lord and the apostles should have quoted them. However, we cannot find them quoting from the Apocrypha once. This proves that at the time of the Lord Jesus and the apostles, these books of the Apocrypha were not there in the Old Testament.

B. Having Been Added into the Vatican Manuscript

Among three manuscripts of the Bible which are considered some of the oldest in the world, one is kept in the Vatican, the place where the Roman Catholic Pope resides. It is called the Codex Vaticanus, or the Vatican Manuscript. According to the historians, this manuscript was finished in the fourth century A.D., and in the Old Testament part, which was a Septuagint translation, it included the fourteen books of the Apocrypha. This must have been added after A.D. 315. It might have been the objection to this move that caused the Eastern Greek Orthodox Church to call a council at Laodicea in A.D. 361 to officially denounce these fourteen books of the Apocrypha. They also forbade the use of these apocryphal books in the church. This proves that up until A.D. 361 there was a big question whether or not these apocryphal books should be included in the canon of Scripture.

C. The Recognition by the Roman Catholic Church

It was not until April 8, 1546 that the Roman Catholic Church called a council in Trent directly under the Pope to affirm the authority of these fourteen books of the Apocrypha. From that time on, these apocryphal books remained in the Roman Catholic Bible. This proves that until the 16th century A.D., even the Roman Catholic Church did not officially acknowledge these apocryphal books as canonical. Although this matter was affirmed at the Council of Trent by the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutherans solemnly denounced that these apocryphal books were divinely inspired. In 1646 more that one hundred fifty Protestant Bible scholars put together the “Westminster Confession,” which also declared that the Apocrypha has no divine authority and is the same as any other human composition.

By now we should be clear that the whole Bible consists of the present thirty-nine books of the Old Testament and the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. The fourteen books of the Apocrypha were added in by the Roman Catholic Church arbitrarily and cannot be trusted. Moreover, the contents of the Apocrypha include many ridiculous historical anecdotes. There is no way to trace some of the authors or the time and place they were written. For this reason, they do not have any canonical value.

(On Knowing the Bible, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)